William George Barnard was born in Tangier, the second son of E. U. Barnard, a missionary, and his wife, Sarah P. Brown, of Bristol. As his father’s health had failed, the family returned in 1902 to Bath, where William was educated privately before going to the London Hospital Medical College to train as a missionary. Experiences in World War I changed his interests. He had been commissioned in the Royal Field Artillery, but was sent back to complete his medical training, and association with Professor Hubert Turnbull decided him to make a career in pathology.
In 1927 he spent six months in the laboratories of Professor Ludwig Aschoff in Freiburg, and in 1931 was appointed consultant histologist at the Archway Hospital, where he quickly built up a renowned reference laboratory. In 1939 he succeeded S. L. Dudgeon in the chair of pathology at St. Thomas’s Hospital, and in 1947 became dean. Now he had the opportunity to show his great talent for administration, which was recognised in 1956 by his appointment to the senate of London University.
At the College he was elected a Councillor in 1942, 1943 and 1944 and Treasurer in 1945. In this post he was able to show the kindliness and love for his fellow men that was usually hidden to all but his close friends by an aloofness that was really an innate modesty and shyness. The picture of him that remained for those Fellows privileged to attend the dinners he organised under post-war difficulties was of a stocky, bright-eyed military figure, moving from table to table refilling glasses from two decanters.
In his work he was a meticulous observer and an excellent teacher, but an even better administrator, who spoke to the point only after careful preparation. Yet he made one special contribution to pathology for which he will be remembered: his work that showed ‘oat-celled sarcoma’ of the mediastinum to be a primary carcinoma of the lung (J. Path. Bact., 1926, 29,241-4).
In his student days he played full-back for the London Hospital Rugby team. Later his hobbies were the renovating of vintage cars, and especially gardening by which he prepared for a retirement at Chiddingfold that was denied him.
In 1930 he married Miss Margaret R. Osier; their son qualified from St. Thomas’s Hospital.
Richard R Trail
[Brit.med.J., 1957, 1, 50 (p), 110,171; J.Clin.Path., 1957, 10, 110-12; Lancet, 1957, 1, 53-4 (p); St. Thom. Hosp. Gaz., 1957, 55, 45-7; Times, 21 Dec. 1956.]