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Biographical entry Barley, Dennis Alfred (1917 - 1996)

MRCS 1939; FRCS 1948; MB BS London 1940; DLO 1941; LRCP 1939.

20 February 1917
20 August 1996
ENT surgeon and Musician


Denis Barley qualified from King's College Hospital where he won scholarships in anatomy and physiology, was house physician and house surgeon, and specialised in ENT, becoming senior registrar in the ENT department at King's. He served in the RAMC as Major and then became a consultant ENT surgeon in Plymouth. He died on 20 August 1996.

[The Times 22 August 1996, without memoir]

The following obituary was received after volume nine of the Lives had been published:

Dennis Alfred Barley was born in London on 20 February 1917, the son of Frederick William Barley, a Government surveyor, and his wife Alice, née McLaughlin. He was educated at Bec School in Tooting and then went to London University where he was a scholar at King's College, having gained a scholarship in anatomy and physiology, and graduated in 1939 with the conjoint diploma. In 1940 he took his MB BS and worked as a house surgeon at King's College Hospital, where his teachers were Sir Victor Negus and Sir Terence Cawthorne. He took the diploma in laryngology and otology in 1941 and during army service was a specialist in otolaryngology. In the Far East he served in the RAMC from 1940 to 1946 and attained the rank of major. He worked at Great Ormond Street Hospital when it was moved out of London during the Blitz, and in Edinburgh, where he had to take instant charge of the wards when the leading surgeon was summarily dismissed for diagnosing all the patients as having the same condition!

In 1948 he passed the Fellowship of the College and was appointed senior registrar at King's and later consultant otolaryngologist at Plymouth Hospital. During a distinguished career at Plymouth he was renowned for always carrying out a certain eye operation although it was not his specialty. On 13 May 1961 he married Michèle Thomas and they had three sons - Mick, who became a solicitor, Christopher, a telecom product manager and Paul, an accountant. Throughout his life Barley was as interested in music as he was in medicine - indeed he referred to it as his 'second profession'. He was both a composer and a performer. As a student he was responsible for providing music for the Christmas show at King's and in later life he acted as organist at his parish church. He was a keen sailor and had been a member of the Royal Yacht Club, Plymouth, since 1946.

He developed carcinoma of the throat in 1984 and although this was cured his mouth was damaged and he could only drink, not eat. The cancer spread to the glands of his neck and he died on 20 August 1996, survived by his wife and family.

The Royal College of Surgeons of England