William Bingham

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 14 June 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:1279
  1. J S Bingham,
  2. E A Barnett

    William (“Bill”) Bingham qualified at Queen's University, Belfast, in 1941 and, after accelerated six-month posts on the house at the Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH), he joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) and served on rescue ships with the North Atlantic convoys. These were small ships, often converted coastal packets, which were certainly not designed for the Atlantic and which steamed behind the convoys with the task of picking up survivors from torpedoed ships so that the merchantmen and their escorts did not have to stop. The naval surgeon provided resuscitation and medical care to survivors and delivered any other medical care required to the ships' crews in the convoy, sometimes having to cross between ships in whalers in high seas. But because the rescue ships had to heave to to pick up survivors, they made easy targets for the German U-boats and the attrition rate was high, most being sunk. Bill Bingham was lucky to survive. He saw subsequent service with Combined Operations and commanded his own landing craft, converted into a mini-operating theatre, in which he participated in landings on the Dutch coast when Field Marshal Montgomery was attempting to stop the Wehrmacht from escaping across the Scheldt in the winter of 1944. After subsequent service in a destroyer, he ended the war as principal medical officer for the Mediterranean Fleet aboard HMS Orion where other Queen's men in the Fleet, including Jack Pinkerton, served under his command. He was demobilised in 1946.

    Back in Northern Ireland, after a spell in general practice in Bangor, he recalled the training in resuscitation (for the dreadfully injured, burnt, and hypothermic seamen in the North Atlantic) he had received from Dr (later Professor) Alec Forrester in Glasgow, when his …

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