RAMC Officers
Of the Malta Garrison
Henry Bryan Frost Dixon
1891 –1962

Brigadier Henry Bryan Frost Dixon

MC (1916) DTM&H (1937) FRCP (Lond 1938) MD (Dubl 1934)

12 July 1891 [Dublin] – 20 Jan 1962 [Millbank London]

H B F Dixon
Captain Henry Bryan Frost Dixon MC 6th London Field Ambulance.
(Imperial War Museum bond of sacrifice WWI portraits collection © IWM (HU 121307)

Brigadier Henry Bryan Frost Dixon was educated at Dublin University and the Westminster Hospital, London. He graduated BA Dublin in 1911 and MB BCh BAO in 1913. He proceeded MD in 1934. He obtained his MRCP London in 1926 and was elected FRCP in 1938. He held the posts of House Surgeon, House Physician and resident obstetrician at the Westminster Hospital.

He received a Territorial Force Commission as Lieutenant in the Royal Army Medical Corps and mobilized in France on active service in the First World War. He was mentioned in dispatches and on 14 November 1916 won the Military Cross. His citation read:

In recognition of gallantry and devotion to duty in the field. Captain Bryan Frost Dixon volunteered and led a stretcher party to a regimental aid post under very heavy fire and successfully brought in twenty-five wounded men.

On 26 July 1918 he received a bar to his Military Cross in recognition of gallantry and devotion to duty in the field. His citation read;

Captain Bryan Frost Dixon remained behind in No Man's Land and dressed three officers under extremely heavy machine gun fire and helped to carry a wounded man more than two miles to a place of safety. Later, he continued to dress all wounded although practically surrounded by the enemy. His cheerfulness and disregard of personal danger under these exceptionally trying circumstances inspired all ranks.2

Brigadier Henry Bryan Frost Dixon arrived in Malta in 1938 and took over command of Mtarfa Military Hospital, a small hospital of 100 beds with only 25 patients in it. He oversaw the expansion of the hospital to 800 beds and later to 1600 beds when the island was placed on a war footing.

Brigadier Henry Bryan Frost Dixon was the author of the chapter on malaria in Hurst's Medical Diseases of War, published in 1945, and was an authority on cysticercosis. He retired from the Army in 1947, and soon after he joined the medical staff of the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance of which he was senior medical officer and medical consultant. He joined the Ministry at a time when it was heavily engaged in dealing with appeals to the pension appeal tribunals and the High Court, following certain changes in the Royal Warrant. The application of new principles to war pension law had raised difficult medical issues, and it was on these that his advice was particularly useful. His long and intimate experience of all aspects of Service life and many contacts among those in consulting practice in London, particularly the staff of the Westminster Hospital, enabled him to render invaluable help to the department in preparing the Ministry's case for the tribunals and courts.

He retired in 1958 and died on 20 January 1962 in the Queen Alexandra's Military Hospital, Millbank, aged 70 years.

Service Record

5 Aug 1914 Territorial Force Commission Lieutenant RAMC.

1 Apr 1915 Captain RAMC.

1915–1919 Served in France.

30 Nov 1915 Mentioned in Field Marshal Lord French Dispatch for gallant and distinguished service in the field while serving with 6th London Field Ambulance.

14 Nov 1916 Awarded the Military Cross in recognition of gallantry and devotion to duty in the field.

Apr 1918 Appointed Acting Major RAMC.

26 July 1918 Awarded a bar to his Military Cross in recognition of gallantry and devotion to duty in the field.

8 May 1919 Appointed to a Permanent Regular Army Commission Captain RAMC from RAMC (TF) with precedence from 5 February 1918, but was not to reckon for pay or allowances prior to 1 May 1919.

1920–1921 Served in Mesopotamia.

1921–1932 Served in India.

5 Aug 1926 Promoted Major RAMC. Medical Specialist Royal Victoria Hospital Netley.

1926–1928 Medical Specialist Queen Alexandra's Military Hospital Millbank.

1928–1932 Served at the British Military Hospital Poona India.

1933–1936 Served at the Queen Alexandra's Military Hospital Millbank.

28 Apr 1936 Promoted Lieutenant Colonel RAMC.

1936–1938 Served at the Military Hospital Gibraltar.

1937 Awarded the Cross of Merit of the Order of the German Red Cross in recognition of his services to the wounded crew of the German Battleship Deutschland at Gibraltar.

5 Apr 1938 Arrived at Malta from Gibraltar. Officer in charge Military Hospital Mtarfa.

28 Oct 1938 Home leave.

27 Nov 1938 Returned from leave.

Malta 1939 Officer in charge Military Hospital Mtarfa.

