Army Medical Corps Journal" December
Captain (Retd) Peter Starling
Colonel Ray Bencini will be familiar to many of the older members of the
Corps, especially the GP's. He served in the RAMC from 1971 to 1998 latterly
as a GP Trainer.
This book is an account
of his life from his birth in war torn Malta to his
retirement from the army. Its title is taken from the
fact that in the late
1970's Ray Bencini was responsible for the medical
treatment of Rudolf Hess,
then a prisoner in Spandau, Berlin.
The chapters cover a period
in the career of the author and also include the
private and family life, including a failed marrage.
Each chapter ends with"
Lessons Learnt" both General and Medical.
I found it most enjoyable
to read because most of the places referred to are
familiar to me. The photographs are good and include
many familiar faces.
2002 by Marika Azzopardi
The book is surprisingly detailed, carrying ample
photography and maps to support various periods of
Personal episodes are interspersed with the historical
and political events of whichever country the author
happened to be stationed at. Various aspects are also
touched upon, as the author experienced them in their
development through the years. Aspects such as patient
rights, training, family disruption, the raising of
children, are but a few. The colonel is also an avid
As always, recounted in an easy and flowing movement
which brings forth the Colonel’s enthusiasm for
life. The author used this to the utmost, enriching
his own life and adding extra interest to his story.
Sunday Times of Malta 2001 by Norbert Ellul Vincenti
Colonel Bencini Testaferrata's book is a revelation,
quite apart from the fact that "one of his patients"
was Hitler's deputy, Rudolf Hess, though that fact serves
as a readers' bait.
Out of a total of 27 years, 15 were served in Germany,
five in England, three in Hong Kong, and two apiece
in Cyprus and Belgium. The autor observes that Nelson
Mandela spent the same number of years in prison, while
Hess spent 46years, after he had "risked his life
in order to end the Second World War".
Bencini traces the breaking down of his first marriage
with the loss of custody of his two young daughters,
his descent into the abyss, and his salvation through
Marlena, his present wife.
An unusual if welcome practice is that of attaching
a list of lessons learnt at a particular point in life,
at the end of each chapter. This may inspire humour
as well as impart real wisdom.
Bencini tells more than you would expect, but he generally
does it gracefully, and his humanity irons out any possible
G. P. Writer Vol 16 by Dr John Spence
Like the countries of the Celtic Fringe, Malta has
always been a generous source of personnel for the medical
services of the armed forces. From 1971 to 1998 Raymond
Bencini was one of that hardworking, congenial band.
One of the great prequisites of military service was,
and still is, the opportunity to visit and explore other
countries and other cultures. The author used this to
the utmost, enriching his own life and adding extra
interest to his story.
Dr. Bencini seems to have made a point of identifying
himself with the culture and customs of the units he
was attached to, a practice which makes for harmonious,
effective working but used to be disliked by senior
ranks in the Medical Corps. Being part of the community
has its drawbacks; he found, like many of us, that living
in the midst of one’s practice means loss of privacy
and being permanently on call. Some doctors thrive on
it; many do not.
Each chapter deals with one posting and associated
events in the writer’s life and ends with a summary
of lessons he learnt from the experience.
Doctor Bencini seems to have the ideal temperament
for service life, being an enthusiastic sportsman and,
as he describes himself, ‘a social person’.
He kept in touch with developments in general practice
and applied them to his own service practices. Inevitably,
since they are likely to have their frist effect on
service life, he maintained a continuing interest in
international affairs; his account of each posting carries
a commentary on what was happenning in the world. In
Berlin he looked after and came to know Rudolf Hess,
but is unable (or unwilling) to throw any light on the
big remaining mystery, the true identity of the prisoner
The author’s enthusiasm for medicine, life and
people shines through the text, making the book a pleasure