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    Army Museum of NSW - Medals of the Month


Medals of the Month - September 2020


Honours and awards for Sir Kenneth William Starr. L - R: (1) Companion of the Order of St Michael & St George (Neck badge), (2) Order of the British Empire - Officer (Mil), (3) 1939-1945 Star, (4) Africa Star, (5) Pacific Star, (6) Defence Medal 1939-1945, (7) War Medal 1939-1945, (8) Australia Service Medal 1939-1945, (9) Coronation Medal 1953, (10) Efficiency Decoration (GVI).


Sir Kenneth William Starr, KB, CMG, OBE.
Painting by South Australian artist Robert Hannaford (b.1944).
(Copy provided by courtesy of the Royal Australian College of Surgeons).

1908. Kenneth William Starr was born on 9th January 1908 at Wellington, New South Wales, eldest of four children of William Stanley Starr, machine agent, and his wife Mildred, née Jennings.

1917. Is sent to a boarding house in Marrickville, Sydney to attend the local public School.

1920. Attends Fort Street Boys' High School, Sydney and excels in Latin and Greek.

1925. Attends the University of Sydney and studies Medicine.

1926. Enlists in the Militia.

1930. Graduates with first-class honours as a Bachelor of Medicine (MB) and a Bachelor of Surgery (BS) from Sydney University. Is also awarded the University Medal for outstanding academic performance.


The University of Sydney Medal awarded in 1930 to Kenneth William Star for outstanding academic performance.

1930-1937. Resident Medical Officer, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital from 1930. Surgeon Superintendent, Royal Newcastle Hospital from 1933. Travels to London in 1936 to study at the Royal College of Surgeons, England and wins the Hallett Prize. Returns in 1937 to Royal Newcastle Hospital as Assistant-Surgeon.

1939. Called up for full-time military service at the rank of major in the Australian Army Medical Corps on 9th October as a result of the declaration of war on 3rd September. Is posted to Headquarters Southern Command, Melbourne, Victoria.

1940. Becomes a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and graduates as a Master of Surgery (MS) from the University of Melbourne.

1940. Marries Alison Howse on 10th May, daughter of the late Sir Neville Reginald Howse, VC, KCB, KCMG, FRCS (1863-1930), the first Australian recipient of the Victoria Cross.

1940. Transfers on 10th May from the Militia to the Australian Imperial Force.

1940. Embarks for the Middle East in October.

1941-1942. Appointed in January 1941 as Assistant-Director of Medical Services with the temporary rank of lieutenant colonel (substantive from August 1941). Serves in Eritrea with the 2nd/5th Australian General Hospital and studies plastic and facio-maxillary surgery February-July 1942 in Britain and North America.

1942. Appointed on 16th April as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (Military) (OBE) for distinguished service in the Middle East.

1942. Posted as Officer Commanding, Surgery Division, 113th Australian General Hospital in Sydney to establish a facial-maxillary and plastic surgery unit.

1944. Awarded the Jacksonian Prize by the Royal College of Surgeons for his essay "Delayed Union of Fractures". posted back to 2nd/5th Australian General Hospital in November following a strong disagreement with superiors about the clinical management of cases.

1945. Embarks in March for the island of Morotai in the Moluccas during the Borneo Campaign. Treats many wounds with the newly available drug, penicillin.

1946. Transfers on 20th February to the Reserve of Officers.

1946-1966. An impressive medical career in both private and public practice follows after the Second World War. Highlights included:

• Senior Honorary Surgeon at Sydney Hospital.
• Contributor to the Australian Official War History.
• Visiting Surgeon at the Repatriation General Hospital, Concord.
• Creation of a special unit in 1955 for cancer research and treatment at the Prince of Wales Hospital, Randwick.
• A member from 1962 and Chairman (1967-1972) of the New South Wales Medical Board.
• President of the Royal Australian College or Surgeons (1964-66).
• As Chairman of the Medical Advisory Committee (1958) Starr recommended the establishment of a new medical school to be located at the New South Wales University of Technology (now the University of New South Wales).
• Publication of several books, articles in medical journals and a consulting editor to two overseas surgical journals.

1956. Appointed 31st May as a Companion of the Order of St Michael & St George (CMG) as Examiner of the Royal College of Surgeons.

1971. Appointed 12th June as a Knight Bachelor (KB) for services to medicine and the New South Wales Cancer Council.

1976. Sir Kenneth Starr passed away on 6th June at Coogee, New South Wales.

Lest We Forget

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