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Biographical entry Woodward, William Winslow (1920 - 1987)

MRCS and FRCS 1956; MB Sydney 1946; BS 1953; FRACS 1951.

14 October 1920
Emmaville, New South Wales, Australia
7 February 1987
Orthopaedic surgeon


William Winslow Woodward was born in Emmaville, New South Wales, on 14 October 1920, the son of Edward Albert Woodward, a general practitioner. His father was an outstanding classical scholar who wrote poems in Latin and conversed in that language at regular meetings with fellow enthusiasts. After early education at Grafton Public School from 1927 to 1932 William Woodward entered Sydney Church of England Grammar School from 1933 to 1938. While there he participated in rugby, rowing, shooting and boxing before entering St Paul's College, Sydney University, for medical studies in 1939. Although directed to continue with his studies he and a friend went to a recruiting office in 1942, where they posed as labourers and were enlisted as privates in the second Australian Imperial Force. In due time he became a Lieutenant in an Australian Field Ambulance but was invalided out in 1944 when he returned to Sydney to resume his medical studies. He was awarded MB with honours in 1946 and meanwhile had restored himself to fitness with the Sydney Rowing Club.

In 1947 he was appointed an Australian Rhodes Scholar and matriculated at Brasenose College in 1947. He rowed in the Oxford University Boat in 1948 and was also a member of an Oxford four which competed for Britain at Henley in the XIVth Olympiad.

He passed the FRACS in 1951, was awarded the Sir Henry Simpson Newland Medal in surgery in 1955 and the FRCS in 1956. He had a wide range of surgical interests, practising general surgery, urology, thoracic surgery and orthopaedics. His first senior appointment was at the Peter McCallum Cancer Clinic in Melbourne and later he was assistant surgeon at Prince Henry's Hospital and honorary visiting surgeon at Launceston General Hospital. He pioneered chest surgery in Tasmania and performed the first open heart operation on that island. He was an enthusiastic teacher and played an important role in training many young surgeons. Problems with his personal life led him to leave Australia in 1966 and he returned to England where he was appointed orthopaedic surgeon to Newham District Health Authority. His published papers included Peptic ulcer surgery, The treatment of cardiac arrest and Childhood renal tumours.

One of his last intellectual pursuits was to research the origins and history of the many Wren churches which stood along the route of his daily drive to work from Wandsworth to East Ham. Sadly he suffered a stroke in 1983 and his last years were spent in the Royal Home and Hospital for Incurables at Putney. He died on 18 January 1987, survived by the wives of his three marriages and by his three children, Antony, Tanya and Donald. A memorial service was held near his home in Wandsworth on 7 February 1987.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Med J Aust 1987, 147, 459; Daily Telegraph 22 January 1987; Brasenose College Oxford Records].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England