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Biographical entry Wiles, Philip (1899 - 1967)

MRCS 1928; FRCS 1929; MB BS London 1929; MS 1931; LRCP 1928; FACS 1942.

17 August 1899
17 May 1967
Kingston, Jamaica
Orthopaedic surgeon


Wiles was born on 17 August 1899 the only son, with two sisters, of Thomas Wiles, chairman of Joseph Wiles and Son Ltd, corn-merchants of Mark Lane in the City of London. Thomas Wiles was a successful business-man and an active Liberal politician. He became Chairman of the London Corn Exchange, the Port of London Authority, and the Anglo-Portuguese Colonial and Overseas Bank, and in the year of Philip's birth was elected to the London County Council as member for Bethnal Green; in the Liberal triumph of 1906 he was elected Member of Parliament for South Islington, retaining his seat till 1918; he became a parliamentary secretary in the Foreign department and was made a Privy Councillor in 1916. Philip's mother was Winifred Alice, daughter of the Rev Harris Crassweller; she long outlived her husband, dying in 1951.

Philip Wiles was a boy at Rugby School when war broke out in 1914; when he was eighteen he joined Army Service Corps, but soon went on active combatant service in France and the Middle East, having transferred first to the Canadian Field Artillery and then to the Royal Flying Corps; the war ended before he was twenty.

He then joined the family business, but soon turned to medicine. He was Broderip Scholar and Lyell Gold Medallist at the Middlesex Hospital Medical School, and qualified in 1928, proceeding to the Fellowship in 1929 and the London Master of Surgery degree in 1931. He specialised in orthopaedic surgery, and after house appointments at the Middlesex became registrar at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital. He was recalled to the Middlesex as assistant orthopaedic surgeon in 1931, and joined the staff of the Royal Surrey Hospital at Guildford and the King Edward Memorial Hospital at Ealing.

He joined the Army in the second world war, organised orthopaedic centres at home and was then posted as consultant orthopaedic surgeon in the rank of Brigadier RAMC, to the Middle East and India.

Wiles returned to his busy London practice in 1946 and was promoted consultant orthopaedic surgeon at the Middlesex. He was most active in the promotion of his specialty through his surgical skill, his teaching and writing, and his work for numerous societies. He was President of the Orthopaedic Section in the Royal Society of Medicine 1951-52, of the Orthopaedic Section at the Annual Meeting of the British Medical Association in 1955, and of the British Orthopaedic Association 1955-57, when he negotiated a joint meeting with the Italian Orthopaedic Association, addressing the audiences in fluent Italian after very brief preparation. He was elected an honorary member of the American Orthopaedic Association and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, and Emeritus Fellow of the British Orthopaedic Association. He wrote influential papers on various aspects of musculo-skeletal disability, while his textbooks Essentials of orthopaedics and Fractures, dislocations and sprains were eminently practical. Wiles was the first secretary-treasurer of the Journal of bone and joint surgery (British edition), bringing it the advantage of his wide professional knowledge and the sound financial wisdom derived from his youthful background in high commerce; he was similarly helpful to the finance committee of the Middlesex Hospital.

Wiles was respected by colleagues and loved by his friends, though his character was impetuous and restless, and some of his views and actions controversial. His liberal principles combined a demand for complete individual independence with active service to the 'under-dog', motivated by a social conscience. He assisted the republican wounded, personally, in the Spanish Civil War of the late thirties, organised medical aid for the Chinese Red Army in the same period, and welcomed the National Health Service introduced in Britain in 1948.

Between the wars Wiles lived at 61 Gloucester Crescent, Camden Town, and later in Hampstead where he became a keen gardener; as a young man he had been a skilful rock-climber in the North Wales and Cumbrian mountains. He retired at the age of sixty in 1959 and emigrated to Jamaica, where however he continued active, serving on the Faculty of Medicine of the University of the West Indies and as a chairman of the Scientific Research Council.

He married in 1923 Mary (Molly) Constance, daughter of A P Luff CBE, FRCP, physician to St Mary's Hospital, who survived him with their son and daughter. He died at High Rocks, Red Hills, Kingston, Jamaica, on 17 May 1967 aged sixty-seven.

Essentials of orthopaedics. Churchill, 1951; 4th edition 1965.
Fractures, dislocations, and sprains. Churchill, 1960.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times 19 May 1967; J Bone Jt Surg 1967, 49B, 580-1 by Sir H J Seddon, with a good portrait; Brit med J 1967, 2, 579 with portrait, and appreciation by P H Newman; Lancet 1967, 1, 1167 with portrait and eulogy by DRS].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England