Lady Doctors
Of the Malta Garrison
Euphan Montgomerie Maxwell
1886 –?

18 Euphan Montgomerie Maxwell

MB FRCS (Irel)

1886 [Dublin] – ?

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 Euphan Montgomerie Maxwell was the daughter of Dr Patrick William Maxwell MD FRCSI. She was a graduate in medicine and surgery of the University of Dublin and a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, Ireland. She held the position of Assistant Surgeon and Pathologist at the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital, Dublin, and was honorary secretary of the British Medical Section of Ophthalmology. In June 1915, Miss Maxwell was appointed to the recently established Montgomery Lectureship in Ophthalmology by the Board of Trinity College, Dublin.

1901 Lived at 19 Lower Baggot Street Dublin.

July 1916 Dr Euphan Montgomerie Maxwell 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.
Served as an Ophthalmologist at the Ophthalmic Department St George's Hospital run by Major Kiep RAMC.

20 Jan 1917 Injured following a fall; was granted 14 days leave to Sicily.

7 Mar 1917 Left for Dublin on compassionate leave due to her father's terminal illness.
Arrived at Dublin on 15 March.

25 Oct 1917 Resigned, and left Malta.

28 Nov 1917 Read a paper at the School of Physic, Trinity College, Dublin, entitled Observations on eye conditions met with in Malta, 1916-1917, occurring among British Troops in the Balkans and Malta Garrison.

8 Nov 1918 Gave the 1917–1918 Montgomery Lecture At the School of Physic, Trinity College Dublin. Her paper was entitled A survey of cases of concomitant squint in the practice of the late Mr P. W. Maxwell.

8 Nov 1919 Establishment of the Irish Ophthalmological Society. Delivered the Montgomery Lecture which became a regular feature of the Irish Ophthalmological Society.

18 Apr 1952 Attended the 72nd Annual Congress of the Ophthalmological Society of the United Kingdom held in Dublin. Dr Euphan Maxwell was the only participant of the former congress held in Dublin.