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Fairbank, Sir Harold Arthur Thomas, 1876-1961 (Knight, Orthopaedic Surgeon)



(Harold Arthur) Thomas Fairbank was born on 28 March 1876, the eldest son of Thomas Fairbank MD, a practitioner at Windsor and Mary Louisa Nicholson. He was educated at Epsom College from which he gained an open scholarship to Charing Cross Hospital. He qualified in 1898 as a doctor and in 1899 as a dentist but, after a house surgeon's appointment at Charing Cross, he volunteered to serve as a surgeon in the South African War. On his return to England in October 1900 and after achieving his higher surgical qualifications he was appointed resident superintendent at Great Ormond Street Hospital, and became surgical registrar. He was then appointed orthopaedic surgeon to Charing Cross, the first appointment of its kind in London, and also to Great Ormond Street, where his particular study was of congenital dislocation of the hip. In 1914 he visited orthopaedic centres in New York and Boston but, as the holder of a commission in the Royal Army Medical Corps, he was mobilised with the 85th Field Ambulance and proceeded to Belgium and France, mostly in the vicinity of Ypres. Later his unit was moved to Macedonia to serve in Struma valley, and he was appointed consulting surgeon to the British Salonika Force, being awarded the DSO and OBE, and being three times mentioned in dispatches. On returning to England he was invited to take charge of an orthopaedic department at King's College Hospital and to act as consultant orthopaedic surgeon to King Edward VII Hospital for Officers and to the Treloar Hospital at Acton. He was an honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine and president of its Orthopaedic and Children's sections. As president of the British Orthopaedic Association he was invited to give the Lady Jones Lecture at Liverpool in 1929, and was Robert Jones lecturer at the College in 1938; he received an honorary Master of Orthopaedic Surgery from the University of Liverpool in 1939. On the outbreak of the Second World War he was appointed consultant adviser in orthopaedic surgery to the Ministry of Health, and he was knighted for his services. For over fifty years he contributed to original literature and he was blessed with a retentive memory for people and places together with great courtesy and charm. He epitomised his life's work in his book An Atlas of general Affections of the Skeleton Livingstone, 1951. He married in 1909 Florence Kathleen Ogilvie by whom he had a son, Thomas John Fairbank, and two daughters, Eileen Mary and Kathleen Marcia. Thomas Fairbank died on 26 February 1961. Source: Royal College of Surgeons; personal papers

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:


Second World War Letters, 31 Mar. 1940-16 Jul 1945

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.10082/23
Scope and Contents Letters from Thomas John Fairbank to his parents, Harold Arthur Thomas and Florence Kathleen Fairbank, sent whilst serving in the Royal Army Medical Corps during the Second World War. Particularly evident during his long posting in Gibraltar, the letters frequently contain descriptions of operating cases and sketches of joints and it is understood TJF’s father responded with advice on orthopaedics. The letters have been arranged in chronological order and by year into the following...
Dates: 31 Mar. 1940-16 Jul 1945
Conditions Governing Access: From the Fonds: The collection is open for researchers using Cambridge University Library.

The Papers of the Fairbank family

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.10082
Scope and Contents

The papers consist principally of letters, journals and photographs relating to the service of Harold Arthur Thomas Fairbank in the South African War and First World War, and of Thomas John Fairbank in the Second World War.

Dates: 1899-1945
Conditions Governing Access: The collection is open for researchers using Cambridge University Library.

Additional filters:

Archival Object 1
Collection 1
Belgium 1
First World War (1914-1918) 1
France 1
Germany 1
Gibraltar 1