Lives of the fellows

Harry Kirby Meller

b.22 November 1911 d.5 January 1965
MBE(1945) TD(1946) BA Cantab(1933) MB BCh Cantab(1937) MA Cantab(1937) MD Cantab(1954) MRCS LRCP(1936) MRCP(1939) FRCP(1963)

Harry Meller was born at Streatham, in London, the only child of Charles Harry Meller, an underwriter of Lloyd’s, and his wife, Margaret, daughter of John William Kirby, headmaster of the school at Bozeat, Northamptonshire. He was educated at St. Clare Preparatory School, Walmer, Haileybury College, Hertford, Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, and the Middlesex Hospital. In 1936 he was a house surgeon at the Middlesex and a house physician at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, and in 1937 resident medical officer at the City of London Maternity Hospital. Two years later he was appointed out-patient medical registrar to the Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street. He was therefore well qualified for his aim of general practice, but was called up on the outbreak of war in 1914 as he was already a lieutenant in the Royal Army Medical Corps of the Territorial Army. He served with pride and enthusiasm, first with the 141 Field Ambulance with which he was evacuated at Dunkirk, and from ‘D-Day plus 10’ as second-in-command of a general hospital at Caen. For this service he was awarded the M.B.E. After the European armistice he went to India, and on his release transferred to the Army Emergency Reserve and was given command of the 12th General Hospital.

In 1946 he decided to become a consultant and was appointed to the staff of the Royal South Hants Hospital, Southampton. Two years later this appointment was extended to the Southampton Hospital Group, and Meller moved to the General Hospital with duties that included work in the fever wards at the Chest Hospital and in the small general practitioner unit, the Fenwick, at Lyndhurst. This brought him nearest to his first love, that of general practice, although he specialised to some extent in rheumatic disorders. He had little ambition in an academic direction, but studied the diagnosis of bronchial carcinoma on which he wrote the thesis for his M.D.

By 1952 he was well established, taking an active part in hospital committees, and serving as clinical secretary and treasurer of the Southampton Medical Society, as well as chairman of the local branch of the British Medical Association, but his love of the countryside made him move to Oakbank, a large house on the Itchen at Bishopstoke. There he was able to indulge in his hobbies of gardening, fishing and bird-watching, and to take delight in entertaining his colleagues, both senior and junior. He entered fully into village life; he was president of its Memorial Hall Committee and was active in the church, and he opened his garden for dog shows and garden parties in aid of local charities. As a memorial to him the ‘Friends of the General Hospital’ built Meller Cottage in the hospital grounds for the use of friends and relatives of patients. He would have welcomed this gesture, but not approved of its name, for he was a simple, unpretentious man, with an intense dislike of pomp and ceremony.

In 1938 he married Joan Daphne, the daughter of Alfred William Moore, O.B.E., deputy director general of the Ministry of Pensions. They had two sons and two daughters.

Richard R Trail

[Brit.med.J., 1965, 1, 323, 664; Hampshire Chronicle, 9 Jan. 1965; Lancet, 1965, 1, 563.]

(Volume V, page 282)

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