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Biographical entry Hembrow, Charles Hugh (1898 - 1983)

MRCS and FRCS 1927; MB BS Melbourne 1921; FRACS.

1 October 1898
Beechwood, Victoria, Australia
25 September 1983
East Malvern, Victoria, Australia
Orthopaedic surgeon


Charles Hugh Hembrow was born in Beechworth, Victoria, on 1 October 1898, the son of Charles Hembrow who was the secretary-manager and resident pharmacist of the Ovens District Hospital. He went to Beechworth State School and then to Scotch College, Melbourne, eventually graduating MB, BS from the University of Melbourne in 1921. After junior posts at the Alfred Hospital he travelled to London as a ship's, doctor in 1923 and held posts at the Royal Northern, Park Royal and St Paul's Hospitals. He passed the FRCS in 1927 and returned to Melbourne the following year.

Appointed to the staff of the Alfred Hospital he developed his interest in orthopaedics and, in 1946, was invited to take up the office of honorary orthopaedic surgeon. Ten years later, when he retired, he was appointed honorary consulting orthopaedic surgeon, a position which he held until his death. From 1931 he also held similar posts at the Austin Hospital and, from 1940 to 1946, was chairman of the honorary medical staff.

In 1937 he joined the City of Melbourne Squadron and, after three years, became orthopaedic specialist to the RAAF. As he was medically unfit to serve overseas, the war years were perhaps his busiest period. He provided orthopaedic care to the RAAF personnel in Laverton, the Military Hospital in Caulfield, the Repatriation Hospital in Heidelberg and the No 1 Hospital in Wagga Wagga. Meanwhile he continued his work at the Alfred and Austin Hospitals and in his private Melbourne practice at 12 Collins Street.

He was active in promoting the development of physiotherapy, occupational therapy and nursing education. He was a member of the Nurses Board of Victoria and worked to overcome the exploitation of nurses which was then occurring. Many physiotherapy and occupational therapy organisations had him on their boards and he was a founder member of the Victorian Society for Crippled Children and Adults. He was a member of the Consultative Council for Poliomyelitis from 1946 to 1972 and a member of both the AMA and the BMA and of the Aviation Medical Society from 1954.

He married Alice Florence Williams, a Welsh nursing sister, in 1930 and they had a daughter, Lynette. He was a devoted family man, well liked and respected in his neighbourhood. After his retirement he spent a considerable time in his garden which had been a lifelong interest. He died on 25 September 1983, survived by his wife and daughter.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Med J Aust 1984, 140, 499 with portrait].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England