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Richard Jolly: naval medical officer who was decorated by both sides in the Falklands

BMJ 2018; 360 doi: (Published 16 February 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;360:k726
  1. Anne Taylor
  1. London
  1. annetaylor.writer{at}

At one point during his Royal Marine commando training in Lympstone in Devon in 1972 Rick Jolly felt totally defeated by the notoriously challenging assault course. After being encouraged by a younger fellow recruit he went on to complete the course and pass out with his coveted green beret.

A lifelong lesson

In his book Doctor for Friend and Foe (first published as The Red and Green Life Machine), a bestselling diary of the Falklands war, Jolly described how the training incident had provided him with a “very simple, but lifelong lesson: when you think you are beaten, and have nothing more to offer, you’ve only just scratched the surface of what you are really capable of.”

“Doc” Jolly was an eloquent, affable, larger than life character, known for always giving 100% to his men and patients. For his bravery and leadership in treating wounded personnel in the Falklands in 1982 he was awarded an OBE and the honorary naval rank of surgeon captain. Sixteen years after the conflict the Argentinian government awarded him the Order of May. He is thought to have been the only member of the armed services ever to be honoured by both sides in a conflict.

Early in the war Jolly had saved two drowning men in an audacious rescue. He was in …

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