1st Malta (231) Infantry Bde
In Sept 1939, there were in Malta four British infantry battalions and one local regiment. The five regiments constituted 1st Malta Infantry Brigade, later 231 Brigade.
The strength of the army in Malta on 30 June 1939 was 4,303 men and 237 officers. In addition, there were 1552 local troops. By 1942, there were 11 British battalions, 3 Maltese infantry battalions, 3 Regiments of Artillery, and a Home Guard of 3000 strong.
The number of service families in 1942 was 5,474.
In Nov 1939, the garrison was raised from a Brigade to a Division with Maj Gen Sir Sanford John Palairet Scobell as the GOC. The Brigades in the Division were:
- 231 Infantry Bde, assigned to the Southern Sector under Brig L H Cox.
- 232 Infantry Bde, assigned to the Northern Sector under Brig W H Oxley.
- 233 Infantry Bde, formed on 30 July 1941 and assigned to the Central Sector under Brig I De La Bere.
- 234 Infantry Bde, assigned to the Western sector under Brig F Brittorous.
Fortress HQ Malta issued the following advice on the prevention of heat illness which was ridiculed by 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 to be equally hilarious such as the 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 revile is not to be recommended.
In 1939, the first pioneer female doctors were brought into the army to look after the newly founded Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS). 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.
Colonel DDMS Malta Command
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 a Surg-Captain of the Royal Malta Golf Club, led the team consisting 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 peace establishment was raised by 12 Medical Officers, 7 QAIMNS sisters and 75 Other Rank of the RAMC. The barracks adjacent to the Station Hospital Mtarfa were taken over and the hospital beds increased to 800 beds with an isolation block of 20 beds.
By the time Italy declared war on 10 June 1940, there were on the island:
- 30 medical officers
- 40 QAIMNS sisters
- 150 Other Ranks RAMC
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.
There were 18 Queen Alexandra's nurses in Malta when war was declared. This was gradually increased to 50 nurses. In Aug 1941, the staff were given the opportunity of returning home or volunteering to stay on the island. Seven left: two to be married, four had served more than 5 years overseas and had no choice but to leave and one was medically boarded home.
- 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.