Obituary: Brigadier Allen Crockford

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The Independent Online
Allen Lepard Crockford, physician and administrator, born 11 September 1897, MC 1916, TD 1942, DSO 1943, OBE 1945, Medical Secretary St Thomas's Hospital Medical School 1946-64, CBE 1955, married 1924 Doris Brookes-Smith (one son deceased; two daughters), died 27 September 1992.

ALLEN CROCKFORD, Medical Secretary at St Thomas's Hospital Medical School from 1946 to 1964, was a man whose enthusiasm for the matter in hand was only matched by his energy in pursuing it.

This was evident, when in 1915, at the age of 18, he joined the Gloucestershire Regiment and was awarded the Military Cross the next year. Subsequently he was wounded, but he reached the rank of captain before going up to King's College, Cambridge, to begin his medical studies.

He qualified from St Thomas's Hospital in 1924 and after experience in the surgical and obstetric departments entered general practice, a life he found enjoyable and fulfilling.

Crockford's career in the Second World War was as distinguished as would be expected. He served with the 43rd Guards Armoured Division in North Africa and subsequently with the 46th and 56th Divisions in the Central Mediterranean Force with the rank of colonel. The record of the 43rd Division is a matter of history and the part played by the Senior Medical Officer was recognised by the award of the DSO in 1943 (a year after the Torch 'invasion'), and again in 1945 his appointment as OBE. He was a very considerable character, and after the battle was always welcomed when he visited units of the RAMC because of the vigour he brought with him and his friendliness.

It was a matter of great satisfaction to those who had known Allen Crockford in the war when he was appointed Secretary to the Medical School of St Thomas's Hospital.

This appointment as head of the Dean's staff involved him in frequent personal contacts with both students and members of the teaching staff. His room was the focal point for those students who needed advice and help and their welfare was of prime concern to him. He also had the important function of organising and taking part in their selection and in caring for their interests after their qualification. The co-ordination of teaching and the combination of contributions to be made by each academic department and by the NHS consultant staff required knowledge and, on occasions, tact. Happily he was the right man for this job. He knew about men and being approachable and thus got the best out of them. The efficiency of the Dean's office was appreciated by all.

'Crockers' was regarded with affection by staff and students alike. He had about him the aura of a confident and friendly senior officer and his presence was reassuring.

He was honorary surgeon successively to King George VI and the present Queen and was appointed CBE in 1955. He retired with the rank of brigadier. He married Doris Brookes-Smith in 1924 and they had a son and two daughters. It was a great sadness when David, a consultant in plastic surgery, predeceased his parents.