Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Sir Ivan Bede Jose (1893–1969)

by Ronald Hunter

This article was published:

Sir Ivan Bede Jose (1893-1969), surgeon, was born on 13 February 1893 at Ningpo, China, eldest of three sons of George Herbert Jose, an Anglican missionary from England, and his wife Clara Ellen, née Sturt, from South Australia. In 1899 George took his family to England where he studied at the University of Oxford before returning to Adelaide in 1903. Ivan was educated at the Queen's School, North Adelaide, the Collegiate School of St Peter (1905-10) and the University of Adelaide (M.B., B.S., 1915; M.S., 1923). He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 27 November 1914, but was discharged in March to complete his degree.

In November 1915 Jose sailed for the Middle East as captain, Australian Army Medical Corps. From June 1916 he served with the 14th Field Ambulance mainly on the Western Front. Near Ypres, Belgium, in September-October 1917 he supervised the evacuation of casualties while under fire, for which he was awarded the Military Cross. He was promoted major in 1918 and his A.I.F. appointment terminated in Australia on 10 December that year. At Christ Church, North Adelaide, on 20 May 1919 he married with Anglican rites Imogen Mervyn ('Jean') Hawkes. Having undertaken postgraduate studies in Britain, he qualified as a fellow of the Royal colleges of Surgeons, England (1922), and Edinburgh (1922), and of Australasia (1929).

Appointed medical and surgical registrar at the (Royal) Adelaide Hospital in 1923, Jose proved an enthusiastic teacher, displaying verve and a systematic approach in his presentations. Honorary assistant-surgeon (from 1924), honorary surgeon (1930-50) and foundation director (1936) of surgical studies, by the age of 40 he was the hospital's senior surgeon. He restructured surgical teaching and became dean of medicine in 1948. Adelaide's busiest surgeon, with a special interest in urology, he was almost always late, yet he expected everything and everybody to be ready when he arrived. Many 'Saturday morning' ward rounds commenced after midday and he was nicknamed 'the late Mr Jose'. Cramming fourteen working hours a day into twelve, he patronizingly substituted a wide smile for an apology for keeping people waiting.

He had served in the A.A.M.C. Reserve from 1921. Transferring to the Royal Australian Air Force Medical Branch in 1940, he worked as a part-time specialist and rose to the rank of group captain. Jose gave a great deal of his time to the South Australian division of the Australian Red Cross Society: he chaired its blood transfusion service, and was a member (1945-65) of the divisional committee and chairman (1966-68). After retiring in 1950, he practised privately, developed a grazing property and continued to belong to the Adelaide Club. He was a member (1953-65) of the council of the University of Adelaide and deputy-chairman of the university's postgraduate committee in medicine. A councillor (1946-58) and president (1955-57) of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, he was also president (1955-57) of the South Australian branch of the British Medical Association. In 1963 he was knighted. Survived by his wife, daughter and two sons, Sir Ivan died on 23 November 1969 in his North Adelaide home and was buried in North Road cemetery. The R.A.C.S., Melbourne, holds (Sir) Ivor Hele's portrait of Jose, and a visiting professorship in anaesthesia at the University of Adelaide commemorates him.

Select Bibliography

  • J. E. Hughes, A History of the Royal Adelaide Hospital (Adel, 1967)
  • V. A. Edgeloe, The Medical School of the University of Adelaide (Adel, 1991)
  • Medical Journal of Australia, 2 May 1970, p 912
  • Advertiser (Adelaide), 24 Nov 1969
  • D6878 (miscellaneous, State Library of South Australia).

Citation details

Ronald Hunter, 'Jose, Sir Ivan Bede (1893–1969)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 4 March 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (Melbourne University Press), 1996

View the front pages for Volume 14

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Ivan Jose, 1950

Ivan Jose, 1950

Health Museum of South Australia

Life Summary [details]


13 February, 1893
Ningpo, China


23 November, 1969 (aged 76)
North Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Cultural Heritage

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