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William Menzies Clow

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 19 June 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h3376
  1. M E Clow, D J Clow, J A K Davies, M R Howells

William Menzies (“Bill”) Clow’s early life was surprisingly colourful. Born during the second world war to Scottish medical missionary parents, who were running a hospital in Xian in China, this was a classic example of the Chinese proverb, “May you live in interesting times.” The family had two older children. In what must have been an incredibly stressful time for their parents, the boarding school in China that they attended was over-run by the Japanese. Propaganda did not lead their parents to expect that the children would be well treated, it eventually turned out that they were—the Japanese treated children well, and retired soldiers were placed in the school to run it. However, the senior Clows did not know if the children would ever be seen again, and they embarked on a second family, Dr Elizabeth Clow, Bill’s mother being cared for by the staff she herself had trained. First a son was born, then a further son, plus Bill as his undiagnosed second twin. When the twins were 18 months old, the Japanese invasion reached Xian. Bill’s mother fled with the three tiny children across the Yellow River to India and thence to the UK. Bill’s father, Dr Menzies Clow, remained behind in China, determined not to abandon …

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