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Francis William Beswick

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 06 October 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d6425
  1. Robert Maynard,
  2. J Gareth Jones,
  3. Francis W Beswick

Francis William Beswick (“Frank”) investigated the Georgi Markov umbrella murder.

Frank was born in Aberdare in 1926 and grew up in Newport, South Wales. He had an unusual introduction to medicine when he was 14 years old. A Heinkel bomber collided with a barrage balloon and crashed near his home next to St Woolos Hospital in the town centre. The pilot escaped by parachute but the remainder of the crew died. His uncle was a doctor at the hospital and performed the necropsies.

Frank went on to win a scholarship to the Welsh National School of Medicine in Cardiff, where he excelled, taking medals in anatomy and physiology, and he was later appointed to the coveted house officer posts to the professors of medicine and surgery at Cardiff Royal Infirmary. He served in the Royal Air Force in Egypt as a medical officer and never lost the moustache and staccato speech from that period of his life.

He returned to Cardiff in 1952, when J H Dible, professor of pathology at Hammersmith, captured his concerns for the future of clinical medicine. In a prescient address to the Cardiff Medical School, Dible predicted today’s culture where “high quality” defined the tolerable and “excellence grows on trees.” This prompted Frank to return to the preclinical sciences, and he was appointed lecturer, later senior lecturer, in Cardiff University Physiology …

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