Army Rumour Service

Register a free account today to become a member! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox!

Obituary

BratMedic

LE
Book Reviewer
OBITUARY Dr A W ‘Bill’ FRANKLAND MBE, DM, FRCP L/RAMC



Clinical training took place at St Mary’s Hospital, where he was taught by a cadre of former RAMC officers; Sir Almroth Wright, Alexander Fleming, Leonard Colebrooke, Zachary Cope and Sir Charles Wilson. Graduating in 1938 he was houseman to Wilson, a decade before the establishment of the NHS.





19 March 1912 – 2 April 2020

The death of Dr Bill Frankland two weeks after his 108th birthday marks the passing of the last medical officer to have served with the RAMC in the Far Eastern conflict of 1941-45.

Born in 1912 in Sussex, he was the younger of twin boys, and the smaller; he weighed 3lb 1oz, and chances of survival were deemed low. But survive he did, and two years later his family moved to Dacre, Cumberland where his father served as Vicar of St Andrew’s Church. From here Bill saw his father leave for – and return from – the Great War, serving as chaplain in France and Egypt. After schooling at St Bees, Bill matriculated at The Queen’s College Oxford in 1930, having gained a Thomas Exhibition on entry.

He graduated BA in 1934, having been taught by such luminaries as Sir Charles Sherrington, a young John Eccles and the anatomist Le Gros Clark. A sportsman, he competed against the record- breaking Olympic gold medallist and future RAMC officer, Jack Lovelock.

Clinical training took place at St Mary’s Hospital, where he was taught by a cadre of former RAMC officers; Sir Almroth Wright, Alexander Fleming, Leonard Colebrooke, Zachary Cope and Sir Charles Wilson. Graduating in 1938 he was houseman to Wilson, a decade before the establishment of the NHS.

With the gathering storm clouds of war, he joined the military medical services as a Civilian Medical Practitioner on 1 September 1939, and was posted to Tidworth where his patients included Major General Carton de Wiart VC ‘the unkillable soldier.’ Commissioned in November 1939, he proudly wore the Sam Browne that had belonged to his father in the Great War. In 1941, after a two day course in tropical medicine at Millbank, he was posted east, arriving in Singapore a week before the tumultuous events of Pearl Harbour. Based at Tanglin Military Hospital he avoided a posting to Alexandra Hospital (and probable certain death) by the toss of a coin. On 13 February 1942 he was responsible for ensuring the safe passage of many QAIMNS nurses from Singapore Cricket Club to the docks in order for them to escape the fast deteriorating situation.

After the fall of Singapore, he was imprisoned at Roberts Barracks at Changi, caring for the sick and injured. The following year he led a British rugby team in victory over the Australians, the latter being captained by Lieutenant Colonel EE ‘Weary’ Dunlop. Although at one time destined for the Burma-Thai Railway, Bill was sent by his captors to be the medical officer on Blakang Mati, ‘Hell Island’, the only medical officer for some 300 men. Faced with starvation and the ravage of diseases, combined with the cruelty of their captors, Bill somehow ensured that not one of his patients died over the ensuing two years. He, himself, was on the receiving end of severe brutality, at one time almost being bayoneted through the chest.

August 1945 brought liberation after the explosion of two Atom bombs. He was later to describe how they ‘saved my life.’ He still had work to do, caring for hundreds of sick men once back on Singapore Island. Finally, he was able to return home in October 1945 and decided to put the awful experiences aside and return to a career in hospital medicine at St Mary’s. He worked as Clinical Assistant to Sir Alexander Fleming and at the same time developed his interest in allergy. He subsequently pioneered the development of the field of clinical allergy, and became a world leader in the field. Although he retired from St Mary’s in 1977, he continued to work as an honorary consultant at Guy’s Hospital for another 20 years.

He was a wonderful teacher and inspired so many in the field. He was a prolific author, his first paper was published in 1941, his last in 2019. But above all he was a most generous man who gave so freely of his time and expertise to so many around the world. When asked, he told how he treated all patients the same ‘regardless of whether they were a prince or a pauper.’

His life was marked by his strong and unwavering Christian faith. He encompassed reconciliation with his captors. Despite his dreadful wartime experiences, he never hated his captors, and in doing so was following the teachings of his father, the Rev. Henry Frankland. He had told Bill, and his brother Jack when they were about seven years old, that ‘you must not hate people, it does you harm but it does not do them any harm’.1,
 

Latest Threads

Top