RAMC

Medical Officers of the Malta Garrison
Matthew Thomas Patrick

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116 Staff Surgeon Major Thomas Patrick Matthew LSAL (1841) MRCS (Eng 1842)
7 Feb 1820 – 8 June 1865 [Malta]

Introduction

Staff Surgeon Thomas Patrick Matthew was educated at University College London. He was first a pupil, and afterwards house surgeon to Robert Liston (1794-1847), professor of clinical surgery at University College London, from whom he deservedly acquired the reputation of a good surgeon and skilled operator. In 1846, Liston used ether anaesthesia for the first time in an operation in Britain.

In 1845, while serving in Gibraltar, he was selected to attend on Prince Bin Hussein at Zanzier. He moved the prince to Gibraltar where he restored his health by skilful treatment and operations. For his services he was strongly recommended for promotion by the Governor of Gibraltar, Sir Robert Thomas Wilson.

Staff Surgeon Thomas Patrick Matthew served in the Crimea and received the Crimea medal with clasp and the Légion d' honeur in the grade of Chevalier (5th Class). Among his publications was Report on the Sanatorium Citta Vecchia Malta AMD Report Vol iii (1861).

Staff Surgeon Thomas Patrick Matthew died at Malta from pneumonia aged 45 years, leaving behind a widow and three young children. He was buried at Ta' Braxia Cemetery Pieta. His obituary recorded that: Staff Surgeon Major Thomas Patrick Matthew was one of the most able, and efficient of all the army surgeons; a man who had been employed on many urgent duties, and who had never been found wanting. Beneath a brusque and somewhat rough exterior was one of the kindest hearts; and many a friend, fellow officer and private soldier when they hear the sad news of his death, will have much good to say of poor Tom Matthew, for by that familiar name was he best recognised.2

Service Record — Thomas Patrick Matthew

12 Dec 1843 Assistant Surgeon the 1st, The Royal Regiment of Foot.

30 May 1845 Appointed Staff Assistant Surgeon vice Staff Assistant Surgeon James Mee who moved to 1st Foot.

1845–1849 Served at Gibraltar.

1847 In his confidential report, the PMO reported that Mr Matthew is a first rate anatomist and operative surgeon and of sound discrimination. His character is excellent.

11 Sept 1849 Promoted Surgeon 67th (South Hampshire) Regiment of Foot. On 29 August 1849, Assistant Staff Surgeon Matthew was recommended for the surgency of the 67th vice John Samuel Charlton deceased. Surgeon Charlton 2nd/67th Regiment left Gibraltar on sick leave in March 1849 and died at Sudbrook Park, Richmond on 20 August 1849. Mr Matthew, was at the time, the senior assistant surgeon serving at Gibraltar. By desire of the Commander-in-Chief he was specially recorded for promotion on the recommendation of Sir Robert Wilson for his services at Gibraltar and at Tangiers, in attendance on the Sultan's nephew.

18 Feb 1853 Appointed Staff Surgeon of the 2nd Class vice Staff Surgeon of the 2nd Class Thomas Cowan, who became surgeon 17th Foot on the retirement to half-pay of Surgeon Robert Allan.

1853 Served in the West Indies and Chatham.

Malta 27 Mar 1854 Arrived from England.

10 Apr 1854 On the declaration of war with Russia accompanied the troops to Gallipoli, Scutari and Varna. He sailed to the Crimea, but instead of being allowed to land with the forces at the Old Fort, he was tasked to convey all the sick and cholera patients from the different transports to the General Hospital at Scutari. Was in charge of a regiment of the 2nd Division with which he remained until and after the Battle of Inkerman. In the engagement he tended the wounded for his regiment was one of those which bore the first brunt of the battle. After the Battle of Inkerman, he took charge of the surgical wards at the Castle Hospital at Balaclava where he was granted the local rank of Staff Surgeon 1st Class. Remained at the Castle Hospital for the duration of the war, where he supervised the treatment and then the transfer of patients to Scutari. After the Crimean War he was entrusted by the Director General, Sir Andrew Smith, to prepare a surgical record of the war.

1854–1856 Served in Turkey.

Oct 1855 In his confidential report, the PMO Sir John Hall recommended him for promotion in the rank of Staff Surgeon. Hall reported that he was a first rate surgeon who would do credit to the appointment, and that he had performed his duties in a most satisfactory manner.

25 Jan 1856 Held the local rank of Staff Surgeon 1st Class.

16 June 1856 Received the Order of the Legion of Honour from the Emperor of the French for his distinguished services in the War with Russia.

Sept 1856 Was selected by the Director General to go to Madeira where he stayed for 3 months assisting the local authorities in combating an outbreak of cholera which was very virulent in that island.

June 1857 Selected to succeed Professor Sir George Ballingall to the Regius Chair of Military Surgery at the University of Edinburgh. However, the establishment of the Army Medical School at Netley diverted funds from the Chairs of Military Surgery at Edinburgh and Dublin, and the professorship was abolished.1

1857–1858 Served in London.

31 Aug 1858 Local rank of Staff Surgeon 1st class which he held in the Crimea was confirmed and gazetted accordingly.

1859–1860 Served at Chatham and Great Yarmouth.

Malta 2 Mar 1861 Arrived from England. Officer in charge of the Sanatorium at Citta Vecchia. During the summer months the sanatorium afforded considerable relief to the regimental hospitals. It was especially valuable in fever cases, rendering their rapid convalescence and in many instances doing away with invaliding the men to England.

Malta 1862 In charge of the Sanatorium at Citta Vecchia.

Malta 1863 On garrison duty.

Malta 28 Apr 1864 To England on leave.

Malta 15 Aug 1864 Returned from leave.

Malta 22 Apr 1865 Member of a Special Board of Enquiry set up by Government to enquire into the cause of a fever at Zejtun. Other members of the Board were Dr Engerer, Dr A. Ghio, Dr S. L. Pisani, and Inspector of Hospitals Hume Thomas David. The Board concluded that the fever at Zejtun which lasted from January to April was typhus fever.

Malta 8 June 1865 Died at Malta from pneumonia aged 45 years, leaving behind a widow and three young children.

Bibliography

  • Drew R., 1968. Entry No: 4755. Medical Officers in the British Army 1660 – 1960. Volume 1: 1660 – 1898. London: Wellcome Historical Medical Library.
  • RAMC/PE/3/27/Drew. Manuscript for Drew's Roll.
  • TNA:WO 25/3944, Confidential Reports on Medical Officers (30 Aug 1860–6 June 1861).
  • Succession Book Vol 4. Returns of service of medical officers in the Regular Army.
  • 1Kaufman, MH. The Regius Chair of Military Surgery in the University of Edinburgh 1806-55. Amsterdam-New York: Rodopi B.V., 2003.192-93.
  • Report on the Sanatorium at Citta Vecchia. Army Medical Department Report for 1861 Vol III p 371. London 1863.
  • 2Medical News-Obituary. The Lancet (1865), 54-55 (Published 8 July 1865).