Reviews
 

"Royal Army Medical Corps Journal" December 2003 by 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.

Malta Today 2002 by Marika Azzopardi

The book is surprisingly detailed, carrying ample photography and maps to support various periods of the author’s colourful life.

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 traveller.

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 creases.

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 of Spandau.

The author’s enthusiasm for medicine, life and people shines through the text, making the book a pleasure to read.