there was no secondary education, only a State School no Catholic school for secondary so my father decided to send me … a lot of the Catholic boys went to school at Charters Towers or Brisbane but he sent me to Sydney because he’d heard of the Jesuits and he was very impressed them and he wanted me to got to school there, so we went to St Ignatius College Riverview. But it was a long way to travel, there was no flying in those days, it took you five days in a train to get there.
So we only went home once a year. And so after I finished my schooling I then went to the university to do Medicine – I went to St. Johns College. But I only … I like St Johns College very much but I … my parents came down to live, they’d only seen us a once a year for the past seven years you see and I knew they wanted me to be at home so I left St Johns and I did the rest of my living at home at
eleven Cable Street, no, no that was off, they lived in Chatswood, Ashley Street, Chatswood. So I finished my course and then I was a Resident at St Vincent’s Hospital for two years. Then I went up to the Royal Newcastle Hospital for two years and I at that time thought I might like to be a surgeon
and I had booked to go to England at the end of that year but I’d finished up at Newcastle in the middle of the year so I got a job as Ship’s Doctor to go on a trip. And we went up to New Guinea and the Philippines and Hong Kong and Saigon and this ship was in Saigon when the war started. And I can vividly remember [Robert] Menzies [then Prime Minister of Australia] saying “It’s my melancholy
duty to tell you that we are at war with Germany”. Because Britain has declared war and ipso facto we are at war with Germany. So I said oh well I’ll join the army when I get back to Australia, instead of going up to study to be a surgeon. And um they ah … But when I got back there was no war on. It was called ‘the Phoney War’.
And it wasn’t until, oh early in nineteen forty that they started to come and get into all the countries and then … I’d filled in the time, I didn’t go into anything and I thought I won’t join the army until there’s something going on. And but I was up in the country and I thought well when I get back to the city I’ll join the army. But I came back to Sydney and found that my brother had joined the air force so
I thought I’d join the air force. So I joined the air force and then in the air force I was a … First of all you had to go to Laverton, it was the biggest training school, all the doctors had to go there. Because I didn’t even know what ranks there were in the army or air force or what forms you had to fill in and they told you all that for a couple of weeks. Then you had to go and do two months recruiting and I did that for a couple of months and then I
was placed into what was called a Blood Group Team and that was two doctors and two orderlies. Because everybody that went into the army was blood grouped on admission but the air force hadn’t done it. And for six months a lot of people had got into the air force and weren’t blood grouped. So we went around all New South Wales and Victoria doing blood grouping. And there was a chap called Stan Reed who was a doctor but he’d been
in the air force and he had his wings and they called him up when the war started but they found out he was a doctor and he said you can’t be a pilot now anymore, you’ve got to go into the Medical Section. But he got a pretty high rank because he’d be in it for a while. And he was in control of this Blood Group and he sent for me one day and he said there are two fighter squadrons going to the Middle East and I’ve got myself on one and I seem to get on pretty well with you, how would you like the other one? Oh I’d like
that I said so I was posted to that squadron. And I went over to the Middle East with this fighter squadron. And when we first went there … We went over with no pilots, it was all just ground crew – there was one pilot actually – and we would then pick up all our blokes who’d been trained overseas to come and be the pilots. But that
was delayed by the Syrian Campaign because what happened there was an English squadron with, their pilots had come out there but their ground crew was coming out on the boat, so we became then it was called, I forget the others, we were four fifty, I think they were two nine or something or a other but their pilots came with us with the ground staff. And then the Syrian Campaign only lasted about oh I think six months and we served in the last three months
of that. And then after that we went out into the Western Desert. And out there was pretty grim and we were at a place called Gambut up near Tobruk, up where the soldiers had been defending and then we came back. But the war in fighter squadrons was a bit like a battle at sea because when you got out in the Western Desert there was nobody there, no-one to get hurt and we were there
and then eventually Rommel [German General] came and he drove us back and all our troops were oh quiet, they thought what a wonderful General Rommel and our blokes weren’t so good you see, it was them that we were getting pushed over by him. But, we used to listen to the German radio at night, they’d, all the Germans would sing Lili Marlene. And we’d listen to them singing in German you see but then we came back to
