Lady Doctors
Of the Malta Garrison
Janet Gertrude Horwood
1870 –1942

No 2 Janet Gertrude Horwood

LRCP LFRCS (Ed) LFPS (Glas Nov 1896) FRCS (Irel 1898)

10 Sep 1870 [Aylesbury] – 21 June 1942 [Eastbourne]

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

Dr Janet Gertrude Horwood received her medical education at the London School of Medicine for Women. She qualified in Edinburgh in 1896 and two years latter obtained her FRCS from Ireland.

Dr J. G. Horwood held the posts of Clinical Assistant Evelina Hospital for Women and Children London, Medical Assistant Social Settlement for Women, Liverpool and Medical Officer Indian Women, Mauritius. The Medical Directory of 1918 gives her address as Walton Warren, Aylesbury Bucks.

8 July 1915 Corresponded with the editor of the British Medical Journal on The prevention of gas poisoning in the trenches by the use of other gases. Writing from Bewdley she suggested: Would not a liberal supply of oxygen to the trenches, to be used in the event of a gas attack, overcome the horrors of their chlorine and cyanide poisons and so annul their effect?

Aug 1916 Dr J. G. Horwood was in the first group of women doctors to join the RAMC. She was 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.

2 Aug 1916 Embarked for Malta as part of the Women's Medical Unit RAMC.

30 Jan 1917 Attended the funeral of Dr Isobel Addy Tate.

27 May 1917 Invalided to England. Assessed by a Medical Board at Aylesbury.

20 Aug 1917 On the strength of Southern Command.

20 Nov 1918 Resigned.

21 June 1942 Died a spinster. Had resided at Esperance, Hartington Place, Eastbourne, Sussex and 7 Chiltern Road Wendover, Bucks.