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Biographical entry Small, Hugh Alan Dugleby (1910 - 1981)

MRCS and FRCS 1937; MB ChB Otago 1933.

Hastings, New Zealand
5 January 1981
General surgeon and Vascular surgeon


Alan Small was one of the many New Zealanders to arrive in England before the second world war to remain and add his talents to the surgical scene. Born in Hastings, New Zealand, he studied medicine at Otago University, Dunedin. He came to England soon after to work successively as house officer, surgical registrar and assistant surgeon at the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, and as RMO and surgical registrar at the Royal Cancer Hospital (subsequently renamed Royal Marsden). With an FRCS gained in 1937 he served in the RAF during the second world war as a surgical specialist Squadron Leader. Thereafter his consultant surgeon appointments included Queen Mary's Hospital, Stratford, the Seamen's Hospital, Tilbury (later becoming emeritus surgeon), Wood Green and Southgate Hospital, Chase Farm and especially the Barnet General Hospital and the Royal Northern Hospital where he was a colleague of Hamilton Bailey and McNeill Love.

He was a general surgeon with wide and considerable experience, who, as vascular surgery developed, made peripheral vascular disease his special interest. His contributions to surgical literature included the joint authorship of the popular textbook Royal Northern Hospital operative surgery and the section on malignant disease in children in Garrod's Diseases of children. He invented a subcutaneous fasciotome for hernia repairs in 1935 and described a method of excising the track of a branchial fistula. In postgraduate education he was an efficient surgical tutor, well equipped to give encouragement and advice to those in training at the Royal Northern and particularly to the young New Zealanders who continued to arrive for surgical training and experience. This ability was exercised when he became the first secretary (advisor) of the new National Advice Centre of the Council of Postgraduate Education, to help newly arrived overseas doctors. He also visited and taught surgery in Baghdad.

He had a wide knowledge of poetry, history and the classics, and a splendid library. It is said that he relished the cadences of the English language and his words flowed gracefully and easily. It might have been that with his mind on loftier matters he was careless about personal dress and safety, for it is recounted that he crushed his leg severely with his own car door, set himself on fire in his own kitchen, on his daily three-mile jog he managed to get run over by a car in Regent's Park, and was bitten by a dog in Hatfield. He tended to ignore his injuries, and, limping and bandaged, would continue with his work. He travelled widely, as a founder member of the Surgical Sixty Club, in Italy, Sicily, Greece, Iraq and South America. He drove an open car, but it is said, once rode a motor cycle from Harley Street to Amalfi, Italy, protecting himself from the rain by putting his head through a hole in a groundsheet.

He died suddenly on 5 January 1981 at the age of 71. He was married three times. His first wife was Christina M Mcgillivray. They had three sons, Hugh, Martin and Peter, and a daughter, Jane. His second wife was Anne Elborn, whom he married in 1962. In 1967 he married Norma West. They had two daughters, Penelope and Samantha. His first wife and his son Martin predeceased him.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1981, 282, 394; Lancet 1981, 1, 228; NZ med J 1981, 93, 162].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England