El Alamein and then they got a bloke called [General] Montgomery who turned out to be a marvellous general. And he got the troops before the battle started and he said to them, you all think Rommel’s a great general and he certainly he is but you’ve got a better one to lead you and that’s me and so that really you know put the troops on and of course they went from strength to strength after that. But then I was called back to Australia
just after that and I came back to Australia and I was at various stations around Australia and then they started to form things called Medical Clearing Stations. They were small units, only thirty-five, that went in with the landings. And I was … it was 28 MCS [Medical Clearing Station] and I was appointed the CO of this unit. And first of all we were formed up at Ascot Vale in Melbourne and then it went to
ah Townsville – we had a few months at Townsville and then we went up to Morotai and then from Morotai the invasion of Tarakan. Now in my experience in the Middle East we moved, the fighter squadron, moving all the time but we went into … they told us where we were to be stationed. And to tell you what it was like, when we were in Morotai we’d
seen a whole lot of wires all around the place – it was telephones the Japs had had. And our troops got this and found it very useful for putting up tents and binding things together. And when we got to Tarakan here were all these wires again. So they got all these wires and started gathering them up and not long after that a colonel comes up to me and says who’s the Commanding Officer of this unit and I said I am, he said well your troops have just
cut our artillery off from the front line – and they were firing over our heads at the front line you see. So we were right in the thick of things there. And then we were there of course … Suddenly, we didn’t know the war was over in Europe because we’d just taken at that time the invasion of Tarakan. And ah, but then eventually it went on and we thought we were going to be there for years because the Japs were fighting like tigers everywhere you went and we
thought Gawd when we get up into Japan what are they going to be like there you see. And suddenly a thing called the atom bomb was dropped and they dropped it a second time. And it was great for us, the war was over we were going home. And um there was a chap called Group Captain Cheshire, he was a famous pilot and he went, he was a bomber pilot – an Englishman, and he went with the one of the planes that went and dropped the bomb on Nagasaki and Yokohama
and he reckoned it was justified in that although it killed forty thousand or more, I don’t know a hell of a lot of people, it saved many more lives if they’d had to go up and fight through all the other islands and into Japan. So to us it was a great thing. And then I came back to Australia and I’d thought I’d like to be a surgeon but I didn’t get much surgery in the air force, I was doing other things and so I decided I’d like to be a physician. So then I trained
as a physician and I got interested in Chest Medicine and the big thing then was tuberculosis of course. So I went over to England and I, I spent nearly three years over in England and did the, I’d done the Australasian Fellowship, then I did the London Fellowship. And then we, I went to first of all a big TB [Tuberculosis] hospital in Medhurst called
King Edward VII Sanatorium, Medhurst, Sussex. And that’s where I met my wife there, she’s English, and I think it was a damn good thing I went there. And ah but then after that I went to Brompton Hospital which is a big hospital for chest diseases in London. And then I was trained there and then back to Australia in nineteen fifty and I worked at oh all sorts of places but the two main hospitals I worked on were St Vincent’s Hospital and Royal North Shore Hospital. They had big Chest Units then. And so
I was there. And then I went on, that’s what I kept doing, chest medicine until I retired. And how I came to retire was that my wife during the last seven years I’d been in practice had been my secretary you see and she said to me, she was getting on to sixty-five then, and she said “Geoff have you ever thought of retiring?” And I said well no I like doing this, I enjoy doing medicine, it’s a pleasure and I said if you’re a physician it’s not like a Surgeon
when you’ve got to have dexterity and good eyesight, if you’ve got enough strength in your body to sit down at the desk and your brain’s going all right and enough get up and go to go over to the couch and put the stethoscope you can continue and she said to me well if that’s the case you look as though you could go on forever and I said … she said I don’t want to go on forever so I’ll leave and I said well I’ll retire too. Oh no she said you can get another secretary like you used to and
so I said no I’m not doing that I’ll retire. So I retired and we came down to live here. I had one son who was a doctor who was over in America and he was at the Maher Clinic and he had a family but the only children we had in Sydney were down at Lilli Pilli so we came down to … and we’ve been there ever since and so that’s more or less my life.
