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Biographical entry Martin, Edward Kenneth (1883 - 1980)

MRCS 1908; FRCS 1910; MB BS London 1908; MS 1911; LRCP 1908.

21 September 1883
19 January 1980
General surgeon


Edward Martin was born at Weston-super-Mare on 21 September 1883 where his father and grandfather were general practitioners. He was educated at St Peter's Preparatory School, Weston, and then at Charterhouse before ill health necessitated a prolonged stay in Switzerland. In 1903 he returned to England to enter University College Hospital. He won the Bucknill entrance exhibition, the Atchison Scholarship, the Alexander Bruce Medal in surgical pathology and the Tuke Medal in pathology. Of his teachers he most vividly remembered Sir William Ramsay, Ernest Starling, William Baylis and Wilfrid Trotter who was his anatomy demonstrator.

Known as EK to his contemporaries, he qualified in 1908 and became an anatomy demonstrator after his resident appointments. He passed the FRCS in 1910 and the MS in 1911. On the outbreak of war in 1914 he joined the RAMC and became a temporary Major, serving in the British Expeditionary Force in France. After the war he returned to University College Hospital as surgical registrar in 1918, and in 1920 he was appointed assistant director of the newly formed surgical unit under the directorship of Professor C C Choyce. He was Hunterian Professor at the Royal College of Surgeons and contributed a series of articles to the British journal of surgery based on his experience as a surgeon with the BEF. After election to the consulting staff of University College Hospital in 1923, he was invited to join the staff of Wembley Hospital where his long service and high reputation were commemorated by the 'E K Martin operating theatre suite'. In 1932 he gave Arnott demonstrations and contributed to the third edition of Choyce's system of surgery. From 1930 to 1935 he edited the two volume Atlas of pathological anatomy, published by the British journal of surgery. He was on the Court of Examiners from 1936 to 1943 and was examiner in surgery to the Universities of London and Belfast. At the Royal Society of Medicine he served in turn as joint honorary secretary, editor and honorary librarian. He was elected a Fellow of University College, London, and became an active member of the committee of that college.

In 1938 Martin and Professor Pilcher drew up the UCH plans to deal with the large number of air-raid casualties expected at the outbreak of war, and when war was declared UCH was evacuated and Martin was posted to Hemel Hempstead and Leavesden to continue teaching and the care of patients transferred from UCH who included wounded from Dunkirk, air-raid casualties and wounded from D-day landings. In 1946 he returned to UCH as senior surgeon and retired in 1949. Many recall with gratitude the clinician, the teacher and the man. But his training of general surgeons, his quiet, confident manner, courtesy, wide experience and deft surgical technique made him an admired consultant and kindly mentor. He excelled in clinic and bedside teaching, and was most warmly remembered for his surgical pathology tutorials where his enthusiasm, quiet humour and clear explanation taught his students the principles of surgery.

Edward Martin was a reserved family man. Few of his associates knew of his many interests outside surgery, most of which dated back to his long stay in Switzerland, giving a love of Alpine wild flowers, fine wine and the art of log splitting. He had a flair for languages and for travel. Until his nineties he toured the Continent in his car for several weeks each year. His other great delight was opera. In 1923 he married Philippa Pughe who was an ophthalmic surgeon and they had three daughters, two of whom are doctors and the third an architect. One of them is married to J E Mitchell, FRCS, one-time member of the Court of Examiners. Martin died, aged 96, on 19 January 1980 and was survived by his wife (qv) and daughters.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1980, 280, 577 and 803; Lancet 1980, 1, 270 and 434; The Times 22 February 1980].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England