Lady Doctors
Of the Malta Garrison
Rose Lilian Humphrey Davy
1877 –1937

83 Rose Lilian Humphrey Davy

LSA (Lond 1906) MB BS (Lond 1908)
DPH (RCPS Eng 1914)

7 Jan 1877 – 1937

In May 1916, Dr Louisa Aldrich-Blake, Surgeon at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital and Dean of the London School of Medicine for Women, approached all the women on the Medical Register asking them to say if they would be willing to serve with the Royal Army Medical Corps. From the replies received, 48 lady doctors were enrolled. The first 22 medical women embarked for Malta on 2 August 1916; another 16 lady doctors embarked on the Hospital Ship (H.S.) Gloucester Castle on 12 August 1916.

The Director General Army Medical Services, Sir Alfred Keogh, was responsible for employing medical women and for dealing with illnesses among them. Women doctors, also referred to as lady doctors, were classed as civilian surgeons attached to the RAMC. Women serving as full time doctors in the Army and doing precisely the same work as their male colleagues had neither military rank nor status, but received the same pay, rations, travelling allowances and gratuity as temporary commissioned male officers of the Royal Army Medical Corps. A uniform was not introduced until after April 1918. This was similar in appearance to that worn by the Queen Mary's Auxiliary Army Corps (QMAAC) but with an RAMC badge on both lapels.

In October 1916, on hearing from the War Office that fifty more medical women were needed for service with the RAMC in English hospitals, Aldrich-Blake again negotiated with all the women who had qualified in the preceding ten years, and secured the requisite number in a very short time. On 20 October 1916, eleven medical women embarked on H.S. Britannic for Malta.

The casualties from operations in Gallipoli (25 April 1915 – 9 January 1916), and Salonica (October 1915 – 30 September 1918), were initially treated in Malta and Egypt, but in 1917, submarine attacks on hospital ships made it unsafe to evacuate from Salonica and five General Hospitals, Nos 61, 62, 63, 64 and 65, mobilized in Malta for service in Salonica to which the medical women were attached.

Between August 1916 and July 1917, eighty two lady doctors served in war hospitals in Malta. They worked alongside their RAMC colleagues and carried out all but administrative duties. Their assistance was very highly appreciated. Their work was recognized in the King's Birthday Honours list of June 1918 when Dr Barbara Martin Cunningham MB ChB, Military Hospital Mtarfa, Mrs Katharine Rosebery Drinkwater MB BS, in charge of Military Families Staff and Department Malta and Miss May Thorne MD, in charge of Sisters' Hospital and Staff Department Malta, were awarded the Order of the British Empire for services rendered during the war.

Service Record

64 GH Salonica
Aerial view of No 64 British General Hospital Salonica (Cotter collection AMS Archives)

Dr Rose Lilian Humphrey Davy received her medical education at the London (Royal Free Hospital) School of Medicine for Women. She qualified as a Licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries London (LSA) in 1906, and Bachelor in Medicine (BM) and Surgery (BS) from the University of London in 1908. Her name appeared in the Medical Directory for Scotland (Edinburgh) on 12 January 1907. She was House Surgeon at Belgrave Children Hospital and held the post of Assistant Schools Medical Officer for the Birmingham Education Committee and for Durham County Council.

Feb 1898 Passed the Preliminary Scientific Examination for the Medicine MB of the University of London.

July 1901 Passed the Intermediate Examination in Medicine of the University of London.

12 Jan 1907 Her name appears in the Medical Directory for Scotland (Edinburgh).

Dec 1916 Contracted to work for 12 months as a Civilian Surgeon attached to the RAMC. Her salary was 24 shillings a day including allowances, but excluding duty transport. A gratuity of £60 was awarded at the end of the contract, provided employment had not been terminated for misconduct. Most of the medical women were invited to renew their contracts at the expiry of their first year's work.

12 Dec 1916 Served at Guildford (Eastern Command).

Malta 17 Jan 1917 Embarked for Malta as part of the Women's Medical Unit RAMC.

29 June 1917 Attached to St David's Hospital which mobilized as No 62 General Hospital for duty with the British Salonica Force. Miss D. M. Alban QAIMNS was matron of the hospital.

2 July 1917 Dr Rose Lillian Humphrey Davy embarked at the Custom House Valletta on HMT ship Abbassieh with the staff of No 62 General Hospital. The medical officers and other medical women were:

4 July 1917 HMT ship Abbassieh sailed out of the Grand Harbour. She was escorted by HMS Aster and HMS Azalea. HMS Aster struck a mine and sunk eleven miles off Malta with the loss of ten lives. HMS Azalea also struck a mine as she went to the aid of the stricken ship. The transports returned to Malta and anchored in Marsaxlokk Harbour.

6 July 1917 HMT Ship Abbassieh sailed out of Marsaxlokk Harbour. She arrived at Suda Bay Crete on 9 July and in Salonica, (Thessalonika) Harbour, on 11 July. The medical women were transferred to the H.S. Llandovery Castle, while the men marched to Karaissi Rest Camp. No 62 General Hospital was erected in Uchantar Convalescent Camp to the east of No 61 General Hospital. The site was about 12 km from Salonica and a mile east of the Monastir road.

21 July 1917 The eight medical women who had been accommodated in the H.S. Llandovery Castle reported for duty.

31 Oct 1917 Closure of No 62 General Hospital. The staff were transferred to 6 General Hospital, 28 General Hospital, 67 General Hospital, and 43 General Hospital. On 4 November 1917, Dr R. L. H. Davy transferred to No 61 General Hospital.

6 Nov 1917 No 62 General Hospital left Salonica for Taranto, Italy.

28 Dec 1917 No 61 General Hospital closed on 28 December and went into winter quarters. Drs A. Winifred, J. E. Reynolds, A. E. Sanderson, M. M. Rougvie, and Rose Lilian Humphrey Davy departed for duty at No 38 General Hospital. Dr B. M Cunningham left for duty at No 42 General Hospital. Dr Katharine Waring who had been under treatment for dysentery at No 43 General Hospital embarked for England as an invalid on 3 December 1917.

18 Apr 1918 No 61 General Hospital was re-erected on Hortiach Plateau, which had been vacated by No 66 General Hospital.

Jan–July 1918 On duty with No 61 General Hospital.

28 July 1918 Resigned from No 61 General Hospital, and returned to Malta.

30 Sep 1918 to 11 Feb 1919 On duty at Malta.

11 Feb 1919 Reappointed at Malta and posted to Eastern Command.

4 Mar 1919 – 29 Sep 1919 On duty with Eastern Command.

1923 The Medical Directory gives her address as Oakhurst, Corringham Road, Golders Green, London NW 4.

24 April 1937 The Annual Report of Council of the British Medical Association for 1936–37 lists Dr Rose Lillian Humphrey Davy as being deceased.