Francis Oughterson Brown

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 04 October 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:727
  1. Colin Brown

    Francis Brown grew up in Greenock and in the West End of Glasgow, and was educated at Kelvinside Academy and Loretto School. In 1940 he went to Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, then returned to Glasgow for the final MB, qualifying in 1945. After only six months as a house surgeon, he was called up to the Royal Army Medical Corps, and was posted to Egypt and Palestine as regimental medical officer for the King's Own Scottish Borderers, and then in Cyprus for the South Wales Borderers.

    He had a fascinating time in the multinational chaos of the post-war Middle East, from the smells of Cairo to the drama of Jerusalem. Military life was not helped by regulations, which he would work around in the health interests of the men—for example, converting Sick Parade into individual appointments, presenting the Sick Report in verse, using individual needles, or installing “Privacy for privates' privates” (hessian screens that eliminated sickness absence due to constipation). And it could also be civilised, with officers' quarters with playing and recordings of classical music, formal balls, and Burns' nights. In Palestine the atrocities of the Irgun left a lasting impression, as did the suffering of the Jewish refugees whom British forces had to police under the UN mandate.

    After demobilisation in 1948 he returned to Glasgow as registrar at the Western and at Victoria Infirmary, where he had the misfortune to admit his own father with fatal injuries. He then trained in diagnostic radiology and was appointed in 1959 as consultant to Stirling and the neighbouring hospitals of Alloa and Falkirk. Here he led the department, sometimes working single handed, and served on the hospital board and on Forth Valley Health Board. He enjoyed the variety of work in providing a general diagnostic support service for the various specialties, and the personal contact with patients for the invasive investigations performed in those years before digital imaging took over. He also helped to train a series of young foreign doctors, and in 1969 spent three months in Sierra Leone as the only radiologist there.

    In 1951 he married Betty Wylie, and those years in the West End of Glasgow of the 1950s were their heyday. He was early in the post-war queues to get a car, and they enjoyed that era of dances, dresses, tailored suits, and trams with their many friends. They moved to Bridge of Allan in 1959 with their children Colin and Anne, then on his retiral in 1983 to Auchterarder. He enjoyed going fishing, and was a keen pianist.

    Latterly he developed dermatomyositis. An initial professional intrigue at this rare illness soon vanished with progressive muscle wasting, aggravated by blindness due to macular degeneration, and he died peacefully at St Margaret's Hospital close to his home in Auchterarder, leaving his wife, Betty; children, Colin and Anne; and four grandchildren.


    • Former consultant radiologist Stirling Royal Infirmary (b 1921; q Cambridge/Glasgow 1945; MA, FRFPS Glas, DMRD Eng, FRCP, FRCR), died from dermatomyositis on 16 May 2007.

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