Designatory Letters: 
MB Lond 1954, MRCP Edin 1965, MD Lond 1971, Fellowship 1975, FRCP Lond 1975

(Contributed by Brigadier (Rtd) Guy Ratcliffe, FRCP)

David Michael Roberts, in a distinguished career in the Army Medical Services from 1955 to 1988, became a noted Gastroenterologist and Professor of Military Medicine, finishing his career as a Major General in the post of Director of Army Medicine and Consulting Physician to the Army.

He was born in London in 1931, educated at the Emmanuel School, and was in the first group of male students to scale the matriarchal walls of the Royal Free Hospital, where he qualified in 1955. After house appointments in London he took a Short Service Commission in the RAMC, which was soon converted to a Regular Commission. After 4 years of soldiering in Germany, which included some months as Regimental Medical Officer to the 12th Royal Lancers and junior staff appointments, he began specialist training in London and continued this in Hong Kong, Catterick and Munster, becoming MRCP Ed in 1965 and a Fellow of the Edinburgh College in 1975. He returned to Hong Kong as Consultant in Medicine from 1970 to 1973, and completed his MD thesis on the effects of alcohol on dyspepsia and the structure of the gastric mucosa, which he had studied in many endoscopic specimens.

After a further short tour in Germany, he was appointed to the Chair of Military Medicine jointly at the Royal Army Medical College Millbank and the Royal College of Physicians of London from 1975 to 1981. He reduced the importance of teaching in tropical medicine at Millbank as he believed that Britain's imperial role "East of Suez" was over, but subsequent changes in geopolitics meant that his successors had to reintroduce the teaching on tropical diseases to Army medical officers. He served in Germany again from 1981 to 1984 as Brigadier - Command Consultant in Medicine - and was then promoted to Major General on becoming Director of Army Medicine and Honorary Physician to Her Majesty The Queen. During his time as Professor and then Director of Medicine he continued an active consulting practice in Gastroenterology to the Army at the Queen Elizabeth Military Hospital Woolwich, and always enjoyed beating his trainees at squash.

After retirement he continued his association with the military as a medical officer at the Chemical Defence Establishment, Porton Down for a period of 2 to 3 years. However, he had for a long time wished to run his own independent business and so took a lease on a defunct Arabian Stud in Tollard Royal, Wiltshire and set up an Equestrian Centre. He arrived with three horses and, very ably assisted by his wife, Angela, and their two daughters, he applied his usual single-minded and obsessive approach to the business. Despite being widely known as the Basil Fawlty of the equestrian world he made a success of the venture, and set a very high standard which the workforce sometimes found hard to live up to. The business was sold in 1996 with 42 horses in the yard. The family moved to Dunhead St Andrew near Shaftesbury where he took up painting as a totally new challenge. His single-mindedness in this pursuit similarly led to some degree of success, becoming the Chairman of the local art group for which he had great plans until his final illness overtook him. He loved his home and family and village life: not surprisingly his last years were very happy ones.