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Biographical entry Pearse, Victor Tomlinson (1913 - 1995)

MC 1945; MRCS and FRCS 1948; MB ChB 1941; FRACS 1957.

12 November 1913
6 June 1995
General surgeon and Paediatric surgeon


Victor Pearse was born on 12 November 1913, the son of Arthur Victor Pearse, of the New Zealand Government Service, and his wife Constance, née Clark. He was educated at Otago Boys' High School and Otago Medical School, graduating in 1941. After junior posts, he joined up. His first posting in 1942 was on a hospital ship evacuating the wounded under fire from Tobruk. Later he served with the Sixth Field Ambulance at Alamein, and was then appointed RMO to the 25th Battalion in 1943, serving with them throughout the Italian campaign and the battle of Monte Cassino. During the advance he 'always moved his regimental aid post as far forward as the roads would allow', and was awarded the MC. Later he was also mentioned in despatches and rose to be DADMS in 1944 with the rank of lieutenant colonel.

After the war he returned to Dunedin as house surgeon and in 1947 went to London to study for the FRCS, attending the College courses and passing in 1948. Then came a job as a registrar at the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford - then a haunt of New Zealanders such as Stallworthy, Hawksworth and Moloney. There he was joined by Cecil Bricknell, his nurse-sweetheart from Dunedin, and they married on 5 February 1949.

He returned to Dunedin in 1951 and was for a time first assistant on the surgical professorial unit then being set up by Professor (later Sir) Michael Woodruff. He was appointed to the staff in 1952. His special interest was paediatric surgery, where a contemporary described him as 'deft, dainty and precise', and he was at his best in the handling of small babies. He was a member of the Court of Examiners of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.

He had a remarkably genial personality. He was a keen golfer and a private but sensitive poet. He and Cecil had two sons - Anthony John (a research scientist) and Jeremy David (a teacher) - and a daughter, Victoria Anne, who is a psychiatrist.

Victor Pearse died on 6 June 1995, survived by his wife and family.

Sources used to compile this entry: [NZ Med J 1995 28 303, with portrait; Otago Daily Times June 1995, eulogy by Professor J L Wright].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England