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Biographical entry Harding, Herbert Edward (1907 - 1982)

MRCS 1931; FRCS 1933; LRCP 1931.

4 February 1982
Orthopaedic surgeon


Herbert Edward Harding was born in 1907. There is no record of his early education before he entered the London Hospital Medical College where he won a number of undergraduate prizes and qualified in 1931. After resident appointments at the London Hospital he completed the FRCS in 1933 to become surgical registrar and first assistant at the London where he worked for a number of surgeons, including Russell Howard. However, it was Robert Milne who inspired his interest in orthopaedic surgery, and he then worked as a registrar at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital. In 1939, at the age of 32, he was appointed orthopaedic surgeon to the Westminster Hospital where for twenty years he teamed up in great harmony and friendship with Edward Brockman. On the outbreak of the second world war he worked in the Emergency Medical Service and then in the Royal Army Medical Corps, first as a surgical specialist and later as an officer commanding a surgical division with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.

On demobilization, he returned to the Westminster and also succeeded Dudley Buxton as Ministry of Pensions consultant in orthopaedic surgery at Queen Mary's Hospital, Roehampton. He was further appointed to St Stephen's Hospital, Fulham, the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases, King Edward VII Sanatorium, and the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth. At the coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth he was appointed Gold Stick in charge of medical arrangements at Westminster Abbey. He was Dean of Westminster Medical School for ten years and a member of the London University Senate. Generations of students had cause to be grateful to him for his sound advice and support, and the school was equally indebted for his outstanding administrative ability. He served on the executive committee of the British Orthopaedic Association and was President of the Orthopaedic Section of the Royal Society of Medicine. Later on he was a long-standing member of the Medical Appeals Tribunal.

'Ding' Harding had wide medical experience, an enquiring mind and sound surgical judgement. He was an excellent teacher who regularly reduced problems to the bare essentials and he had wide interests outside medicine. In his early years he was a keen rider to hounds and point-to-pointer. He was also a good shot, an enthusiastic fisherman, a knowledgeable gardener and a golfer of fluctuating ability. It was his pleasure to share those interests with others, and he was as happy to sit on a bank watching a guest using his rod as to fish the best pool himself. He was a handsome, elegant and highly entertaining bachelor who cherished the company of his many friends. During a long terminal illness in hospital he remained witty, cheerful and entertaining, always making his visitors feel better for their visit to him. He died on 4 February 1982.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1982, 284, 830; J Bone Jt Surg 1982, 64B, 612-3].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England