Whittingham, Sir Harold E., 1887-1983, Air Marshal

  • Whittingham, Harold E., Sir.
  • Archives and manuscripts

About this work


The papers are arranged by section as follows:

A. Personal Papers and Early Career, 1904-1956, including papers on cancer research, Glasgow, 1904-1915

B. RAF Sandfly Fever Commission, Malta, 1921-1952

C. RAF Medical Services, c.1920-1945

D. Biochemistry Lectures, London School of Tropical Medicine, 1926-1930

E. British Red Cross Society, 1946-1959

F. Flying Personnel Research Committee, 1940-1976

G. British Airways Overseas Corporation, 1945-1970

H. International Air Transport Association Medical Committee, 1949-1960

J. World Health Organisation, 1948-1968

K. Commonwealth Development Corporation, 1958-1976

L. History of RAF Medical Services, 1958-1983

M. Publications, 1911-1975



Physical description

30 boxes 1 oversize older

Acquisition note

The papers of Sir Harold Whittingham were given to the library at Wellcome Collection by Lady Whittingham, Sir Harold's widow, in 1995. Further papers, which Lady Whittingham had passed to the Air Ministry and to the International Air Transport Association for security and confidentiality clearance were given in 1996. Whittingham's drawings of phlebotomus papatasii (ref: B.1/9) had been given to the Wellcome Museum of Medical Science after being displayed at the British Empire Exhibition of 1924, and were transferred to the library at Wellcome Collection in 1989.

Biographical note

These papers form a comprehensive record of Sir Harold's renowned career in military and civil aviation medicine. They also provide an overview of the development of the discipline from its early days when the Royal Flying Corps Medical Service was founded in 1917, until the mid-1960s and the great expansion of civilian aviation services. Sir Harold's career in the RAF (1918-1946) is covered largely in sections B and C of the collection; and accounts of the development of the RAF Medical Services can be found in section L. Whittingham's work, during his service in the RAF and for other organisations, touched on all aspects of health and medicine as it affected both flying personnel and passengers, in war and peace, with such a wide range of topics as the provision of oxygen in cabins, hygiene of food preparation, international quarantine, sanitary regulations, fatigue in flight and injuries to air crash victims.

The collection also contains much to do with tropical medicine: including papers connected with the Sandfly Fever research project in Malta, 1921-1923, for which Whittingham was awarded the Chadwick Gold Medal (section B), and his teaching papers for tropical medicine and hygiene courses to RAF Medical Officers (section C.7) and at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (section D).

After World War Two, Whittingham's expertise in the fields of aviation medicine and tropical medicine was drawn on by the British Overseas Airways Corporation, the International Air Travel Association, the World Health Organisation and the Commonwealth Development Corporation - as reflected in sections G, H, J and K of the list, respectively. As Director of Medical Services to BOAC, 1948-1956, Whittingham, led the way in safeguarding the health of passengers, aircrew and airline staff. With his team he regularly visited each station used by BOAC around the world. Section G contains a series of his reports (G.10) and notebooks (G.11) giving details of medical facilities, staffing, water and food supply, pests and diseases.

Whittingham's long association with the Flying Personnel Research Committee, (he was Chief Executive Officer 1939-1941 and Chairman 1949-1967), is documented in section F. This contains material on the development of measures to preserve the physical and psychological well-being of civilian and military aircrew.

Whittingham also advised on civilian and military first aid provision and contributed to first aid manuals. His efforts in this field are chiefly represented in section E, relating to his work for the British Red Cross Society, (to which he acted as Medical Advisor, 1946-1948).

Section A contains a small amount of material on Whittingham's early career; his pathology research at the Royal Cancer Hospital, Glasgow, 1910-1915 (including a set of carcinoma patient photographs, A.1/2), and service in the RAMC during World War One.

The collection includes many photographs and illustrations, some of which were used by Whittingham in his lectures and publications, (notably see B.1 and B.2 on phlebotomus life cycle and fever; C.8 on aviation medical services and flying personnel efficiency and well-being during World War Two; G.8 on victims of Comet air crash, Elba, 1954; G.14 on in-flight care, hygiene and catering, BOAC, 1950s). Many of his lecture note files include his own drawings and cartoons, a series of which were used in the Air Ministry booklet Health Hints for Warm Climates, 1943, distributed to British servicemen, (see C.3/4 and M.3/33). There is a reasonably comprehensive run of his publications in section M, including his pre-First World War articles on cancer research. Section M also contains a small group of publications by other bodies (M.4-8), including a collection of survival booklets for the use of servicemen in inhospitable environments (M.5).

Related material

At Wellcome Collection:

A note by Whittingham is held as MS.8007/15.

In other repositories:

Whittingham's notes on his courses at Glasgow University have been given to Glasgow University Archives.

Permanent link


Accession number

  • 2246
  • 563
  • 665