Jim Rickett kept a diary of his work as a family doctor during the blitz of 1940/41. His work as a surgeon at the local hospital in Emsworth was acceptable and routine at the time, but is now unthinkable by modern standards. His practice was near Portsmouth which was targeted in regular bombing raids. He tells a compelling story as the bombing intensified in 1941 putting the local area under intense stress. He was called up into the Army and in 1944 he received an urgent posting to join the commandos, working with the SOE (Special Operations Executive) on the Adriatic island of Vis. The island was to be held at all costs against an expected imminent attack. He had to set up a hospital from scratch, to deal with the wounded brought back from raids. Supplies from base were unobtainable. Initially he had to operate with a kerosene lamp for light. Working with both commandos and partisans, they bartered and stole to get the unit operational. Later they scavenged wiring from a crashed Liberator and set up electricity using an old diesel generator. They were inundated with wounded casualties but managed to provide a highly effective team. At this time Tito set up his HQ on Vis, which was the key to the Adriatic. Despite the great demands made on the unit, there were light hearted moments and it became a popular social centre. This first-hand account makes fascinating reading.
I was born in 1935. My education was at Repton School and then at Jesus College, Cambridge University, going on to Guy’s Hospital, London. Obtaining the specialist surgical degrees of FRCS and then Master of Surgery (Cambridge) in 1973, I worked as a consultant general surgeon at Torbay Hospital in Devon until retirement in 1996. Previous publications have been professional medical articles which were written while I was working. I work as a volunteer for the charity Royal National Institute for the Deaf (now called Action on Hearing Loss) and run an active (non-commercial) internet website which reports on listening devices to help those with hearing loss, going beyond the hearing aid. Other interests include walking on the moor and studying the wildlife, in particular butterflies and birds.