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Biographical entry Swinburne, Truman George (1907 - 1967)

ED Australia 1946; MRCS and FRCS 1935; MB BS Melbourne 1930; DLO, RCP & S 1935; FRACS 1937.

3 February 1907
7 May 1967
New York, USA
ENT surgeon


George Swinburne was born on 3 February 1907, second of the three children of G A Swinburne, at Wangaratta, Victoria, Australia, and was educated at Melbourne High School and University, where he graduated in medicine in 1930 from Ormond College, winning several scholarships. Swinburne was a keen athlete, rifle-shot and games player, representing his college at lacrosse and the University at football. After holding house appointments at the Royal Melbourne Hospital he came to London during 1934-35, took the diploma in laryngology and otology, proceeded to the Fellowship, and was a house surgeon at the Central London Throat Hospital. G C Scantlebury's influence at Melbourne had led him to take up this specialty.

During 1935-36 he worked at Birmingham, but after his marriage with Enid Stobie in London on 15 February 1936 he returned to Melbourne, where he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in 1937, and was building a successful practice when war broke in September 1939. He served in the Australian Imperial Force through the second world war in the Middle East, New Guinea and Borneo, at first with the 2/12 Field Ambulance. He was mentioned in despatches, and awarded the Efficiency Decoration in 1946. He was appointed Colonel, Consultant in Otolaryngology to the Australian Army in 1958.

Swinburne soon regained his large specialist practice in Melbourne, was appointed ear, nose, and throat surgeon at the Royal Women's Hospital in 1948 and surgeon in charge of the ENT Department at the Royal Melbourne in 1954. He examined in his specialty for the University and the Royal Australasian College.

He was very active in professional affairs, serving the British Medical Association on the Council of its Victoria branch, of which he was President in 1956, and on the Australian Federal Council before and after 1962 when the Australian Medical Association became independent of the parent body; in 1965 he was elected an Honorary Fellow of the new association; he was also a member of the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia.

From city, state, and Commonwealth public service Swinburne advanced in 1965 to undertake international duties, when he was elected Australia's representative in the Council of the World Health Association, where he promoted the provision by Australia of medical education and rural services in the countries in the north: Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. He had long been an enthusiastic encourager of younger men, and extended this generosity to many Asian medical students and young graduates.

Swinburne had absolute integrity of character while his sound commonsense was supported by uncommon energy. He lived at 158 Mount Albert Road, Canterbury, Victoria, but died in New York, USA, on 7 May 1967, aged sixty, soon after attending meetings of the World Medical Association there. His wife, who was with him in New York, survived him with their two sons and two daughters.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1967, 2, 513-4 by SSGB; Med J Aust 1967, 2, 792-3 by David Cossar, Sir Cecil Colville, Gavin Johnson, and W F J Cormack, with portrait; information from Professor K F Russell, Melbourne].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England