171571 WS/Captain (T/Major, A/Lt Colonel) Ronald Ernest Tunbridge
OBE MD MSc FRCP
1906 — ?
Professor of Medicine University of Leeds. Qualified at Leeds in 1931, obtaining both the MD and the MRCP two years later. After resident appointments at Leeds, Professor Tunbridge worked for a year in the medical unit at St Bartholomew's Hospital, returning to Leeds to become tutor and subsequently reader in medicine.
In the second World War he was adviser in medicine to the Malta Command and subsequently Consultant in Medicine to the British Liberation Army and the British Army on the Rhine.
In 1944, Professor Tunbridge was elected OBE and FRCP, while in 1946 he was appointed to the chair of medicine at Leeds. His main interests were in the fields of diabetes, geriatrics, and the rheumatic disorders. In 1963 he was elected chairman of the StandingMedical Advisory Committee of the Ministry of Health and vice-chairman of the Central Health Services Council. He was honoured with a knighthood in the 1967 New Years' Honours List.
Service Record — Ronald Ernest Tunbridge
Malta 10 Sept 1941 Reported to No 11 Depot and Training Establishment RAMC Leeds on the incorporation of No 39 General Hospital.
Medical Specialist 39 GH St Andrews.
Malta 2 May 1942 Reported on the suitability of using the site at Mellieha Infantry Camp as a tented 200-300 bed hospital for 39 GH, which had been destroyed by enemy bombing at St Andrews on 25 April.
Malta 16 July 1942 On temporary duty with 90 General Hospital. All the officers in Malta suffered from ineffectiveness, great sleepiness and jumpiness. There was much neurosis all over the island. The British and Maltese troops were approximately 50/50 of the island garrison and of the British troops about 66% were regulars. Morale for a time was pretty shaky especially when diet and ammunition became short. Soon after the start of the Blitz in January 1941, Lt Col Tunbridge who was the medical specialist, was appointed acting psychiatrist, later in November 1941 he was called co-ordinating psychiatrist and had two medical specialists working under him as area psychiatrists, Major Evans and Major MacPherson.
Soon after the bombing began in 1941, the medical specialists discovered that 60% of the outpatients they were seeing at were primarily psychiatric cases. Lt Col Tunbridge recommended in early 1942 that an adequate survey should be made to assess the state of the troops and that a rest camp be started so that the trouble might be stopped. At that time there were approximately three to four raids daily with an average of 100 bombers. This suggestion was refused. In February 1942, things were getting worse and there was an edginess with people of all ranks tending to dive under tables. They officers were very near cracking in April 1942. Brigadier Beckett and General Beake laid it down that Major Tunbridge was to do nothing except see cases referred to him. Preventive measures suggested were not implemented.
Malta 4 Sept 1942 Posted to No 90 GH as a medical specialist effective 3 Aug 1942.
Malta 22 May 1943 Officer-in-charge Medical Division 45 General Hospital vice Lt Col J S Hartfall.
Malta 25 Nov 1943 Posted to No 90 GH from No 45 GH as officer-in-charge Medical Division.
Malta 6 Jan 1944 On 6 Jan 1944, Major (Temp Lt Col) Reginald Ernest Tunbridge MD MRCP RAMC was appointed an Additional Officer of the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in Malta. DDMS Malta Colonel William Kenneth Morrison wrote:
This officer has been outstanding. During the Siege of Malta, at great personal risk, he carried out special medical investigations round the various gun posts. Whilst they were in action against the enemy. During recent operations he has been indefatigable and has played a vital part in the maintenance of the morale of the troop.
Malta 26 Jan 1944 Left 90 GH and returned to England.
- TNA:WO 177/1274, War Diaries No 39 General Hospital Sept 1941 to December 1944.
- TNA:WO 177/1287, War Diaries No 45 General Hospital May 1941 to April 1946.
- Medical New Year Honours, Br Med J (1967) 1:46 (Published 7 January 1967).
- TNA:WO 373/78/344, Recommendation for award Service no 171571 Major Reginald Ernest Tunbridge 45 British General Hospital.
- TNA:WO 177/1360, War Diaries No 90 General Hospital April 1940 to September 1946.
- Bernstein H G G, Clark J M P, Tunbridge R E, Acute Anterior Poliomyelitis among Service Personnel in Malta, Br Med J (1945), 1:763, (Published 2 June 1945).