CHAPTER 8: London School of Tropical Medicine 1960- 61


In 1960-61 in preparation for work in Africa I took the Diploma course at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (more commonly known as “The London School”). We lived in Muswell Hill in north London Again, we enjoyed the British people, their culture and their “noble isle”.

We bought a new VW ”Kombi” (also known as “23 window” model”). After completing the London School course, we drove it across France and into Switzerland, where Betty recounted childhood memories. We then joined a Union Castle Line ship, the SS Warwick Castle at Genoa for the trip across the Mediterranean, through the Suez Canal and Red Sea, around the northeastern Horn of Africa (scene of piracy 40 years later) and down to Mombasa. It was familiar to me, for in 1931 I had taken that same route with my parents and in 1951 Betty and I, with Danny had taken it when en route to teach at RVA.


  1. The London School
  2. Kombi and travel to Africa
  3. The Hatfields
London School of Hygiene where I studied 1960

LSHTM or, more commonly, “The London School” is an old and prestigious institution. Some of history’s great break-throughs in health originated there. The student body came from all parts of the world. The school is located near the British Museum and London University. We rented a house in Muswell Hill. I cycled to school. A neighbor across the street was the widow of Oswald Chambers, a noted Christian devotional writer.

1960 (fall)

Smiths in Paris

Once we went to Paris to visit Betty’s sister Ruth and family. Husband Doug Smith was an officer with US Information Agency and they lived in a very nice apartment near Bois de Vincennes. They took us to various famous sites. One evening David and his cousin Jaqueline were having exciting fun chasing each other round the apartment. By accident Jaqueline put her hand through a glass pane. panel in a door. There ensued screaming, bleeding and a dramatic trip to the ER. She was attended to by a very tactful and competent young English intern.


Muswell Hill Home
Kombi that we took to Africa

The Kombi

This was in the days when VW was the only car company with a family car other than a station wagon. They had enlarged Hitler’s World War II “peoples car” (Volkswagen) to a mini-bus size, called the Kombi (for combination of purposes). I traveled to Wolfsberg to collect the car at the factory and drove it back to UK. Enroute I visited Paul and Betty Lou Teasdale then studying French in Brussels.

We had great enjoyment of that Kombi. One evening we opened the full length canvas roof as we paraded down Oxford Street ogling the Christmas lights and Selfridges department store. On the trip through France enroute to Africa via Italy a rock struck the passenger side windscreen, shattering it. The boys, who occupied  the passenger seat had to improvise a cardboard cover with a tank-like slit for viewing the road. In Geneva we put the Kombi on the SS Warwick Castle for our trip across the Mediterranean via Port Said, Aden and around the Horn to Mombasa.

  1. The Hatfields

While in London (1959-60) I was asked to give a talk to the United Nations club in a small town called Ongar, in Essex. My sponsors were Ted and Sylvia Hatfield, physicians who ran a private medical practice and had untold humanitarian interests and responsibilities. We became great friends. They themselves visited us in Kenya in later years.

About the time we were due to return to Kenya (1960) their daughter Margaret was finishing Cambridge and wished to have what the Brits  call a “gap year”. By agreement she came with us as sort of an au-pair. She was enormously helpful on the trip by Kombi and boat and then settling in at our posting at Monduli in Tanzania. Then she had a chance to experience real Africa by staying at Loliondo, a very remote posting in Masai District. She stayed with the Austrian Catholic Sisters of the Precious Blood who had a convent there and helped run the government medical services. Loliondo was two days hard travel removed from bishops and other church big-wigs. Therefore, there was able to develop at Loliondo an atmosphere of complimentarity and camaraderie between three parties: Catholics, Lutherans and the Tanganyika Govt. officials like myself. Margaret’s stay there was involuntarily extended by weeks when severe floods cut off road travel to Loliondo.

Mike Tomsett

Margaret went on to read medicine and became a Pediatric Psychiatrist. She married Mike Tomsett a research boffin and they moved to US and raised a family. Mike worked for Bell Labs and was probably the single most important individual in the invention of the digital camera. Trade talk has it that he should have gotten the Nobel Prize. But his superior manipulated the presentation to the Nobel Committee in such a way that he, the supervisor got it instead. In later years President Obama awarded Mike the US Medal of Freedom for his work. He won the QE Prize for Engineering in 2017.

Italian café scene, kids with Margaret Hatfield




Arusha School

Our kids attended Arusha School as boarders, coming home for weekends. This was a traditionally British school in curriculum, sports and discipline. Our kids’ fond memories far exceed the negative ones. Arusha School is featured in the memoirs of David Read in his book “Beating about the Bush”. From Arusha school Dan went on for a year to St Michaels and St. Georges Secondary School in Iringa. This school was innovative for the times, being multi-racial.

Link to Photos of this chapter (08: London School 1960-61)

Link to next chapter (09: Bush Doctor, Tanzania 1961-63)

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