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Biographical entry Hand, Bernard Hillary (1919 - 1984)

MRCS 1943; FRCS 1949; MB BS London 1943; MS 1958; LRCP 1943.

21 November 1919
6 October 1984
Colorectal surgeon and General surgeon


Bernard Hand was born on 21 November 1919. His father, Ernest Francis Hand, was an architect and his mother, Mary, née Searle, was the daughter of an engineer. He was descended from Sir William Hillary, founder of the lifeboat service; as a consequence he gave constant support to the RNLI throughout his life. Six months after graduation, he joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve as a Surgeon-Lieutenant and his ship was sunk by a mine off Omaha beach, during the D-Day landings. He began surgical training on demobilisation in 1946 and was influenced by David Patey, Richard Handley, Sir Eric Riches and Leslie LeQuesne. He was appointed consultant surgeon to the Ipswich and East Suffolk Hospitals in 1958 and he founded a specialist service in colorectal surgery as well as dealing with all the usual demands on a general surgeon. He was a regional adviser at the Royal College of Surgeons and examiner in surgery to the University of Cambridge.

He was an enthusiastic trainer of his juniors and his reputation as a teacher was such that his posts of house surgeon and registrar were much sought after. He had little enthusiasm for committees but he undertook his share of that work with the thoroughness that characterised all his activities. He was a man of deep convictions strongly expressed and his loyalty to his training schools, the Middlesex and St Mark's Hospital Association was deep and sincere.

He married Jean, a former Middlesex nurse, in 1945 and they had two sons, one of whom entered general practice in Suffolk. His main interest aside from his work was his home and his lovely garden in the country outside Ipswich; it was said of him that he could often be found precariously perched on the top rungs of a ladder trimming a yew tree! It was a tragedy that he fell ill within a few months of retirement and so had little time to enjoy his home or the grandchildren of whom he was so fond. He died on 6 October 1984, aged 64 years, survived by his wife and sons, Christopher and Charles.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1984, 289, 1628; Lancet 1984, 2, 1287; Daily Telegraph 10 October 1984].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England