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Biographical entry Waterston, Richard Ernest (1908 - 1977)

MRCS and FRCS 1945; BSc St Andrews 1928; MB ChB Edinburgh 1931.

26 May 1908
12 May 1977
General practitioner, General surgeon and Military surgeon


Richard Ernest Waterston, the elder son of David Waterston, FRSE, FRCSE, a former Professor of Anatomy at St Andrews University, and of Isabel (née Simson), was born in Edinburgh on 26 May 1908. He was educated at Edinburgh Academy and Edinburgh University where he graduated in 1931. After resident appointments at the Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh he demonstrated physiology at King's College, London. He then worked as a general practitioner in Cirencester before joining the RAMC in 1936 when he was posted to the Royal Herbert Hospital, Woolwich. The following year he went to India and, apart from a nine months' spell with a field ambulance on the north-west frontier, he worked at the military hospital in Peshawar until 1941. He was then with the military hospitals at Karachi and Ranchi, returning to England in 1944 before joining 88 British General Hospital in north-west Europe.

On taking the FRCS in 1945 he served immediately after the war at the Connaught Hospital, Knaphill, until 1947 and was then posted to the British Joint Services Mission at Washington DC as liaison officer. He returned to the UK in 1948 and was in charge of the surgical divisions of the military hospitals at Chester and Cowglen. In 1954 he was surgeon to the British Military Hospital, Hong Kong, and then consultant surgeon to the Middle East Land Forces in Egypt. From 1956 to 1959 he was senior surgeon at Queen Alexandra Military Hospital, Millbank, and was awarded the Mitchener Medal in 1956 in recognition of his outstanding services. He was promoted Brigadier and appointed consultant surgeon, first to the Far East Land Forces in Singapore and then with the British Army of the Rhine. A year before his retirement from the Army Medical Service in 1968 he was appointed honorary surgeon to the Queen, and he then devotedly cared for the military community at Bordon camp for many years.

Richard Waterston was well known throughout the RAMC and was as highly respected in service life as his younger brother, David, who became a distinguished cardiothoracic surgeon at Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital after the war. Richard was an able surgeon, an excellent doctor and a fine sportsman. He excelled at golf, with a handicap of two as a student, and six at the time of his death. He had been a member of the Royal and Ancient, St Andrews, since 1928 and represented the RAMC in many matches. He was also keen on skiing and mountaineering.

In 1938 Waterston married Christine Graves who was, at that time, a member of Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps. They had one daughter and, when he died suddenly on 12 May 1977, he was survived by them both.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1977, 2, 647].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England