Kenneth Fawcett MoleBMJ 2010; 340 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c3176 (Published 14 June 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c3176
- Alasdair Fraser,
- Michael Laurence
Kenneth Fawcett Mole was born in China, where his father was a medical missionary. Returning to England for his final schooling, he won an organ scholarship to Oxford, where he read classics and philosophy. At the outbreak of the second world war his grounding in Buddhist philosophy led him to register as a conscientious objector, and he joined the Friends Ambulance Service, but his experiences with them during the London Blitz made him enlist in the armed services. Posted to India with the Royal Air Force, he was recruited into the Intelligence Service because of his fluency in spoken and written Chinese. After further training he was sent to the Chinese border, where, after three months of travelling alone on foot, he reached the East China Sea. There he and another colleague set up an observation post in the cellar of a Buddhist monastery, where he spent the next two years in this Japanese occupied part of China reporting successfully on Japanese fleet movements.
After the war he entered St Mary’s Hospital Medical School, where, like many of that generation of ex-servicemen, he immersed himself in undergraduate activities. With his music background he conducted both the School and United Hospital Orchestras, and his charismatic but quiet personality made him admired by both staff and fellow students. He wrote a learned article for the students’ Gazette entitled “ECGs for Tiny Tots,” which enabled it to make its first ever profit because medical students from all the other London medial schools wanted a copy.
When qualified, he joined a group practice in Horsham but after four years realised he really wanted to be a singlehanded practitioner and returned to London, where he started a practice in Kensington. Happy with his decision, in spite of the obvious difficulties it presented, he remained a conscientious and hard working doctor until his retirement in the early ’80s to live in France with his French wife, an ex-Mary’s nurse. He returned to England towards the end of that decade after the first symptoms appeared of a rare neurological condition, and settled in a remote village in Dorset. Gradually becoming wheelchair bound, although still the church organist, he eventually became totally bed ridden with a progressive muscular dystrophy. With increasing difficulty he continued to use his computer to write a book for first time computer users called Easy PC, which became a best seller. This was followed by his wartime memoirs and a treatise on evolution and philosophy. His deep knowledge of Buddhism helped to sustain his extraordinary spirit through out his long illness.
He leaves a widow, Jeanne-Marie; three children; and six grandchildren.
Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c3176
Former general practitioner Kensington, London (b 1919; q St Mary’s 1954; BA (Oxon) 1939), d 13 March 2010.