Lives of the fellows

Seymour Grome Rainsford

b.24 April 1900 d.28 July 1994
CB(1955) MB BCh BAO Dubl(1922) MD(1932) DPH(1937) ScD(1939) MRCP(1949) FRCPath(1964) FRCP(1977)

Seymour Rainsford spent over thirty years in the Royal Navy, during which time he brought great credit both to himself and to the Royal Naval Medical Service. He was born and educated in Dublin, where his father was a physician. He went on to qualify at Trinity College, Dublin, and shortly afterwards entered the Royal Navy. Like many other surgeon lieutenants in those days, after instructional training at Haslar Hospital, he was posted to the China station where, two years later, he was transferred to the permanent service. It was here he developed his flair and clinical interest in preventive medicine, pathology and laboratory techniques. His next appointment was as a bacteriologist on the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf and his work earned him the North Persian Forces memorial medal, the first of several distinctions he was to receive during his career.

When the war broke out he was stationed at the Royal Naval Medical School, but was soon appointed as director of the Royal Naval Blood Transfusion Service, and was promoted to surgeon captain. In the 1940s he was posted to the Far East, where he carried out important work at the Bombay Research Unit on the effects of the environment on efficiency. He also served on the staff of the supreme commander SEAC, Lord Louis Mountbatten. In 1945 he was awarded the Chadwick gold medal and prize for his work on the typhoid vaccine and on blood transfusion.

After the war he was appointed to the post of medical officer in charge of the Royal Naval Medical School, with additional involvement as director of studies and medical research - work which he obviously enjoyed and appreciated. In 1953 he was promoted to surgeon rear-admiral and became deputy medical director general of the Royal Navy.

During his service career he was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath, a Chevalier of the Legion d’Honneur and a Commander of the Order of St John. He also found time to publish many medical papers on different aspects of his work.

He retired from the Royal Navy in 1956. He was consultant pathologist to the Ministry of Labour for the next ten years, and then research fellow in haemophilia at the Wessex Regional Hospital Board between 1968 and 1975.

After the death of his first wife he married Caroline Mary Herschel in 1973, the daughter of Sir John Denis Nelson Hill [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VII,p.264]. During his distinguished medical career he found time for, and much enjoyed, golfing and shooting.

Sir Dick Caldwell

(Volume X, page 400)

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