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Biographical entry Strange, Frederick Griffiths St Clair (1911 - 2002)

MRCS 1934; FRCS 1939; LRCP 1934.

22 July 1911
Moh Kan San, China
1 May 2002
Orthopaedic surgeon


Frederick Griffiths St Clair Strange, known as 'Derick', was a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital. He was born at Moh Kan San near Shanghai, China, on the 22 July 1911. His father, Charles Frederick Strange MRCS DTM&H, was a medical missionary who held the Médaille d'honneur des Epidémies, an unusual honour awarded by the French government for distinguished service, probably for treating cholera. He served in the RAMC during the first world war and was later a GP in Hampstead. Derick's mother, Olive Cecilia née Harrison, was the daughter of a merchant from Sydney, Australia.

Derick was educated at the Cathedral School in Shanghai, and was then sent to England, to St Andrews School, East Grinstead, as was usual in the inter-war years. He then went to Rugby from 1925 to 1929, where he won 1st XV hockey colours and a 2nd XV cap for rugby. He continued playing whilst at the London Hospital, where he captained the hockey club and played regularly for the United Hospitals. He also played rugby for London University, for Eastern County Wanderers and continued to play for the Canterbury A team from 1950 to 1953.

After qualifying in 1934, he was house surgeon and receiving room officer at the London, and went on for further surgical training at St Luke's Hospital, Lowestoft, and St James's, Balham. He passed his FRCS in 1939 and became the resident surgical officer at Newcastle General Hospital. With the advent of war, he was appointed to Dunston Hill Hospital, where he had the sole charge of 200 beds for wounded service personnel. Here he gained experience in the surgical management of the severely wounded, and in 1943 was awarded the Robert Jones gold medal by the British Orthopaedic Association for his dissertation on major limb amputation. Concentrating on peripheral nerve injuries at Dunston Hill, he devised an operation for pedicle nerve grafting which he published in the BMJ in 1947. In that year Kent and Canterbury Hospital appointed him consultant orthopaedic surgeon. Children's orthopaedic clinics were established at Ashford, Sittingbourne, Faversham and Canterbury. The Royal Sea Bathing Hospital at Margate was used during the war for tuberculosis patients: with the advent of antibiotics these patients were being cured, so the hospital with 200 beds was redeveloped by Derick for major orthopaedic cases. This valuable facility and service was continued until it was closed on economic grounds shortly after its bicentenary. In 1991, he published a fascinating account of its 200 years.

He campaigned for a centralised accident and emergency service for East Kent, achieving the building of an accident centre at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital, but was hindered by conflicting interests and political pressures. His zest for teaching and surgical training resulted in the development of a senior registrar training rotation in Kent with King's College Hospital. A postgraduate centre had been established at which he was a regular speaker.

Derick was a strong supporter of the British Orthopaedic Association and was one of its first post-war travelling fellows: he made a six-week intensive tour of orthopaedic centres in Canada and the USA, which involved attending 250 lectures and gave the opportunity to meet post-war consultants over there. There is no doubt that this travelling group made a large contribution to American surgery. He published an account of 50 years of the British Orthopaedic Travelling Fellows after attending the 50th meeting in New Zealand in 1999. An associate before the war, after his travels he was elected a Fellow. He was Vice-President from 1971 to 1972 and elected an honorary Fellow in 1995 - a very rare honour.

In 1967, he was appointed honorary civilian consultant in orthopaedics to the British Army at the Royal Herbert Hospital in Woolwich. Here, as always, he was a very active and supporting consultant. With his considerable war experience, his advice on the management of battle casualties from our 'peace-time wars' was invaluable in the treatment of the many severely wounded in Northern Ireland and around the world.

He was recognised in many ways. The United Services Orthopaedic Society elected him President in 1973. He was President of the orthopaedic section of the Royal Society of Medicine, a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Hunterian Professor of the College, and a guest lecturer in Winnipeg, Kansas City and Montana. His book on the hip was recognised as an authority, with a unique set of explanatory diagrams which he had drawn himself to simplify a difficult subject.

He married Joyce Elsie Kimber in 1939 and they had one son, Richard, and two daughters, Diana and Angela. There are ten grandchildren and one great granddaughter. He died on 1 May 2002.

Sources used to compile this entry: [J Bone Joint Surg [Br] 2002 84-B 1205, with portrait; BMJ 2002 324 1399, with portrait].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England