Browse Fellows


www Lives

Biographical entry Vellacott, Harold Fitz (1883 - 1965)

MC 1915; MRCS 1907; FRCS 1910; LRCP 1907.

28 December 1965
Yelverton, Devon
General surgeon


Harold Vellacott was born in 1883, the son of an Essex farmer. He qualified with the Conjoint Diploma in 1907 from the London Hospital Medical College and took the Fellowship in 1910. He settled at Devonport as a general practitioner surgeon and was appointed to the staff of the Royal Albert Hospital in 1913, becoming assistant surgeon in May 1914. War broke out in August and he was posted to France as a Lieutenant RAMC with No 7 Field Ambulance. He won the Military Cross in 1915 and was twice mentioned in despatches for surgical work near the front. He was transferred in 1916 to No 10, Casualty Clearing Station with sole surgical charge of officers' wards. Even in this busy war station he kept careful tabulated records of more than 500 surgical cases. He contracted diphtheria in 1917, was invalided home and on recovery was posted to Stoke Military Hospital, Devonport with surgical charge of the Military Families' Hospital in addition.

Immediately after demobilisation in 1919 he was appointed surgeon to the South Devon and East Cornwall Hospital, Plymouth, which he served with distinction for twenty-eight years, retiring in 1947 just before the National Health Service began, in which he was honoured as Surgeon Emeritus of the South West Regional Hospital Board. He had one of the largest consulting practices in the area and was also attached to the hospitals at Ashburton, Liskeard, Okehampton and Tavistock, and to HM Prison at Dartmoor.

During the second world war, when Plymouth was heavily bombed by German air attacks, he was in regular attendance at the Prince of Wales Hospital, inspiring his house surgeons and the staff and patients, who were devoted to him, by his modest, calm confidence. He was always ready to travel up to thirty miles around Plymouth to help his colleagues.

Vellacott took a full share in local medical affairs. He was surgeon to the St John Ambulance Brigade, Vice-President of the Surgical Section when the British Medical Association held its annual meeting at Plymouth in 1938 and chairman of the Association's Plymouth Division; he was also President of the Plymouth Medical Society, and a member of the Provincial Surgical Club. He was a deeply religious man and an active supporter of St Andrew's Church, Plymouth, where he worshipped regularly.

He died at Yelverton, Devon on 28 December 1965 aged 82, survived by his wife with their daughter and two sons, one of whom, H D S Vellacott FRCS, succeeded him in his practice.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1966, 1, 177 by SNS with eulogy by Gurney Smith; The Times 8 March 1966, his will].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England