Lives of the fellows

Brendan Joseph Malley

b.12 March 1912 d.23 October 1982
MBE(1945) MB BCh BAO NUI(1935) DPH(1940) MD(1940) MRCP(1939) FRCP(1972)

Brendan Malley was born in Dublin, the son of Luke and Marion Malley. He was educated at Belvedere College and University College, Dublin. His high academic promise as a schoolboy was maintained as a medical student and, having won most of the undergraduate prizes, he graduated with first class honours in all subjects. During his house physicianship at the Mater Hospital, Dublin, he became drawn to respiratory diseases and particularly to the challenges of the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis. These interests were developed at the Grosvenor Sanatorium, Ashford, Kent, where he worked until the outbreak of war, cooperating enthusiastically with many leaders in the field of pulmonary tuberculosis. His association with Laurence O’Shaughnessy initiated his interest in surgical treatment and a friendship was kindled which lasted until O’Shaughnessy was killed in the early days of the war.

Malley was one of a family whose contribution to the Irish national cause in the 1920s had become legendary for feats of daring and valour. However, as a young man, his interests were intellectual and far removed from nationalism and politics. When the Anschluss in Austria was on everyone’s lips and other rumblings of aggression grew louder, he insisted that war was a solution to nothing and another world conflagration an impossibility. He was daunted by the outbreak of war, yet felt his contribution was in service with the Royal Army Medical Corps. Despite his family tradition of courage in battle, Malley was the least bellicose of men. Yet he served in the North African and Italian campaigns and set standards of competence and efficiency that were recognized by the award of the MBE.

On demobilization, he was appointed consultant physician in chest diseases at St Olave’s Hospital, the Bermondsey Chest Clinic, and later to the Guy’s group of hospitals. At that time, tuberculosis was rampant and as the chest clinic grew to vast proportions, Malley’s unobstrusive yet incisive energy made the Bermondsey health centre a model of effective outpatient and domiciliary treatment.

Malley had a large circle of acquaintances and a select coterie of friends. With one of these, Raymond Bautock, he trod the Pilgrim’s Way from Winchester to Canterbury. Between them they identified every furlong of the route, eagerly studied Erasmus’s 1514 description of Becket’s shrine and dutifully celebrated the two festivals of the pilgrimage, the day of the martyrdom and the day of the translation of Becket’s body to the tomb beneath the shrine in the Trinity chapel.

Coupled with his literary interests, he was a cook of some ability, and his wide knowledge of French wines led to his election to the Saintsbury Club. In his retirement he had the ill fortune of being struck by a hit and run driver and sustained injuries which eventually caused his death. He was unmarried.

W Somerville

[Brit.med.J., 1982, 285, 1752; 1983, 286, 72]

(Volume VII, page 377)

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