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Biographical entry Milsom, Henry Britton Coates (1919 - 1983)

MRCS and FRCS 1952; MB ChB Otago 1942; MCh Orth Liverpool 1949.

30 September 1919
Auckland, New Zealand
22 December 1983
Orthopaedic surgeon


Henry Milsom was born in Auckland, New Zealand, on 30 September 1919. His father, Edwin Henry Britton Milsom, was also a surgeon who had trained at Guy's. Mary Lavinia, née Nelson, his mother, was the daughter of Charles Moseley Nelson, a Church of England canon and the granddaughter of James Coates who had been the first Sheriff of Auckland in 1830. Henry attended King's College School in Auckland, qualifying from Otago University in 1942. After house appointments in New Zealand he joined the RNZNVR and served afloat for two years with the rank of Surgeon Lieutenant-Commander.

He then went to Liverpool and did his orthopaedic training there under the aegis of Professor Brian McFarland winning the gold medal on qualifying MCh Orth in 1949. He spent three more years as registrar to Professor McFarland and then passed the Fellowship in 1952 and, after a six month spell at Norwich with H A Brittain he returned to New Zealand in 1953 and took up orthopaedic practice at Tauranga, starting the orthopaedic unit there and remaining there until his death. Initially he also worked at provincial hospitals in Rotorua and Whakatane. He worked closely with the Bay of Plenty branches of the Crippled Children Society. An authority on Perthes disease, he won a Gillies Medal on the subject and similar conditions such as Scheuermann's spondylolysis. He was responsible for the modification of the Thomas splint - the "Tauranga Splint" for emergency and rescue work. An open-air man he was keen on deer stalking, sailing, and fishing but latterly developed asthma which increasingly curtailed his activities and led to his death at the age of 64 on 22 December 1983. He was survived by his wife Pat, nee Weight, the granddaughter of a naval doctor, whom he had married in 1943 and by his children, Peter, Mary, Eleanor and Britton. One of his sons became a surgeon.

Sources used to compile this entry: [NZ med J 1985, 98, 459-460].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England