Eldred Wright Walls

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: (Published 08 December 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a2867
  1. Andrew Walls,
  2. Bernard Wood,
  3. Adrian Hamlyn

    Andrew Walls writes:

    The distinguished anatomist Professor Eldred Walls died in Edinburgh on 24 March 2008, aged 95.

    Born in Glasgow in 1912, the fourth of five children, he attended Hillhead High School, rapidly displaying a remarkable intellect. His father served in the first world war, was gassed at Passchendaele, and died in 1925, leaving Eldred an orphan, his mother having died earlier in the same year. Financial pressures on the family forced him to leave school at 15 and matriculate in Glasgow University aged 16 years and 2 months.

    Initially he planned to study medicine, but when it was pointed out that he would be only 20 on qualification and therefore unregisterable, he started a BSc course in botany, subsequently doing both courses simultaneously. He qualified in medicine in 1934 with first class honours and the Struthers gold medal.

    In the first summer after obtaining his MB he ran a general practice in Argyllshire before commencing his first residency appointment as house surgeon to Professor “Pop” Burton in Glasgow Royal Infirmary. The financial constraints that had plagued the family prevented him from following a surgical career, and it was to anatomy that he turned. He had enjoyed the intellectual challenge of the subject and received strong support from Duncan Blair, head of the department in Glasgow, to make it his chosen profession.

    It was in the dissecting room that he, when an undergraduate, first met Vivien Robb, whom he subsequently courted and married in 1939. There were two children from the union, Andrew and Gwyneth, who survive him. Vivien died in1999, shortly after their diamond wedding anniversary.

    Throughout his schooldays and at university, Eldred was …

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