Lives of the fellows

Victor John Frederick Lack

b.29 September 1893 d.17 March 1988
MRCS LRCP(1918) FRCS Edin(1921) MB BS Lond(1925) MRCP(1925) FRCP(1934) FRCOG(1935)

Victor Lack, a nephew of Lambert Lack, a former honorary surgeon to the ENT department of the London Hospital, entered the medical college at the London in 1910 but his career was interrupted by the outbreak of the 1914-18 war. He joined the ranks of the RAMC while still a medical student and was soon commissioned as a combatant officer, seeing action as a machine gunner, and later as a rear-gunner in the Royal Flying Corps (now the Royal Air Force). Victor soon appreciated that attack is one of the best methods of defence; if he could prevail on his pilot to point the aircraft towards rather than away from the immediate enemy it ensured that he himself, in the tail, was that much further away. After he was severely wounded he was released in 1917 to continue his medical studies and returned to the London.

After qualifying in 1918 he chose a career in obstetrics and gynaecology. In 1921 he obtained the FRCS Edinburgh and in 1925 his MB BS, becoming a member of the College that same year. He was appointed lecturer, tutor and assistant to the chair of midwifery and diseases of women in the University of Birmingham, and assistant obstetrician to the Queen’s Hospital. When Russell Andrews [Munk's Roll, Vol.IV, p.527] retired in 1926, Lack returned to the London as assistant obstetrical and gynaecological chief - after an absence of little more than a year. He became second in command on the retirement of Gordon Luker in 1930 and succeeded Eardley Holland, later Sir Eardley [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VI, p.249], as head of department. He held this post until his retirement in 1958.

Victor Lack placed great emphasis on clinical teaching, using a lively and practical approach to his subject mixed with a little humour to maintain interest. In the operating theatre his technique was safe, neat, quick and efficient, and his post-operative care was personal and sympathetic. He was an authority on ectopic gestation.

During the second world war, he cheerfully took on a post in the EMS as medical superintendent of the King George V Hospital, Ilford, in addition to his other duties.

He was a founder member of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and was elevated to the Fellowship in 1935. He later served as a member of Council and as vice-president. He was president of the obstetric section of the Royal Society of Medicine, represented the RCOG on the Central Midwives Board, and was a member of the General Medical Council. At the London he was chairman of the medical council and of the academic board. He published many papers, chiefly on clinical aspects of midwifery and gynaecology and was a contributor to the popular Midwifery, by ten teachers..., London, Edward Arnold, 4th-6th eds., 1931-61 ,and also to Diseases of Women, by ten teachers... London, Edward Arnold.

Victor Lack had a genial personality and was a charming companion. Outside medicine his main interest was in farming.

Sir Gordon Wolstenholme
V Luniewska

[The Times, 25 Mar 1988,10 May 1988; Lond Hosp. Gaz., Mar 1959,62,(1)]

(Volume VIII, page 268)

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