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Biographical entry Thomas, George Harold (1889 - 1975)

OBE 1946; MBE 1941; FRCS by election 1958; MB BS Hong Kong 1914; MD 1920; LLD 1961.

2 January 1889
Hong Kong
24 February 1975
General surgeon and Medical Officer


George Harold Thomas was born on 2 January, 1889 in Hong Kong, of unknown parents. He was adopted as a child but left to fend for himself after a few years. His early life was lonely and hard due to poverty and privation. He was educated at the Diocesan Boys' School in Hong Kong and the College of Medicine there, graduating MB BS in 1914. He joined the Government Service when he graduated, retiring after 37 years and rejoining for a further 22 years.

He was resident surgeon at Tung Wah Hospital in 1912 and became its superintendent in 1937. He was assistant medical officer in charge of civil and mental hospitals in 1928 and medical officer in charge of the mental hospital and the Tsan Yuk Hospital in 1937. He was on the staff of the Queen Mary Hospital and was visiting medical officer to the Chinese hospitals and dispensaries.

He first taught in the University of Hong Kong in 1915 and continued intermittently, as part time tutor, demonstrator or lecturer until the 1950s. At various times he taught anatomy, vaccination, pharmacology, anaesthetics, obstetrics, tropical medicine and parasitology, ophthalmology, mental diseases and clinical surgery.

From 1947 to 1949 he was Acting Director of Medical Services in Hong Kong. He was greatly influenced by Kenelm Digby, Professor of Surgery in Hong Kong and he practised general surgery in hospitals for the poor. He was elected a Fellow of the College, as a practitioner of 20 years standing, in 1958, the Diploma being presented to him by Sir Arthur Porritt (now Lord Porritt), when he visited Hong Kong on his way back to the United Kingdom from New Zealand in 1961.

He had a large library and was interested in science, philosophy, religion and astronomy. He was a member of the Rationalist Press Association. He married Nora Gourdin in February, 1920 and their four sons were called after his heroes; Osler Lister, MBE, FRCS, Huxley Tyndall, MB Bchir, MRCP, Kelvin Einstein, FRCS, and Berkeley Spencer. He died peacefully at his home on 24 February, 1975, and was survived by his wife and sons.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Information from Mr K E Thomas, FRCS and from The first fifty years of the University of Hong Kong, 1967].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England