RAMC Officers
Of the Malta Garrison
Joseph Edward Henry
1876 – 1960

Major Joseph Edward Henry Gatt

MD (Malta) MRCP (Lond) DTM&H (Camb 1913) DPH (RCP&S Ed)

14 Apr 1876 [Vittoriosa Malta] – 11 Nov 1960

Major Joseph Edward Henry Gatt was one of the first two Maltese doctors to hold a commission in the Royal Army Medical Corps. The other was Lt Benjamin Howard Vella Dunbar MD (Malta) who was born at St Julians Malta on 19 September 1878 and was commissioned on 31 January 1903.

From 1901, the University of Malta held the privilege of nominating one graduate for a commission in the Royal Army Medical Corps. However, on 26 September 1901, medical degrees granted by the University of Malta became recognised by the General Medical Council, and graduates of the University of Malta became eligible to compete for commissions in the RAMC.

Dr Joseph Edward Henry Gatt was born in Vittoriosa, Malta on 14 April 1876. He qualified from the University of Malta and obtained postgraduate qualifications from the United Kingdom {MRCP London, DPH Edinburgh, Certificate in Tropical Medicine (University of London 1913), Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Health (Cambridge 1913)}. From 2 September 1901 to 11 October 1902, and from 8 April 1902 to 31 October 1902, he served as a civil surgeon in Malta.

On 31 January, 1903, he was commissioned Lieutenant on probation in the Royal Army Medical Corps. He gained the Marshall Webb prize, the Herbert prize and the Pathology prize on the Junior Officer's course of the Royal Army Medical College.

Service Record

Sep 1901 – Oct 1902 Civilian surgeon in Malta.

31 Jan 1903 Appointed Lieutenant RAMC on probation. Confirmed in rank on 4 August 1903.

13 May 1903 Gained the Herbert Prize and the prize in pathology as well as the Marshall Webb Prize at the passing out examination of the RAMC.

17 Feb 1904 – 18 Mar 1904 On troop ship duty in the Mediterranean.

19 Mar 1904 – 18 Apr 1904 On duty in Ireland.

Apr 1904 Moved from Curragh to South Africa.

July 1904 Moved from South Africa to Transvaal.

Dec 1905 Change of station from Pretoria to Middelburg Transvaal.

31 July 1906 Promoted Captain RAMC.

18 Feb 1906 – 11 Apr 1906 On Home Leave.

13 Apr 1906 Embarked at Port Said for South Africa. In October 1906, arrived at Standerton Transvaal, from Middelburg Transvaal. Took over the duties of Medical Officer in charge troops, staff and married families in the cantonments instead of Civil Surgeon J Dalrymple who had left to set up in private practice at Volksrust.

31 July 1906 Promoted Captain RAMC.

Dec 1906 Change of station from Middelburg Transvaal to Pretoria.

Jan 1907 Change of station from Pretoria to Standerton Transvaal.

30 Sep 1908 Left South Africa for Irish Command.

Nov 1908 Moved to Cork.

Dec 1908 Change of station from Cork to Queenstown.

Feb 1909 Change of station from Queenstown to Limerick.

Nov 1909 Moved from Limerick to the Royal Army Medical College London.

Aug 1910 Moved from the Royal Army Medical College to Cosham, Portsmouth.

5 Jan 1911 Change of station from Cosham to Allahabad.

Aug 1911 Change of station from Benares to Allahabad.

Nov 1912 Change of station from Benares to Cawnpore.

27 Nov 1912 – 12 Nov 1913 In England on sick leave.

29 July 1913 Awarded the certificate of the school of Tropical Medicine with distinction.

10 Sep 1913 Passed the examinations for the Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene of the University of Cambridge.

13 Nov 1913 – 8 Dec 1918 Served in India.

Jan 1914 Change of station from Cawnpore to Benares.

31 Oct 1914 Promoted Major RAMC.

1916 Reported on the administration of a vaccine as a treatment for asthma to an officer's wife resident in the Murree Hills, Punjab Province British India. Dr Gatt wrote that he prepared an: autogenous vaccine from her nose, and later from her sputum. The organism was a streptococcus of medium length, but I now forget its chemical and biological characteristics. The patient received about twelve inoculations in all, in weekly doses varying from 150 to 500 millions. She showed a rapid improvement while she remained in the hills. I heard from her husband a year later that she was still free from paroxysms and also from chronic bronchitis.

1917 Served as a Sanitary Officer to the Waziristan Field Force.

9 Dec 1918 – 27 May 1919 On Home Leave.

28 May 1919 – 26 Sep 1919 Served with the North Russia Expeditionary Force.

18 June 1919 – 19 Sep 1919 Granted the rank of Acting Lieutenant Colonel.

27 Sept 1919 – 30 Jan 1923 In England.

28 Sept 1921 From Curragh Camp, Ireland Dr Gatt reported on a case of influenza with erythematous eruption and on streptococcal vaccines in asthma in the British Medical Journal.

6 Dec 1920 At Malta on leave.

5 Jan 1921 At Malta on leave.

31 Jan 1923 Placed on retired pay.

Apr 1931 Major J E H Gatt having reached the age limit of of liability to recall, ceased to belong to the Reserve of Officers.

6 June 1937 Writing from Fowey Cornwall, Dr Gatt listed 12 possible contributory factors for the persistently high infant mortality in Malta (250/1000):

19 July 1937 Represented the Malta Branch of the British Medical Association at its Annual Representative meeting in Belfast. Dr J E H Gatt said: that he came as representing the smallest unit of the British Medical Association in the Empire. The principal problem in Malta was how to deal with an ever-increasing population. The birth rate there was about double the birth rate in the United Kingdom, and with this went a high infant mortality of 250 per thousand. He believed he was right in saying that they would succeed in uniting the whole medical profession in Malta into a body which would work in harmony with the central Association.

On 23 July Dr Gatt presented a paper on the Prevention of Undulant fever in Malta with special reference to the consumption of goats' milk. After discussing briefly the high incidence of undulant fever and the high infant mortality in Malta Dr Gatt pointed out that since 1898 goats' milk had been banned as an article of food for all troops and marines in the Mediterranean, with the most beneficial results. Notification of the disease had been made compulsory, and the destruction of infected goats was carried out systematically. The Civil Government had finally decided to exercise complete control over the milk industry of the island, and it was hoped to secure clean and safe milk for all at a reasonable price by proper pasteurisation and distribution, and thus diminish the problems of undulant fever.