David Bruce Naval Hospital Mtarfa

RAMC Officers of the Malta Garrison

Infantry Bde

In Nov 1939, the army strength in Malta was raised from a Brigade to a Division. The GOC was Maj Gen Sir Sanford John Palairet Scobell. The brigades in the Division were:

  • 231 Infantry Bde was assigned to the Southern Sector under Bde L H Cox.
  • 232 Infantry Bde was assigned to the Northern Sector under Bde W H Oxley.
  • 233 Infantry Bde was formed on 30 July 1941 and assigned to the Central Sector under Bde I De La Bere.
  • 234 Infantry Bde was assigned to the Western sector under Bde F Brittorous.

Heat Illness

Fortress HQ Malta issued the following advice on the prevention of heat illness which was ridiculed by the men of the RAMC: "frequent drinking of sea water when bathing in the open sea is easy in Malta and should be encouraged". Other health advice was found just as hilarious such as this statement which advised staying in bed in the morning: "After a restless night a refreshing sleep is often obtained in the morning hours, so that a very early reveille is not to be recommended".

Army Nursing

On the outbreak of the Second World War, the Reserve and the Territorial Army Nursing Service were mobilised and integrated administratively into the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service under the Matron-in-Chief.

Women Doctors

In 1939, the first pioneer female doctors were brought into the army to look after the newly founded Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS). But as the ATS grew in size and male doctors became deployed elsewhere, female doctors took more and more responsibilities that had little to do with the treatment of women soldiers. First they took over the Blood Transfusion Service, then some were appointed Medical and Surgical Specialists to Static Military Hospitals. Female General Duties Officers were placed in medical charge of all male troops employed on the same station as the ATS. They wore military uniform and carried military rank. Women doctors attached to the RAMC were not employed as battalion medical officers, in the front line, or in Field Ambulances. They received the same pay as male doctors, and were regarded as interchangeable with them. By 1945, there were 500 women medical officers attached to the RAMC.


Golf Challenge Cup

Winners of the Royal Malta Golf Club Spring Challenge Cup 1939
(The Gazette and News of the RAMC, ADS, QAIMNS 1939)

Medical Officers (RAMC Malta) won the Challenge Cup presented annually by the officers of the corps for competition against teams from other regiments, units and ships of the Royal Navy. Col J S McCombe, DDMS Malta, who succeeded Lt Col Monro as Captain of the Royal Malta Golf Club, led the team of Lt Col Linton, Maj Tabuteau and Maj Hamilton to victory.


The army medical services in Malta prior to the outbreak of war consisted of:

  • 14 Medical Officers including the DDMS
  • 11 QAIMNS Nursing Sisters
  • 75 Other Ranks RAMC
  • A Station Hospital of 110 beds at Mtarfa
  • A Military Families Hospital of 24 beds at Mtarfa
  • A District Dispensary at Floriana

In Aug 1939, the island was placed on a war footing and the establishment was raised by 12 Medical Officers, 7 QAIMNS sisters and 75 Other Ranks of the RAMC. The barracks adjacent to the Station Hospital Mtarfa were taken over and the hospital expanded to 800 beds. There was an additional isolation block of 20 beds. When Italy declared war on 10 June 1940, there were on the island:

  • 30 medical officers
  • 40 QAIMNS sisters
  • 150 Other Ranks RAMC


  1. Drew R: Commissioned Officers in the Medical Services of the British Army Vol II. Roll of Officers in the Royal Army Medical Corps 1898–1960. London The Wellcome Historical Medical Library 1968.