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Biographical entry Kneebone, John Le Messurier (1890 - 1976)

MRCS and FRCS 1920; MB BS Adelaide 1910; MS 1914.

25 March 1890
Adelaide, Australia
19 July 1976
Hamilton, Victoria, Australia
General surgeon and Orthopaedic surgeon


John Le Messurier Kneebone was born in Adelaide on March 25, 1890, the eldest son of John Henry and Mary Matilda Kneebone, of Woodville, Adelaide. He was educated at Pulteney Grammar School where he was dux in each form. He won a scholarship to St Peter's College for three years where he was dux, winning the Young Exhibition, the DeCosty University Scholarship and the Farr Special Prizes in Greek, Latin, French and chemistry.

Moving to Adelaide University, he topped each year of his medical course with the exception of the first, and in his final year he won the Everard Scholarship. He represented the University in lacrosse, winning a blue, and was a member of two premiership university teams besides playing with the university in each year of his course. He was also a member of the University Rifle Club, with which he shot. He graduated MB BS at 20 years of age and was too young to be registered. He also graduated MS in the minimum time and then travelled overseas to continue his studies in London.

War, however, broke out at this stage, and together with so many of his fellow graduates he joined the Royal Army Medical Corps and served in Gallipoli with the British Army, being among the last to leave those shores. He next served with Allenby's Army and later again in France, being mentioned in dispatches on more than one occasion. At the cessation of hostilities he returned to England, completing his Fellowship in surgery and married Eva Le Messurier of Guernsey who was completing her medical degree at Manchester. This linked two Le Messurier families from Guernsey, CI.

He returned with his wife to Adelaide to find the appointments in surgery filled and went to Burra, then a thriving town where he practised for two years before accepting a surgical appointment at the Broken Hill Hospital. Here the demand on his surgical ability was tremendous and it was understandable that he finally clashed with the hospital authorities in his request for improvements in hospital facilities and administration. His resignation was strongly opposed and in spite of pleas from the committee, he moved with his family to Hamilton, Victoria, where he practised surgery, and in particular orthopaedic surgery, for more than thirty years.

During this time he took an active part in community affairs, becoming President of the Orchestral Society. He was a member of the Hamilton Base Hospital Committee for many years and President, being a driving force in the rebuilding of the Base Hospital in 1942 and the new Princess Margaret Nurses' Home in 1953. He was an enthusiastic member of the then British Medical Association and represented the Western District Branch for many years.

John was a perfectionist, not only in surgery and in particular orthopaedic surgery, but also in photography, both still and cinematographic. He retired from practice in Hamilton and threw his energy into his hobbies - stamp collecting, bookbinding, woodwork and the Natural History Society. Their family of three daughters completed honours degrees in science and dentistry in Melbourne, Sydney and Cambridge. He died at Hamilton, Victoria, on 19 July 1976, aged 86 years.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Med J Aust, 1976, 2, 696].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England