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Biographical entry Hambury, Harold John (1910 - 1975)

MRCS and FRCS 1951; MD Hamburg 1937; LRCP 1951.

8 December 1910
Stargard, Pomerania, Germany
25 May 1975
Medical Officer, Orthopaedic surgeon and Trauma surgeon


Harold John Hambury was born of Jewish parents on 8 December 1910 in the German city of Stargard, Pomerania. He studied medicine at Heidelberg, Berlin, Munich, and Hamburg, where he qualified in 1934. Owing to Nazi persecution he went to England in 1937 with little money and little knowledge of English. Being unable to practise medicine, he took a job as tutor to an Army officer's son, with whose family he went to India. There he was helped by the American United Presbyterian Mission and was given a post as medical officer to the mission. On the outbreak of war he and his wife were interned in India as enemy aliens. He worked as medical officer to the camp and eventually obtained a commission in the RAMC, attaining the rank of Major. On demobilization he returned with his family to England, where he took the Conjoint examination and then the FRCS. After working for some years in London he was in 1953 appointed SHMO in charge of the casualty departments at Swansea and Morriston Hospitals. In 1964 he became consultant orthopaedic and traumatic surgeon, remaining in the post until his death.

In 1956, at the time of the Suez crisis, he was appointed to a commission in the Army Emergency Reserve with 28 General Hospital RAMC(TA). Later that year he was classified as a senior specialist in surgery and promoted to Acting Major. After further posts he was in 1967 appointed Honorary Colonel to 382 Field Medical Company, RAMC(V). He contributed regularly to training periods at home and in the British Army of the Rhine. In addition to his surgical work he undertook research projects concerned with the possibility of stimulating bone growth and accelerating the union of fractures by means of small electric currents. In 1973 he was invited to speak on his research work at the New York Academy of Science, to which he was elected an active member the following year. He also served on the advisory committee on research in artificial limbs at the Department of Health.

Jo Hambury was a man of wide and cultivated tastes, but his great love was natural history. He became an authority on the wild flowers of Glamorgan and Gower and gave lectures illustrated by his own exquisite photographs. He was a founder member of the Gower Ornithological Society and spent much of his leisure time bird-watching. He was also active in medical politics and in 1973 was Chairman of the Glantawe Medical Staff Committee. He served as a secretary of the BMA's Swansea Division and was elected its chairman in 1974, but his period of office was cut short by his last illness. Two strokes in quick succession left him aphasic and almost completely paralysed. He recovered enough to walk a little and go out to his favourite Gower countryside, and as his speech recovered he dictated a book on the experience he had been through. He was married and had one daughter. He died on 25 May 1975, aged 64 years.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1975, 3, 234].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England