RAMC Officers
Of the Malta Garrison
George Andrew Douglas
1909 – 1997

107317 (WS)/Captain (T/Major) George Andrew Douglas Gordon

MB ChB (Ed 1931) DMRD (Lond 1946)

20 Aug 1909 [Richmond Surrey] – 23 May 1997

G A D Gordon
George Andrew Douglas Gordon
(Courtesy BMJ 1997; 315: 752)

War Substantive (WS) Captain, Temporary (T) Major George Andrew Douglas Gordon qualified in Edinburgh in 1931 and joined his father in General Practice. He married in March 1934 and had four children. Upon the outbreak of war he was granted an emergency commission as a Lieutenant in the RAMC on 5 September 1939. Lieutenant G. A. D. Gordon was graded a specialist in radiology and on 5 September 1939 was granted the paid acting rank of major. He served overseas for a total of five years and twenty days in France, Egypt, Palestine, Malta, and Italy. He was awarded the 1939–1945 Star, the Africa Star, the Italy Star, the War Medal 1939–1945, and the Defence Medal. All those serving in Malta were eligible for The Africa Star.

Post demobilisation Dr G. A. D. Gordon became consultant radiologist in Willesden General Hospital and Moorfields Eye Hospital. He researched procedures for identifying abnormalities in the brain, first with electroencephalography and then ultrasound. He carried out much of the early work on establishing safe levels of ultrasound for the diagnosis and treatment of Ménière's disease. He also opened the first department of ultrasonic radiology in Britain, and later worked on the use of ultrasound to detect pulmonary embolism. He was a Fellow of the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM).1

Dr G. A. D. Gordon held over 20 international patents for medical electronic apparatus. Among these were: patent US 3050988 ultrasonic testing filed 13 February 1959, patent US 3237623 apparatus for destroying limited groups of cells filed 1 May 1963, patent US 3338235 ultrasonic therapeutic device with recording apparatus filed 2 October 1964, and patent US 3515942 electrical circuit arrangements providing earth leakage protection filed 17 November 1967. He devoted much of his personal wealth to his research and travelled round the world giving lectures. After retirement he was appointed visiting professor in bioengineering at the City University in London.

Dr G. A. D. Gordon died of myocardial failure on 23 May 1997. Apart from his accomplishments in radiology, he was also talented enough to design and built his own electronic apparatus and remade x ray machines in Cairo out of apparatus left behind in Libya by the retreating Italians.

His obituary appeared in the British Medical Journal on 20 September 1977.

Service Record

5 Sep 1939 Mobilised in Warrington.
Granted a War Emergency Commission as Lieutenant RAMC.3
Conferred the paid acting rank of Major.

12 Sep 1939 Embarked for the British Expeditionary Force with No 9 General Hospital as a Specialist in Radiology. Disembarked in France on 13 September 1939.

No 9 General Hospital was based at Le Mans from 15 September to October 1939. It then moved to Le Grand Luce (October 1939 to 16 June 1940) with a detachment at Pacy. It returned to Leeds in June 1940 before being ordered overseas again in August 1940. No 9 General Hospital arrived at Cairo on 19 September 1940. It returned to England in December 1943 and moved to Knutsford, Cheshire.

13 Sep 1939 – 1 June 1940 Served with the British Expeditionary Force France.

25 Sep 1939 Moved with No 9 General Hospital to Le Grand Luce.

5 Dec 1939 Promoted War Substantive WS/Captain and Temporary Major (T/Major).

15 Dec – 27 Dec 1939 Granted compassionate leave of absence in England.

4 Jan 1940 Rejoined No 9 General Hospital.

11 May 1940 Attached to No 1 Casualty Clearing Station (CCS) for temporary duty.

No 1 Casualty Clearing Station (CCS) was located about a mile outside the Belgian village of Ninove. It closed on the night of 16 May 1940 due to intense enemy activity. The nursing sisters and some of the medical officers were evacuated on No 4 Ambulance Train which had arrived unexpectedly on 15 May from Bourg le Herbert, a village near Lille, to remove casualties from the CCS. No 4 Ambulance train arrived at Dieppe Harbour on 18 May 1940.

22 May – 3 Aug 1940 On home (UK) service.

22 May 1940 Evacuated from Boulogne to Dover.

23 May 1940 All RAMC personnel at Dover sent by train to Tidworth.

29 May 1940 Detached from No 1 CCS and attached to Okehampton Reinforcement Camp.

18 June 1940 Re-attached to No 1 CCS, Rotherham South Yorkshire.

4 Jan 1940 Rejoined No 9 General Hospital at Leeds.

4 Aug 1940 – 4 Dec 1944 Served with the Middle East Force.

4 Aug 1940 Embarked at Glasgow with No 9 General Hospital.

19 Sep 1940 No 9 General Hospital arrived at Cairo and took over the Heliopolis Palace Hotel.

19 Feb 1941 Attached to No 15 CCS for temporary duty.
Embarked on a secret mission to Italian Cyrenaica to recover X-Ray apparatus left behind by the retreating Italian forces. Among the equipment recovered were several X ray plants and generators from Tobruk, Bardia and Mersa Matruh. T/Major Gordon was entrusted with safeguarding the valuable equipment.

