Lives of the fellows

Peter Kennedy Fraser

b.25 March 1909 d.4 November 1984
MB ChB Glasg(1931) MD(1940) MRCP(1964) FRCPath(1964) FRCP(1972)

Peter Fraser was born in Glasgow, the son of Alexander Fraser, a merchant, and his wife Mary Stewart. He was educated at Allen Glen’s School and Glasgow University, where he graduated in medicine in 1931. He had house appointments at Bradford Eye and Ear Hospital, Victoria Infirmary, and the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Glasgow, and then joined the RNMS in September 1934 - being a lively and amusing member of a batch of ten new surgeon lieutenants under training at Haslar. Details of Peter Fraser’s early appointments are no longer obtainable from the Ministry of Defence, but it is probable that his first ship was HMS Hood and he subsequently served on the China station, where his ultimate interest in the microscope and the laboratory was foreshadowed by an informative article on the diagnosis of tinea infections. In 1940 he was awarded the Gilbert Blane medal for his work.

Fraser was promoted to surgeon lieutenant commander in 1939 and appointed to the Royal Naval Hospital. Bermuda, where he remained for several years. On completion of the normal spell of duty he was reappointed and promoted to surgeon commander in 1945. In 1947 he returned to Britain for a course at HM experimental station at Porton. Following a brief spell at sea in HMS Victorious he returned to Haslar in 1950 as senior specialist in bacteriology. He was appointed senior medical officer to HMS Collingwood in 1953. He had always been an avid reader and an enquiring epidemiologist and this appointment gave him ample demographic material, much of which he correlated and printed.

Peter then spent a brief period in HMS Triumph and later returned to Haslar as senior specialist in pathology, and medical officer in charge of the zymotic section in 1955. During this time he had articles accepted and published in both the BMJ and the Lancet on influenza, adenovirus infections and Q fever. In 1958 he was again promoted, this time to surgeon captain. He gained the Parkes Memorial prize and the Erroll-Eldridge prize in 1960. He then served for three years at RNH Malta before being appointed to RNH Haslar as professor of medicine and consultant in pathology. He was made an honorary physician to HM The Queen in 1965.

In March 1966 he retired from the Navy, but not from medicine as he continued to work in Ipswich as director of the public health laboratories and consulting bacteriologist to the Regional Hospital Board. Unfortunately, a cardiac degeneration began to impose restrictions on his activities and after treatment in intensive care units he was advised to retire from official appointments. This was much against his will, but he continued with part-time medical work in general practice. He enjoyed doing this, in Felixstowe, until two years before his death when he became physically unable to continue working and reluctantly accepted retirement. During his last years he continued to read voraciously.

Many Naval and civilian colleagues will have happy memories of ‘PK’ during his time in the Portsmouth area, and of his wife Doris, née Haigh, and the cheerful hospitality at their house in Lee-on-Solent. They had two daughters, Rosemary and Susan. Peter was a sagacious Scot with a strong character, a lively sense of humour and a friendly personality.

Sir Dick Caldwell
Sir Gordon Wolstenholme
V Luniewska

[, 1985,71; Lancet, 1965,1,1286; Glasgow Herald, 12 June 1985; Medical News 25 June 1965]

(Volume VIII, page 168)

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