John WatsonBMJ 2009; 338 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.b1607 (Published 12 May 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b1607
- Tom Cochrane,
- Caroline Richmond
John Watson, who had died aged 94, was a leading member of the generation of plastic and reconstructive surgeons who trained under Archibald McIndoe at the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead. This was established as a national centre for service personnel, particularly air crew who had sustained burns or mutilating injuries during the second world war. Watson performed follow-up surgery on many of the former servicemen in Sir Archibald’s “guinea pig club.” Having watched Sir Archibald, whose dexterity was legendary, cut thin layers of skin for grafting, Watson modified the equipment to cut layers of even thickness. He later revealed that he got his inspiration when peeling potatoes at the kitchen sink.
Watson was born in Liverpool. His father died when he was 18 months old; his mother remarried and moved to Sussex. Later, she was the first woman to become mayor of Hastings. While at Leighton Park School, Reading, he built a television set that …