RAMC

Medical Officers of the Malta Garrison
1900

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Malta Garrison – 1900

Regimental Medical Officers

Events 1900

Malta Garrison

The strength of the Malta Command was 9546 men. There were 253 officers, 414 females and 709 children. The command consisted of Malta and Gozo 8140 men, Crete Detachment 592 men, RMA 814 men.

In 1900, the old huts in Tigne were replaced by a permanent stone barracks which was occupied in 1901.

In 1900, Fort Manoel had only a few married quarters. The majority of the married men lived in hired lodgings in Sliema.

590 patients were treated at the Citta Vecchia Sanatorium in 1900. Of these, 231 patients were direct admissions from Mtarfa and Mellieha Camp; the rest were transfers from various stations.

Mediterranean Fever

The PMO, Surgeon General O'Farrell Thomas stated that during the summer months a good deal of Mediterranean Fever prevailed in both the civilian and military populations. How it entered the body had not yet been discovered and the aetiology of the disease was still obscure. The PMO asserted that, as a rule, it could not be distinguished from enteric fever during the first three or four weeks of its course with any degree of accuracy.

A similar opinion was held by Surg–Capt Robert Samut 1st/KOMRM who in a lecture delivered in the University Hall on 16 July 1909, stated that the clinical picture of Paratyphoid Fever may so closely resemble that of Mediterranean Fever, as to be identical with it in some cases.

Council of Health

The Council of Health, which replaced the Board of Health, was created by Ordinance No XIV of 1900. The Council of Health was consulted by Government when it wished to implement precautionary and other sanitary measures in response to infectious and contagious diseases.

Its members consisted of: the Lt Governor, the Crown Advocate, the Collector of Customs, the Superintendent of the Public Works, 8 members of the medical profession, the Veterinary Surgeon, the Government Chemist, 3 members of the Commercial Class including the President of the Chamber of Commerce, the Sanitary Engineer.

In 1900, the First and Second Sanitary Ordnances were passed to consolidate and amend the laws relating to the organisation of the Public Health Department in the Maltese Islands.

The First Sanitary Ordnance (Jan 1900) dealt with the establishment of the Public Health Department and Council of Health, and the duties of District Medical Officers.

The Second Sanitary Ordnance (6 July 1900) dealt with the Sanitary and the Kindred Professions.

Malta Medical Degrees

On 8 Aug 1900, the UK Government issued an Order in Council which rendered Part II of the Medical Act of the United Kingdom applicable to Italy. Medical degrees granted by colonial universities were recognised and registrable in England. However, those conferred by the University of Malta were not recognised in the UK, as the Government did not consider the Maltese Medical degree as colonial. This placed Maltese students at a disadvantage. Their local diploma restricted their practice exclusively to the Maltese Islands. Those who had financial resources pursued their studies and obtained their diploma at an Italian University, so as to be on an equal footing with the holders of an English degree.

The Governor requested the Order in Council to apply to Malta. Maltese Medical Degrees were granted by the Malta University under Article 17 of the Medicine Act 1886 C 48. They were not of an inferior standard to those conferred by Italian Universities, and were of a similar level to those of the United Kingdom. Indeed the course of medical studies at the University of Malta was approved, and the graduates of the Malta University were admitted for the final examination of the Conjoint Board of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, and of the Apothecaries Hall.

The Government pointed out that: If the degrees conferred by our university were officially recognised, a new opening would be obtained for our young medical practitioners who would be able to compete, with probable success abroad, for commissions in the army and navy. Lately, during the South African War, several gentlemen volunteered for service as doctors. Only one was accepted as he held an English qualification, the others were told that their degrees were not registrable. It is strange, that while the Imperial Government locally employs such gentlemen as supplementary medical officers in the army in Malta, and while the services of local practitioners are always sought by English residents and visitors, the same gentlemen should be debarred from serving anywhere else.