too, there were two boys and then three girls and she was the youngest, and she was very good. As I say my father retired at forty-nine but he lived to be eight-six and mother lived to be eighty-four. So they both were going pretty well. And I don’t know whether it would be any good saying anything about one of my sons in this. What happened he,
he did Medicine and he specialised in Neurology and he went to the Maher Clinic which is a famous you know you’ve probably heard of it in the United States and he spent thirteen years there and he got a lot of expertise there but he always wanted to come back to Australia. He had five children. He married an American girl. And they came back to Australia eventually, about four or five years ago and last year he got a cancer of the oesophagus. And it was terrible
it looked as though he was going to die. He had secondaries all in his abdomen and he said to me he said “Dad you know I’ve lived a pretty healthy life, I’ve never smoked and I only drink moderately, I do a lot of exercise” – he’d bought a house Pymble with his own tennis court and he played a lot of tennis – and he said “If I go into a building I don’t go up in the lift I go up the stairs to get some exercise” he said and he said “When I see you and how
healthy you are and you’re nearly ninety-two I thought I’d live to be a hundred but I’m having second thoughts now”. But fortunately he has had chemotherapy and I believe he’s been cured. And I think it’s a lot to do with prayer because it’s an absolute miracle all these secondaries have gone, the thing’s gone. And he said to me the surgeon said he was going to do a tremendous operation lasting six hours to get it out of his
oesophagus and his stomach and he said they did a special thing called a PET [Positron Emission Tomography] Scan they see you see and they didn’t … it showed all the secondaries gone after this chemotherapy and there was some activity in the stomach but the surgeon did another look and he said “Oh it looked all right to me” and he took a lot of biopsies that were all negative and he said that “Oh no need for me to do an operation I think you’re cured”. But my son, Phillip’s his name,
he said to me “You know they’ve taken all these biopsies but never mind there might be some rogue cells there so he’s having two more courses which start next Monday of chemotherapy to make, as Shakespeare would say “to make assurance double sure”.
had come down to join the army. I’d been in the country doing a locum and I’d come back to join the army but he’d join the air force so I thought I’d join the air force too. But he, they, both my brothers joined the air force, both as pilots and they were very strict then you had to get, they were scrubbed, they weren’t allowed to, they didn’t advance quick enough. And so Phil my brother was put in as
a, a, I forget what they call them, a link trainer instructor, you know you change people in these planes and in the rooms you see and all the instruments and that sort of thing. And he thought I didn’t join the air force to teach people in link training instruction so he got out and joined the army. But my other brother he was scrubbed too and he stayed in the air force and he became a sergeant or something about I don’t know … but he went up, he was in the invasion of
Labuan and I was in the invasion of Tarakan, which is north of Borneo. And on the other side of Borneo, Labuan, another island and he was in the invasion of that. And my sister was in the air force too for a while because she had to do something or a rather and she had, did only one year in the air force.
and he got a DSO [Distinguished Service Order] and a DFC [Distinguished Flying Cross] and he ended up … he was the permanent air force you see, and he ended up as an air commodore. But he … But one of the things you had to do when you were in the fighter squadrons was help the pilot. You see a fighter pilot knew every time he went up he might get killed and you had to just take that in your stride and there were some people who couldn’t.
And in the First World War if a person showed cowardice, as they called it, in the face of the enemy he was taken out and shot because they couldn’t have that they had to make them fight you see whether they were scared or not. But they didn’t do that in the Second World War but they had certain pilots that couldn’t do it. You know they just couldn’t tolerate the fear
and that sort of thing. And they’d get medical things wrong with them which were of course psychological and nothing really wrong with them. And ah so in England they found that this was getting very prevalent so what they did they said if they’d made certain that he’d tried and with some people if you’d done a lot and you got a bit like that it was fair enough they’re tried and that was … but if a bloke got up and he didn’t like
the look of those vicious Mitz, they were a bit dangerous and he got sick and he couldn’t go. And the CO used to have to confirm with the doctor about this of course. The CO had to know what he was doing and the doctor had to tell him whether there was any medical thing or not wrong with him. And they had a thing they called the Lack of Moral Fibre – not cowardice – lack of moral fibre. And they way they overcame it is
they were stripped of their wings, reduced to the ranks and sent to serve in the Ground Staff. And that had to act as a deterrent for these people – you know the poor fellows couldn’t help it I suppose but still we were fighting a war and you didn’t want people like that, you didn’t want all of them getting like …. If people found that if I get sick I can get out of this but they found they got out of it alright but they weren’t shot like they were in the last war. They just stripped them of their wings and their rank
and put in the Ground Staff.
