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Biographical entry May, Sir Robert Cyril (1897 - 1979)

MC 1918; KBE 1958; CB 1956; OBE 1942; KStJ 1959; MRCS 1925; FRCS by election 1957; LRCP 1925.

12 June 1897
17 September 1979
Military surgeon


Surgeon Vice-Admiral Sir Cyril May, formerly medical director-general of the Royal Navy, was born in London on 12 June, 1897, the only child of Robert and Clara May. His father practised as a dental surgeon. After education at South Belgravia Preparatory School and Westminster School he served in the Royal Garrison Artillery throughout the first world war, commanding a siege battery in 1917. He was awarded the Military Cross in the following year and was demobilized with the rank of Major. After the war he entered Guy's Hospital and qualified in 1925, joining the Royal Naval medical service. By 1937 he was a Surgeon-Commander and serving in HMS Sheffield, but in 1938 he became assistant to the medical director-general of the Royal Navy and served as such throughout the second world war. From 1946-1949 he was senior medical officer in the surgical section of the Royal Naval Hospital, Chatham, having been ENT specialist there in 1931-34. He was Fleet medical officer to the Home Fleet 1949-50, and then in charge of the Royal Naval Hospital, Malta, 1951-56. He was promoted to Surgeon Rear-Admiral in 1953 and served as medical adviser to the Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean. He was promoted to Surgeon Vice-Admiral in 1956 and served as medical director general to the Royal Navy until his retirement in 1960. He was Honorary Surgeon to the Queen from 1953 to 1960 and received the KBE in 1958, having previously been appointed OBE in 1942 and CB in 1956. He was elected FRCS in 1957 and became Knight of the Order of St John in 1959. In his early years he had been keenly interested in cricket, lawn tennis, golf and association football. He married Mary Robertson in 1925. She died in 1977 and he was survived by his son when he died on 17 September 1979, aged 82 years.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1979, 2, 874].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England