Lives of the fellows

Godfrey William Bamber

b.14 July 1898 d.29 March 1971
MRCS LRCP(1924) BA Cantab(1922) MB BChir(1926) MRCP(1928) MD(1930) FRCP(1945)

G. W. Bamber, emeritus consultant in dermatology to the United Liverpool Hospitals, was born at Ilkeston, Derbyshire, the son of a schoolmaster, Harold Ormerod Bamber. His mother’s name was Gertrude and she was the daugher of William Pounder, a farmer from Shipley, Derbyshire.

He was educated at Ilkeston Grammar School. He served in the Royal Field Artillery, with the rank of Lieutenant, in France during the last years of the 1914-18 War. He was wounded and sent back to England for treatment and then returned to duty in France. After demobilization he continued his education at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, taking a degree of BA in the Natural Science Tripos before moving to University College Hospital, London. He qualified with the Conjoint diploma in 1924, and graduated MB BChir (Cantab) in 1926. Two years later he became MRCP and proceeded to take the degree of MD (Cantab) in 1930. His academic achievements were completed when, in 1945, he was elected FRCP.

Soon after graduation he was appointed an honorary assistant in the Skin Department of his own teaching hospital, in addition to a busy round of consultant appointments to the Victoria Hospital for Children, the Metropolitan Hospital, the Miller General Hospital and the Royal Surrey County Hospital.

He was, to the end, a very loyal member of University College Hospital and his friends often heard him refer gratefully to the opportunities he had received when working with the great triumvirate of A.M.H. Gray, W.N. Goldsmith and W. Freudenthal.

During the 1939-45 war he served in the Army as a dermatologist. His first major appointment was to the Army Command in Iraq and Iran, known as PAI Force. At that time, particularly in the Middle East, tragic cases were occurring in which personnel were admitted to Military Hospitals apparently suffering from simple common dermatoses but, after a short time, they developed signs of paralysis of the recurrent laryngeal nerves, or serious cardiac symptoms. Often it was not until these signs developed that those responsible realized that the patients’ eruptions were complicated by (perhaps caused by) diphtheritic infection. Dr Bamber’s work in ensuring early diagnosis in these cases, before complications arose, undoubtedly saved many lives.

In 1942 he was transferred to India as Consultant in Dermatology on the Staff of the DMS (India) with the rank of Brigadier, where he served to the end of the war. Although his headquarters were in Delhi he travelled great distances by air and did his best, often in difficult circumstances, to ensure that the dermatological services in the Indian Command were maintained at the highest possible level.

After the war he returned to London and was appointed to the staff of University College Hospital as a consultant, but London failed to hold him and he moved to Liverpool in 1946 and was appointed Consultant Dermatologist to the United Liverpool Hospitals, serving at the Royal Infirmary and the Royal Southern Hospital branches. In addition he was Consultant Dermatologist to the Liverpool Regional Hospital Board serving at St Helens, Bootle and Warrington Hospitals. He became a lecturer in his specialty in the University of Liverpool.

Dr Bamber was a very active member of the editorial staff of the British Journal of Dermatology during the period 1946-62; he devoted much time and care to the translation and publication of the abstracts of world literature. In 1961 he was President of the British Association of Dermatology.

Bamber had a strong sense of duty and was President of the Medico-Literary Society in Liverpool, Chairman of the Antiquarian Society of the Liverpool University Club, and Chairman of the Liverpool Cathedral Service Committee. A deeply religious man, he had a high sense of moral duty and although of undemonstrative personality was a delightful colleague, encouraging his juniors and always available to help in time of need. Although he retired from the United Liverpool Hospitals in 1963 he continued working until 1968 with the Regional Hospital Board and served, until a week before his death, as a member of the Medical Appeals Tribunal.

Apart from his interest in the study of dermatology, his many other varied interests included music, English literature, ecclesiastical architecture and history, antiques and — particularly — English water colours. He had a large and beautiful collection and he was a recognised authority in this subject. For many years, and particularly in his retirement, he had a lively and absorbing interest in gardening.

On 10 March, 1948, Dr Bamber married Edith Marjorie Jane daughter of John Hugh Jones, schoolmaster, from Liverpool. They had two sons, the elder entering medicine, and the second son reading classics at Caius College, Cambridge.

D Freshwater

[Lancet, 1971, 1, 813; Times, 31 Mar 1971; Report of Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine 1970-71]

(Volume VI, page 23)

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