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Biographical entry Torrance, Henry Bruce (1927 - 2001)

FRCS ad eundem 1969; MB ChB Edinburgh 1949; ChM 1959; FRCS Edinburgh 1953.

8 January 2001
General surgeon


Bruce Torrance was a consultant surgeon at Manchester Royal Infirmary. His father, Tommy Torrance, was a highly respected Edinburgh general practitioner with a special interest in osteopathy. Bruce attended the Edinburgh Academy and began the medical course at Edinburgh University in 1944. At first he was fascinated by biochemistry and seriously considered it as an eventual career, but by the time he graduated he was firmly committed to surgery. After house surgical posts in the Western General Hospital, Edinburgh, Bruce served for two years in the medical branch of the RAF, becoming Squadron Leader and surgical specialist.

On his return to Edinburgh, he was appointed Whaitte research scholar in the department of surgery, and a year later became surgical registrar under Sir John Bruce and Wilfred Card in the department of gastroenterology at the Western General Hospital. During the tenure of this post, he married Isobel Parr.

In 1957 he was appointed lecturer in Sir Michael Woodruff's department of surgical science, where he carried out research into the liver and pancreas, out of which came more than 80 papers, the Moynihan medal in 1958, and a ChM thesis which won him the Chiene medal and the Syme gold medal for its clinical component.

He was appointed consultant general surgeon to the Royal Infirmary, Manchester, where his work on hepatobiliary and pancreatic surgery was widely recognised. He was visiting professor on many occasions, and was made a member of the James IV Association of Surgeons in 1969.

He was a keen sailor and golfer, playing in the Scottish Boys Championship in 1939. He was a keen trumpet player (his hero being the legendary Harry James of Hollywood fame) and he played with many Edinburgh dance bands.

Bruce and Isobel moved to Biggar, Lanarkshire in 1988, where they soon made numerous friends. Isobel died in 1996 and their eldest son, Anthony, in 1997. Bruce died on 8 January 2001 in Biggar. He is survived by a son, Fergus, and two daughters, Caroline and Juliet.

Sources used to compile this entry: [BMJ 2001 322 738; information from Iain Maclaren and Jack Newsam].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England