Lives of the fellows

Terence Charles St Clessie Morton

b.25 September 1893 d.16 October 1968
OBE CB(1951) MB ChB Edin(1915) MD(1922) DTM&H(1921) MRCP(1926) DPH(1927) DPM(1933) FRCP(1944)

Terence Morton was born in Mussooree, India; his father, Robert Ainslie Morton was a lawyer; his mother, Margaret Ann De Mello was the daughter of Charles De Mello, an inspector of schools.

Morton was educated at Stewart’s College Edinburgh and at Edinburgh University. He joined the RNVR as surgeon probationer on 21st December 1914, qualified MB ChB in 1915 and was commissioned as temporary Surgeon Lieutenant in July 1915. After initial training at Haslar Hospital, he was posted to HMS Temeraire and was in medical charge of Temeraire at the battle of Jutland.

In September 1918 he transferred to the Royal Air Force and was commissioned temporary Captain; he was granted a permanent commission in the RAF as a Flight Lieutenant dating from 1st August 1919. He was posted to Hampstead RAF Hospital and had a 3 weeks course in bacteriology before being sent on the "Z expedition" to Somaliland as bacteriologist in November 1919.

He returned to home establishment in May 1920, and was posted to RAF Hospital Halton, where he served until he was posted to Ludd RAF General Hospital, Palestine in 1923, having in the meantime passed the DTM & H examination.

He was a keen shot, and took every opportunity to go shooting. Unfortunately while out shooting at Wadi Rubin in February 1925 a 12 bore was accidentally discharged at close range and he suffered a wound 2½ inches long from the root of the nose upwards and outwards to the right; it singed his eyelashes and eyebrow and there was a laceration of the cornea of the left eye. He was invalided home but after a few months at Uxbridge he was promoted to Squadron Leader and then posted to Henlow. In December 1925 he was posted as pathologist at RAF Hospital Halton, and in the following year gained the MRCP.

During the first part of 1927 he took study leave and gained the DPH. During most of 1928 he was at Halton as a pathologist, but on 1st December 1928 he was posted to Uxbridge as Deputy Principal Medical Officer (Hygiene).

In October 1929 he was posted as pathologist to RAF Hospital Hinaidi, and remained there until posted home to the laboratory at RAF Hospital Cranwell in 1932. He was promoted Wing Commander and was appointed OBE for his work at Cranwell. In July 1935 he took command of the Institute of Pathology and Tropical Medicine at Halton.

At the beginning of 1939 he was promoted Group Captain and a month later went to Iraq as Principal Medical Officer and Commanding officer of the hospital at Habbanyia; he was mentioned in despatches for his work during the Iraq rebellion. On return from Iraq he took command of RAF hospital Ely and in 1943 was appointed in command of the Institute of Pathology and Tropical Medicine as Acting Air Commodore. In January 1944 he was made RAF Consultant in Pathology and Tropical Medicine and in the same year was elected fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. In 1948 he was appointed Senior Consultant to the RAF and promoted Air Vice Marshal.

He was awarded the CB and retired from the RAF in September 1951 to take up the post of area pathologist for West Cornwall at Truro, an appointment he held for the next 10 years.

Morton was a member of Council of the Association of Clinical Pathologists from 1950-1953 and a member of Council of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene from 1948-1951; he was President of the South Western Branch of the BMA 1956-57 and President of the Section of Pathology at the BMA Annual Meeting in 1960.

Morton was primarily interested in people and this was reflected in his ardent support of the Association of Clinical Pathologists; he fervently believed that a pathologist should not be content with examining specimens but should see and personally examine the patients from whom the specimens were taken. As Consultant in Tropical Medicine he had direct responsibility for his special interest in tropical medicine; this interest was shown in his publications which were all on subjects connected with tropical medicine.

Morton was an excellent teacher at the bedside, in the lecture theatre and by personal contact. He lectured fluently, without notes and with a wealth of personal experiences and anecdotes; many doctors and particularly pathologists who passed through Halton between 1943 and 1951 owe much to his inspiration and to his personal interest in their problems, both during their service careers and afterwards.

He was a voracious reader with an unusually retentive memory, but he also had a deep affection for the Royal Air Force and found time to take a full part in all the activities which brought him in contact with other sections of the service. He was a keen shot, a passionate fly fisherman and in later years an enthusiastic golfer; he had a special interest in bird-life and gardening. In this latter respect he had one unfortunate disability; he was very allergic to chrysanthemums and if one was in a room and either he or it did not leave immediately, he would be acutely ill.

He was essentially kindly and conservative; too kindly and too conservative to be a good administrator at a time of change; he liked people and hated to offend anyone. Three weeks before his death his conversation was full of requests for the latest news of the progress of doctors who had served under him 20 years and more earlier.

WP Stammers

[Brit.med.J., 1968, 4, 259, 395]

(Volume VI, page 349)

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