RAMC

Medical Officers of the Malta Garrison
1849

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Malta Garrison – 1849

Regimental Medical Officers

Events 1849

Malta Garrison

The average strength of the garrison was 3,054 men.

On 11 Apr 1849, the Governor sought permission to repatriate two prisoners, Pte John Naylon 88th Regt aged 36 years and Pte Mathew Mahony 69th Regt aged 22 years. Both had been imprisoned by virtue of sentences passed on them by local tribunals. Section 24 of the Mutiny Act, in respect of the disposal of white convicts sentenced to transportation by Court Martial in HM Foreign Possessions, directed that all white convicts sentenced in the manner mentioned in the 24 Section of the Act shall be sent to England.

In Mar 1843, John Naylon had been imprisoned for life for killing Dr Martin, Deputy Inspector of the Naval Hospital, while on sentry duty over the residence of the Rear Admiral Superintendent of the Dockyard. He had served 6 years, had behaved well in prison, and could read and write.

Mathew Mahony had been sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for firing at and wounding a citizen while on sentry. He had served 9 months, was of good conduct, and could read and write.

The Governor's request to return both prisoners to England was turned down by the Home Government.

Chest Infections

According to the PMO, James Barry, pulmonary congestion was the result of the men inhaling moisture. Barry stated that bed boards took a long time to dry up after being washed to remove bugs. As the headboards lay against porous stone, and the men's head also came in close contact with the wall, which being porous retained much damp.

Barry surmised that when acted upon by the atmosphere, the moisture was inhaled by the men, thus rendering it extremely deleterious, generating pulmonic and rheumatic affections, both of which prevail to a great extent in Malta among the civil and military, often proving fatal.

Corradino Prison

On 25 June 1849, an ordinance was enacted for the establishment of a prison at Corradino. The Great Prison in Valletta, on the site now occupied by the Valletta Market, ceased to function after 1849, with the completion of Corradino Prison.

The prison was intended for 129 inmates. Dr V D Portelli was appointed Governor of Corradino Prison. Portelli had been sent to England by the Governor, so as to acquaint himself with the systems of Pentonville and Millbank penitentiaries.

Diarrhoea

In the last week of May 1849, an extreme case of diarrhoea was reported at the Naval Hospital Bighi. A marine developed diarrhoea after a session of hard drinking.

He was in a short time effectively cured by repeated draughts of water mixed with two pounds of common salt, a little ammonia, and a small portion of cream of tartar. It was reported that this cure has not been generally known and makes an excellent, simple, and specific cure.

Valletta Hospital

The United Service Gazette of 16 June 1849, alluded to the fact, raised by a Bombay Medical Officer, of the hardships to which the sick at Fort Ricasoli were subjected in being compelled to walk to the military hospital under a boiling sun. The walk was said to be one of the most fatiguing. The United Service Gazette recorded that it had been pained to see the suffering of the sick.

Ophthalmia

The PMO James Barry, recommended the following treatment for Ophthalmia: Leeches, purgatives and in the first instance strong solution of nitrate argenti followed by a weaker occasional application of sulphate of copper, and now and then a few drops of Verrium Opice introduced within the eyelids.

Civil Hospital

On 5 April 1849 the Governor More O'Ferall wrote: With reference to my letter of 15 April 1848, recommending the expenditure of £1,925 for the removal of the Civil Hospital to Floriana, the works are progressing towards completion.

The improved regulations and strict discipline introduced into the present hospital has already reduced the expenditure at the rate of £1,520 a year as compared with £1,846, but has also had the effect of rendering the prostitutes in the hospital ungovernable.

On 24 December 1849, Dr Salvatore Luigi Pisani was appointed Chief Surgeon at the Central Hospital Floriana. Pisani had served in the Crimean War. In 1885, he became the first Chief Government Medical Officer.

John Allen

On 14 January 1849, John Allen, Principal Medical Officer of the Royal Naval Hospital Malta, died at his residence in Strada Forni Valletta, aged 94 years.

Allen had arrived in Malta in 1804 as PMO of the Royal Naval Hospital. He held this position until his retirement in 1827. He had served both afloat and ashore for about 50 years, and was one of the few surgeons who had wide experience in dealing with gun-shot wounds.

He had been married for 48 years to Lucy, who predeceased him on 23 November 1840, aged 71 years.

References

  1. Hart H. G., The New Annual Army List 28 December 1849.
  2. Malta Mail and United Service Journal, 28 June 1849, No 363.
  3. Malta Mail and United Service Journal, 31 October 1850, No 435.
  4. TNA:CO 158/206, Corradino Prison 22 February 1865.
  5. TNA:CO 158/145, Moore O'Farrell to Grey dated 5 April 1849.
  6. TNA:WO 1/508, Malta Military Correspondence Moore O'Farrell to Grey dated 11 April 1849.
  7. TNA:WO 17/2155, Returns of the General and Staff officers of the hospitals attached to the forces in Malta (1 January–31 December 1849).
  8. TNA:WO 334/16, Annual Report on the sickness and wounded in Malta from 1 April 1847 to 31 March 1848.
  9. Prob 11/2103/408, Will of Doctor John Allen formerly surgeon of Her Majesty's Naval Hospital Malta and Surgeon in the Royal Navy of the Island of Malta.