Blood brother

bethuneChronicling the work of Canadian surgeon Norman Bethune who travelled to Spain in the 1930s to help in the fight against fascism

Norman Bethune FRCSEd (1890–1939) was the Canadian surgeon whose political and humanitarian convictions led him to join the Spanish Civil War, on the side of the Republican (Loyalist) forces in 1936. In Bethune in Spain, authors Roderick Stewart and Jesús Majada describe how Bethune became deeply involved in the anti-fascist effort and chronicled events through his writings and talks. The following excerpts, taken from Bethune’s own letters and reports, cover his creation and operation of a blood transfusion service, the commitment of the International Brigades and the rescue of fleeing Loyalist civilians during the Málaga–Almeria road tragedy.

Into the abyss

mckerrow350Working amid the horror of the front line, Charles McKerrow led a new system of casualty care during WW1 to treat wounds inflicted by high-powered weapons. Emily Mayhew writes

Charles McKerrow left his practice in Barns Street, Ayr, in August 1915 to take up a position as regimental medical officer (RMO) for the 10th Northumberland Fusiliers on the Western Front in the Great War’s second year. RMOs had responsibility for the primary health and sanitation of the battalion in their care on a day-to-day basis, and for the provision of emergency treatment during periods of fighting.

Soldiers, surgeons and a speaker

Charles John Monro with his brother Alex, around the time of Charles’ return from Britain in 1870In the second part of our series on the Monro dynasty, Wyn Beasley  follows the family into the 19th century


The saga of the anatomist Monros took an imperial turn in the first half of the 19th century. David Monro (1813–77) son of Tertius, graduated in medicine from Edinburgh, but then migrated in 1841 in the ship Tasmania, stopped off in Australia where his brother Henry (aka Harold) had preceded him, before continuing in the Ariel to New Zealand, where he settled in the Nelson area. Whether his father was an embarrassment, even in retirement, is uncertain; but we recall that Frederick Knox, younger brother of Robert Knox the anatomist, had emigrated a couple of years earlier, arguably when his family name became a subject for scorn and derision after the Burke and Hare scandal.

Anatomists, ‘mad’ doctors and bonesetters

Top, L-R: John Monro & Alexander Monro primus; bottom, L-R: Alexander Monro secundus & Alexander Monro tertiusIn the first of a two-part series, Iain Macintyre and Alexander Munro trace the origins of a remarkable medical dynasty

The death in New Zealand in July 2013 of Dr Paul A Monro may mark the end of the Munro /Monro medical dynasty, whose origins lay in Scotland several centuries ago.  This two-part series recounts the story of a remarkable, possibly unique, family which included many famous and some less well known doctors.  Related branches of the family achieved fame through their domination of anatomy in Edinburgh and psychiatry in London during the 18th and 19th centuries, while a third, lesser known branch were bonesetters in the Highlands of Scotland.

The man who cleansed Edinburgh

Sir Henry LittlejohnAhead of the publication of their new book, Paul Laxton and Richard Rodger explore the remarkable life and achievements of Sir Henry Littlejohn

On 31 October 1865 Dr H D Littlejohn, a Fellow of the RCSEd since 1854 and lecturer in medical jurisprudence in the extra-mural Medical School, addressed students and practitioners at the opening of the new session:

"A doctor must not only be well skilled in his particular department of knowledge, but he must, in addition, be an educated gentleman.

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