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Biographical entry Miles, Roger Paul Meredith (1915 - 1990)

MRCS 1940; FRCS 1947; MB BS London 1940; LRCP 1940.

Born
1 May 1915
Liverpool
Died
23 April 1990
Occupation
General surgeon

Details

Roger Miles was born in Liverpool on 1 May 1915, the third child of Edwin Griffith Miles, a Presbyterian minister and Annie Miles, née Jones. Most of his childhood was spent in Felixstowe on the Suffolk coast where he developed his lifelong love of sailing and the sea. He was educated at Bradfield College where he was a classical scholar. It was his rivetting performance (in Greek) as Clytemnestra in the school play that prompted one of the audience, the Dean of St Mary's Hospital Medical School, Charles Wilson, later Lord Moran, to offer him a place to study medicine. Such offers were usually confined to rugby players. Roger accepted and was awarded the Palmer Scholarship although it entailed him studying basic sciences before qualifying in 1940.

In 1942 he joined the Royal Navy as Surgeon Lieutenant RNVR serving in Arctic and Malta convoys. He was posted to the Far East in 1944 and was one of the first British officers to enter Hiroshima after its devastation. Also in 1942 he had married an equally cultivated and charming nurse, Doris Clayton-Greene, whose father had been senior surgeon at St Mary's. In 1946 he returned to St Mary's as an "ex-service registrar" and worked for Dickson Wright for two years. He was one of the few people who could stand up to that formidable character of whom he could delight his friends with excellent impersonations. After obtaining his FRCS in 1947 he was appointed senior registrar at St Mary's, then St Helier Hospital, Carshalton and finally the Royal Victoria Hospital, Folkestone.

In 1952 Sir Arthur Porritt recommended him for a position in the new University of the West Indies. During his five years in Jamaica, which he spent with his wife and four children, he produced several papers including one on Rectal lymphogranuloma venereum which is now a locus classicus. On his return in 1957 he was appointed consultant surgeon to the Royal West Sussex and St Richard's Hospitals in Chichester. He devoted his skill and enthusiasm to the care of his patients and his gift of teaching to the guidance of his juniors. In 1968 the College appointed him as the first surgical tutor in Chichester. He started the weekly meetings of the surgical staff which, after he retired, he attended until a month before he died. In 1979 the College appointed him Penrose May Tutor in recognition of his contribution to surgical training.

He was a regular participant at meetings of the Association of Surgeons, the Surgical Section of the Royal Society of Medicine, the Wessex Surgical Club and the Surgical Sixty Club. On retirement he was made consultant emeritus to the Chichester hospitals.

Roger Miles enjoyed many outdoor activities - sailing, golf, tennis, cricket and skiing. He also loved music and the theatre and had supported the Chichester Festival Theatre since its inception. Sadly his retirement was marred by a long, frustrating and debilitating struggle with Parkinson's disease. He bore this with characteristic uncomplaining fortitude. His wit and good humour shone through to the last. He was nursed devotedly by his wife and family, one daughter coming from half across the world to help.

At his memorial service his daughter, Lesley, read Sir Arthur Porritt's testimonial written in 1947: "....he is universally and deservedly popular - a fact of which he remains delightfully unaware". Lord Porritt had written to the family "That expressed very much what I had thought of him at the time, 43 years ago, and I had no reason to change my mind in the interim." He died on St George's Day, 23 April 1990 and is survived by his widow, three daughters and his son.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1990, 300, 1645; Michael Reilly].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England