CBE, MCh, FRCS
1904 - 1998
Summarised from Plarr 's "Lives of the Fellows Online"
Denis Poole-Wilson was born in Dublin in 1904, the son of parents in the teaching profession. He read Natural Sciences at Trinity College, winning the gold medal, and then went to the Middlesex Hospital Medical School to complete his clinical training.
He qualified in 1928 and, two years later, took his first post in Manchester under Geoffrey Jefferson, the neurosurgeon at the Salford Royal Hospital. However, it was his next post under JB MacAlpine, a pioneer in endoscopic urology, that helped determine shape his career. From 1934, as surgeon to the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital and Salford Royal Hospital, he became known for his expertise in urology.
In 1939, he was called up to the RAMC after the outbreak of the war. As Lieutenant Colonel, he commanded the surgical division of the 72nd General Hospital with the 8th Army, serving in North Africa and Italy, including the battle of Monte Cassino. His specialist skills were recognised when he formed a 100-bedded unit for genito-urinary injuries, first in Naples and then in Rome, affectionately known as "Poole's Piss Palace". Poole-Wilson is seen below in uniform with his wife, c.1940 [reproduced with kind permisiion of his family]. Read more about his time in North Africa and Italy in this article.
In 1945, he returned to Manchester to take over from MacAlpine as a specialist urologist. His unit, then covering four hospitals, rapidly expanded and attracted a series of brilliant trainees. They regarded him as an inspiring teacher, but a hard taskmaster who spared neither them nor himself. He was President of the British Association of Urological Surgeons from 1965 to 1966 and was appointed CBE in 1968.
He retired to Wiltshire in 1969, where he died on 22 March 1998.
Denis Smith Poole-Wilson played an imortant part in the recognition that exposure to certain chemical increased factory workers to occupationally acquired bladder cancer. Read more about that here.
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