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Biographical entry White, James Alan Millar (1925 - 1986)

MRCS and FRCS 1954; MB ChB Cape Town 1946; FRCS Ed 1951.

14 January 1925
11 July 1986
General surgeon


James Alan Millar White was born in Edinburgh on 14 January 1925, the son of John Letham White, a public works contractor and a nephew of Frankie Jardine FRCS Ed of the Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh. His early education was at George Watson's, Edinburgh and at Edinburgh Academy until 1941 when he went to Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa for a year followed by four years at the University of Cape Town. He qualified in 1946 and in the following year returned to Britain to be house surgeon at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and resident medical officer at Kirkcaldy Hospital, Fife.

In 1948 he joined the Royal Air Force for his National Service, serving initially as a unit medical officer and later with Transport Command in the United Kingdom, Western Europe, East, West and Central Africa. He returned to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary after demobilisation as senior house officer, registrar and finally as senior registrar from 1954 to 1957. He passed the FRCS Edinburgh in 1951 and the FRCS three years later. During this time he worked with EL Farquharson, Sir James Learmonth, Sir John Bruce and Andrew Logan.

In 1957 he returned to Africa as surgical specialist to the Government of Rhodesia and Nyasaland and later as surgeon to Mpilo Central Hospital, Bulawayo. During this time he had responsibility for all specialities of surgery. In 1969 he moved to South Africa as surgeon to Addington Hospital, Durban and later as surgeon and senior lecturer at King Edward VIII Hospital. He undertook further voluntary work with the South African Defence Forces with the rank of Major, dealing with service casualties in South West Africa. He also played an important role in establishing and training the ambulance service in Durban which eventually covered the whole of Natal.

Throughout his life he made many contributions to surgical journals and an important chapter in Hamilton Bailey's Emergency surgery. He was an external examiner in surgery at Makarere College, Uganda. His principal outside interests were gardening and golf and he won first prize in a golf competition on the day before he died.

In 1948 he married Giena Siemclink BSc, a teacher and medical laboratory assistant. Their older son, Ian, is a specialist anaesthetist in Winnipeg; their daughter, Linda, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree and their younger son, Neil, who graduated in medicine from the University of Cape Town is pursuing a career in general medicine. He died suddenly on 11 July 1986 aged 61.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1987, 295, 395].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England