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Biographical entry David, John Brooke (1912 - 1980)

Ghana Gold Medal 1973; MRCS 1937; FRCS 1950; MB ChB Liverpool 1936; DLO 1952; LRCP 1937.

12 July 1912
30 September 1980
ENT surgeon


John David was born on 12 July 1912 in Rugby. He was the first son of the Rev Albert Augustus David, DD, who was headmaster of Rugby School and later Bishop of Liverpool, and of Edith Mary Miles whose father had been a civil engineer in Jaipur, India. John was educated at Rugby School and graduated from Liverpool University in 1936 with distinction in forensic medicine. He held resident appointments at Liverpool Royal Infirmary and the Royal Northern Hospital, London, and was especially indebted to Sir Robert Kelly at the former institution and to Hamilton Bailey, Sir Lancelot Barrington Ward and Kenneth Walker in London. He was appointed to the Indian Medical Service in the second world war serving as a full surgical specialist in the Middle East and with the 4th Indian Division and retiring as a War Substantive Major.

He then worked at the Postgraduate Medical School at Hammersmith and the Royal Masonic Hospital until 1949. After passing the general FRCS examination he became clinical assistant in aural surgery at the London Hospital and later registrar at the Royal National ENT Hospital, the Whittington and Charing Cross Hospitals. After applying for the colonial service he was appointed to the Gold Coast in 1954 to take charge of the first specialist ENT department there, and continued in that appointment until his death. His devoted service to the people of Ghana was recognised by the award of the Ghana Gold Medal in 1973.

A member of the BMA for many years, David took a keen interest in the formation of the Ghana Medical Association and was for some time its treasurer. He was also a foundation member of the West African College of Surgeons and served on its faculty of otolaryngology and ophthalmology. He made it possible for young Ghanaians to go abroad to train in ENT work. He undertook much plastic surgery on patients with cancrum oris, especially children, and showed great concern for their well-being. Despite a lifelong stammer he was a good and entertaining lecturer. Though his special interests were in Africa and its art, dance and sculpture, he spent most of his vacations on the Isle of Harris in the outer Hebrides where he liked to restore ancient buildings. He was also interested in plant cultivation. He wrote a number of papers including a notable one with Denis Burkitt.

John David will always be remembered by the people of Ghana and he was much loved by his patients, especially the children. He never married and when he died on 30 September 1980, he was survived by his mother, a sister and two brothers.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1980, 280, 489].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England