Thomas Wynter BackhouseBMJ 2016; 354 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i4628 (Published 30 August 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;354:i4628
- David Backhouse,
- Michael Backhouse
Thomas Wynter Backhouse (“Tom”) was born in Horwich, Lancashire, the only son of Canon Thomas Backhouse, vicar of St Catherine’s Church, and Mary, née Wynter or Winter. Along with many other sons of the clergy he went to Dean Close School in Cheltenham and was expected to follow in his father’s footsteps into the ministry. However, after his ordinary certificate exams in the classics he decided that he wanted a career in medicine, so there was some rapid catching up required in the sciences. Although the school was evacuated to Monkton Combe during the early years of the war, Tom did well enough in his exams to earn a place to read natural sciences at Queens’ College, Cambridge, in 1940.
In due course he moved to the Middlesex Hospital in central London to pursue clinical studies. While there he worked on hospital trains from the south coast and undertook fire spotting duties, during air raids, from the nurses’ home roof. This required the junior doctors to pass through the underground passages to the nurses’ home while the nurses, in their night attire, passed the opposite way: a challenge for the matrons!
At university Tom continued with sports. While at school he had played for the AFA Public Schools XI, earning a write-up: “Although a head shorter than the Whalley Range centre forward, and easily brushed aside, [he] came again and again into the …