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John Aylward Game (1915–1995)

by Stephen Due

This article was published:

John Aylward Game (1915–1995), neurologist, was born on 3 June 1915 at Launceston, Tasmania, eldest son of Tasmanian-born parents Tasman Aylward Game, bank officer, and his wife Clarice Mary, née Turner. The family moved to Adelaide when John was a child. He was educated at the Collegiate School of St Peter and the University of Adelaide (MBBS, 1938). Awarded the British Medical Association prize for clinical medicine in 1937 and the Everard scholarship in 1938, he graduated top of his class.

In 1939 Game was appointed resident medical officer at the (Royal) Adelaide Hospital. Known as ‘Dr Chook Game,’ he married the Adelaide-born charity worker and socialite Barbara Lancaster Beddome on 11 November 1939 at the chapel of his old school. Shortly after World War II broke out, on 30 January 1940 he was commissioned as a flight lieutenant in the Royal Australian Air Force’s Medical Branch. He worked in the Directorate of Medical Services, RAAF Headquarters, Melbourne, and rose to temporary wing commander (1943). From September 1945 he assisted in the repatriation of Australian prisoners of war from Singapore. By January 1946 he was commanding No. 6 RAAF Hospital, Heidelberg, Victoria. Demobilised on 20 March 1947, he later served on the RAAF Reserve, finishing as a temporary group captain in 1972.

Game undertook postgraduate study at the University of Melbourne (MD, 1947). Following a traditional career path for many Australian doctors aspiring to be specialists, he travelled overseas for further study from 1947 to 1949. The recipient of a Red Cross scholarship, he trained at the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases, London, where he came under the influence of Sir Charles Symonds, neurologist, and Francis Walshe, editor of the neurological journal Brain. Returning to Melbourne in 1950, Game was appointed assistant neurologist at the Alfred Hospital under Leonard Cox, whom he succeeded as honorary neurologist (1954–63). After moving into private practice in 1963, he continued to work as a consultant at the Alfred. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians in 1964.

Committed to the advancement of clinical neurology, Game had been a founding member of the Australian Association of Neurologists in 1950, serving as secretary (1950–65) and president (1965–74). As president, he negotiated with government to establish the status of clinical neurologists and to improve their remuneration. He had served on the original board of the Van Cleef Foundation, established in 1961 to fund a chair of neuroscience at the Alfred. One of the founders (1970) of the Australian Neurological Foundation (later the Brain Foundation), he was also an active member of the World Federation of Neurology, serving as a vice-president (1973–78). He was appointed OBE in 1981.

A fine clinician and organiser, Game was highly principled and forthright in his views. Not a researcher by nature, he published relatively little during his career, though he valued research. He retired in the mid-1980s owing to deteriorating health. Afflicted by Parkinson’s disease, he died on 4 December 1995 at Malvern, Victoria, and was cremated. His wife, daughter, and son survived him. He is remembered for his role in ‘shaping the development and organisation of Australian neurology for some two decades’ (Eadie 2000, 74–75).

Research edited by Rani Kerin

Select Bibliography

  • Commonwealth Gazette. 15 February 1940, 394
  • Commonwealth Gazette. 8 May 1947, 1294
  • Eadie, Mervyn J. The Flowering of a Waratah: The History of Australian Neurology and of the Australian Association of Neurologists. Sydney: John Libbey, 2000
  • Gilligan, Bernard. ‘Medical Fraternity Mourns Trail-Blazing Neurologist.’ Age (Melbourne), 3 January 1996, 16
  • ‘St Peter’s College Wedding.’ Advertiser (Adelaide), 13 November 1939, 6
  • Walker, Alan S. Medical Services of the RAN and RAAF. Vol. IV of Series 5 (Medical) of Australia in the War of 1939–1945. Canberra: Australian War Memorial, 1961

Additional Resources

Citation details

Stephen Due, 'Game, John Aylward (1915–1995)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published online 2019, accessed online 26 February 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 19, (ANU Press), 2021

View the front pages for Volume 19

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