Battlefield surgeon to be recognised in home town

Douglas Waddell Jolly takes a break between surgeries while serving with the International...
Douglas Waddell Jolly takes a break between surgeries while serving with the International Brigade medical service during the Spanish Civil War. PHOTOGRAPH TAKEN BY ALEC WAINMAN, © THE ESTATE OF ALEXANDER WHEELER WAINMAN, JOHN ALEXANDER WAINMAN (SERGE ALTERNES)
One of Central Otago’s sons is to finally receive recognition for an international war effort in which he became one of the world’s greatest battlefield surgeons.

Douglas Waddell Jolly was born in Cromwell in 1904 and  studied medicine and surgery at the University of Otago.

He later moved to England and then joined the International Brigade medical service, serving during the Spanish Civil War on the republican side. Afterwards he served with the British Army in World War 2 at Tobruk, in Libya, and in Italy.

He was subsequently awarded the Order of the British Empire, his citation being signed by General B. L. Montgomery, Central Otago Heritage Trust chairman Graye Shattky said.

Mr Shattky said Gen Montgomery’s citation said Mr Jolly "has probably the widest experience of war surgery of any surgeon of the present day. His cases received every care and attention and the remarkably good results obtained must, in large measure, be attributed to Lt-col Jolly’s professional and administrative ability and sound judgement".

Orthopaedic surgeon Patrick Medlicott, formerly of Alexandra, now of New Plymouth, said Mr Jolly became one of the world’s most notable battlefield surgeons.

"He was quoted extensively round the world in military surgical circles as the person who basically wrote the book for surgery for wars .. at the time it was the most up-to-date book on how to handle mass war casualties (Mr Jolly’s book Field Surgery in Total War was published in 1940)."

Mr Medlicott has self-published a book about Mr Jolly and is contributing some research to a biography being written about him by author and historian Mark Derby.

Many in the Central Otago and medical community wanted to see greater recognition of Mr Jolly’s work. It was widely known internationally but little was known about him in New Zealand, Mr Medlicott said.

Mr Shattky said a plaque would be unveiled in Mr Jolly’s honour at a ceremony in the Old Cromwell Historic Precinct on March 23.

The plaque would be placed on the precinct’s Grain and Seed Store (now the Grain and Seed Cafe), which was previously owned by Mr Jolly’s grandfather.

• For more information about Douglas Waddell Jolly go to

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