A Gentleman of the Old School - A Toothwrite's Tale
Major Ronald Edward Buchan TD LDS Royal Army Dental Corps
The Man Ronald Edward Buchan was born on 28th April 1906 in Clifton, Bristol, son of Frederick Samuel, a Law Clerk and Florence nee Huram. He was one of four children, Herbert Frederick born in 1895, Leonard Henry 1897, Eric Ancrum 1907 and was Baptised on 13th July 1906 in St. Georges Church on Brandon Hill. At the time of the 1911 census the family were living with their servant Annie Luke at 12 St. Paul’s Road, Clifton with Herbert shown as an apprentice Dental Mechanic and Leonard a medical student. Following his schooling and in his elder brother’s footsteps, Ronald attended the University of Bristol where he studied dentistry subsequently gaining a Licence in Dental Surgery and qualifying on 25th June 1935. Whilst at University he enlisted as an Officer Cadet in the Senior Division of the Officer Training Corps. During the first quarter of 1937 aged 21 he married Ann Thompson Robinson, a nurse, in Bristol and they lived at Cavendish Crescent in Bath with his surgery at 3 Bennett Street. They had one son, Ian James born on 19th October 1943 and who later married Barbara J Thornsby in 1973, they having no children. Ian died in 2004 aged only 60. On 29th July 1939 Ronald was Commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Territorial Army Reserve of Officers (TARO), Army Dental Corps with service number 92443. He was transferred to the active list on 8th September 1940 and served at home for the duration of the conflict at Westbury on Trym, part of South Midlands Brigade, engaged in dental work on soldiers and their families. He was promoted to War Substantive Captain and released from service on 3rd November 1945, transferring back to the TARO and awarded the Defence Medal and War Medal 1939-45 for his war service. Following his release Ronald resumed work at his practice in Bennett Street which he was lucky to do as that pat of Bath had been extensively damaged by bombing in 1942, the nearby Regina Hotel and Assembly Rooms having been completely destroyed. Following an invitation from Colonel Dr George Durant Kersley, an old friend from the RAMC and a highly regarded physician and rheumatologist, who has been tasked with setting up the 19th Territorial General Hospital in Bath, Ronald re-enlisted into the TA as a dentist on 7th November 1947. On Sunday 31st October 1948 he was present at the Royal Review of the TA in Hyde Park, the parade being reviewed by his Majesty King George VI. Also present was Field Marshal the Viscount Montgomery, making his last appearance as Chief of the Imperial General Staff.
Ronald was promoted to Major on 12th September 1949 and on 11th November awarded his Efficiency Decoration ‘Territorial’. In 1950 he moved to 21 Marlborough Buildings, and later to ‘Cotheli’ Frome Road, Combe Down in Bath. On 23rd June 1954 he transferred back into TARO and on 28th April 1961 aged 55 retired from the Army having attained the age limit. He later lived at Woodside House, North Road and became a member of the RADC Association. He retired from practice in the late 1960’s early 1970’s and his surgery taken over by Robert Anderson, who still practices to this day at 60 Brock Street in Bath and John Buckingham, an Australian. Ronald was also a Freemason at Somerset Masters Lodge and appointed Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden in 1974 and Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies in 1975. In late life he lived at 62 Riverside Gardens, Midsomer Norton. Ann passed away in February 1990, and Ronald three months later on 15th April aged 84 and leaving £124,279.00. A former patient of Ronald’s during the late 1950’s early 1960’s, Keith Bissex, who was only eight years old at the time recalls that “A visit to the dentist in those days was a considerably more ‘challenging’ experience than it is now - especially for a child. And RB’s military background and somewhat militaristic approach certainly didn’t make matters any less daunting! I remember that he would refer to me as ‘Young-fella-me-lad’ and one’s mother’s reassuring presence was definitely not allowed in his surgery! An injection to ease the pain? Not likely: I can recall his saying something along the lines of it being bad enough having to give one to a woman but he’d be damned if he’d give one to a man – and this to an eight-year old boy! Very much the ‘get-‘em-patched-up-and-back-at-the-front-line-ASAP’ war-time military medical approach, I imagine. Another ‘reassuring’ comment being along the lines of ‘No, he hadn’t hit the nerve but had he done so, I’d have been through the window’! Now, in my mid-60s, I still have all my own teeth and my current dentist tells me that my dental health is very good. I put that down to Ronald Buchan’s robust care in my youth – even though I may not have appreciated it at the time!” Keith’s late Mother, who was also a patient – thought him a “Gentleman of the old school’. A fitting epitaph, perhaps? Ronald’s former surgery at 2-3 Bennet Street, Bath was sold in January 2014 as a two bedroom apartment for £575,000.00
The Story The trio of medals awarded to Ronald Edward Buchan were acquired from E-Bay following an offer made on 4th January 2017 and whilst in an airport hotel the night before a flight away for five weeks. The vendor kindly agreed to hold the medals until the return flight. They were of interest because of the Efficiency Decoration and amount of documentation, including photographs that came with them. The usual search on ancestry.UK and the London Gazette, coupled with the available paperwork allowed a reasonable biography to be compiled and a dentists story to be preserved for all to see.
- Defence Medal: Unnamed as issued
- War Medal 1939-45: Unnamed as issued
- Efficiency Decoration: 1949
This page last updated 23 Jul 17