Intended for healthcare professionals


George Barnet Forbes

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 11 March 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d1604
  1. G B Forbes

George Barnet Forbes (“Jock”) spent over 40 years as a pathologist, starting as a trainee pathologist in 1938 at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading, under Dr J Mills. Soon after the second world war broke out he enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps and was to remain in the services for the next six years, reaching the rank of major. His first overseas posting was to Gibraltar, where he remained for nearly three years (1940-3), taking charge of the laboratory at the Military Hospital with the rank of captain.

On his return to the UK in 1943, Jock was promoted to major as a specialist in pathology and in due course was posted to the 79th General Hospital in Wales. This was a large 600-bed mobile hospital, most of which was under canvas.

The unit disembarked at Arromanches on D Day+9 and was the first of several large hospitals to be mobilised in the Bayeux area of France. He remained there for several months and then moved up through France, Belgium, and Holland, where the unit took over the buildings and grounds of a Dutch hospital at Eindhoven during the winter and spring of 1944-5.

Soon after VE day the hospital was transported by air to Trondheim in Norway. Most of the patients there were Russian ex-prisoners of war suffering from tuberculosis.

He spent a few months in Norway before being returned to the UK, where the hospital unit was disbanded at Oswestry. His wartime service was recognised with a mention in dispatches.

On his return to civilian life Jock joined the staff of the central public health laboratory service at Colindale and while there took part in the MRC trials on the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis with streptomycin following the pioneer work of Waksman in the United States.

During this time he was awarded MD of Aberdeen University, the subject of his thesis being “A Study of Staphylococcal Resistance to Penicillin.” He made a major career change when he was appointed clinical pathologist at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital, Canterbury. In 1963 he was appointed a founder fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists. He stayed at Canterbury until his retirement.

A keen sportsman, Jock was a member of Kent Cricket Club for many years. He also played rugby football for Canterbury until a serious injury involving a fracture of both lower legs put an end to his playing days and eventually led to a below knee amputation of his right leg in 1999.

This didn’t stop him playing golf as a playing member of the Canterbury Golf Club until into his 80s. Other interests included watercolour painting and playing classical music on the piano.

His wife, Doreen, died in 2008. He leaves three sons, six grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.


Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d1604


  • Former consultant pathologist Kent and Canterbury Hospital (b 1915; q Aberdeen 1937; MD, FRCPath), died from pneumonia on 29 December 2010.

View Abstract

Log in

Log in through your institution


* For online subscription