Harold Delf Gillies was born in Dunedin, New Zealand, in 1882. He studied medicine at Cambridge University and qualified from St Bartholomew’s Hospital in 1906, becoming a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons four years later.
He served in France during the First World War, where he met an American-French dentist called Charles Auguste Valadier. a French-American dentist who had succeeded in establishing a unit for jaw work at the 83rd General Hospital in Wimereux, near Boulogne.283
Gillies became enthusiastic about Valadier’s efforts to replace missing jaws resulting from gunshot wounds.
His was persuaded the Army Surgeon-General, Alfred Keogh, a General who is familiar to all ex RAMC soldiers as that is the training Barracks for the RAMC, that facial surgery should be concentrated in one place, acquiring wards at the Cambridge Military Hospital in Aldershot, a hospital in which I first trained at.
Harold Gillies was one of the pioneers of facial reconstructive surgery. His instruments remain in use today.
Gillies, not only concentrated on plastic surgery, but was one of the first if not the first to perform the Le Fort osteotomy. He worked alongside Ivan MaGill and Rowbotham and as a team they developed a new gear for plastic reconstructive surgery.
The picture on the right is Gilles with his team at St Marys in Sidcup during the first world war.272
In 1945 Gillies, ever the pioneer, carried out the world's first sex change of a woman into a man.
His dissecting forceps are still one of the most commonest in use today.