Captain Christopher CM James

27 Aug 1910 - 31 Oct 1990

Christopher Compton Michael JAMES. MA, PHD, FRCSED

Christopher Compton Michael James was a pioneer of children’s orthopaedic surgery in Northumberland. A skilful surgeon, he had the mental approach of a physician and the mind of a research scientist.

On leaving school he attained his tripos in natural sciences at Cambridge and worked in commerce for four years; he was then accepted as a law student at Lincoln’s Inn but opted to study medicine. During the war, as surgeon to the glider-borne Field Ambulance, he was dropped at Arnhem, subsequently imprisoned by the Germans, and worked as the only qualified surgeon in a German prisoner of war hospital.

From his base at Sanderson’s Children's Hospital in Gosforth he developed clinics in Newcastle and throughout Northumberland. He travelled widely so that children could be seen in the clinics and had to travel to Newcastle only for their operation. This gave him access to many rare conditions occurring in remote areas.

In the 1960’s he became especially interested in spina bifida cystica and occulta and, with paediatric colleagues, developed the spina bifida service in Newcastle. With Mr Lawrence Lassmann, a consultant neurosurgeon, he investigated and documented the original work on spinal dysraphism and wrote two books and several papers on the subject. This work showed that children who hitherto had faced progressive deformity and neurological deterioration could have this limited by spinal surgery.

He was made a fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine in 1945. After retirement he moved to London and helped to run the local Citizens’ Advice Bureau. He was married twice and is survived by his second wife and his son and daughter by his first marriage. 

Christopher Compton Michael James, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon in Newcastle 1950-76, died 31 October aged 80. Educated at Marlborough College, Cambridge University, St Mary’s Hospital (MRCS, LRCP 1940). Served in Royal Army Medical Corps 1943-7, becoming Lieutenant Colonel (Mentioned in Dispatches). Surgical registrar at Royal Cripples’ Hospital, Birmingham, until 1950.

OBITUARY. British Medical Journal. Volume 302. 13 April 1991.

Created with information kindly supplied by R Hilton.

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