Neil Hamilton Fairley
Brigadier Sir Neil Hamilton Fairley was an Australian physician, medical scientist, and army officer. He was instrumental in saving thousands of Allied lives from malaria and other diseases. A graduate of the University of Melbourne, Fairley joined the Australian Army Medical Corps in 1915. In 1919, he married Nurse Violet Phillips and later became a lieutenant colonel.
About Neil Hamilton Fairley in brief
Brigadier Sir Neil Hamilton Fairley was an Australian physician, medical scientist, and army officer. He was instrumental in saving thousands of Allied lives from malaria and other diseases. A graduate of the University of Melbourne, Fairley joined the Australian Army Medical Corps in 1915. He investigated an epidemic of meningitis that was occurring in Army camps in Australia. While with the 14th General Hospital in Cairo, he investigated schistosomiasis and developed tests and treatments for the disease. Fairley returned to the Australian army during the Second World War as Director of Medicine. He played an important role in the planning for the Battle of Greece, convincing the British Commander-in-Chief, General Sir Archibald Wavell to alter his campaign plan to reduce the danger from malaria. He also sounded the alarm on the dangers of malaria, persuading authorities in the United States and United Kingdom to greatly step up production of anti-malarial drugs. After the war Fairley became a consulting physician to the Hospital for Tropical Diseases and Wellcome Professor of Tropical Medicine at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. A serious illness in 1948 forced him to resign his professorship, but he retained his practice and membership of numerous committees, becoming an \”elder statesman\” of tropical medicine. He later studied at the Royal College of Surgeons in England and became a surgeon. He married nurse Violet Phillips at the Churchbassia Garrison, Abbassia, Cairo on 12 February 1919.
They later divorced on 21 November 1924 and he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and commanded the General Hospital for 14th Hospital for the South West Pacific Area. He died at the age of 75 on 15 May 1949. He is buried in the Melbourne suburb of St Vincent’s, with his wife, Violet Phillips, and their three sons. All four sons who survived to adulthood took up medicine as a career. Neil was educated at Scotch College, Melbourne, where he was dux of his class. In 1916, he co-authored a monograph published by the Federal government detailing 644 cases, of which 338 were fatal, this being before the invention of antibiotic drugs. He won the Australian inter-varsity high jumping championship and represented Victoria in tennis. His first published paper was an analysis of this disease, documenting fifty cases, and his first published papers on the disease were published in 1916. He studied worms in the circulatory system, confirming that the worms could be cured by intravenous tartaric acid. In the inter-war period he became renowned as an expert on tropical medicine, and later studied bacillary dysentery, malaria, and bacillium. He served in the First Australian Imperial Force and commanded Anzac Field Laboratory in Egypt. In 1919, he married Nurse Violet Phillips and later became a lieutenant colonel. He had a son, Neil Fairley, who was killed in action during the First World War. In 1930, he became a Consulting Physician to the AIF.