Lives of the fellows

Harold Sidney Davis

b.6 August 1908 d.6 November 1988
ERD BA Cantab(1930) MRCS LRCP(1933) MA(1935) MB BChir(1935) MRCP(1936) FRCP(1956)

Harold Davis was born in Kingston, Jamaica, where his father was an architect and his mother Edith May, née Goodrich, was the daughter of a planter. He attended Jamaica College, West Indies, and Dulwich College, London. He started his medical career at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, and carried out his clinical duties at Charing Cross medical school, where he obtained a university scholarship in pathology and a prize in clinical medicine.

His first house appointment at Charing Cross Hospital was to Sir Gordon Holmes [Munk's Roll, Vol.V, p.l95]. He was later house surgeon to J Bright Bannister. From 1936-37 he was house physician and then medical registrar at the London Chest Hospital, and later became clinical assistant to Sir Arthur Hurst [Munk's Roll, Vol.IV, p.509] at Guy’s Hospital, following this with postgraduate work at the Hôpital Vaugirard in Paris. In 1938 he returned to Charing Cross Hospital as medical registrar. His registrarship was interrupted by the outbreak of war in 1939, when he was commissioned in the FAMC as a first lieutenant and seconded to Ashridge Hospital (EMS) in 1940. In 1941 he was discharged from the RAMC owing to ill health, with the rank of captain. He resumed his post as medical registrar at Charing Cross and remained there until 1945, when his persistent efforts to rejoin the RAMC were rewarded and he joined the Army Reserve. By 1955 he had been promoted to lieutenant colonel and was in charge of the medical division of the 51st General Hospital (AER). In 1964 he became officer commanding 308 (Co London) General Hospital RAMC/AER with the rank of colonel.

Harold Davis had been appointed consultant physician to King Edward VII Hospital, Windsor, in 1945, and to the Hampstead General Hospital in 1946, where he became chairman of the medical advisory committee. With the integration of the Hampstead General into the Royal Free Hospital group he was appointed physician to the Royal Free in 1954. He also served at the Florence Nightingale Hospital, and the New Victoria Hospital at Kingston. In 1973 he retired from all these appointments, but undertook the local consultant position at Highlands Hospital from 1973-78. He was honorary physician to the Queen 1967-68.

During his time at the Royal Free Hospital he was examiner for London University and served on the board of governors from 1963-66. He was very much a general physician but his enthusiasm was for gastroenterology and it was in this area that he published. He was not research orientated.

In 1973 he retired to Skirmett, near Henley on Thames, which had been his home since 1957. Being a former gamekeeper’s cottage this encouraged him to develop his hobbies of riding, fishing, shooting in the local woods and boating on the Thames. He was an active member of the Hambleden British Legion. His major sporting interest was in skiing and he became a gold medallist. In 1964 he was vice-president of the Ski Club of Great Britain. He was also president of the Eagle Ski Club from 1960-63, and a member of the Kandahar Ski Club. He was indeed a polished performer on the slopes, particularly at his favourite resorts at Grindelwald and Murren. Apart from sport, he was a collector of old silver and English porcelain.

Although a generous host and a good raconteur, not least at the Bath Club, he tended to confine his social gathering to small groups of friends. He was noted for his considerate attitude to colleagues. He had a quiet dignity, with the sort of bedside manner that provides comfort and reassurance to patients. His manner was enhanced by his being very particular about the way he dressed. His usual attire was striped trousers and black coat, the latter with a buttonhole flower, a starched collar, and a watch chain displayed across his waistcoat.

In 1940 he married Molly, née Stimson, who survived him together with their only child, Caroline Penelope. During his final and frustrating illness Molly’s support for him was unfailing. She was the first to acknowledge the tender, loving care he also received during his frequent periods as an inpatient in Watlington Hospital.

AT Richardson

[Henley Standard, Dec 1988; Hambledene Valley Group Mas., Jan 1988]

(Volume VIII, page 126)

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