Regiments of the Malta Garrison 5th (Northumberland Fusiliers)
The 5th (Northumberland Fusiliers)
The Northumberland Fusiliers traces its origin to 1674 as one of the Holland Regiments in the service of the Prince of Orange.
In 1751 it was taken on the English Establishment as the 5th Regiment of Foot. The territorial title was bestowed in 1782, when until 1836, it was known as the 5th (Northumberland) Regiment.
In 1831 the 5th (Northumberland) Regiment of Foot was granted royal approval to resume the motto Quo Fata Vocant formerly borne on its Colours and appointments, in addition to its ancient badge of St George and the Dragon.
In 1836 it was converted into a Fusilier Regiment, as the 5th (Northumberland Fusiliers) for having defeated a French Division of Grenadiers at Wilhemstahl (1762). From that date onwards it bore a badge of a flaming grenade with St George at its centre.
On 1 July 1881 it became Northumberland's county regiment, and in 1935, it became a Royal Regiment on the occasion of the silver jubilee of King George V.
In April 1968, the Northumberland Fusiliers merged with the 20th Lancashire Fusiliers, the 6th (Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers), and the 7th (Royal Fusiliers – City of London), to form the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.
Every December the infantry regiments in the garrison rotated between the Valletta District and the Cottonera District. In the Cottonera District the 5th Regiment had three companies with Head Quarters, two companies at Francesco di Paolo Barracks and one company at Fort San Salvatore.
The regiment had to furnish men for 15 different guard duties daily. This required 112 men out of an average regimental strength of 480 men, excluding the sick in hospital, the band and drummers, staff, pioneers, tradesmen and officer's servants, a total of 112 men, who were excused guard duty. The posts or guards were all remotely located from HQ; the greater part were around the land front of the Cottonera, while others were by Dockyard Creek. They were all exposed to the cold northerly winds and to every change of weather. The guard rooms had no fire places and most swamped with water whenever it rained. January, February, and March of 1835 proved to be very cold with tempestuous rain. The increased sickness among the men was attributed to their exposure to the cold.
As there was no hospital in the Cottonera District the assistant surgeon stayed with his regiment, while the regimental surgeon took up quarters at the General Military Hospital Valletta. The sick were conveyed by boat to Valletta and afterwards had to walk the half mile distance to the hospital from the landing place at the marina.
In 1835 the battalion had 539 cases of sickness with five deaths. Of these 33 were due to Febris Continua Communis. The symptoms consisted of chills rather than rigors which were accompanied with mild to severe frontal headaches and congestion of the eyes. Fever was blamed on exposure of the men to the cold combined with intemperance. The treatment adopted by the surgeon was one of bowel cleansing. The stomach was evacuated with the use of the Tartarate of Antimony or Powder of Ipecacuan. Once the stomach became tranquil the bowels were well cleansed by the administration of Sulphate of Magnesia and Tartar Emetic. Purging continued for a maximum of 48 hours depending on the severity of each case. The submuriate of Mercury, in the proportion of two grains with four of James's Powder was given every second or third hour to produce a diaphoresis. The patient was then stimulated with quinine and wine and a nutritious diet.
There were 21 cases of Phlegmon, a skin infection with some cases progressing from furunculi to abscesses. Most were in the neck and axilla while others affected the legs.
Soldiers with pneumonia were admitted into hospital predominantly from the guard room at Zabbar Gate. This post was very cold and damp. The men were all bled repeatedly with the lancet until profuse perspiration with syncope was achieved. One unfortunate soldier had up to 48 ounces (1440 mls) of blood extracted. This represented almost half his circulating blood volume, and was more than sufficient to produce the early symptoms of hypovolaemic shock. The procedure was repeated on him, when another 48 ounces were removed. A third bleeding was carried out when 30 ounces (900 mls) of blood were extracted. Leeches were also applied coupled with the administration of the Sulphate of Magnesia and Tartarate of Antimony followed by Calomel, James's Powder and opium aided by a blister. Miraculously this patient survived his treatment, but two others did not. Their deaths being blamed not on the doctor's interference but on their dissipated character.
3 Apr 1835 Death of Regimental Sergeant-Major James Grant from a fractured skull. The RSM was convalescing from Rheumatism. He was sitting on a balustrade of a stone gallery at the Sergeant's mess house, when the balustrade gave way. He fell down a height of twenty five feet fracturing his skull and right ankle. The RSM had been with the regiment since his boyhood, and had served gallantly with the regiment in the Peninsular War without sustaining any injuries.
5 Aug 1835 A sudden death occurred in a soldier while employed on fatigue duties. The soldier was said to have been perfectly well when he, together with another 100 men, were ordered to move gun powder to the magazine at Fort San Salvatore. The ambient temperature was 83 F (28 C). The soldier dropped down suddenly and died from cerebral oedema.
