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Biographical entry Townsley, Gerald (1907 - 1975)

MRCS and FRCS 1936; BSc Belfast 1928; MB BCh BAO 1931; MD 1935.

27 December 1907
9 April 1975


Born in Belfast on 27 December 1907, Gerald was the younger son of William Townsley and Anne, née Boyd. He was educated at Larne Grammar School and Queen's University where he obtained prizes in chemistry and anatomy and proceeded to a BSc degree with honours in anatomy, embryology and physiology in 1928. In his final year at the Royal Victoria Hospital Belfast he won the prize in surgery.

After qualifying in 1931 he followed his brother Norman to Salford Royal Hospital where he held several resident appointments under Sir Geoffrey Jefferson, J B Macalpine and R Ollerenshaw. He then proceeded to London and was appointed honorary surgeon to the Evelina Hospital for Children and later registrar to the radiotherapy unit at Mount Vernon Hospital. In 1933 he proceeded to the Primary Fellowship and obtained the Final Fellowship in 1936. He came in contact with Sir Cecil Wakeley at King's College Hospital and Godfrey Taunton, senior surgeon at St Bartholomew's, Rochester where, in 1936, he was appointed RSMO and in 1939 radiotherapeutic surgeon. In the immediate pre-war years he made long visits to continental clinics especially that of Professor Bohler, Vienna. At the beginning of the second world war his application to join the Armed Forces was not accepted as Rochester and Chatham were considered strategic targets for enemy action.

Gerald Townsley was a good all round athlete and represented his University in sports. He captained his school and town teams in Rugby, during his early years in England was a regular player for Broughton Park, and the London Irish. He toured with the Manchester and Blackheath Clubs and was also a keen skier. In the post-war years he represented the Medway towns at badminton and tennis.

After his retirement in 1973 his colleagues formed a trust in his honour for a travelling scholarship for young surgeons. His brother Norman was senior surgeon to the Norwich United Hospitals, and his cousin J D Boyd, an exact contemporary, was Regius Professor of Anatomy at Cambridge. Shortly before his retirement he married Marie Alice Wagner, daughter of George Wagner, a member and Vice-President of the Luxembourg Parliament. He died in King's College Hospital 9 April 1975 and the burial service was held in Rochester Cathedral 16 April.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Daily Telegraph 11 April 1975; The Times 15 April 1975; Brit med J 1975, 2, 564; Medway Medical News April 1975 and May 1975, with photograph].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England