Lives of the fellows

Arthur Thompson Cook

b.21 October 1923 d.10 December 2000
MRCS LRCP(1946) MB BS Lond(1946) DTM(1954) MRCP Edin(1954) MRCP(1955) DCH(1955) FRCP Edin(1965) FRCP(1975)

Major General Arthur Cook was a much-respected British Army physician with a very shrewd and succinct style. His economy with words was legendary among his colleagues, but in relaxed company, after work, he was a most entertaining raconteur. He was tall and had a commanding presence, but achieved excellent rapport with his patients and colleagues.

He was born of a British missionary family in Szechuan, China, and educated in distant Shantung and at the City of London School and St Thomas's Hospital, graduating in 1946. He had as a senior medical student volunteered to join a group of London colleagues to assist in the relief of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in April 1945, an experience of which he never spoke.

He joined the Royal Army Medical Corps in 1948, and received a regular commission in 1952. His early service was typical of the time in that he had nine postings in five years between military hospitals in Egypt, Libya, Cyprus and Trieste. During 18 months of study leave in London he achieved both the Edinburgh and London memberships and added diplomas in tropical medicine and in child health.

He became a consultant physician in 1957 and his subsequent postings took him to British Military Hospitals in Japan, Malaya, Germany and Singapore, with an exchange posting to the United States Army Letterman General Hospital in San Francisco in 1960.

He was senior consultant physician at the Queen Alexandra Military Hospital at Millbank, and assistant professor of military medicine at the Royal Army Medical College from 1968 to 1972.

After a further hospital post in Germany he became consulting physician British Army of the Rhine as a brigadier in 1976, and was promoted to major general in the following year as director of army medicine and honorary physician to the Queen.

Among his publications were a Lancet paper in 1949 describing some of earliest experiences of treating typhoid fever with chloramphenicol, and a study of renal function after recovery from leptospirosis.

After he retired from uniform he did spells as physician at BMH Berlin and as one of the resident physicians at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea. When he retired from clinical work he devoted his energies to vigorous gardening and golf in Hampshire and to his family. He died of bronchogenic carcinoma. He had married Kathleen Lane, a nursing officer, in 1960, and they had two sons and one daughter.

G O Cowan

(Volume XI, page 124)

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