Lives of the fellows

Anthony John Shaw

b.13 July 1930 d.27 July 2015 CBE(1985) CB(1988) CStJ(1989) MRCS LRCP(1954) MB BChir Cantab(1955) DObst(1957) DTM&H(1961) MFCM(1972) FFCM(1983) FRCP(1989)

Anthony John (‘Tony’) Shaw was director general of Army Medical Services from 1983 to 1987. He was born in Dover, Kent, the son of Ethel and William Arthur (‘Bill’) Shaw. His father was a captain and company commander in the 2nd Battalion Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment and had recently returned home after seven years in India, where he was mentioned in despatches on the north west frontier. In the First World War he had survived Ypres and subsequent trench warfare in 1914 and 1915; he was evacuated home having been wounded in the arm at Neuve Chapelle. Later on, in 1917, he was awarded the Military Cross in the Third Battle of Gaza.

In the summer of 1943, Tony went to Epsom College, where he could hear the sound of the V1 Doodlebug bombers as they flew over the Surrey Hills destined for London. He wrote: ‘They were dangerous years but, for a small boy, at the same time exciting. We had bombing every night and witnessed the Battle of Britain overhead during those days. Later we were on the direct V1 and V2 rocket tracks for London, but like the bombing, sometimes the missiles came down prematurely. We had a grandstand view from the Epsom Downs of the V1(flying bombers) going overhead, although one landed in the lane outside the school during a Latin Lesson. In 1944, I recall lying in bed in the dormitory and hearing the ceaseless roar of aircraft passing over to France around D-Day. School went down early that year because of the V1 threat and we spent three months in Abersoch in a glorious hot summer. When we returned to the south the news broke that we had captured the V1 and V2 sites.’

After Epsom College, Tony went up to Clare College, Cambridge, in 1948 and then to Westminster Medical School for his clinical years from 1951 to 1954. He began his deferred National Service as a doctor in 1956 following in the footsteps of his uncle, Mart Malley, and in the early years trained as an obstetrician (finding himself as a junior specialist in British Military Hospital, Bighi, Malta).

He then changed course in 1959 to pursue a career in field medicine – later the command and staff stream – attending the Staff College at Camberley and the National Defence College course in 1972.

As deputy director general, he was a dedicated and knowledgeable Army officer, a man of ideals and true values, straight and honest. From Brigadier he was promoted to major general and became commander medical of the United Kingdom Land Forces in Wilton, Salisbury.

Apart from his leadership of the three medical corps (later four), probably his greatest achievement was when he was at the RAMC Training Centre, where he set about insisting that medical officers in the command, staff and hygiene streams should enter higher training schemes with a view to obtaining postgraduate degrees and recognition in the civilian faculties of community and occupational medicine. Many years previously a general, Alex Drummond, had likewise succeeded with hospital doctors. Tony himself was the first non-clinical specialist to become director general of Army Medical Services.

By now Tony had been awarded the CBE and the CB, and had been made Queen’s honorary physician. His time as director general of Army Medical Services could be looked upon as one of great steadiness, but also of preparedness for operational readiness (indeed for the First Gulf War).

Many would have finally retired at this point, but Tony had always taken an interest in the way patients were treated – following on his experiences as an obstetrician, as commanding officer of the Cambridge Military Hospital in Aldershot and partaking in a general practitioner capacity whenever possible. So, he then spent many years working for the Army medical boards in Aldershot. He was saddened by some of the experiences soldiers encountered when leaving the Army after injury or illness. He was kind and sympathetic to their needs, both physical and emotional.

Tony enjoyed a large variety of sports, from swimming backstroke for Epsom College and rugby at Esher Rugby Club, to representing the Army at squash. He enjoyed tennis and loved the sea, both in dinghies and in particular sailing off shore.

In retirement as well as serving on the Army medical boards, he continued to enjoy his off-shore sailing, travelled extensively to Australia, Africa, India and Russia with his wife Gill (née Best). He was a churchwarden and a parish councillor. He was survived by Gill and a daughter, Fiona, a son, David, and their families.

David Shaw
Sir Peter Beale

[Wikipedia Anthony Shaw – accessed 7 September 2016]

(Volume XII, page web)

<< Back to List