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Meehan, Arthur Vincent (1890–1955)

by M. John Thearle

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

Arthur Vincent Meehan (1890-1955), orthopaedic surgeon, was born on 12 July 1890 at Marrickville, Sydney, seventh child of native-born parents Joseph Meehan, letter carrier, and his wife Elizabeth, née Poole. Arthur was educated at St Mary's Cathedral High School and the University of Sydney (M.B., 1914). He then served as a resident medical officer at Sydney Hospital.

On 1 March 1916 Meehan was appointed captain, Australian Army Medical Corps, Australian Imperial Force. In December he joined the 9th Field Ambulance on the Western Front. Promoted major in April 1917, he was transferred next month to the 11th F.A. On 13 October he was wounded at Passchendaele, Belgium, which led to the amputation of his right foot. He was posted to the staff of the 2nd Australian Auxiliary Hospital, Southall, England, in March 1918 and mentioned in dispatches in May. After gaining orthopaedic experience with (Sir) Robert Jones at the Royal Southern Hospital, Liverpool, Meehan was elected a fellow (1919) of the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh. His A.I.F. appointment terminated in Australia on 19 July 1919. As a temporary lieutenant colonel he commanded (1919-21) the 27th A.A.H., Brisbane, on a part-time basis.

On 14 June 1919 at St Vincent's Catholic Church, Ashfield, Sydney, Meehan married Marion Kenny. Moving permanently to Brisbane in 1920, he took up private practice in Wickham Terrace. That year, in the Brisbane Children's Hospital, he set up an orthopaedic unit which he was to supervise until 1931. At Brisbane General Hospital, he was honorary orthopaedic surgeon from 1922 to 1928. At the Mater Misericordiae, he was associated with the children's hospital (from 1931) and with the hospital for adults (from 1938); he resigned in 1950 and joined the honorary consulting staff. During World War II he had been a consultant to the Australian Military Forces and the Royal Australian Air Force, and orthopaedic surgeon at the 112th Base Hospital, Greenslopes.

Regarded as the doyen of orthopaedic surgeons in Queensland, Meehan was the first in the State to devote himself solely to the speciality. His enthusiasm and skill attracted many disciples. He was a fellow (1928) of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, a fellow (1935) of the British Orthopaedic Association, and a founding member of the Australian Orthopaedic Association which he served as vice-president (1937) and president (1942-44). A frequent contributor to the Medical Journal of Australia, he served (1948-50) on the British editorial board of the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. As an honorary member of, and consultant to, the Queensland branch of the Limbless Soldiers' Association, he was noted for his compassion and understanding.

Meehan was honest, sincere, and a devout Catholic. He enjoyed music, the theatre, swimming and tennis (in spite of his disability). A deranged former patient shot and killed him on 1 December 1955 in his rooms in Wickham Terrace. Survived by his wife, four daughters and two sons, Meehan was buried in Nudgee cemetery. Both his sons became medical practitioners.

Select Bibliography

  • H. Barry, Orthopaedics in Australia (Syd, 1983)
  • R. Patrick, A History of Health and Medicine in Queensland 1824-1960 (Brisb, 1987)
  • R. L. Doherty (ed), A Medical School for Queensland (Brisb, 1986)
  • Medical Journal of Australia, 10 Mar 1956, p 423.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

M. John Thearle, 'Meehan, Arthur Vincent (1890–1955)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/meehan-arthur-vincent-11103/text19767, published first in hardcopy 2000, accessed online 21 August 2019.

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

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