Jimmy Baird was a member of the Dulwich Society since he retired from the Royal Army Medical Corps, of which he was its Director-General, in 1977 and settled in Stonehills Court with his wife Ann who also died earlier this year.
He was born in Morayshire in 1915, the son of a minister in the United Free Church of Scotland. He studied medicine at Edinburgh and was swept into the RAMC with an emergency commission in 1939. Initially posted to a field ambulance unit, in 1941 he was attached as regimental medical officer to the 11th 'Scottish' Commando in Layforce - the raiding force of three commandoes sent to the Mediterranean. After this force was disbanded following severe casualties in the Lebanon he served with the 8th Army field medical units in the Western Desert and later at Middle- East base hospitals. It was there that he acquired a fascination for the study of tropical diseases, in which he would later specialise.
After the war he was admitted to the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and London where he became a Fellow of each. His qualities of an experienced physician and a brilliant lecturer came to the fore when he was appointed Director-General of the RAMC in 1973. At the time the Corps was in a parlous state following the closure of hospitals, amalgamation of medical units and cuts in staff following the reduction in numbers of the army. However the operational demands on the services remained high with engagements in Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Belize and Oman.
Baird persuaded the Army Board to take three revolutionary steps to correct the general malaise in the Army Medical Services. First he overcame the prejudices against accepting female doctors into the Army and this proved a resounding success. Secondly he won agreement to use Territorial Army doctors overseas to provide temporary relief for the hard-pressed regulars. Thirdly, he conceived the idea of making greater use of skills of the male nurses with SRN qualifications by appointing them as regimental medical officers' assistants, thus releasing trained doctors for more urgent work.
In his retirement, Jimmy Baird devoted time to playing golf and pursued his interest in post-graduate medical education. He wrote a definitive history of the post-war Royal Army Medical Corps.