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Biographical entry Malcolm, John Erskine (1914 - 1998)

OBE 1960; MRCS 1939; FRCS 1945; BSc St Andrews 1934; MB ChB 1937.

28 May 1914
31 October 1998
General surgeon and Military surgeon


John Erskine Macolm was the son of John Malcolm, head of the department of agricultural engineering at Glasgow University, and Jane Matilda née Erskine, whose father was a landowner. He was born in Stirling on 28 May 1914. He was educated at Stirling High School, where he won gold medals in French and Latin, and went to St Andrews, where he won medals in anatomy, physiology, midwifery and forensic medicine. He was house surgeon at Dundee Royal Infirmary and the West London Hospital, and became surgical registrar at King George V Hospital, Ilford, in 1939, where he worked for Neil Sinclair.

During the war, he joined the RAMC, rising to the rank of Captain and Surgical Specialist, serving in Palestine with the Staffordshire Yeomanry. He was present at the relief of RAF Habbaniyah in May 1941, when it was besieged by pro-Axis Iraqi troops. His regiment then went to North Africa, to reinforce the garrison at Tobruk. He was subsequently posted to India for the Burma campaign, where he found himself in charge of a mule-borne surgical team, and accompanied the force that relieved the garrison at Kohima in April 1944.

After the war, he became a supernumerary registrar at the Westminster Hospital under Stanford Cade and Sir Clement Price Thomas, and then joined the surgical unit at Bristol under Milnes Walker. He joined the RAF in 1950, rising to the rank of Air Commodore, and was present at RAF Changi during the confrontation with Indonesia. He was the first Cade Professor in the RAF, and was consultant adviser to the RAF from 1971 to 1979, when he retired.

In retirement, he restored Denver Hall, a historic Tudor country house, and wrote a number of papers on Korotkoff's sounds and the larynx. He married Muara Marion Irene Cowie in 1940 and they had one daughter, Alexandra, and one son, John, who became a doctor. He was the grandfather of Marie, Angus, Johan and Christina. He died from a heart attack while out walking on 31 October 1998.

Sources used to compile this entry: [BMJ 1999 318 1292, with portrait].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England