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Lindon, Sir Leonard Charles Edward (1896–1978)

by G. J. Fraenkel

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (MUP), 2000

Sir Leonard Charles Edward Lindon (1896-1978), neurosurgeon, was born on 8 February 1896 in North Adelaide, second son of James Hemery Lindon (d.1897), a schoolmaster from England, and his Queensland-born wife Mary Ellen Cockburn, née Mayne, grand-daughter of W. C. Mayne. James Lindon had founded Queen's School, North Adelaide. Leonard was educated at Geelong Church of England Grammar School, Victoria, the Collegiate School of St Peter, Adelaide, and (on a scholarship) the University of Adelaide (M.B., 1919; M.S., 1923). On 11 March 1915 he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force; he served with the 1st Australian Stationary Hospital in the Gallipoli campaign, but was sent home in March 1916 and discharged to resume his medical studies.

Lindon won a Rhodes scholarship in 1918 which he took up in 1920. His time at Balliol College, Oxford, overlapped that of (Sir) Hugh Cairns who later influenced him greatly. Lindon worked as a house-surgeon at the Radcliffe Infirmary and was elected a fellow of the Royal colleges of Surgeons (England and Edinburgh, 1922). On 12 December 1921 at Holy Trinity Church, Brompton, London, he married Jean Monteith Marten whose father had built up Adelaide's largest medical practice and occasionally performed brain surgery. In 1923 Lindon returned home. He assisted his father-in-law and brother-in-law, (Sir) Henry Newland, and developed interests in tuberculosis and neurological surgery.

In 1929-30 Lindon studied neurosurgery, with Harvey Cushing at Boston, United States of America, and Cairns in London. He published twenty articles, eleven on neurosurgery, which were characterized by a self-criticism unusual in that period. Keeping abreast of international developments by reading and travelling, he depended on general surgery for his living and practised at the Children's Hospital and the (Royal) Adelaide Hospital. At the latter institution he established a neurosurgical clinic in 1931 and was among the first in Australia to obtain X-rays of blood vessels in the brain. In 1940 he helped to found the Society of Australasian Neurological Surgeons. Lindon held various offices in the University of Adelaide, the South Australian branch of the British (later Australian) Medical Association and the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (vice-president 1956-58, president 1959-61).

As lieutenant colonel, Australian Army Medical Corps, A.I.F., he served in the Middle East in 1940-41 and had charge of the neurosurgical centre at the 2nd/2nd Australian General Hospital. For this work he was mentioned in dispatches. Back in Adelaide, he performed part-time military duties in 1942.

Following his retirement from the Royal Adelaide Hospital in 1951, Lindon maintained his practice. In 1964 he was knighted. The modesty so prominent in his publications was not always apparent in his conduct, but he avoided controversy. He rowed in his youth, played cricket and tennis, and took golfing holidays with his friends. Troubled by arthritis, he gave up neurosurgery in 1971. After his wife's death in 1974, his health deteriorated. Survived by his daughter and two sons, he died on 28 August 1978 in North Adelaide and was cremated. His portrait (1964) by Rex Bramleigh is held by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, Melbourne.

Select Bibliography

  • J. E. Hughes, Henry Simpson Newland (Adel, 1972)
  • Australian and New Zealand Journal of Surgery, July 1974
  • Medical Journal of Australia, 11 Aug 1979
  • Advertiser (Adelaide), 23 June 1959, 31 Aug 1978
  • Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Archives, Melbourne
  • Rhodes Trust, Oxford, University of Adelaide records (State Library of South Australia)
  • private information.

Citation details

G. J. Fraenkel, 'Lindon, Sir Leonard Charles Edward (1896–1978)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/lindon-sir-leonard-charles-edward-10832/text19219, published first in hardcopy 2000, accessed online 16 November 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (MUP), 2000

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