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Biographical entry Ungley, Harold Gordon (1906 - 1991)

VRD 1941; MRCS 1928; FRCS 1937; MB BS Durham 1928; MD Durham 1931; LRCP 1928.

17 January 1906
27 November 1991
General practitioner and General surgeon


Gordon Ungley was born on 17 January 1906 in Harringay, North London, the son of Charles Ungley, an accountant and company secretary, and his wife, Grace Daisy Eleanor, née Goody. After a spell at a local school he went as a boarder to Archbishop Holgate's Grammar School in York and from there to medical school in Newcastle, where his elder brother (later a consultant physician in Newcastle) had preceded him. As a student he won prizes in all the clinical subjects and qualified MB Durham in 1928. After six months' general practice he joined the Blue Funnel Line as a ship's surgeon 'anxious to make some money to help my family'. He was on an eight month voyage round the world which he found most enjoyable, and noted that he spent some time in Manila with the retiring medical superintendent of the leper colony who was leaving after 30-40 years' service.

He spent five years in junior surgical appointments at the Newcastle Royal Victoria Infirmary, during which time he developed a severe dermatitis on the hands and forearms as a consequence of the scrubbing-up regime then in force. This had involved rinsing in turpentine and biniodide of mercury before donning wet gloves. After prolonged treatment he was able to control the problem by wearing dry cotton gloves underneath the newer dry, rubber gloves, so that he could carry on with his surgical career. Moving south in 1935 he worked with Lawrence Abel at the Gordon and with Victor Riddell at the Royal Waterloo Hospital for Children and Women.

Having joined the RNVR in 1925 he was called up at the outbreak of war and served with the navy until 1946 as surgeon commander RNVR (surgical specialist). He was awarded the VRD in 1941 and a commendation by Commander-in-Chief the Nore in 1944. On return to London he was appointed consultant to the Southend Group of Hospitals and to the Royal Waterloo. However, at the start of the NHS the Waterloo was taken over and closed by St Thomas's and he was transferred to the Lambeth Hospital. This was later in its turn incorporated with St Thomas's and finally closed in 1971. Ungley, who was a meticulous surgeon and record-keeper, was able to play a full part in the student teaching programme but contributed little to the literature. He was a regular attender at the Royal Society of Medicine and presided over the Section of Proctology from 1969 to 1970.

He married in 1935, while he was a house surgeon, Miss Heslop, a nurse on the ward, and they had an exceptionally happy married life and produced two children, Gillian, and John, who became a distinguished barrister. After a long retirement, during which golf became his chief diversion, he died on 27 November 1991, survived by his children.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times 2 December 1991].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England