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Biographical entry Harper, Ernest Harold Carr (1908 - 2000)

MRCS 1933; FRCS 1939; MB BS London 1933; LRCP 1933.

30 December 2000
General surgeon


Ernest Harold Carr Harper was a consultant surgeon at West Kent Hospital, Maidstone. He was born in Surrey in 1908, where his father Harry was managing director of a shipping company. His mother was Constance née Carr. He was educated at Hurstpierpoint School, before going to St Thomas's to study medicine. His junior appointments included a post as senior registrar at St Thomas's, two spells on the Queen Mary as ship's surgeon, and a period at Sister Agnes's (later King Edward VII) Hospital for Officers.

He joined the RAMC at the outbreak of war, serving the entire war in the Army. There, among other things, he attended to Rudolph Hess when he parachuted into Scotland. Later, he commanded surgical units and base hospitals across Africa, up through Sicily and Italy. He performed major life-saving surgery very close to the firing line. He was twice mentioned in despatches and became promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. He was remembered by some of his contemporaries for using his operating theatre spotlights to illuminate the San Vitale church in Ravenna, at a time when all the tourists were military ones.

At the end of the war, he returned to become consultant general surgeon in Maidstone. There he became well known as a surgical teacher, with a succession of registrars from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and India. Methodical and meticulous, he only destroyed his notes after 29 years of retirement. He was a keen cricketer and golfer. Later these sports were succeeded by fly-fishing and gardening. He married Barbara Pocock in 1941. They had three daughters, Ann, Clare and Judith, and six grandchildren. Predeceased by his youngest daughter Judith, a St Thomas's Hospital doctor, he died on 30 December 2000 from a chest infection.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Information from Mrs Barbara Harper and Desmond Tivy; BMJ 2001 323 403-4].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England