as “the medical statesman of twentieth-century Australia”, Colville
was for many years a central figure in establishing the Australian Medical
Association as the major representative body of the medical profession.
Born on 27 August 1891, the son of John William Colville, Cecil as he was
known was educated at Melbourne (Boys’) Grammar School (1900-08) where in
his final year he gained a scholarship with honours and was Dux of the
school. In 1914 he graduated at the University of Melbourne (M.B.,
Ch.B., 1914; M.S., 1920) with first class honours in
surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology and spent a year as resident medical
officer at the Alfred Hospital. The following year he enlisted for overseas
active service with the British Army serving with the Royal Army Medical
Corps and later with 46th Field Ambulance (15th Scottish Division), before
returning to Australia in May 1916. In what must be a record for the
longest continuously serving general practitioner, Colville ran a private
medical practice in Burke Road, Hawthorn from 1918 to 1982. Joining the
British Medical Association in 1928, he went on to serve in various
positions until his retirement in 1973: chairman of the Victorian Branch
Council (1939-66, President 1940); and member of the Federal A.M.A Council
(1939-62, President 1955-62). In 1962, Colville’s standing as a leader in
the medical profession was acknowledged when he was elected first President
of the Australian Medical Association (1962-64) the same year that he was
knighted. He died on 16 April 1984 aged 92 and was cremated; his ashes lie
with his wife Harriet
(1890-1982) whom he married on 2 December
1916. The A.M.A paid tribute to “a great champion to the profession” by
noting his outstanding achievements with both the B.M.A and A.M.A in Victoria
and on a Federal level.
(above) Sir Cecil
Medical Association. Reproduced with kind permission of the
“Liber Melburniensis”, Centenary Edition
AWM “Biographical Cards for the Official
History 1914-18”, AWM140.
“The Medical Journal of Australia”, 9 June
Kiddle, J. (ed), “War Services of Old
Melburnians 1914-18” (1923).
Allen, H. (ed), “The University of Melbourne
Record of Active Service” (1926).
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