he was a very prominent bloke, he had been in the Royal Air Force as a doctor and he was the first Australian to be, he got at the Battle of Narvik [in Norway] he got a Distinguished Service Cross. And then he came back to Australia and he was up ... I was the CO of this unit, I was up at Parkes and we’d lost some morphia and I was trying to find out where it was and we were all checking the place and
going crook on them all, they didn’t have correct records, and he came to me and said “Geoff you can stop looking for that morphia I’ve been taking that”. And I said to him ah, I said “How could you do that Bob?” And he said ah ... I’d known this chap before because he’d been a good ... he played football, rugby for New South Wales and he was a good athlete. And ah I said to him “You know we were taught that you never gave yourself any things”
and he said “Well one night I had a toothache and I was foolish enough to go and get morphia and give it to myself and I got hooked on it”. And he said “I’m taking that morphia so you needn’t look about it.” So I said to him “Now you’d like to be cured wouldn’t you?” Oh yes, yes. So he had seen me before about some other complaint so I said I’ll tell them all here that I’m sending you down there but I’m sending you down to see a Psychiatrist. Next thing I knew he’d been discharged from the air force.
And later on he, he went over to England. And he was staying at a place called London House that I was staying at – it was a place for dominion students. And he um, one night gave himself an overdose and it killed him you see, he was found dead in bed.
thirty-five of us altogether. And um what happened was that you were supposed to go in, not with the landing force but with what they called D + 3 I think it was, that means the third day after they had landed, and set up a station to treat all the casualties there you see. And ah ... but we were just formed up there we weren’t, we just did medical work for ourselves at
Morotai. But then when we went into Tarakan we were looking, we were the sort of, the miniature hospital that if anybody got really sick came to you see. And um, but we had an operating tent and we could do not serious operations but some operations there. And then ... But ah ... I’ll tell you a story about that. There was one of the Medical Officers called Mick, Mick
Cater. And he came in one day and he said he’d got into the army to go out on some of their patrols. And ah he said “Oh I’m not supposed to do that because Medical Officers are not allowed to carry arms”. And he said “He’d killed eleven Japs, he’d shot eleven Japs”. And I said “That’s a pretty dangerous sort of thing Mick what are you doing?”
He said ‘Oh I don’t know” he said “I got one through my hat the other day and took his hat off and here’s the bullet going in and coming out there” and he said “Oh I know” and I said ‘Well that’s pretty dangerous” and he said “Oh yes” he said “You know but I used to go hunting in Africa with my father and I’ve been trained to be a wonderful rifle shot”. He said “If you see a tiger coming for you all you have to do is shoot him in the eye and he’s had it you see”. And I said “Well that’s alright”. But
but that tell me that he went out with them – some of the younger ones said – some of the things that he’d done if we put him up he’d get a VC for it but the only trouble was that a Medical Officer can’t carry medical arms and if we put him up for that he’d be court martialled, he wouldn’t get a VC.
like to stay on in the air force? I said oh no I’d like to get out. So I got out and I, I didn’t quite know what I wanted to do but then I decided I’d been out of surgery for so long, it was about five and half years I was in the air force, that I would sooner be a physician. And so I did a special course, it was a postgraduate
course for ex-servicemen in Medicine. And then I ... at the end of that year, it was about October or something, I sat for what they called the Royal Australasian College of Physicians’ Exam and I passed it. And at that time I decided that I’d like to go into chest medicine you see. And so I went up to a chap called Cotter Harvey who was the most prominent
chest doctor in Sydney and I told him what I wanted to do and I said now who would you recommend me to go to in England, where would I do my training, I want to get training in England? Because at that time England was you know the place. And he said oh I wouldn’t go there now and I said why not? And he said oh conditions are terrible there, there’s still rations and it’s awful. And so I said well what do you think I ought to do? He said well now
I think I can get you a job at the Concord Repatriation Hospital – or it wasn’t then a repatriation it was still army, still army – there’s a lot of TB [Tuberculosis] there and TB was the main thing. So he said I can get you a job there so okay he got me a job there but during that year I said I want to go to England, I want to get properly trained.
