Regiments of the Malta Garrison The Royal Regiment of Malta
The Royal Regiment of Malta 1805 – 1811
The Royal Regiment of Malta was raised on 7 December 1804, from the discharged men of the two Maltese Provincial Battalions. It first appeared in the Army List of 30 March 1805, when Major General William Anne Villettes, commanding the troops in Malta, was directed to raise a regiment of Maltese infantry for general service. Villettes became colonel of the regiment from its formation to 3 January 1808, when he left for Jamaica.
In October 1806, a General Order directed the consolidation of the two Maltese Provincial Battalions into one corps, and encouraged the discharged men to enlist in the Royal Regiment of Malta. As the two Provincial Battalions became depleted, they were consolidated into one battalion under the command of Colonel the Marquis Parisi.
The Royal Regiment of Malta was brought up to strength in early 1807. It consisted of ten companies under the command of Lieut Col Sir John Dalrymple. Officers were commissioned by the sovereign. They were granted half-pay when the Royal Regiment of Malta disbandment on 26 April 1811.
1 July 1805 Strength: 5 Commissioned and Warrant Officers, 46 NCOs, 430 rank and file fit for duty, 20 rank and file sick, 514 total officers and men, 514 establishment.
25 July Letter from General Villettes to Dr Colsosoon re the appointment of surgeons for the Royal Regiment of Malta: I have direction of the Secretary at War to refer for your favourable consideration an extract of a letter relative to Hospital Mate Clement Banks and Surgeon Camilleri Giuseppe of the Provincial Battalion, being recommended assistant surgeons to the Royal Regiment of Malta.1
12 Aug Moore to Gordon, War Office letter dated 12 August 1805 The letter from Maj Gen W. A. Villettes relative the appointment of Hospital Mate Clement Bancks and Mr
Camilleri G. as assistant surgeons to the Royal Regiment of Malta, having been referred to the Army Medical Department, I have the Secretary-at-War direction to transmit for the information of HRH The Commander-in-Chief the enclosed letter from the Surgeon General stating that there are no objections on his part to the appointment in question taking place, Mr G. Camilleri, of the Provincial Battalion, being the second assistant surgeon.
24 AugHM having signified his pleasure that commissions be presented to him for the following gentlemen to be officers: Royal Regiment of Malta commanded by Major General William Anne Villettes, Hospital Mate Clement Banks to be assistant surgeon 16 April 1805.
An expedition to the coast of Calabria led by Sir James Craig made great demands on what accommodation was available when it touched Malta in July 1805. There being no room to accommodate them in Valletta, the Bishop of Malta placed the convents at Mdina at the disposal of the General Officer Commanding Troops (GOC) Malta. The Royal Regiment of Malta, then in the course of its formation, was quartered in the convent of San Domenico. The 2nd Provincials under Count de Gatto moved into St Augustine, and the 1st Provincials under Marquis Parisi took over the Grand Master's Palace at Mdina.
On 13 August Sir James Craig said of the regiment:
The Royal Regiment of Malta consists of little more than 450 men. They are very young with no small proportion of boys among them. They are but little trained as yet, but every pains is now being taken with them. They seem an active willing set of young men and if they can be completed may shortly be very useful body. I think them peculiarly adapted for a Light Corps but the formation of these Maltese Corps and the difficulties that are met with in recruiting them, will more properly be the subject of a separate letter.4
1 Nov 1805 Regimental strength (officers and men) 514, rank and file fit for duty 430, with 20 sick in hospital.
1 July 1806 Strength: 35 Commissioned and Warrant Officers, 66 NCOs, 634 rank and file fit for duty, 18 rank and file sick, 758 total officers and men, 856 establishment.
Captain Alexander Ball RN, who had returned to Malta in July 1802 as HM Minister Plenipotentiary, was less than impressed with the discipline in the Royal Regiment of Malta, and wished them posted overseas. He said of them: We have lately been infested by a gang of thieves, most of whom belong to the Royal Regiment of Malta. It would add greatly to the comfort and quiet of the people if the Royal Regiment of Malta was sent to Gibraltar or Sicily2.
