Lives of the fellows

Richard Brunel (Sir) Hawes

b.27 May 1893 d.28 December 1964
CMG(1949) Kt(1957) DTM & H Lond(1920) MB BS Lond(1926) Hon MD Malaya(1954) MRCS LRCP(1916) MRCP(1926) FRCP(1935)

Richard, the son of Dr Francis Brunei Hawes, of Dublin, was born at Tarapaca in Chile. After leaving Stonyhurst he was for a time attached to a German Uhlan regiment before entering the Medical School of St. Thomas’s. From the outbreak of war till 1915 he served with the British Expeditionary Force in France as a dispatch rider in the Royal Engineers; later he served in the R.A.M.C, in Mesopotamia and at the School of Chemical Warfare.

On demobilisation he became resident physician to the Seamen’s Hospital at Greenwich until 1922, when he went to Kedah State, Malaya, as medical officer to an industrial organisation. Within a year or two he joined the Malayan Medical Service, and by 1926 the recognition of his ability as a diagnostician brought his election to the chair of medicine in the King Edward VII School of Medicine, and to the posts of consultant to the Government of the Straits Settlements and physician to the General and Tan Tock Seng Hospitals. In 1940 he returned to England as consulting physician to the Colonial Office. He retired in 1961. He had been appointed C.M.G, in 1949 and been knighted in 1957.

Hawes spent his leaves working with the best Viennese physicians of the time, especially Wenckebach, who visited Singapore to study beri-beri. The result was that he was able, with E. S. Montefiore, to make a notable contribution to the knowledge of cardiac beri-beri and its treatment with vitamin B1 (Trans, roy. Soc. trop. Med. Hyg.t 1938, 31, 474-82).

No one who had the privilege of knowing Brunei Hawes failed to recognise the strength of character, wide knowledge and wisdom that lay under his unassuming manner. These and his unfailing humanity brought him the affection of students and the respect of every colleague abroad and at home. In 1920 he married Kathleen O’Neill, of Galway. They had three sons; one graduated in medicine, another became a biologist; the third was killed at the Battle of Kohima in Burma in 1944.

Richard R Trail

[, 1965, 1, 321 (p); Lancet, 1965, 1, 114; Med. J. Malaya, 1965,19, 239-41; Times, 31 Dec. 1964.]

(Volume V, page 177)

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