Malcolm Eliot MacGregor

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: (Published 24 February 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g1611
  1. David Snashall

A leading figure in child health, Malcolm Eliot MacGregor was born in London to Malcolm E MacGregor (a notable medical entomologist, head of the Wellcome Entomological Field Laboratories at Esher, Surrey) and Marguerite Muncey, a practising doctor, of Washington, USA. They met in America while his father was on a pellagra commission.

He spent his childhood in Surrey and attended Milbourne Lodge preparatory school in Esher. He later attended Westminster School and St Thomas’ Hospital Medical School.

Both parents died aged 44, his father from Addison’s disease in 1933 and his mother from cancer in 1940. This left Malcolm and his brother, Gerry, in total poverty, but a Lord Kitchener medical services memorial scholarship paid for their medical education. Malcolm’s brother became a consultant physician in Guildford, before being rendered severely disabled as a result of a road traffic accident. The scholarship obliged the recipients, in return for a medical education, to spend five years in the navy after qualification.

Malcolm qualified with honours and worked initially at St Thomas’ as casualty officer and house physician to Harold Gardiner-Hill before joining the navy in the September of that year. He was at Haslar Hospital, Portsmouth, and deployed on the destroyer HMS Havant (destined originally for the Brazilian Navy), which was the subject of a serious air attack at Dunkirk that killed and wounded many of the ship’s company, and which was subsequently sunk by a British destroyer, in order to prevent any of its equipment falling into enemy hands.

Malcolm was carrying his camera, illicitly, during the raid and took many colour photographs of the action. The camera was later left in a London taxi, and he never saw it again. If the film was ever developed it would have provided whoever kept the camera with a vivid and unique …

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