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Biographical entry Formby, Myles Landseer (1901 - 1994)

CBE 1962; TD 1946; Bronze Star USA 1946; MRCS and FRCS 1930; MB BS Adelaide 1924; BA Oxford 1927; MA 1953; BSc 1928; BM ChB 1931.

13 March 1901
South Australia, Australia
20 January 1994
ENT surgeon


Myles Formby was born in South Australia on 13 March 1901, the son of a sheep farmer on a considerable scale and himself the son of a settler born in Formby, Lancashire. His mother, Elsie Landseer, was the daughter of a prominent South Australian parliamentarian. He was educated at St Peter's College, Adelaide, and at the University in the same city where, after winning a number of prizes, he qualified MB in 1924. He came to England as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford from 1925 to 1928, studying for the BA, BSc and BM degrees. At Magdalen College Oxford he met Arthur, later Lord, Porritt, and their lifelong friendship ended only with their deaths, which were within a few days of one another. Myles was a lacrosse player and captained the university team, as did his granddaughter just before his death, to his great pleasure. His enthusiasm extended to many sports: as an oarsman he was a member of the Leander Club; as a horseman he succeeded, as a brash Australian newcomer on a hired horse, in out-jumping the foxhunting gentry of the Middlesex Yeomanry.

After taking his Oxford degrees he took resident jobs at Charing Cross Hospital and gained the FRCS in 1930. His first consultant post was in the ENT department at Charing Cross but he was appointed to the staff of University College Hospital in 1934, consulting also at the Miller and the Royal Masonic Hospitals. He joined the TA in 1937 and served throughout the war in many theatres, in India and the Middle East as well as in Europe; as brigadier he was consultant ENT surgeon to the Army, a role in which he continued later as civilian consultant, having been awarded the TD in 1946 and the Bronze Star of the USA in recognition of his services.

Returning to UCH after the war he built up a considerable private practice, and although giving good service to his hospital, his disapproval of the NHS as a system led him to refuse to take any salary from it. In his heyday he was one of the leading ENT surgeons, a genial and gregarious man whose patients and whose juniors both held him in the highest regard. In 1957 he removed the tonsils of Sir Robert Menzies, and in 1964 those of Ringo Starr. A generous host, particularly to visiting Australian sportsmen, he enjoyed a wide circle of medical friends and was a benefactor to medical causes. He played a full part in professional affairs as a Council Member of the Royal College of Surgeons, President of the Section of Otology at the Royal Society of Medicine (to which Society he made a generous gift) and President of the British Association of Otolaryngologists. His many contributions were recognized by the award of the CBE in 1962.

In 1931 he married Dorothy Hussey Essex, by whom he had a son and a daughter. This marriage was dissolved in 1952; twenty two years later in retirement he married Phyllis Helps, née Holgate, and they lived quietly in West Sussex where unhappily she predeceased him in 1986. He died on 20 January 1994, survived by his son Roger and daughter Patty, and five grandchildren.

Sources used to compile this entry: [BMJ 1994 308 1295, with portrait].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England