Lives of the fellows

James Armitage Campbell

b.16 September 1914 d.6 June 1992
BA Cantab(1936) MRCS LRCP(1939) MB BChir(1940) DTM&H(1946) MRCP(1948) FRCP(1967)

James Armitage Campbell, physician to the Norfolk and Norwich, West Norwich and Lowestoft and North Suffolk Hospitals from 1950-79, was a general physician with special interests in infectious diseases and diabetes mellitus. He was the elder of two sons of Norman Phillips Campbell, a scholar in chemistry of Balliol College, Oxford, who went out in 1908 to teach science at the Church Missionary Society school at Trinity College, Kandy, Sri Lanka. Here James was born in 1914. In the same year his father enlisted in the Army and after a distinguished record was killed in action at Arras in 1917. James and his brother Norman, now a Canon of the Church of England, were brought up by their mother at Southborough, Kent.

James was educated at Gresham’s School, Holt; Christ’s College, Cambridge, and St Thomas’ Hospital. After qualification in 1939 and various house appointments, James served in the RAFVR from 1940-46 as a wing-commander. He was posted for a time in the UK where he met his wife Elizabeth (Liz) who was an officer in the WAAF (later WRAF) and sister-in-law of Peter Ball FRCP, physician to the Middlesex Hospital. Most of James’ war service was spent in India, Burma and Sri Lanka, the country of his birth, and the experience he gained in tropical diseases during this period led him to take the DTM&H after his return to the UK in 1946.

Following a brief spell in an ex-service medical appointment at St Thomas’, James Campbell returned to East Anglia as resident medical officer to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital and in 1948, the year in which he obtained his membership of the College, he became senior medical registrar. Two years later he was appointed consultant physician to the hospital. He was elected to the Fellowship in 1967. Being the only physician to the hospital who ever held the DTM&H, James was appointed in charge of the isolation unit for infectious diseases at the West Norwich Hospital where he became especially knowledgeable on the treatment of tetanus, then an important disease in East Anglia.

He also became physician in charge of the diabetic clinic and had a special interest in endocrinology. For a number of years he was adviser in assurance medicine to the Norwich Union Insurance Group; he held the office of chairman of the Norwich division of the BMA, and from 1950-53 he was secretary of the Norwich Medico-Chirurgical Society. For many years he lived and had his consulting rooms at 7 Christchurch Road, Norwich, where he created a garden of great beauty.

A kind, loyal and modest man, James Campbell’s professional services were much in demand. Outside medicine he was a superb botanist, a keen fisherman, and well read in English literature. He was an informed collector of porcelain, especially Lowestoft china, and was interested in heraldry. In 1971, when the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital commemorated the bicentenary of its foundation, he was responsible for the negotiations with the College of Arms whereby the hospital acquired a grant of arms to mark the occasion. Sadly, his retirement in 1979 was shortly followed by the onset of progressive vascular disease that much disabled him. During this time he was devotedly cared for by his family and others.

He was a member of Sir Thomas Browne’s church of St Peter Mancroft, Norwich, and one of its sidesmen. A memorial service for him was held at this church, in which his daughters and brother participated. The address was given by his friend, a former incumbent of Mancroft, the Right Reverend Bill Westwood, Bishop of Peterborough. Subsequently James’ ashes were interred in the churchyard.

A Batty Shaw

[Brit.med.J., 1992,305,581; Eastem Daily Press, 22 June 1992]

(Volume IX, page 73)

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