Mtarfa Hospital
Mtarfa Military Hospital. The foundation stone was laid on 6 Jan 1915 by General Sir Leslie Rundle Governor and Commander-in-Chief Malta. It opened on 29 June 1920 with accommodation for six officers and 190 other ranks, but in 1927 had beds equipped for only six officers and 119 men.

20 Jan 1939 Gave a lecture demonstration on Cysticercosis, T. solium and Epilepsy at a clinical meeting of the Malta and Mediterranean Branch of the British Medical Association held at the Royal University. He described the investigation into cysticercus epilepsy carried out in the Army under the direction of Major General William Porter MacArthur, whose work provided the stimulus to the inquiry into cysticercosis carried out by Major H. B. F. Dixon and Dr D. W. Smithers.

The results were published in the Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps (1935, lxiv, Nos. 4, 5, and 6; and lxv, 1 and 2). The paper showed that cysticercosis was far from uncommon in those who have lived in countries where sanitation was defective. One important conclusion drawn from the research of Dixon and Smithers was that any patient previously healthy who developed fits or anomalous nervous or mental symptoms, and who had lived abroad, should be suspected of suffering from cysticercosis until proved otherwise.4

11 Feb 1939 Lieutenant Colonel H B F Dixon was elected president of the Malta Branch of the British Medical Association for the year 1940–1941.

19 July 1939 Appointed a member of a committee with the Lieutenant Governor as Chairman, for the purpose of interviewing local applicants for posts in the Colonial Medical Service. In 1912, it had been laid down that Maltese medical practitioners wishing to join the Colonial Medical Service had to present themselves at the Colonial Office in London, to be examined by the Medical Appointments Subcommittee. This requirement was abolished in 1939.

1940 Medical Officer in charge Mtarfa Military Hospital and Senior Medical Officer (Malta West).

The island was divided into Malta West and Malta East with two SMOs under the command of the DDMS. OC No 90 General Hospital Mtarfa was also SMO for Malta West. The hospital performed the duties of all medical units in the Field. It was a Regimental Aid Post (RAP) for troops in the immediate vicinity; an Advanced Dressing Station (ADS), a Main Dressing Station (MDS), a Casualty Collecting Station (CCS); a Base Hospital and in addition ran a Motor Ambulance Convoy (MAC). The OC of the hospital was to all intents and purposes a Field Ambulance Commander as well as an OC General Hospital.

H B F Dixon
Map of Medical Units dated July 1942 by Sgt J A Critchley showing lines of evacuation (TNA:WO 222/383 DDMS Malta).

1941 Commanding Officer No 90 General Hospital Mtarfa.

The hospital at Mtarfa rapidly expanded to 1360 beds and incorporated the Royal Naval Hospital Bighi, which had been evacuated as soon as war broke out with Italy. A skeleton staff was left at Bighi as a Medical Aid Post for the Dockyard. The small RAMC staff at Mtarfa was augmented by two naval medical officers, five nursing sisters and 28 naval ratings.

Surgeon Captain D P Gurd RN said that in 1941, a detachment of medical officers from the Royal Naval Hospital, Bighi, was sent to work with the Army at Mtarfa under Colonel Dixon's command. Such a grafting operation might have been attended with some temperamental difficulties, but such was not the case. The smoothness, happiness, efficiency, and good humour of the partnership were in no small part due to the character of the commanding officer.3

29 Oct 1941 Lieutenant Colonel (Temporary Colonel) H B F Dixon was promoted Colonel L/RAMC.

28 Aug 1941 Delivered a clinical lecture on leprosy in Maltese Troops at a meeting of the Malta Medical Services Clinical Club at Mtarfa.

Malta 27 Jan 1942 Admitted to hospital with appendicitis.

Malta 2 Mar 1942 OC No 90 General Hospital Mtarfa. Informed by the GOC of his transfer to England. Went on leave pending embarkation for England.

Malta 5 Apr 1942 Left Malta by air for England via Mid East.

1942–1944 Commanding Officer Connaught Hospital.

Feb–Dec 1944 Commanding Officer 107 General Hospital.

4 Apr 1945 Acting Brigadier L/RAMC.
Author of the chapter on malaria in Hurst's Medical Diseases of War, published in 1945, and was an authority on cysticercosis.1

1945–1946 Deputy Director of Medical Services (DDMS) West Africa Command.

Jan–Feb 1947 DDMS HQ London District.

9 June 1947 Retired on retired pay with the honorary rank of Brigadier.

31 July 1951 Ceased to remain on the Regular Army Reserve of Officers having reached the age limit for liability for recall.

20 Jan 1962 Died at the Queen Alexandra's Military Hospital, Millbank, aged 70 years.