Dr James Gerald Bourne

Personal Details 


06/03/1906 to 05/07/1995

Place of birth: Salisbury, Wiltshire

Nationality: British

CRN: 525293

Also known as: Jim

Previous/other family name: The first name ‘James’ only appears in his Medical Directory entry for the first time in 1946

Education and qualifications

General education

Rugby School; Corpus Christi College, Cambridge; St Thomas’s Hospital Medical School

Primary medical qualification(s)


Initial Fellowship and type

FFARCS by Election

Year of Fellowship


Other qualification(s)

BA, Cambridge, 1926 (MA, 1930); MBBCh, Cambridge, 1939 (MD, 1960); DA(RCP&S), 1945

Professional life and career

Postgraduate career

After qualifying Jim was casualty officer, house physician, & clinical assistant in the TB department, all at St Thomas’s, and house physician at the London Chest Hospital before serving in the RAMC from 1939 to 1945. Sent to France as an anaesthetist because he had given some anaesthetics as a casualty officer, he was evacuated through Dunkirk and then spent four years in the Middle East, finishing the war as a Major. After demobilisation he was rehabilitated’ at St Thomas’s and, appointed honorary anaesthetist there in 1946, but in 1949 (wanting to leave the big city) applied successfully for a consultant post in Salisbury. Persuaded not to resign from St Thomas’s, he spent the next 16 years dividing his time between the two hospitals.


Professional interests and activities

A frequent contributor to the anaesthetic literature on a range of subjects, he was an early proponent of the use of curare for intubation, but his major interest was out-patient anaesthesia, particularly for dentistry. He explored alternatives to nitrous oxide in that setting and ran courses for dental surgeons to improve anaesthetic skills, although his major contribution was to demonstrate, the dangers of fainting in patients treated in the sitting position. This work (the subject of his MD thesis ‘Nitrous oxide in dentistry: its dangers and alternatives’) included laboratory studies, and led to a major change in dental practice, resulting in his election as FDSRCSEng in 1986.

Other biographical information

His father was a Bourne, and his mother a Hollingsworth, of ‘Bourne & Hollingsworth’, once an up-market department store on Oxford St, London. Working in ‘commerce’ after his initial degree in geography did not satisfy him so he returned to University to study medicine at St Thomas’s in 1931. Married to Susan, they had three sons, and his pursuit of a lifestyle encompassing riding, hunting (including big-game), shooting, fishing and skiing until late in life was much admired!

Author and Sources

Author: Dr Robert Palmer

Sources and any other comments: Obituary. BMJ 1995; 311: 942 | Medical Directory | Who’s Who | Archivists at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge and Cambridge University Library | Much detail is recorded in an album complied by Dr David Lintin and held in the anaesthetic department of Oldstock Hospital, Salisbury.