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WATSON, Donald McRae CBE (1914-1993)

WATSON, Dr Donald McRae CBE (1914-1993)

Orthopeadic Surgeon, Dr Donald Watson was acknowledged for his lifelong dedication to helping disabled children. He was born at Chinju, Korea, the son of Rev Robert Darling Watson and Amy Elizabeth nee Beard.

He was at Mia Mia State School previous to his enrolment at the Geelong College where he was a boarding student at the College from 1926 to 1932. Like both his brothers, ‘Don’ was a strong sportsman at School, winning the Under 15 Athletics Championship in 1933 and the Dr Gus Kearney Memorial Prize in 1932 as well as playing in the 1st Football XVIII from 1931 to 1932, the Cricket XI in 1931 and 1932 under Lindsay Hassett and representing the School in the Athletics Team in 1932. He was also listed as a Librarian in 1931 and 1932. He went on to complete a medical degree at Melbourne University. During WWII he enlisted on 6 March, 1941 in Brisbane and served with the 2nd/16th and 2nd/19th Field Ambulance in New Guinea and Bougainville. He was discharged on 8 February, 1946.

'Don' McRae Watson (Football 1931)

'Don' McRae Watson (Football 1931)

Dr Watson became the senior orthopaedic surgeon at both the Royal Brisbane Hospital and the Royal Children's Hospital and was awarded the Commander of the British Empire award in 1985 for his contribution to medicine and the service of crippled children. He died at Brisbane in 1993.
His brothers, John Watson (1913-2006) and Robert David Watson were also educated at the College.

The following is from James Affleck's biography: ‘His obituary was recorded in the Australian Orthopaedic Association Bulletin in August 1993, and part of that is related here:
After completing his schooling, Don was presented with limited career choices by his father who said, 'If you're not going to enrol in the church, make sure you do something to benefit your fellow man'. So like his elder brother, John, he chose medicine'

The Queensland journal of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) also carried an obituary written by his friend and colleague Dr Bob Goodwin:
'Completing his course at the Melbourne University in debt, he accepted a job at the Brisbane General Hospital. Borrowing a few pounds from his brother David, he drove to Brisbane with Rainey McDonald and Ian McPhee. The last twenty miles was driven on two flat tyres. They arrived in a very dishevelled state and were met by the seemingly haughty registrar Dr Vera Madden, who disapprovingly sent them to clean up. Don later claimed that he gained his revenge by marrying her, they celebrated their golden anniversary in May 1990.
Don's appointments were numerous, (and) in World War Two he was instrumental in developing the 5th Armoured Regiment, and served with the 2/16th and the 2/19th Field Ambulance in New Guinea and Bougainville. He was 'mentioned in despatches' for distinguished services. After the war, Don studied for his Master of Surgery whilst raising a young family and became a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of Surgeons in 1964. He became the Senior Orthopaedic Surgeon at both the Royal Brisbane Hospital and the Royal Children's Hospital, the first to hold both positions. He was President of the Queensland AMA in 1976, member of the Medical Board from 1970, member of the Parole Board from 1975, and vice-president of the Australian Physiotherapy Association, Queensland Branch.
His most gratifying experience was in his work with the Queensland Society for Crippled Children. He was on the board of the Montrose Home for Crippled Children for thirty years from 1956, and a Donald Watson Complex was established there in his honour in 1989. His contributions were recognised by the Queen with the awarding of a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours.'

His two brothers, Dr John Kennedy Watson (1913-2006) and Dr Robert David Watson also boarded at Geelong College. All three became medical practitioners.

Sources: Ad Astra December, 1987; Ad Astra Dec 1993 p11; Australian Orthopaedic Association Bulletin August, 1993; Australian Medical Association (Queensland) Journal; Based on an edited extract from Geelong Collegians at the Second World War compiled by James Affleck. p532 (citing Pegasus: Australian War Memorial; National Archives).
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