Early 20th Century Surgeons

David Middleton Greig

David Middleton Greig (Courtesy of RCSEd)

David Middleton Greig (1864-1930)

D M Greig succeeded to his father's general practice, but he became increasingly attracted to surgery as a career and went on to serve DRI in this capacity for 28 years. He enjoyed a high reputation as clinician, operator and teacher, and was active in many philanthropic institutions, particularly the Baldovan Institute for the Feeble-Minded (later to become Strathmartine Hospital) of which he became Chairman. On his retiral in 1920 he was given the Freedom of the City of Dundee.

Greig was an avid collector of pathological specimens, particularly those relating to diseases and abnormalities of the skeleton. He prepared his specimens himself in his own attic, and in the summer months passers-by might see a selection of 'Greig's bones' drying on the roof!

Greig became an internationally recognised authority on the pathology of bone and on his retirement from DRI he was invited to become Conservator of the Royal College of Surgeons Museum in Edinburgh, to which he donated his collection of bones, including some 300 skulls. The following 15 years saw him meticulously revise the cataloguing system of the College's collection.

In 1922 Greig hired James Jack, an achondroplastic dwarf from Dundee who had at one time been a patient of his, to assist the Museum technician in the remounting of specimens. College folklore has it that Greig had entertained the hope that in time he might acquire the dwarf's skeleton for the Museum, but in the event Jack long outlived Greig and would triumphantly declare from time to time "He didnae get me and he's deid!"


Lloyd Turton Price (1874-1933)

Born in Shrewsbury, Price graduated from Edinburgh with the Lister prize for best surgical thesis. He was made assistant surgeon at Dundee Royal Infirmary in 1906 and became Professor of Surgery in 1920. He died in 1933 following an operation for duodenal ulcer in Edinburgh, when dehiscence of his wound from coughing was complicated by pneumonia.

Price was noted for his clinical teaching, insistence on high clinical standards and sympathetic bedside manner, especially with young children. The high regard he was held in was reflected in the 2,000 mourners who turned up in pouring rain to pay their last respects at the Western Cemetery.

During the First World War, Price established a special annexe for orthopaedic patients and thus paving the way for this separate speciality, ably taken up later by Ian Smillie. His services to disabled ex-servicemen continued after the war and received public recognition.

Price's instruments

Set of genito-urinary instruments belonging to Lloyd Turton Price (DUNUC 3928)

Lloyd Turton Price

Lloyd Turton Price (Tayside Medical History Museum)

John Anderson

Professor John Anderson (Tayside Medical History Museum)

John Anderson (1886-1935)

A native of Macduff who graduated from Aberdeen, John Anderson was appointed to the surgical staff at DRI in 1911 and succeeded Turton Price as Professor of Surgery in 1933. His time in the chair was to be tragically short, as he died of tuberculosis just two years later. The local press conveyed the sense of shock felt in Dundee by the loss of both men.

Anderson was awarded the DSO during the First World War and was a member of the prestigious Moynihan Chirurgical Club. His work on the effects of high-frequency currents as applied to surgery was recognised as the standard treatise on the subject at the time.

Always in tune with the times, Anderson foresaw the coming of a National Health Service:

"It is my belief that the State will take a far greater interest, both financial and administrative, in the hospital services of our country. We are about the only one left with a voluntary hospital service. Although it has worked marvellously in the past, no wise State should leave to chance, certainly financial chance, the service which is more important than any other. I would view such a change with great sadness, but I feel it is one which must take place in time"


Richard Alexander (1885-1968)

A native and graduate of Edinburgh, Alexander joined the surgical staff at DRI in 1921 and succeeded Anderson as Professor in 1935. He had served as Major in the Royal Army Medical Corps in the First World War and was twice mentioned in despatches. He was to play an important role also in the Second World War as Surgical Director of the Emergency Medical Service, Eastern Region Scotland, and was later awarded the CBE.


Professor Alexander loved to teach and encourage students and young doctors, generations of whom knew him affectionately as 'Sunny'. He was very fond of his long association with DRI, and on his retrial in 1951 the Board conferred upon him the title of Consultant Surgeon (Emeritus). He often visited the Infirmary in later years to keep abreast of clinical advances and pass on to others his immense wealth of experience.

Richard Alexander

Richard Alexander Courtesy of University of Dundee Archive Services)

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