Dr Malcolm Arthurton joined the RAF as a medical officer in 1942. [Pic: Arthurton family]
Dr Malcolm Arthurton, who was 617 Squadron’s Medical Officer at the time of the Dams Raid, has died, aged 97.
Dr Arthurton was born in London in April 1918 and trained at Westminster Hospital Medical School. After qualifying, he was commissioned into the RAF as a medical officer and was posted to RAF Scampton in 1943.
The low level flying training which was being undertaken by the crews brought a steady stream of patients complaining of air sickness to the young doctor’s door. He decided to check out the effects for himself, and flew with Henry Maudslay on an exercise on 25 April 1943. The weather was gusty and severe buffeting at low level caused Arthurton to record in his logbook: ‘Low flying experience. Weather bumpy. Airsick after ½ hour.’ Thereafter, he was reported to be more sympathetic to requests for the appropriate medication.
Having presumably taken a dose of this, on 14 May he flew with Maudslay again on the full dress rehearsal of the raid at Uppingham and Colchester Reservoirs. ‘We took off at 2150 hours and flew for four hours. I have not the foggiest notion where we were nor exactly what we were doing … people said very little and I did not embarrass them with very difficult questions as I realised there was something in the wind.’ (John Sweetman, The Dambusters Raid, 2002, p.116)
He recalled seeing Barnes Wallis after the raid, and noted how distressed he was by the loss of life.
Later in the war, he served in the Balkans and was mentioned in dispatches in 1944.
After demobilisation he completed paediatric training and worked in this branch of the profession. He became a consultant paediatrician in Yorkshire, first in Dewsbury and then Bradford, and was very popular with his young patients, staff and junior doctors, many of whom kept in touch.
After retirement he became a director of Martin House Children’s Hospice in Wetherby, Yorkshire and served there for 10 years.
He moved to Cartmel in Cumbria in 1994, and was active in the local community. He was predeceased by his wife of 45 years, Eve, in 1995 and leaves two daughters, one a mathematician, the other a consultant geriatrician, and two grandchildren.
John Sweetman, The Dambusters Raid, 2002
Robert Owen, Henry Maudslay, Dam Buster, 2014
Obituary in Westmorland Gazette