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Biographical entry Turnbull, Harley Irwin (1905 - 1975)

MRCS and FRCS 1934; BSc Sydney 1925; MB ChM 1929; FRACS 1938.

Dubbo, New South Wales, Australia
9 July 1975
General surgeon


Harley Irwin Turnbull ('Mick' to his friends) was born in Dubbo, New South Wales, in 1905, the son of Louis Duncan John Turnbull, schoolmaster, and Madeleine Maude Hobden. He was educated at Fort Street Boys' High School, Dubbo High School, and St Andrew's College, Sydney University, graduating BSc in 1925 and MB, ChM in 1929, winning the Clipsham Memorial Prize. He was resident at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and the Prince Henry Hospital at Little Bay, and then via a never-to-be-forgotten trip round Europe came to Salford Royal Hospital to prepare for the FRCS which he obtained in 1934. He returned to Australia, becoming FRACS in 1938 and joining the Australian Imperial Force, first as Captain and later becoming Lieutenant-Colonel. He served in Crete, the Western Desert and New Guinea and was twice mentioned in despatches. In the desert he was famed for operating wearing only shorts, gloves and apron.

After the war he practised in Macquarie Street, Sydney, and he was on the staff of the Royal Prince Alfred, the Balmain District and the Repatriation General Hospitals. An aortic aneurysm ended his surgical career in 1967 and he retired to 'Suntop', a smallholding on the Mulgoa Road, Regentville.

He had several myocardial infarctions necessitating admission to the Concord Military Hospital and he died at home on 9 July, 1975, survived by his two sisters. He was not married.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Med J Aust 1976, 1, 69-70].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England