Medical Officers
Of the Malta Garrison – 1922

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Malta Garrison – 1922

Sandfly Fever

In 1921, 1922 and 1923, the Royal Air Force Sandfly Fever Commission Malta consisted of:

  • 1921: Sqn Ldr Harold Edward Whittingham, Cpl G H Noakes, and Aircraftman 341189 R Stewart (June 1921).
  • 1922: Sqn Ldr H E Whittingham MB DPH DTM, Flt Lt Alan Filmer Rook MRCP DPH, Cpl R Stewart, and 337215 Aircraftman H A Collett (1922).
  • 1923: Wg Cmdr H E Whittingham, Cpl R Stewart and Leading Aircraftman H A Collett, all of the Royal Air Force Medical Service (May 1923).

On 22 April 1922, Sqn Ldr Whittingham and Flt Lt A F Rook were attached to HQ Mediterranean Group to resume their research on the causation of Sandfly Fever, which had commenced in Malta on June 1921.

A small laboratory was set up at Kalafrana in part of a disused old officer's mess. The co-operation of the Army Medical Staff in Malta had been obtained through the office of Lt Gen Sir William Leishman Director of Army Pathology. However, neither the Governor of Malta, nor the Civil Medical Authorities were informed of the arrival of the research party. The RAF medical services had instituted the research project primarily in the interests of the health and efficiency of RAF personnel only.

Sandfly Fever had been an important factor in the causation of non-effectiveness in the Royal Air Force. It was hoped that the research project would provide material which would help diminish the incidence of Sandfly Fever on flying stations.

On 26 April, Field Marshall Lord Plumer, who had only been informed of the arrival of the RAF Sandfly Fever Research team by the Officer Commanding Royal Air Force Mediterranean, made clear his views to the Colonial Office. He was of the opinion that the investigation into Sandfly Fever should be carried out by a conjoint civilian and military team, as the subject of Sandfly Fever was of equal importance to the Imperial Services, as well as the civilian population.

The RAF were not keen on this suggestion and wanted to retain control of their in-house project. The team returned to England at the end of August leaving Cpl R Stewart in Malta to collect specimens. Stewart returned to the Royal Air Force Central Hospital Finchley, on HMS Argus on 26 December 1922, where he continue working in the Pathological Laboratory under Sqn Ldr Whittingham.

The following Airmen of No 267 Squadron Royal Air Force stationed at Kalafrana willingly offered themselves for experimentation in connection with the research on the transmission of Sandfly Fever:

  • 1525 Cpl Somers G M
  • 344248 Leading Air Craftsman Kerr W M
  • 331941 Air Craftsman 1 Howell N
  • 331991 AC 1 Butcher T
  • 347363 AC 1 Price L S
  • 292213 Air Craftsman 2 Ashby B G
  • 342471 AC 2 Bonsall J J
  • 342539 AC 2 Saunders L
  • 348475 AC 2 Pay E E
  • 337215 AC 2 Collett H A

Margaret Joyce Ada Sloan

On 5 Jan 1922, Margaret Joyce Ada Sloan, born on 27 Nov 1921, daughter of Accountant Sgt Major Sidney John Sloan Corps of Military Accountants (CMA) and Ada Bryant, resident at Notre Dame Ravelin Floriana, was baptized at the Barracca Church Valletta.

Army Nursing

The Territorial Reserve Forces Act 1907 led to the creation of a Territorial Force Nursing Service in 1908.

In 1922, it was renamed the Territorial Army Nursing Service. The personnel were administered by a branch, TV4, later TA4, under the Director General of the Territorial Army, although the provision of training came under the Directorate of Army Medical Services.


  • Drew R, Commissioned Officers in the Medical Services of the British Army Vol II. Roll of Officers in the Royal Army Medical Corps 1898–1960. London The Wellcome Historical Medical Library 1968.
  • General monthly returns of the regimental strength of the British Army for 1st March 1922.
  • General monthly returns of the regimental strength of the British Army for 1st June 1922.
  • General monthly returns of the regimental strength of the British Army for 1st December 1922.
  • TNA:AIR 2/219, Investigations of Sqn Ldr Whittingham and Flt Lt Rook of Sandfly Fever at Malta.
  • Report of the Royal Air Force Sandfly Fever Commission on Prophylactic Measures against Phlebotomus and Phlebotomus Fever. Malta 1922.
  • Whittingham H E and Rook A F, Observations on the life history of Phlebotomus papatasii Br Med J (1923), 2; 3285: 1137-1151 (Published 15 December 1923).