RAMC

Lady Doctors of the Malta Garrison
Craig Effie Marion Douglas

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73 Dr Effie Marion Douglas Craig MB ChB (Ed 1912)
c.1879 – ?

Introduction

In May 1916, Dr Louisa Aldrich-Blake, Surgeon at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital and Dean of the London School of Medicine for Women, approached all the women on the Medical Register asking them to say if they would be willing to serve with the Royal Army Medical Corps. From the replies received, 48 lady doctors were enrolled. The first 22 medical women embarked for Malta on 2 August 1916; another 16 lady doctors embarked on the Hospital Ship (H.S.) Gloucester Castle on 12 August 1916.

The Director General Army Medical Services, Sir Alfred Keogh, was responsible for employing medical women and for dealing with illnesses among them. Women doctors, also referred to as lady doctors, were classed as civilian surgeons attached to the RAMC. Women serving as full time doctors in the Army and doing precisely the same work as their male colleagues had neither military rank nor status, but received the same pay, rations, travelling allowances and gratuity as temporary commissioned male officers of the Royal Army Medical Corps. A uniform was not introduced until after April 1918. This was similar in appearance to that worn by the Queen Mary's Auxiliary Army Corps (QMAAC) but with an RAMC badge on both lapels.

In October 1916, on hearing from the War Office that fifty more medical women were needed for service with the RAMC in English hospitals, Aldrich-Blake again negotiated with all the women who had qualified in the preceding ten years, and secured the requisite number in a very short time. On 20 October 1916, eleven medical women embarked on H.S. Britannic for Malta.

The casualties from operations in Gallipoli (25 April 1915 – 9 January 1916), and Salonica (October 1915 – 30 September 1918), were initially treated in Malta and Egypt, but in 1917, submarine attacks on hospital ships made it unsafe to evacuate from Salonica and five General Hospitals, Nos 61, 62, 63, 64 and 65, mobilized in Malta for service in Salonica to which the medical women were attached.

Between August 1916 and July 1917, eighty two lady doctors served in war hospitals in Malta. They worked alongside their RAMC colleagues and carried out all but administrative duties. Their assistance was very highly appreciated. Their work was recognized in the King's Birthday Honours list of June 1918 when Dr Barbara Martin Cunningham MB ChB, Military Hospital Mtarfa, Mrs Katharine Rosebery Drinkwater MB BS, in charge of Military Families Staff and Department Malta and Miss May Thorne MD, in charge of Sisters' Hospital and Staff Department Malta, were awarded the Order of the British Empire for services rendered during the war.

Service Record — Effie Marion Douglas Craig

Dr Effie Marion Douglas Craig received her medical education at the School of Medicine for Women in Edinburgh. She qualified in 1912. Her name appeared in the Medical Directory for Scotland on 13 July 1912. She was Resident Medical Officer for the Eastern Dispensary Bath and held the post of Assistant Medical Officer of Health Birmingham.

17 Sept 1916 Contracted to work for 12 months as a Civilian Surgeon attached to the RAMC. Her salary was 24 shillings a day including allowances, but excluding duty transport. A gratuity of £60 was awarded at the end of the contract, provided employment had not been terminated for misconduct. Most of the medical women were invited to renew their contracts at the expiry of their first year's work.

Malta 25 Sept 1916 Embarked for Malta as part of the Women's Medical Unit RAMC.
Dr E. M. D. Craig was on duty at Malta until 2 July 1917.

Malta 20 June 1917 Attached to No 65 General Hospital for duty with the British Salonica Force.

4 July 1917 Major E. W. Skinner (o/ic), 7 officers, 57 NCOs and men, 8 Lady Doctors, 1 Matron and 16 nurses left Malta on HMT ship Abbassieh. The transport was escorted by HMS Aster and HMS Azalea. HMS Aster struck a mine and sunk eleven miles off Malta with the loss of ten lives. HMS Azalea also struck a mine as she went to the aid of the stricken ship. The convoy returned to Malta and anchored in Marsaxlokk Harbour.

6 July 1917 HMT Ship Abbassieh sailed out of Marsaxlokk Harbour. She arrived at Suda Bay, Crete on 9 July and in Salonica, (Thessalonika) Harbour, on 11 July. No 65 General Hospital was erected at Hortiach which had been occupied by No 50 General Hospital. Dr Craig Effie Marion Douglas Craig and six medical women reported for duty at Hortiach on 30 July; Dr Blair and four nurses joined them on 2 August. The other medical women were:

No 65 General Hospital became operational on 30 July 1917, when 200 patients were transferred from No 43 General Hospital. No 292 Pte Carrell was the first recorded death. He died on 17 August from cerebral malaria; the second and third deaths were from Bacillary Dysentery (Shiga group) on 26 and 27 August 1917 respectively.

Malta 14 Nov 1918 Returned to Malta.

Malta Feb 1919 Left Malta.

1 Mar 1919 – 11 Apr 1919 On duty with Scottish Command at 2nd Scottish General Hospital Craigsleith, Edinburgh.

11 Apr 1919 Demobilised.

4 Nov 1919 The work undertaken by medical women in the Mediterranean area during the Great War was discussed at a meeting of the London Association of the Lady Doctors' Federation, held at 11 Chandos Street London. Several lady doctors who had been attached to the RAMC gave an account of some of their experiences. Dr Effie Marion Douglas Craig gave an account of her work in Malta and Salonica, referring to the great prevalence of malaria and scurvy among the Serbs.

1923 The Medical Directory lists her address as 74, Wheeleys Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham.

Bibliography

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  • Mann A. J., 1920 The Salonica Front A. and C. Black Ltd London.