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Biographical entry Watson-Jones, Sir Reginald (1902 - 1972)

Kt 1945; MRCS 1924; FRCS 1927; BSc Liverpool 1922; MCh Orth 1926; MB ChB 1924; LRCP 1924; Hon FACS; Hon FRACS; Hon FRCS Ed; Hon FRCS Canada; KStJ.

4 March 1902
9 August 1972
Orthopaedic surgeon


Reginald Watson-Jones was born on 4 March 1902 and received his medical education at Liverpool University, where after taking the BSc with first class honours in 1922 he qualified in medicine in 1924. He was a brilliant student and an excellent speaker, and he won most of the prizes in medicine at his university. He won the Mitchell Banks Medal, the George Hold Medal and the Robert Gee Prize. He won the Robert Jones Fellowship in orthopaedic surgery in 1928 and obtained the degree of MCh (Orth) in 1926 winning a gold medal.

After qualifying he held lectureships and demonstratorships in anatomy, physiology and physiotherapy at Liverpool and was then resident house surgeon at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital and clinical assistant at the Hospital for Sick Chidren, Great Ormond Street, London. He returned to Liverpool in 1926 to become senior surgical tutor and registrar at the Royal Infirmary and within a short period of time he was appointed to the surgical staff. He continued to practice with great success in Liverpool and his reputation soon spread to all parts of the country. In 1943 he followed Robert Milne, and was appointed director of the orthopaedic and accident department of the London Hospital. He served throughout the second world war as civilian consultant to the Royal Air Force and in 1945 he was created Knight Bachelor for his services.

His appointments to the Royal Family included those of extra orthopaedic surgeon to the Queen and, in 1946 orthopaedic surgeon to King George VI.

Watson-Jones was a gifted writer and the first edition of his famous text book Fractures and joint injuries appeared in 1940. Many editions and translations of it followed, and it proved to be one of the most popular textbooks ever written. He was responsible for founding the Journal of bone and joint surgery (British volume). He continued as chief editor of the journal until his death.

He gave great service to his College. He served on the Council from 1943 till 1959 becoming Vice-President 1952-54. In 1950 he became the third Sir Arthur Sims Commonwealth Travelling Professor, visiting Africa, Australia and New Zealand. During his tour he was admitted to the Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. From 1951-55 he was the first Chairman of the Committee of Management of the Institute of Basic Medical Sciences. He served on the Court of Examiners from 1958-62. He delivered the following College statutory lectures; 1945 Hunterian Lecture; 1949 Robert Jones Lecture; 1955 Bradshaw Lecture; 1959 Hunterian Oration.

From 1945 to 1948 Sir Reginald was the representative of the Royal College of Surgeons on the Court of the University of Liverpool.

In June 1959, an anonymous donor made a gift under covenant to the College for the establishment of a lectureship to be named after Sir Reginald Watson-Jones on orthopaedic surgery or the sciences allied to it, to be awarded annually by the Council on the nomination of the President. The first Watson-Jones Lecture was given by Lord Cohen of Birkenhead.

Watson-Jones will be remembered as a very remarkable man full of energy and drive. He married, in 1930, a fellow student of the University of Liverpool, Muriel Cook and they adopted a boy and a girl as they had no children of their own. Lady Watson-Jones died in 1970 and Reginald married Miss Wallace Robertson in 1971. Sir Reginald died in his sleep on 9 August 1972, he was survived by his second wife and his adopted son and daughter.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times 11 August 1972 with portrait; Brit med J 1972, 3, 533; Lancet 1972, 2, 438; J Bone Jt Surg 1973, SSB, 418].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England