Lives of the fellows

Rupert (Sir) Briercliffe

b.27 January 1889 d.2 December 1975
Kt(1939) CMG(1936) OBE(1919) MB BCh(1910) DPH(1912) BSc Pub Health(1913) DTM&H(1923) MRCP(1935) MD(1936) FRCP(1944)

Rupert Briercliffe was educated at Bolton Grammar School and the University of Manchester. After qualification he became RMO at the Children’s Hospital, Manchester, house physician in the Manchester Royal Infirmary, an assistant in the Public Health Laboratories in 1912, and Assistant Medical Officer of Health in 1913. In the 1914-18 world war he served in Egypt, Gallipoli and Palestine, where he was mentioned in despatches. Demobilized at the end of the war with the rank of Major, he became PMO Haifa in 1919 and DADMS Occupied Enemy Territory.

From 1920-30 he was Deputy Director of Health, Palestine. In 1930 he became Director of Medical and Sanitary Services in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Principal of the Ceylon Medical College. He was transferred to Nigeria in 1936 as Director of Medical Services, and here he organized the development of a medical school which was later incorporated in the University of Ibadan. He also organized the Field Ambulance of the Nigeria Regiment which took part in the Abyssinian campaign.

In 1940 he was appointed medical adviser to the Comptroller for Development and Welfare in the West Indies, and in 1942 he became Medical Adviser to the British Section of the Anglo-American Caribbean Commission, a post which he held until his retirement in 1946. In the rapidly changing political circumstances of the times, medical administration had many problems to contend with but Sir Rupert rose to the challenge. With the meagre resources at his disposal he gave priority to the advancement of medical education locally. He also made a point of bringing forward locally bom doctors and giving them positions of responsibility in the administration. The result was that when power was eventually transferred, well organized medical services, geared to local requirements, had taken root in the countries which he served.

Sir Rupert was passionately devoted to sailing as a recreation - like Mr Edward Heath, to whom he also bore a physical resemblance - and this, no doubt, was the chief reason why he spent his retirement in the British Virgin Islands. He was unmarried.

W Hartston

[Brit.med.J., 1976, 1, 654]

(Volume VI, page 491)

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