June 1835 Officer Mr L' Estrange was thrown off his horse at the main barrack gate while on his rounds as orderly officer of the day. L' Estrange fractured his left thigh. In June 1835, he was invalided to England for change of climate on the transport Maitland.
23 Dec 1835 The regiment marched out of the Cottonera and returned to Valletta where it occupied Lower St Elmo Barracks.
The following were married in Malta in 1835:
20 July Bachelor Pte Henry Mercer to Eliza Meredith, spinster daughter of Pte William Meredith 5th Regiment, deceased.
4 Aug Bachelor Captain Gilbert Champain of the Parish of St Marylebone in the County of Middlesex to Harriet Isabella Adelaide Pennington, spinster daughter of Paymaster James Pennington 5th Regiment, of Kendal in the County of Westmoreland.
4 Aug Bachelor Ensign Thomas Eyre of Hythe in the County of Kent to Agnes Charlotte Pennington, spinster daughter of Paymaster James Pennington 5th Regiment, of Kendal in the County of Westmoreland.
The following were baptised in Malta in 1835:
11 JanJohn Digby Sullivan son of Pte Paul Sullivan and Mary born on 21 Nov 1834.
11 JanWilliam Arthur Clark son of Pte Arthur Clark and Mary Anne, born on 15 Dec 1834.
1 FebMargaret Anne Taylor daughter of Pte John Tayler and Sarah, born on 15 Jan 1835.
15 FebElizabeth Stoops daughter of Pte Alexander Stoops and Mary, born on 29 Dec 1834.
21 JuneThomas Elliott son of Pte Archibald Elliott and Catherine, born on 24 May 1835.
5 JulyMary Ann Kennedy daughter of Cpl Frederick Kennedy and Mary, born on 9 May 1835.
5 JulyJohn Charles Skillen son of Cpl John Skillen and Mary Ann, born on 29 May 1835.
5 JulyMargaret Gregsten daughter of Pte Thomas Gregsten and Elizabeth, born on 1 Jan 1835.
30 AugJessey Miller daughter of L/Sgt Gavin Miller and Jessey, born on 19 Aug 1835.
6 SepRobert Henry Lynch son of Cpl John Lynch and Elizabeth, born on 5 Aug 1835.
6 SepHiram McGregor son of Pte Melville McGregor and Sarah, born on 10 Aug 1835.
13 SepRebecca Mercer daughter of Pte Henry Mercer and Eliza Meredith (now Mercer), born on 30 June 1835.
18 OctSarah Jane Kavanagh daughter of Pte Joseph Kavanagh and Jane, born on 4 Oct 1835.
6 DecWilliam Robinson Chetwynd son of Pte George Chetwynd and Harriet Robinson, born on 14 Oct 1835.
The following were buried in Malta in 1835:
5 Apr Sgt Maj James Grant aged 45 years.
11 May Pte Edmund Lee aged 30 years.
13 June Pte Murdoch Munro aged 25 years.
24 JuneOlliffe Challinor aged 21 months, daughter of Thomas Challinor.
19 JulyElizabeth Stoops aged 5 months, daughter of Alexander Stoops.
7 Sep L/Cpl Thomas Mason aged 25 years.
25 Nov Surgeon Thomas Price Lea aged 48 years.
26 NovMary Morgan aged 35 years, wife of Pte Philip Morgan.
Admissions into hospital and deaths during the year with ratio of admissions and deaths per 1000 of strength. The average strength of the troops, exclusive of the Royal Malta Artillery, was 7,390 men.
The 1st/Northumberland Fusiliers, 788 strong, arrived in Crete from Egypt on 6 October 1898 following the Nile Campaign. It served in Crete for 3 months. In December, its HQ was at Floriana Barracks with a detachment at Mtarfa Barracks.
Its average constantly sick was 10.58 (51.61/1000 mean strength). The average sick time to each soldier was 18.81 days. The average duration of cases of sickness was 22.71 days.
Feb 1900 The 5th Battalion arrived from England. It had a strength of 560 men. The men were quartered at Polverista.
May 1900 The 5th Northumberland Fusiliers together with the 3rd Battalion Royal West Kent took part in combined manoeuvres with the Royal Navy in landing troops and 12 pounder guns at Mellieha Bay. Two mules were attached to each gun to aid the ordinary gun crew and the poles for the mules were made afloat as it was found that the ordinary fittings were inadequate. The landings were made in the face of a gale which destroyed the landing stages.
The following were buried in Malta in 1900:
27 Apr Bdms J Fraser aged 33 years, died at Cottonera and buried in Rinella Military Cemetery.
22 JuneAlice Rosina Katy Walton aged 2 months, daughter of CSgt died at Cottonera and buried in Rinella Military Cemetery.
3 Nov 1900 CSgt Alfred Webb aged 35 yrs 3 months buried at Mtarfa Cemetery (Plot 4, Row 1, Grave 6).
The following were buried in Pietà Military Cemetery in 1900:
27 May Pte Andrew Anderson, aged 18 years 2 months.