Clemetson was born in Canterbury, England, attending Wootton Court preparatory school, Wootton, Kent (1930–1935) and The King's School, Canterbury (1935–1942). After preclinical studies at Magdalen College, University of Oxford, he completed his training at Radcliffe Infirmary, graduating from Oxford University in 1948 with a Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery (B.M., B.Ch) degree.
He married Helen Cowan Forster, a physiotherapist, on 29 March 1947. They had four children.
After graduation, he became a Royal Air Force medical officer for two years, and then returned to Oxford University in 1950 for a MA degree. In 1950, as a research assistant in Obstetrics, he started to pursue research into preeclamptic toxaemia and started to publish medical papers in 1953. In 1951-1952, he was named a Nichols Research Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine. From 1952 through 1956, he served at various hospitals in England as the House Surgeon of either Obstetrics or Gynecology, and, in 1956, became a lecturer in Obstetrics and Gynecology at London University.
Clemetson immigrated to Saskatoon, Canada (1958–1961), becoming an assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Saskatoon. During this period, he began to be interested in vitamin C while on an expedition to Rankin Inlet, Nunavut on Hudson Bay, impressed by the good capillary strength of the local Inuit, surmising this to be due to raw fish in their diet.
Then, in 1961, he moved to California and assumed a position as an assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center, and a lecturer in the Department of Maternal and Child Health at the University of California, Berkeley.
In 1967, he assumed a teaching position (1967–1972) as an assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology with the State University of New York, Brooklyn. He also became the Director of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department (1967–1981) at the Methodist Hospital of Brooklyn, New York. In addition (1972–1981), he served as a professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Downstate Medical Center of the State University of New York, Brooklyn, New York.
Clemetson moved to New Orleans, Louisiana in 1981, and became a professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Tulane University School of Medicine, and the Director of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Huey P. Long Medical Center, Pineville, Louisiana. He also became a consultant in Gynecology for the Department of Surgery, Veterans Administration Hospital, Pineville, Louisiana.
Upon his retirement in 1991 as a Professor Emeritus, Tulane University School of Medicine, Clemetson devoted his remaining years to writing and publishing medical papers concerning Shaken baby syndrome.
Near the end of his life, he narrowly escaped the New Orleans disaster from Hurricane Katrina, having been warned by his carer's meteorologist brother-in-law. He escaped with the latter over the Lake Pontchartrain bridge the day before it was destroyed. He lived in Houston, Texas for nearly a year while his family restored his house, but died of heart failure a few weeks after this was completed.
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