Two heroes of the Class of Onety-Seven: Part II

Can J Surg. 1990 Apr;33(2):147-51.


Frederick Banting and Norman Bethune were linked in time, place of birth, as classmates in medical college, veterans of World War I and heroes to different worlds. Both were surgeons, sharing the decisiveness that is characteristic of the profession. Both had their surgical ambitions frustrated. Banting, a failed orthopedist, was sidetracked to research; Bethune, a successful surgeon inactivated by tuberculosis, was directed by his interest in his disease to thoracic surgery. Frustrated in his battle for socialized medicine, Bethune went to war against the Fascists in Spain and the Imperialists in China. Banting discovered insulin, but did little else in original research. However, he organized research in Canadian universities which studied pilot safety in air warfare in World War II. The two heroes died within 2 years of each other, Bethune of an infection contracted at surgery on wounded Chinese soldiers and Banting in a plane crash while on a secret mission carrying his research results to Great Britain.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Aerospace Medicine / history*
  • Canada
  • China
  • General Surgery / history*
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Military Medicine / history*

Personal name as subject

  • F Banting
  • N Bethune