PERIODICALLY down the years I have written about a surgeon who intrigued countless thousands as much as he helped them towards better health and gained their everlasting gratitude. But this is likely the last time I shall mention Alexander Walker Naddell. He passed away last month and, for all his worldwide reputation as the man with a heaven-sent gift for curing back problems, he departed with scarce a word of recognition.

There was just a simple newspaper announcement after the funeral, which took place, I understand, on the day of his death. So ended a life which touched so many, yet

was surrounded by an air of mystery which unfolded in the most bizarre of circumstances, sadly of his own making.

I first met this extraordinary man in the Cold War days of the sixties when, as a colonel in the Territorials, he had to prepare medical teams in the Glasgow area for the possibilities of an atomic war. That, of course, was a part-time role, taking its place alongside his much higher profile as a surgeon who had broken away from the mainstream of his profession and gained fame on the alternative platform.

The medical world frowned but Walker Naddell had made a special study of what became known as the ''slipped disc'' and was in much demand, albeit at fees which soon put him into a Rolls-Royce lifestyle, in the fashionable Whitecraigs district of southern Glasgow. Celebrity patients queued up to sing his praises when he wrote a book about the slipped disc, the foreword was written by comedian Stanley Baxter. Famous Scots golfer Eric Brown, Ryder Cup captain, dedicated his own book to Walker Naddell. Kenneth McKellar said: ''I was carried in and I walked out.''

One day I happened to mention my recurrent migraine attacks. He was on to it immediately. This had much to do with posture and I was given manipulation and exercises; the improvement was quite spectacular. For a time, the attacks disappeared altogether and have returned only in the mildest form.

True to character, Naddell wrote a book about migraine and this time I was the one who very willingly supplied the foreword. So I came to know the man fairly well over 30 years or more and heard great tales of his adventurous life. Physically slight but sinewy, he had a manner which was gentle and fey and rather puzzling.

His books were edited by a good friend in Edinburgh, printed by private arrangement in Blantyre, and sold by the thousand to those who came for treatment.

Walker Naddell quietly enjoyed his worldwide reputation so it was no surprise when he called me one day for advice on the autobiography he was planning to write. The tales I had heard would certainly be highly readable.

So the book duly appeared under the title Serve With Honour - the True Story of the Commando Colonel . . . from Killer to Healer. It was the gripping tale of the lad from Ibrox who became commanding officer of No 4 Commando in the Second World War. Leading his men from campaigns in Norway to the hell of D-Day, fighting alongside heroes like the legendary Lord Lovat and being called to a conference with Churchill and Montgomery.

As Monty headed for his North African battle with Rommel, the same Naddell, now known as Naddy the Baddy, was lying in wait with his special unit, dressed as a

German officer and ready to blow up enemy fuel and ammunition. He was awarded the Military Cross.

All that and much more was now in book form, a drama for the world to read. The

tragic reality, however, was that none of it was true. He had certainly become involved as a colonel in that post-war Territorial service and he was appointed Knight of the Order of St John of Jerusalem and a Deputy Lieutenant of the City of Glasgow, taking the salute at the Armistice Day parade in George Square. But, for some inexplicable reason, he had chosen to graft himself on to those wartime adventures when, in fact, he was working as a home-based surgeon mainly at the casualty department of Glasgow Royal Infirmary. He had never set foot on wartime Europe.

The Commando Association was furious, confirming that it had never even heard of

the man, and condemning his tale as an insult to those who genuinely served and suffered in the war.

Though he had told his story for years, it did not reach print until key witnesses like Lord Lovat, Sir Fitzroy MacLean, and Brigadier Alastair Pearson were gone. But there were still those who knew enough to raise doubts about its veracity - and he

finally confessed it was all fiction.

So ends a sad tale. Curiously, Walker Naddell asked my advice to explain his Jewish background. It was not mentioned in the book. By coincidence, he was born on Christmas Day, 1910, and died in the hours approaching Good Friday.