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Biographical entry Osmond-Clarke, Sir Henry (1905 - 1986)

KCVO 1969; CBE 1947; MRCS and FRCS 1932; BA Dublin 1925; MB BCh 1926; FRCSI 1930.

8 February 1905
Brookeborough, County Fermanagh
24 October 1986
Orthopaedic surgeon


Henry Osmond-Clarke was born at Brookeborough, County Fermanagh, on 8 February 1905, the elder son of W J Clarke and was educated at Clones High School before entering Trinity College, Dublin, for medical studies. He qualified in 1926 and held appointments as house surgeon and orthopaedic house surgeon at Ancoat's Hospital, Manchester, and the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, London. He passed the FRCS Ireland in 1930 and in the same year was awarded the surgical travelling prize of Trinity College which enabled him to pursue postgraduate study in Vienna, Bologna, New York, Boston and London, before being appointed clinical tutor in orthopaedic surgery at Manchester Royal Infirmary and lecturer in orthopaedic surgical pathology at the University of Manchester. He passed the FRCS in 1932 and was elected Hunterian Professor in 1936. He was appointed consultant orthopaedic surgeon to Crumpsall Hospital, Manchester, and Biddulph Grange Orthopaedic Hospital in Stoke-on-Trent and in 1930 became a visiting surgeon at the Robert James and Agnes Hunt Hospital in Oswestry continuing to play an active role in its work for over forty years.

During the war he served in the Royal Air Force from 1941 to 1946 and eventually was Service Consultant in Orthopaedic Surgery with the rank of Air Commodore. His war-time service was recognised by the award of CBE in 1947 and earned him the support of Sir Reginald Watson-Jones who persuaded him to move south after the war. In 1946 he was appointed consultant orthopaedic surgeon to the London Hospital and shortly afterwards to Oldchurch, Black Notley, Tilbury and East Grinstead Hospitals. He was later appointed consultant orthopaedic surgeon to King Edward VII Hospital for Officers in London, to King Edward VII Convalescent Home in Osborne House, Isle of Wight, and civilian consultant in orthopaedics to the Royal Air Force.

These appointments committed him to a heavy work-load throughout the week and also at week-ends and his operative skills were in great demand. Wherever he went he insisted on the notes being type-written, a practice which has been adopted at many centres throughout the country.

He served as a member of the World Health Mission to Israel in 1951, to India in 1953 and to Persia in 1957, advising on the development of orthopaedic services. In 1960 he was Chairman of the Accident Services Review Committee of Great Britain and Ireland which resulted in extensive changes in the staffing, equipment and organisation of accident centres throughout the country.

He was elected to the Council of the Royal College of Surgeons from 1959 to 1975 and served as Vice-President from 1970 to 1972. He was President of the British Orthopaedic Association from 1964 to 1965 and was made an honorary Fellow in 1978. He was appointed Orthopaedic Surgeon to the Queen from 1965 to 1973 and was awarded KCVO in 1969.

He was a gifted teacher of medical students and postgraduates, often illustrating his lectures with touches of humour which made a lasting impression on his audience. Throughout his life he continued to travel widely, attending professional meetings and enjoying the company of close friends to whom he was always known as "Nobby". He was a charming, companionable man with a small beard, whose voice never lost its Irish lilt. A natural diplomat he had a remarkable memory for people and an unerring instinct for the right thing to say. Although never a prolific writer he made many contributions to orthopaedic textbooks and journals including Half a century of orthopaedic progress in Great Britain published in 1951. His favourite pastimes were fishing, reading and travel.

He married in 1936 Dr Freda Hutchinson, a medical writer from Bury, Lancashire. He died on 24 October 1986, aged 81, survived by his wife and two daughters.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times 27 October 1986; Daily Telegraph 27 October 1986; Brit med J 1986, 293, 1247 with portrait; Lancet 1986, 2, 1290].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England