Mtarfa Cemetery

Imtarfa Cemetery was consecrated by the Rt Rev the Bishop of Gibraltar on Tuesday 2 January 1900. HE the Governor General Sir Francis Grenfell and Maj Gen Lord Congleton commanding Infantry Brigade were present. Also attending were the following service chaplains: the Revs Alfred Malim MA Senior Chaplain, D Nickerson MA, W C Parr MA, in charge of Imtarfa, M W Churchward MA and M Jones BA.

Civilian Medical Practitioners

In 1898, during the Egyptian Campaign, Surgeon Major General Thomas Maunsell appointed Dr P P Agius in medical charge of troops at Fort Manoel and Fort Tigne. Agius also attended the married families at Sliema as a private practitioner.

In Dec 1899, military doctors were ordered out to South Africa. In addition, the large number of troops at Pembroke Barracks and Musketry Camp, required an additional resident assistant to Major A. Kennedy RAMC. Agius applied to the PMO, Surgeon General Thomas O'Farrell to be appointed as an assistant medical officer. On 14 Mar 1900, the PMO rejected his application and chose Dr E Ferro instead.

Dr Agius felt rebuffed and protested that he had served most carefully and faithfully the troops stationed at Pembroke for the last eight or nine years, by day or by night, in spring, summer, or winter, and at all hours. In cases of wounding, in cases of confinement, (I had some of the most difficult cases of confinement), when the epidemic of measles was hanging furiously among the married quarters of the Lincolnshire I was always on the spot at Pembroke to keep the troops and their families.

The PMO, however, required a civilian medical practitioner to reside at Pembroke or wherever his services were required, and to devote his entire time to his military duties. Agius was not prepared to give up his house and extensive practice and live in a tent. He was therefore not considered a suitable candidate for the job.

South African War

On the outbreak of war in South Africa, army medical officers in Ireland, Malta, Gibraltar, Bermuda and Egypt were withdrawn from their commands. They served instead with either the South African Field Force or at the Cambridge Military Hospital Aldershot, where a large number of sick and wounded arrived from the theatre of war.

On 5 March 1900, following the relief of Ladysmith, the Governor General Sir Francis Wallace Grenfell, sent a telegram to Prime Minister Chamberlain, conveying to him the outburst of loyal and general festive demonstrations of the most spontaneous and enthusiastic character, initiated and sustained by the Maltese .

Prostitutes

On 11 Oct 1900, the navy had 198 cases of venereal diseases. Fleet Surgeon Howard Todd said that out of the 198 cases, 79 had been infected at Malta between July to September. In 1897, there were 190 registered prostitutes; in 1898 there were 184; in 1899 there were 122; and in 1900 there were 112.

Sicilian prostitutes constituted the bulk of the scheduled prostitutes. They moved between Malta and the neighbouring ports plying their trade. Prostitutes adopted ingenious ways to evade being medically examined as prescribed by law. Those who left Malta had their name removed from the register and were not allowed to work on their return.

References

  1. TNA:WO 73/60, General monthly returns of the regimental strength of the British Army 1 January 1900.
  2. TNA:WO 73/61, General monthly returns of the regimental strength of the British Army 1 July 1900.
  3. TNA:CO 158/332, 1900 January-April, War and Colonial Department, Correspondence Secretary of State.
  4. TNA:CO 158/333, War and Colonial Department, Correspondence Secretary of State (1900 MayÓAugust).
  5. TNA:CO 158/334, War and Colonial Department, Correspondence Secretary of State (1900 September-December).
  6. TNA:CO 158/353, War and Colonial Department, Correspondence Secretary of State 1906.
  7. Army Medical Department, Sanitary Report for the Year 1900, Vol XLII, (London 1902).
  8. Samut R. Paratyphoid Fever in Malta. J R Army Med Corps 1909; 13: 442-448.
  9. Army and Navy Directory; 1900 March.
  10. The Annual Army List for 1900 corrected to 29 December 1899. London 1900
  11. The Army List January 1900. War Office 30 December 1899.
  12. The Army List February 1900. War Office 31 January 1900.
  13. The Army List March 1900. War Office 28 February 1900.
  14. The Army List November 1900. War Office 31 October 1900.