John WinstanleyBMJ 2009; 338 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.b723 (Published 23 February 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b723
- Michael D Sanders
At the age of 19, John Winstanley had to make the difficult decision whether to continue his career as a medical student or join the army. As events turned out, he was fortunate to fulfil careers in both with great distinction.
He joined the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment and fought at Dunkirk, El Alamein, and Kohima. In March 1940 he sailed from Southampton to join the British Expeditionary Force and faced the Blitzkrieg by the German army in Belgium. Fighting was intense and heavy losses were incurred, and, as adjutant, John served to liaise between battalion and brigade on a motor bike. However, retreat to Dunkirk was ordered, and a sleepless journey across France was followed by two days’ waiting on the beach, trying to sleep and avoid injury. Eventually he boarded a small coastal vessel, and on arrival at Dover heard the harbourmaster greet them with the words: “Dover full up: try Folkestone.” A two year period of training then followed before he was sent to Egypt to join the desert campaign against Rommel. Thus he was present during the intense fighting at the battle of Alari Halfa prior to the significant battle of El Alamein under General Montgomery.
In 1944, …