Lives of the fellows

David Hamilton

b.27 April 1922 d.24 May 2006
MB BChir Cantab(1946) MRCP(1960) FRCP(1976)

David Hamilton was a colourful but eminently respected army physician. Born at Hyde, Cheshire, he was educated at Repton and Cambridge, qualifying at Manchester. Commissioned into the RAMC on National Service, his postings read like the Grand Tour – Calcutta, Tel-el Kebir, Fayid, Suez, Benghazi, Wuppertal, Nicosia and Nepal. For many years he was a junior specialist in medicine and later a consultant at the Catterick Military Hospital.

David was an excellent teacher and, with spectacles high on his forehead, he led a traditional ward round, giving forth on many topics. In his later years, with a young family, he regularly reappeared for an early evening ward round, which usually coincided with the children’s bath time!

His concern was for the welfare of the soldier and, while in Nepal, he corresponded with Bee Nilson, one-time adviser to the Ministry of Food, in an attempt to establish a standard Gurkha diabetic diet. His other major drive related to the continued incidence of heat stroke in young recruits and he wrote of the ‘infallibility of youth’, where the soldier and his seniors press on in the heat even with the knowledge of the consequences.

While serving at the BMH Nicosia in the mid-1950s he was wounded by shrapnel from a terrorist bomb placed on the window sill of his home, but he recovered well. He was a lover of books. Not only was his home like a college library, but every time he changed postings most of his luggage was devoted to his books, with few other personal effects going from station to station.

He was a gourmet and a very generous man. Many a sick colleague would receive a splendid Fortnum & Mason basket of fruit to encourage convalescence. As a clinical tutor at Catterick Military Hospital he revitalised the old Medical Society, attracting the best clinical speakers from far and wide and personally pressing the mess catering into becoming a respectable dining club for doctors. He was the only clinical tutor to run the society account in the red.

He first married Gwenda, who died in 1968. He later married Margaret, his ward sister, and they had two daughters and a son. He was buried, at his wish, in a wicker casket and, at the end, the family’s only regret was that the basket was not from Fortnum & Mason.

David E Bradford

(Volume XII, page web)

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