Lives of the fellows

Herbert Geoffrey McComas

b.9 February 1907 d.9 August 1977
MRCS LRCP(1930) MB BS Lond(1932) MD(1935) MRCP(1932) FRCP(1971)

Geoffrey McComas was born in Coulsdon, Surrey, the son of Percy Herbert McComas, a shipping clerk. His mother was Norah (née Fawcus). He was educated at Lancing College and Guy’s Hospital. After qualification in 1930 he became successively house physician and house surgeon at Queen Mary’s Hospital, Stratford, London, and resident medical officer at the Children’s Hospital, Sheffield. In 1932 he joined a general practice in Croydon, and in 1934 he was appointed physician to Croydon General Hospital, becoming consultant physician in 1948 at the inception of the NHS. He served on the staff of Croydon General Hospital for 38 years until he retired at the age limit in 1972. He was devoted to this hospital and gave his life to it.

At the outbreak of war in September 1939, he immediately joined the RAMC, and served in France with the British Expeditionary Force. After Dunkirk he served as a lieutenant colonel in charge of medical divisions of general military hospitals in West Africa, India and England. He was demobilized in November 1945.

He was a chief medical officer to the Prudential Assurance Company from 1946 to 1976, and life assurance medicine was always one of his major interests.

Geoffrey was utterly devoted to his patients and to his hospital. He arrived early in the morning and left late in the evening. He had a brusque manner and fools were not suffered, but his junior doctors were all very fond of him. He did not like social life and had few, if any, close friends. He preferred to take very long walks by himself, and he was a familiar figure on a Sunday in the countryside often many miles from Croydon. He was also interested in bird-watching and he was an avid reader of books, both medical and general. He took retirement badly, and he did as many locums as possible in the Croydon Hospitals until he became progressively disabled by osteoarthritis of the hip. The operation he had for this was a disaster as it only greatly increased his immobility.

In 1931 he married Janet Mary Bruce SRN, the daughter of a director of a shipping company. They had three children, of whom two unfortunately died before he did.

GP Baker

[Brit.med.J., 1977, 2, 646]

(Volume VII, page 353)

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