Dr Harry John Daly

Personal Details 

Dr Harry John Daly

03/08/1893 to 19/06/1980

Place of birth: Glebe, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Nationality: Australian

CRN: 715504

Education and qualifications

General education

St Ignatius College, Riverview; Sydney University.

Primary medical qualification(s)

MB ChM, Sydney University, 1918.

Initial Fellowship and type

FFARCS by Election

Year of Fellowship


Other qualification(s)

MRACP (by examination at age 45!), 1942 (FRACP 1948).

Professional life and career

Postgraduate career

After graduation Daly was Resident Medical Officer at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney (1918-20) before entering General Practice in Haberfield (a suburb of Sydney).

His interest in anaesthesia arose through the requirement, as Honorary Physician to neighbouring Lewisham Hospital, to give anaesthetics, and he later became Honorary Anaesthetist there. In 1935 he undertook an extensive tour of anaesthesia centres in Britain and North America, and subsequent honorary appointments were to Sydney Hospital (1936), St Vincent’s Hospital (1937) and the neurosurgical unit of Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (1938).

However, he resigned the latter post in 1939 to become Tutor and Lecturer in Anaesthesia at the new Postgraduate School of Medicine at Prince Henry Hospital, Little Bay, this post the result of 8 years work as Tutor and Lecturer for the NSW Postgraduate Committee. Daly was accepted for army service in WW2, but was not called up, remaining in Sydney as one of the very few specialist anaesthetists serving nine hospitals! In 1944 he founded the first group practice of anaesthetists in Australia (Shanaway) although progressive deafness was to force his early retirement from clinical practice in the mid-1950s.

Professional interests and activities: 

Founder member (1934) of the Australian Society of Anaesthetists, and President in 1946. During WW2 an American contact provided Daly with a supply of ‘Intocostrin’, the early preparation of curare. Surgical reluctance delayed its use, but publication of his experiences resulted in a Rockefeller Grant to present his work in the USA in 1949. On his way there he visited London, receiving his FFARCS at that time, and was very taken with the idea of a central Faculty as a solution to concerns about variations in teaching and standards across Australia.

An Australian Faculty was formed in 1952, with Daly as Vice Dean and then Acting-Dean, but deafness forced his early retirement (in 1956) from that role as well as from clinical practice. Daly received a number of significant awards, notably a CMG ‘for services to medicine’ in 1966. Also: DA(RCP&S) by election (1934); Foundation FFARACS (1952); Honorary Fellowship of the English Faculty (1962); Orton medal of the Australasian Faculty (1968); Honorary Fellowship of the Australasian Faculty (1970); Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (1973).

Other biographical information: 

Although deafness had been forced him to retire early, Daly maintained a keen interest in the affairs of the specialty and many other aspects of life. A keen gardener, he had a wide knowledge of the flora and fauna of Australia and was a skilled rock fisherman.

Author and sources

Author: Prof Tony Wildsmith

Sources and any other comments: Wilson G. Obituary: Harry J Daly. Anaesth Intens Care 1981; 9: 109-12, and the same author’s ‘One Grand Chain: The History of Anaesthesia in Australia 1846-1962’ ISBN 0-646-26487-7. See also https://members.racp.edu.au/page/library/college-roll/college-roll-detail&id=833. I would thank Prof Barry Baker for reviewing this biography and for his helpful comments.