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Edward Alfred (Ted) Daley (1901–1985)

by D. S. Thomson

This article was published:

Ted Daley, early 1950s

Ted Daley, early 1950s

image from Caulfield Grammar School archives

Edward Alfred (Ted) Daley (1901-1985), air force officer and medical practitioner, was born on 23 January 1901 at Bendigo, Victoria, fourth son of Charles Daley, schoolteacher, and his wife Caroline Rose, née Bromfield, both Victorian born. Charles Daley and Francis Daley were his brothers. Ted attended (1915-19) Caulfield Grammar School, Melbourne, where he became a prefect, gained honours in matriculation physics and made his mark as a tennis player.

After studying at the University of Melbourne (MB, BS, 1925), Daley worked at Warrnambool and at the Austin Hospital, Melbourne, then spent a further two years in private practice. At Scots Church, Melbourne, on 21 July 1927 he married with Presbyterian forms Katharine Grace Wright-Smith (d.1984); they had no children. On 16 July 1928 he joined the Royal Australian Air Force as a flight lieutenant. One of only three doctors in the Permanent Air Force, he served at Laverton and Point Cook. In 1930 he qualified as a pilot to improve his assessment of candidates for flying training, and to estimate flying fatigue. He was promoted to squadron leader in November 1933. In 1936 he went to England on exchange.

Believing that any coming war would involve action in the tropics, Daley completed a diploma in tropical medicine (1937) at the University of Liverpool. He enjoyed his two years in England and gained considerable insight into Royal Air Force medical administration. When he returned to Australia in July 1938, he was appointed deputy-director (director from January 1939) of medical services (air) with the rank of wing commander. He immediately introduced RAF methods of organisation and documentation, which proved invaluable after the outbreak of World War II and allowed RAF and RAAF medical units to operate together with precision.

In June 1940 Daley was promoted to temporary group captain and made deputy-director (deputy director general from January 1943) of medical services under (Sir) Victor Hurley. That year Daley initiated the building of No.1 RAAF Hospital, Laverton, where intensive training of medical staff took place. He introduced No.1 Air Ambulance Unit to the Middle East in 1941. Appointed honorary physician to King George VI (Queen Elizabeth II from 1952) in 1940, he was elected a fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians in 1943. In July 1944 he visited Normandy to observe the British practice of flying casualties home rather than setting up hospitals in France.

Promoted to acting air commodore in August 1945 (substantive January 1947), Daley was made director-general of medical services in December. He rose to air vice-marshal in March 1952 and that year was appointed CBE. In 1956 he formed the RAAF School (later Institute) of Aviation Medicine at Point Cook and served on the medical committee for the Melbourne Olympic Games. He had established (1949) the special group on aviation medicine of the British Medical Association in Australia and was its first chairman. In 1954 he was elected a vice-president of the Aero Medical Association.

Daley retired from the RAAF on 31 March 1961. Recognised as an outstanding administrator, he became national director (1961-75) of the St John Ambulance Association. He supervised the rewriting of the first-aid manual to reflect Australian conditions and was appointed (1962) a knight of grace of the Order of St John. In 1965-68 he was president of the Victorian section of the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia. Though seemingly austere, with a piercing gaze and toothbrush moustache, he was a kind and gentle man with a keen sense of humour and a love of music and tennis. He died on 15 March 1985 in his home at East Malvern. His body was bequeathed to the department of anatomy, University of Melbourne.

Select Bibliography

  • A. S. Walker, Medical Services of the R.A.N. and R.A.A.F. (1961)
  • I. Howie-Willis, A Century for Australia (1983)
  • G. Halstead, Story of the RAAF Nursing Service 1940-1990 (1994)
  • J. C. Wiseman and R. J. Mulhearn (eds), Roll of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, vol 2, 1976-90 (1994)
  • Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia, Victorian Section Bulletin, July 1970, p 4
  • D. Thomson, `The Flying Doctor’, Labora, July 1982, p 13.

Citation details

D. S. Thomson, 'Daley, Edward Alfred (Ted) (1901–1985)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2007, accessed online 25 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (Melbourne University Press), 2007

View the front pages for Volume 17

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Ted Daley, early 1950s

Ted Daley, early 1950s

image from Caulfield Grammar School archives