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Biographical entry Sutherland, Alan William (1915 - 1980)

MRCS and FRCS 1947; MB ChB Otago 1939; FRACS 1950.

21 December 1915
Dunedin, New Zealand
11 October 1980
General surgeon


Alan Sutherland had some remarkable experiences as a doctor at war. He was a prisoner of war for one day when, as a member of the 6th Field Ambulance, 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force, he was captured by German paratroops during the evacuation from Crete in 1941. They were killed so he escaped. Later he was MO on the SS Awatea helping to evacuate civilians from Hong Kong, then RMO to the 24th Battalion in the desert campaign at Alamein, where in 1942 he was wounded accidentally by a hand grenade. On recovery he served with the 3rd New Zealand General Hospital through Tripoli and then in Italy with the rank of Major, being twice mentioned in despatches. In later years when he was surgeon at Timaru, New Zealand, he served the St John Ambulance and was a Commander of the Order of St John.

Born on 21 December 1915 in Dunedin, the son of an accountant he was educated in Kaikorai School, the John McGlashan College and Otago University. After the second world war he trained in England 1947-50 having three years training in thoracic surgery at the London Chest Hospital working with Sir Thomas Holmes Sellors and Vernon Thompson. When he was appointed to Timaru as a general surgeon he was able to continue his special interest, establishing a reputation as a thorough and competent surgeon particularly in chest surgery, contributing papers on pulmonary tuberculosis and tracheo-oesophageal fistula.

He played rugby, squash and cricket and before the war was a keen runner who on one occasion competed against Jack Lovelock for the mile. He was a devoted churchman, being an elder of the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand and a member of the General Assembly Doctrine Committee for several years.

In 1945 he married Marjorie Marshall, a sister at Dunedin Hospital, and they had a daughter. He died on 11 October 1980 after a long illness. His wife had died in 1979.

Sources used to compile this entry: [NZ med J 1981, 93, 55].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England