Lives of the fellows

Walter Henry Grace

b.25 December 1892 d.10 February 1953
BSc Sydney(1920) MB BS Lond(1918) DPH Lond(1919) MD Lond(1922) DTM & H Lond(1922) MRCS LRCP(1918) MRCP(1922) FRCP(1939)

No Fellow of the College could fail to notice W. H. Grace when he attended a Comitia, for by the time he was elected a Fellow at forty-seven his leonine head with its bush of near-white hair, and his deliberate, composed manner had already given him the bearing of an elder statesman. He was the son of Walter George and Elizabeth Emma Grace (née Harper). He was born in Coogee, New South Wales, and came to London in 1918 to study at Guy’s Hospital Medical School. Shortly after adding the diploma of tropical medicine and hygiene to his M.D. of London University, he went to Chester, where he held the posts of honorary pathologist and assistant physician to Chester Royal Infirmary, for which several house appointments at Guy’s Hospital and a senior assistantship in its department of bacteriology had prepared him.

In 1938 he became a member of the Middle Temple and was appointed lecturer in forensic medicine and toxicology at the University of Liverpool. His gentleness, charm and courtesy immediately appealed to his colleagues, and his lectures, enlivened by witty comments on his experiences, endeared him to his students.

Overwork soon denied leisure; his lack of time to write has left a gap in our medical literature of forensic medicine. He became honorary pathologist and senior assistant physician to Chester Royal Infirmary, consulting pathologist to the County Mental Hospital, Chester, and honorary pathologist to the Wrexham War Memorial Hospital and Denbigh Infirmary. In 1948 he was appointed consulting pathologist to the Chester Group of Hospitals, vice-chairman of their Hospital Management Committee, chairman of its appointments sub-committee and vice-chairman of its staffing sub-committee. In addition to these onerous duties he was called out at any time of the day or night as forensic pathologist to the North West Region under the Home Office, and was open for visits as a medico-legal consultant in North Wales, Liverpool and the West Midlands.

He took part in many famous murder trials, such as the ‘Hanging Boy’, Cameo, Neston, and Red Wharf Bay cases, and is specially remembered for his evidence in the trial connected with Clements in 1947. While he was always a good listener to the point of view opposite to his own, he was an excellent witness, absolutely unshakeable, and prepared for every shaft of cross-examination because where he wanted corroboration of his own opinion he had discussed it for hours with his good friends Spilsbury, Keith Simpson and Eric Gardner.

In 1920 he married Marjorie Lee and had two sons, one of whom joined the Royal Naval Medical Service.

Richard R Trail

[Brit.med.J., 1953, 1, 457; Lancet, 1953, 1, 399-400; Liverpool Daily Post, 11 Feb. 1953 (p); Liverpool Evening Express, 11 Feb. 1953.]

(Volume V, page 159)

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