Lives of the fellows

Stanley Jack Hartfall

b.27 February 1899 d.31 December 1982
TD BSc Leeds(1923) MB ChB(1926) MRCP(1930) MD(1931) FRCP(1940)

Stanley Jack Hartfall was born in Salisbury, Wiltshire. In the days before the 1914-1918 war a good education was not easily come by; he was educated at a Church School in Salisbury but always said that his real education began when he joined the army, at the age of 17, during the first world war. He trained as a cavalryman, but later became a gunner in the field artillery. After falling a victim to gas warfare and sustaining scalp wounds, he was posted back to England from the battle front, largely on account of his youth. On demobilization he embarked on a course of intensive study which resulted in his matriculation and, in 1920, he became a student at the University of Leeds, where he graduated BSc in 1923. His intention was to become an analytical chemist, but his main interest was in biochemistry and this eventually led to medicine.

He obtained his MB ChB in 1926. His first years in medicine were spent as house surgeon to JF Dobson, and as house physician to Maxwell Telling. He also became a keen disciple of Maxwell Stewart. He was later appointed RMO, medical tutor, and registrar (the only one in those days), and shortly after 1931 he left Leeds to take a post as medical assistant to Sir Arthur Hurst and LJ Witts at Guy’s Hospital, London. Between the two world wars he served as medical officer to the Yorkshire Hussars, and studied in Berlin and Copenhagen on travelling fellowships, working with von Bergman, Morowitz and Meulengracht.

At the outbreak of the second world war he was called up for service and posted as lieutenant colonel in charge of the medical division of a general hospital, formed almost entirely from medical personnel and staff of Leeds Infirmary and local general practitioners. The hospital was evacuated just before Dunkirk, and Hartfall was transferred to Malta where he established a third general hospital on the island.

Hartfall’s main clinical interests were haematology and gastrointestinal disease. In 1935 he was appointed professor of therapeutics in the University of Leeds, a post he held until after the war, when he was transferred to the chair of clinical medicine. He became chairman of the medical faculty in 1961, retiring in 1964. In his later years he specialized in rheumatology, and he published papers on anaemias, blood and gastrointestinal diseases, arthritis and rheumatism. He was honorary physician and consulting physician to the General Infirmary at Leeds, Leeds Regional Hospital Board, and Harrogate Royal Bath Hospital.

In 1931 he married Muriel Hunter, a nursing sister at Leeds General Infirmary, and they had a son and a daughter. The son, William Guy, became a surgeon at Guy’s; sadly, the daughter died while still in her twenties. They also had an adopted son. Outside medicine Hartfall’s major preoccupation was his family, and he was a superb host, although he was greatly incapacitated by increasing blindness in later years. Their house at Bramhope was surrounded by a beautiful garden and he was extremely proud of the profusion of rhododendrons, though he confessed that he was not ‘green-fingered’.

He had a lifelong interest in sport and at one time was captain of the Medical School cricket team. Strangely, although he was a member of his local golf club he never played. When asked about his game he replied that on a voyage to Malta during the war the ship had been torpedoed and, although passengers and crew were saved, his golf clubs had not survived. He never replaced them.

Sir Gordon Wolstenholme
Valérie Luniewska

[Univ. of Leeds Medical Magazine, 4, 9-11, 17]

(Volume VII, page 251)

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