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Biographical entry Thomas, Francis Brian (1910 - 1982)

MRCS 1935; FRCS 1937; MB BCh Cambridge 1937; LRCP 1935

25 August 1910
5 April 1982
Orthopaedic surgeon


Brian Thomas came from a strong medical background. His father was a consultant ophthalmologist at Swansea and his father before him was also a doctor, while his mother, Florence, was an Edinburgh medical graduate and her father a general practitioner. Also two uncles and his brothers were in medicine. Born in Swansea on 25 August 1910 Brian was educated at Radley and Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, with clinical years at St Thomas's Hospital. After training posts at Birmingham, London and Cardiff and becoming FRCS in 1937 he served in the second world war (1941-1945) as a specialist in orthopaedic and general surgery serving the RAMC in North Africa, Italy and Austria, attaining the rank of Major. After demobilisation a period at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Hospital in Oswestry fitted him for consultancy in Hereford and a continuing commitment in Oswestry which included the arduous task of visiting orthopaedic clinics in Radnorshire, Montgomeryshire, Herefordshire and south Shropshire.

In addition to being an outstanding informal teacher of the large number of postgraduates from UK and overseas who came to Oswestry and Hereford, he contributed considerably to orthopaedic literature from 1941 to 1972. Besides having papers in the Lancet and the Journal of bone and joint surgery on fractures, arthrodesis and arthroplasty he contributed to the Oswestry textbook for orthopaedic nurses (1963). He was an ingenious inventor of splints and gadgets and his Lively splint for radial nerve palsy was copied and used throughout the world. In retirement he excelled in model engineering, winning prizes for his hot air engines at the Model Engineer Exhibition. Added to this was his enthusiasm for gliding, flying, skiing and sailing.

In 1947 he married Katie Walker and they had a son, Peter, who also became an orthopaedic surgeon and a daughter, Loraine, who was a medical secretary. He continued to do locum work after his retirement and had, in fact, finished a busy orthopaedic outpatient clinic at the General Hospital only a couple of hours before he was struck down by the coronary thrombosis that eventually ended his life. He died on 5 April 1982.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1982, 284, 1639].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England