1 Feb 1808 Strength: 34 Commissioned and Warrant Officers, 76 NCOs, 760 rank and file fit for duty, 60 rank and file sick, 946 total officers and men, 1126 establishment.
Sep 1808 The Royal Regiment of Malta, under the command of Lieut Col Bryce, embarked at Milazzo to reinforce the garrison at Capri. It was accompanied by a 100 men of the 58th Foot. On their way, they captured the town of Diamante in Calabria. Afterwards, they proceeded to Capri, which had been captured from the French in May 1806. Major Hamill placed a company of the Royal Regiment of Malta in the town of Capri, another at Limbo, a creek at the southern extremity of the island, and distributed the seven remaining companies on the heights crowning a steep declivity towards the sea, terminating in a narrow creek.
Three companies of the Royal Regiment of Malta under the command of Major Hamill were to co-operate with the same number from the Royal Corsican Rangers. They were to defend the coast lying between their position and that of the Rangers, who occupied the town of Capri. If overwhelmed, the men were to retreat to the heights of Anacapri. On 4 October 1808, within a fortnight of the Royal Regiment of Malta arriving at Capri, a large French flotilla with 6000 troops on board sailed out of the Bay of Naples towards Capri. The French made a feint attack against the usual landing place of the town of Capri, which was defended by heavy artillery, and then moved along the coast, rounding the point Arcera, near which they landed.
Major Hamill judged from these appearances, that the first effort of the enemy would be against the town of Capri. He therefore detached first two companies for the support of the sealine, and afterwards sent two more companies in reserve to the town, and placed five companies between the points of Limbo and Damecuta at Anacapri, where he considered himself secure. It was not long, however, before the enemy was observed to change its position.
Col Hudson Lowe Royal Corsican Rangers returned the companies of the Royal Regiment of Malta sent to him by Hamill, and added three companies of the Royal Corsican Rangers in support. Lowe was also not fully aware of where the French troops were landing, until he received a note from surgeon Clement Bancks, informing him that Major Hamill believed that the enemy was inclined to attack him at Damecuta and requested reinforcements from the Royal Corsican Rangers.
15 Oct 1808 The French attacked and captured Anacapri, together with virtually the whole of the Royal Regiment of Malta, including their regimental surgeon Clement Bancks, and the two assistant surgeons Giuseppe Camilleri and Giuseppe Schembri. About 150 men left at Monte Solaro and another 120, who had returned down the steps of Cape di Monte escaped. The Royal Regiment of Malta lost Major Hamill, Ensign Bricknell, and had 75 NCO and men killed. Captain Kirchberg, and Captain de Lentzbourg and 120 NCO and men were wounded.
Mar 1811 The Royal Regiment of Malta was at Gozo guarding French prisoners. A detachment was on duty on board a gunboat in Sicily.
21 Feb The Earl Liverpool informed General Oakes of his decision to disband the Royal Regiment of Malta.
As the Royal Regiment of Malta has been totally inefficient since the capture of the main body at Capri in the encounter of 1808-1809, and as since that time it has processed few or no recruits, it has been decided to reduce the said corps. Measures should be adopted to induce the NCO and privates still belonging to this regiment to transfer their service to some of the foreign corps now serving in the Mediterranean, and those not keen to volunteer for the regular regiments should be attached to the Maltese Provincial Battalion.
26 Apr 1811 The Royal Regiment of Malta was reduced at Fort Tigne and the men discharged.
Chesney A. G. (1897). Historical Records of the Maltese Corps of the British Army. London: William Clowes and Sons Ltd.
1TNA:WO 17/2117, 1800–1844; Monthly Returns to the Adjutant General.
2TNA:CO 158/13, Correspondence to the Secretary of State. Capt A Ball's Service in Malta dispatch dated 8 September 1806.
3TNA:CO 158/17, Correspondence, Malta Original Correspondence Secretary of State.
4TNA:WO 1/293. Craig to W Gordon dated Malta 13 August 1805.