Thomas Anwyl-Davies was born in Portsmouth, the son of John Davies, a Congregational minister. He was educated by his father and was said to have acquired a remarkable knowledge of geography. He felt the lack of companions of his own age, which was remedied in his late teens by study in Bonn, Marburg, Lille, and then at St. Thomas’s Hospital Medical School. He qualified in 1917. His MD (London) thesis on syphilis in the female won the gold medal for 1930, and he was elected FRCP in 1937. As soon as he qualified he joined the RAMC and was posted as RMO to the Royal Fusiliers, then fighting on the Somme. After the Armistice, he returned to St. Thomas’s Hospital with the intention of taking up ENT surgery but was pressed by his seniors into the VD department. He therefore became one of the first doctors of distinction to take up the new specialty of venereology, which grew out of the arsenicals as the first effective early treatment of syphilis and of the need of organised social control of the post-war epidemic. His success earned him an invitation to start a clinic at the London Hospital, and later he was elected to the staff of St. Thomas’s Hospital and became consultant in venereology to the London County Council.
He married Kathleen Beryl Oakshott in 1922, whose father had business interests in India. On being granted a divorce in 1945, he married Elizabeth Counsell in 1946, herself a practising doctor and daughter of a Somerset squire. There was a son of the first marriage and a daughter of the second.
He was a competent landscape artist and one of his paintings was shown at the Royal Academy in 1938.
He was essentially a gregarious and kindly townsman, being at home on the Westminster City Council (circa 1951-1966), in his Masonic Lodge and among friends, whom he regaled with portentous hints of scandalous confidences. This propensity to fantasy enlivened his student lectures and reached its peak in the early part of the second world war when he became the inventor and propagator of astonishing rumours, but all with an encouraging and loyal content. No one was deceived by this — it was allowed for, and regarded as an inevitable but amiable foible of the Welsh.
J Bishop Harman
[Brit.med.J., 1971, 4, 174,307; Lancet, 1971, 2, 1043; Times, 6 Oct 1971; St Thomas’s Hospital Gazette, 1972, 70(1), 27]