Intended for healthcare professionals


John Watt Robertson

BMJ 2016; 354 doi: (Published 11 July 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;354:i3819
  1. James D Finlayson

In 1951 John Watt Robertson was skipper of the Livelihood, a fishing boat from the Banffshire village of Gardenstown. The crew were fishing for herring in Loch Geocrab on the east coast of the Isle of Harris. The belt on the winch slipped. In trying to fix this John Robertson’s oilskin was caught in the winch and his right arm pulled into it. He sustained a comminuted compound fracture. He was taken ashore in Tarbert, the main village in Harris, attended to by the local GP, and transferred onward eventually to a mainland hospital.

John Robertson was born in Gardenstown. His family were fishing folk from time immemorial, gleaning the then scant rewards of the sea and sharing the terrible risks of that noble calling. Both his grandparents had died at sea. Not surprisingly his mother was unhappy when, at the age of 14, John insisted on leaving school to work as a deckhand on the family fishing drifter, the coal fired Restore.

During the second world war John worked as a civilian naval worker and was involved, among other work, in the preparation of the convoys heading from Wester Ross to Russia. He applied to join the Royal Navy but was advised that …

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