And so I told them that I was going to England and they said well now if you will accept it we’ll give you, we’ll pay you a salary and let you go for twelve months to England, we’ll pay your fare over and you can get ... and when you get there you can train but after one year is enough we don’t want you to do the London membership because
you’ve already got the Australian one, and come back and work for Concord. And I thought it over and I said to myself well that’s a wonderful offer but I think I’d like to take my chance and go over, and I want to get that London membership because that was the best one to get you see at that time, and then get some training in England. I didn’t know how long I wanted to stay there and they said one year only. I ended up going there for nearly three
or two and half years. And they said we want you to work at Concord when you come back and I said well you know I didn’t know if I wanted to do that. I said thank you very much it’s a wonderful offer but I don’t want to accept. So I went over and I then did a special course in London and sat for the London membership and got that. So then I went to a hospital down in Medhurst in
Sussex in England called the King VII Sanatorium. This was a sanatorium built by King Edward the Seventh. What he had done, Sir Ernest Castle who was Lady Mountbatten’s father, gave, he was in friendly with the King, he gave him two hundred and fifty thousand pounds, pounds mind you, that would be many millions now, do what he liked.
And King VII said well I’ve just been to Germany and they’ve got a wonderful place for treating Tuberculosis called a sanatorium there, I’d like to build one. And they built this one down in Medhurst, Sussex and it was the most beautiful place I’d ever been in when I went there – you wouldn’t think it was a hospital. And the ... So ah ... When I went to England there was a chap called Sir Geoffrey Todd and he was an Australian and he was the Superintendent of this hospital.
He’d gone over to England and trained in chest medicine and eventually he became the Superintendent of Medhurst. And he came out to Australia just before I left and he said “I believe you’re coming to England at the end of the year.” I said “Yes” and he said “How are you travelling?” and I said “By boat”. He said “Well I’m flying and I’ve got a big case, it’s a bit difficult. Would you mind bringing it over for me?” “Oh yes” I said “I’ll be willing to bring it over for you.” So I brought it over for him and when I got there I went down to him
and he said “What are you going to do?” I said “Well I want to do that London membership – I’ve got a special course I’m doing there”. He said “Well when you get the membership come down here and I’ll see what I can do for you”. So I was lucky I got it the first time I sat for it and I went down to him and he said “Well stay a couple of weeks and see what you think of the place” and oh it was marvellous. And then he said “Well look there were five medical officers there”, and he said “They’re all due for holidays, would you mind doing a locum
for those five of a month?” “Okay.” So I stayed there for five months doing locums for these doctors you see. And then at the end of the year they all wanted to get their London membership and they were in this TB and not enough experience to get the London membership and I said “I don’t think you’ve got a chance of getting this you want to” ... and there was one bloke there called Charlie Downs and I thought he was the brightest of the lot of them, I thought he was the only bloke who might have a slight chance, and I said “If you can get
a course on a London hospital it’s a wonderful training course I think that would help you because you’re not getting enough general medicine.” So I told this to Toddy, Geoff Todd and he said “Alright well he can go and do that course, would you mind doing his locum here again?” So I said “Okay I’ll stay on.” So I ended up there for that long and that’s where I met Marion there you see. And um so I did that and
the poor fellow, there were a number of different exams you’ve got to sit for and he got to the last exam and failed at the last one. But he went for it again the next time and got it and so ... But then I’d wanted to go to ... I applied ... There’s a thing ... Sir Harry Wandley was a chap that controlled Tuberculosis in Australia – I don’t know whether you’ve ever heard of him, he was a wonderful chap. And he had this whole plan,
remember the mass x-ray, everybody had to be x-rayed. He had special hospitals built and all this sort of thing and he gave a scholarship, he was a wealthy man, he gave a scholarship to the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and I applied for that and I got it so that sort of helped me. And um, and then when I was over there there was a chap called Sir Harry, not Sir Harry, Harry Windsor who was a Chest Surgeon at St Vincent’s
and he rang me and he said, he said Geoff he said “I believe you’re over here training to be a Chest Physician?” and I said “Yes”. And he said “Well I’m over here training to be a Chest Surgeon.” He said “It would be wonderful for me if I had a physician at the hospital there who was specially trained in Chest Medicine, would you be willing to come?” Oh sure I would you see. So he came back and he convinced them that they needed ... And he had this job created and I applied
for it and I had a job to go to at St Vincent’s. And also at North Shore this Cotter Harvey he’d followed what I was doing over there too and he wanted me to go to North Shore, so I went to both. So it’s very unusual to be as specialist of two teaching hospitals but I was. And so that’s how it all worked out.