Lady Doctors
Of the Malta Garrison
Agnes Moore
1877 –1936

17 Dr (Mrs) Agnes Moore Livingstone-Learmonth (nee Hamilton)

CBE (1919) MB ChB (Ed 1901)

2 July 1877 – 30 May 1936

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 Agnes Moore Hamilton qualified in Edinburgh in 1901. On 5 August 1902, she married Dr Basil Lockhart Livingstone-Learmonth MB CM (Edin 1896).

1908 Together with her husband, formed part of the Irish Presbyterian Mission in China. Was a member of the Medical Missionary Association of China working at Hsin-min-t'un Newchwang in Manchuria.

1916 Medical Officer in munition factories. Up till August 1916, the Ministry of Munitions had been aware of 20 cases of toxic jaundice in male munitions workers and in forty-two female workers. Six men and twelve women had died of liver problems, in addition to two TNT workers who had died of anaemia. On 12 August 1916, The Lancet, published the work of Drs Barbara Martin Cunningham and Agnes Moore Livingstone-Learmonth, both munition factory doctors, who had studied the symptoms and complications caused by TNT dust in workers.1

July 1916 Dr A. M. Livingstone-Learmonth 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. The majority 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.
Dr A. M. Livingstone-Learmont was attached to St Patrick's Military Hospital, which opened on 15 August 1915 with a thousand beds.

25 June 1917 St Patrick's Military Hospital mobilized as No 61 General Hospital for duty with the Salonica Expeditionary Force. The staff consisted of 12 officers, 8 medical women, 38 female nursing staff, 3 Warrant Officers, one of whom was the Quartermaster and 204 other ranks. On 25 June, the Headquarters of the unit moved to All Saints' Camp, which served as the awaiting passage camp.

2 July 1917 – 1 Aug 1919 Served in Salonica.

2 July 1917 Dr A. M. Livingstone-Learmonth embarked on HMT Ship Abbassieh with No 61 General Hospital, under the command of Lt Colonel Arthur Kennedy RAMC. The medical women were:

Malta 4 July 1917 HMT Ship Abbassieh sailed out of the Grand Harbour 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 ships 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 accommodated in the H.S. Llandovery Castle until 21 July, when they rejoined their unit; the men moved to Karraisi Rest Camp.

13–30 July 1917 No 61 General Hospital was set up at Uchantar, about 12 kilometers from Salonica and about a mile to the east of the Monastir Road. While the site was being prepared, the lady doctors attended lectures on the Regulations for the Army Medical Services, Military Allowances, and the duties of patients in military hospitals. On 13 August, consulting physician Colonel Stewart Purves, who had deployed from Malta, gave a lecture on dysentery and another on the soldier's heart.

27 July 1917 The lady doctors attended a lecture by Major Falkoner, consulting staff, on pyrexia. All the men working in the sun were issued with canvas pads to protect the spine from the heat.

10 Aug 1917 No 61 General Hospital became operational.

23 – 24 Aug 1917 No 61 General Hospital admitted 200 patients from 25 Casualty Clearing Station; four were admitted from the advance party of 10 Division and 119 from the ambulance trains. By 27 August, the hospital had treated 444 patients.

23 Nov 1917 Drs A. M. Livingstone-Learmont was transferred to No 42 General Hospital Salonica.

10 Dec 1917 Dysentery patients were transferred to No 42 General Hospital in preparation for the closure of No 61 General hospital.

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 who had been transferred from No 62 General Hospital on 4 November 1917, 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.

25 Apr 1918 Drs A. M. Livingstone-Learmont and B. M. Cunningham together with the Matron and 4 nursing sisters rejoined No 61 General Hospital.

23 May 1918 Departed on duty with sick Australian nurses to Egypt.

30 June 1918 Departed from No 61 General Hospital on transfer.

6 Nov 1918 Left No 61 General Hospital for Sofia Bulgaria.

7 Jan 1919 Closure of No 61 General Hospital Salonica.

30 Jan 1919 Mentioned in the Salonica despatches.

1 Aug 1919 Contract expired.

23 Sep 1919 Awarded the Order of Saint Sava 5th Class by the King of Serbia.

12 Dec 1919 Appointed a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, (CBE), in recognition of her valuable services rendered in connection with military operations in the Balkans and with the Army of the Black Sea (London Gazette 12 December 1919).