RAMC

Lady Doctors of the Malta Garrison
No 59 Kidd Beatrice Mary

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No 59 Dr Beatrice Mary Kidd MB (Lond 1904)
28 Dec 1876 [Blackheath Kent] – 29 Mar 1957 [Stepney London]

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 — Beatrice Mary Kidd

Dr Beatrice Mary Kidd received her medical education at the London School of Medicine for Women, qualifying MB in 1904. She held the posts of Clinical Assistant at the Royal Free Hospital and Evelina Hospital for Women and Children and was Schools Medical Officer Bromley. Dr B. M. Kidd was also Resident Medical Officer Kinnaird Hospital Lucknow. Another lady doctor who had served in Malta and had also worked in India for three years as a medical missionary at the Kinnaird Memorial Hospital, Lucknow was Dr Helen Beatrice De Rastricke Hanson.
Dr B. M. Kidd was a member of the Association of Registered Medical Women.

Feb 1898 Passed her Preliminary Scientific Examination (Chemistry, Biology and Experimental Physics) of the University of London.

1914 Schools Medical Officer Bromley Kent.

Sept 1916 Dr B. M. Kidd was 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. The majority of the medical women were invited to renew their contracts at the expiry of their first year's work.

10 Sept 1916 Embarked in the Hospital Ship Essequibo as part of the Women's Medical Unit RAMC.

10 Sept 1916 – 9 Sept 1917 On duty at St David's Military Hospital.
On 19 October 1937, Dr Edith Mary Guest in her letter to the Medical Women Federation stated:

My own record was very shortly as follows: Called up in 1916 (September) to Malta. At St David's Hospital (a camp), in the Medical wards, where the cases were almost exclusively malaria. There were 5 or 6 medical women there, of whom I remember the names of Dr Kidd Beatrice Mary, Dr Dobson Margaret Bernard (oculist), and Dr Fergus (not LSMW). She is now married and retired. I do not know her present name. About 1917 most of the Malta Hospitals were closed down because food got short as well as all the ships were getting torpedoed. I was transferred for a short while to Manoel Hospital while waiting for a ship to take three of us to Egypt. At Manoel were two other women, one of whom was Dr Gaffikin, who did some rather important heart-work, a report of which was later published, in conjunction with Sir Arthur Garrod. I cannot remember the name of the other, but she was a resident MO at Carshalton for a good many years so you probably know who I mean.1

Malta 30 Jan 1917 Attended the funeral of Dr Isobel Addy Tate.

9 Sept 1917 Returned to England.

1918 – 1942 Appointed part time medical officer by Hampstead Borough. In 1938, she attended the Western Clinic, a Tuberculosis Dispensary, at 75, Dynham Road. Dr Kidd had been at the Eastern Ante-Natal Clinic up to 22 February 1938, when Dr Beatrice Turner took over this duty.

1923 The Medical Directory lists her address as Brooklands, Blackheath Park, London SE 3.

29 Mar 1957 Died at the London Hospital, aged 80 years.

References

  1. No 59 Army Book No 82. Record of Special Reserve Officer's Service (Records of 132 Lady Doctors).
  2. Obituary, Louisa Aldrich-Blake. Br Med J (1926); 1: 69 (Published 9 January 1926).
  3. Macpherson W. G., 1921. History of The Great War, Medical Services General History, Vol I, Chap XIII, The Medical Services in the Mediterranean Garrison pp. 235-248. HMSO London.
  4. Leneman L., Medical women in the First World War - ranking nowhere. Br Med J (1993); 10: 1592 (Published 18 December 1993).
  5. Leneman L., Medical Women at war 1914-1918. Medical History 1994, 38: 160-177.
  6. Fairfield L., Medical Women in the Forces. Part I Women Doctors in the British Forces 1914 - 1918 War. Journal of the Medical Women Federation 49. 1967; p 99.
  7. Mitchell A. M., Medical Women and the Medical services of the First World War.
  8. SA/MWF/CI 59. Medical Women Federation, (Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine). Status of medical women under the War Office.
  9. Women doctors. Hansard House of Commons Debate 2 July 1918; 107: cc1555–6.
  10. Reports of Societies. Womens' service in Malta with the RAMC. BMJ (1919); 2 : 634, (Published 15 November 1919).
  11. The Medical Directory 1923, 79th Issue. London J. & A. Churchill.
  12. 1SA/MWF/C.168. Medical Women Federation, Edith Guest, 19 October 1937.