Lives of the fellows

William Mathieson MacLeod

b.30 September 1911 d.21 September 1977
MBE(Mil) MRCS LRCP(1934) MB BS Lond(1934) MRCP(1937) FRCP(1962)

Bill MacLeod was honorary consultant general and thoracic physician at Southampton. He was born in London, the son of William MacLeod MC MD, a physician, and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of John Forbes, a general merchant. He was educated at Inverness Royal Academy, Merchant Taylor’s School, and St Thomas’s Hospital where he graduated in 1934. After house appointments at St Thomas’s, the London Chest Hospital and Southend General Hospital, he was called up from the reserve to become medical specialist in the 13th casualty clearing station. He was captured in France in 1940 and for the next five years served as a medical officer in POW camps in Poland. He was very reticent about this period of his life, but for his outstanding services and inspiring example he was awarded the MBE.

On demobilization in 1945, he returned to medical posts at St Thomas’s, the National Heart, and Brompton Hospitals. In 1946, illness, which had its origins in wartime hardships, forced him to rest but by 1947 he was back in harness, attaining consultant status at St Thomas’s as tuberculosis officer, a post he held until September 1951. He was also medical assistant and registrar at the Brompton, with JG Scadding, until he was appointed consultant physician at the Southampton Chest (now Western) Hospital.

Together with EF Chin, he developed a thoracic service in Southampton which rapidly became the centre of excellence of thoracic medicine in the Wessex region. He had the highest standards of clinical care; his wide experience and sound judgement made his opinion much sought after and his weekly clinical meetings became a great attraction.

He initiated the annual clinical meetings at the Chest Hospital which are now a permanent feature of Wessex medical life, attended by many physicians and surgeons with wide specialist interests. He gave generous support to the new Southampton Medical School and cooperated in the integration of new academic interests and clinical services, taking on responsibility for a general medical firm, in addition to the thoracic service, to facilitate the process.

Bill MacLeod’s published work exemplified the best in clinical research. His account of unilateral hypertransradiancy of the lungs — MacLeod’s syndrome - will be remembered, but his later papers on alimentary tuberculosis and pulmonary fibrosis are equally authoritative. He became president of the Thoracic Society in 1975. In 1976 Southampton University bestowed on him its first honorary doctorate of medicine, an honour which gave him special pleasure.

In 1940 Bill married Margaret, daughter of Frederick Leonard Bell, a civil engineer. They had two children: a son and a daughter. Both his wife and children are doctors. Bill was very much a family man, and in recent years derived great pleasure from playing the ’cello as part of a family group. He spoke occasionally of the great happiness of his marriage and family life, but never of the five years of enforced separation. He delighted in his home, and the garden that he fashioned with such knowledge and hard work. He had a fine sense of humour, and pomposity did not survive long in his presence.

Sir Gordon Wolstenholme
Valérie Luniewska

[Brit.med.J., 1977, 2, 962; Lancet, 1977, 2, 833]

(Volume VII, page 367)

<< Back to List