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Obituaries

William Charles Donald Lovett

BMJ 2019; 366 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l4679 (Published 15 July 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;366:l4679
  1. Jonathan Lovett

William Charles Donald Lovett (“Donald”) was born in Ystradowen in the Vale of Glamorgan, the eldest son of two school teachers. He was educated at Caerleon, where his father was headmaster, and then at West Monmouthshire Grammar School in Pontypool. He obtained his undergraduate medical degrees at the Welsh National School of Medicine, Cardiff and, as an external student, at London University, both in 1942. Wartime demands for army doctors led to a shortened period as a qualified house officer (three months), and in November 1942 he was called up for military service. Training at the Royal Army Medical Corps depot at Aldershot ensued; his memoirs note that this was on an entirely gender mixed basis. He was posted to Nigeria, where he was initially put in charge of Number 1 Detention Hospital in Zungeru. He was scathing about such “detention hospitals,” which seemed to have no function and limited equipment. Consequently he spent most of his time assisting the regimental medical officer of the locally based pioneer unit. After an inspection by the director of medical services the hospital was closed down, and Donald was posted to Number 1 Primary Training Centre at Zaria. He dealt with all medical aspects relating to recruits to the Nigerian part of the West African Frontier Force, which served principally in Burma. While there he learned to ride by playing polo. He commented that it was fortunate that this was during the wet season when the ground was soft!

In April 1945 Donald returned to the UK on leave and then was posted to the 47th Light Division. These airborne troops were intended to land behind Japanese lines to assist the re-conquest of Malaysia. However, while Donald was on embarkation leave, the atom bomb was dropped and the war ended. Donald was then …

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