Mellieha camp
Location of 39 GH at the former infantry training camp Mellieha Bay.

8 Apr 1941 Joined No 63 General Hospital.
No 63 General Hospital was based at Cairo (Helmiah) from 1 September 1939 to 31 December 1946.

15 Sept 1942 Posted to No 32 General Hospital. The hospital had been at Nazareth since July 1942. It returned to Birmingham in March 1944.

28 May 1943 Left Egypt on HMHS Somersetshire

2 June 1943 Joined No 39 General Hospital for duty as a radiologist.

Mellieha bay
Mellieha Bay with the infantry barracks used as 39 GH just visible among the plantation.

No 39 General Hospital opened in St Andrews Barracks Malta on 1 February 1942. The hospital was completely destroyed by enemy action on 25 April 1942. No 39 General Hospital was re-established as a 200–330 bed tented hospital in the abandoned infantry training camp at Mellieha. Tents were erected on 26 May 1942, but a gale blew down 80% of the tentage. On 10 July 1942, plans for a tented hospital were abandoned, and, instead a hospital of 300 beds was constructed of stone. Work on the hospital progressed slowly due to shortage of material and bombing of the area on 18 October, when the Italian radio boasted of hitting an important wireless station. No 39 General Hospital Mellieha re-opened on 14 March 1943.

1 – 12 June 1943 No 39 General Hospital was temporarily closed for the reception of new patients and used to accommodate No 33 General Hospital that had arrived at Malta on 1 June 1943.

20 June 1943 Arrival of King George VI to Malta on HMS Aurora. The king visited No 90 General Hospital Mtarfa. All medical officers not on essential duty paraded at Mtarfa.

7 July 1943 53069 Surgeon Major Richard Lewis Casolani RMA reported for duty at No 39 General Hospital as an anaesthetist. Dr G. A. D. Gordon became very good friends with the Casolani family.

Sandhurst Block St Patrick's Barracks became No 45 GH (June 1941-Feb 1944).

Oct 1943 No 39 General Hospital had 600 beds. The hospital was partially complete and tents were still in use. The small tents and some larger ones erected on the football field were blown away in the storms of October 1943,

30 Oct 1943 T/Major G. A. D. Gordon left No 39 General Hospital to undergo a course in radiology in Cairo. Embarked for Port Said on 31 October. Re-sat and passed his Radiology Diploma in November (DMR).

Yugoslav graves
On 14 July 1943 a cemetery at the lower end of Mtarfa Road was opened for No 39 GH. In 1967, the graves were cleared and the remains of 14 Yugoslav partisans were re-interred at Pieta Military Cemetery.

26 Dec 1943 Left Egypt on HMHS Maine and rejoined No 39 General Hospital Mellieha Malta.

13 Jan 1944 No 39 General Hospital was placed on standby to receive partisan Yugoslav casualties. All British patients were transferred to No 45 (UK) General Hospital. On 16 January, 226 Yugoslav patients, 13 of whom were female, were admitted to the hospital. T/Major G. A. D. Gordon reported that 230 arrived in an hour and a half, nearly all major surgical cases. Another 219 Yugoslav patients reached the hospital on 23 January. The Yugoslav women patients were visited by Mrs Campbell, wife of the Lieut-Governor of Malta. On 31 January, a further 175 Yugoslavs arrived at No 39 (UK) General Hospital. They were followed by another hundred on 19 February 1944.

No 39 (UK) General Hospital closed down on 30 March. All the Yugoslav partisans were transferred to No 90 General Hospital.

Yugoslav partisans wounded arriving by convoy at 39 GH Jan 1944.
(Courtesy AMS Archives).

On 8 Apr 1944, No 39 (UK) General Hospital embarked for Naples. It re-embarked at Naples and arrived at New Deckmont Camp, Cambuslang, near Glasgow on 23 April 1944.

Malta 27 Feb 1944 T/Major G. A. D. Gordon was posted from No 39 General Hospital to No 45 (UK) General Hospital. He replaced radiologist 159924 WS/Captain A. N. Stirling RAMC who moved to 90 General Hospital Mtarfa.

No 45 (UK) General Hospital closed on 20 February pending its re-deployment.

7 Mar 1944 T/Major G. A. D. Gordon embarked with No 45 (UK) General Hospital on board HMHS Dorsetshire. He arrived at Taranto on 8 March. The officers and nursing sisters proceeded by lorry to Casa della Defunta Gil, Taranto. Italian soldiers were used as labourers to unload hospital stores. Some of the equipment was damaged in transit including the high pressure steriliser which had one valve knocked clean off. The electricity supplying the hospital used a different voltage (150V) than that at Malta rendering the medical equipment running on 250 Volts unusable.

Yugoslav partisans arriving at Malta
(Nursing Mirror 25 March 1944).

Two main buildings were identified for the siting of No 45 (UK) General Hospitals but the lavatories and ward kitchens were inadequate and in need of a lot of engineering alterations and repairs. The hospital received its first patients on 25 March 1944. It had 145 beds including 18 beds for women and children.

22 Mar 1944 T/Major G. A. D. Gordon returned to Malta by air to have some of the transformers rewired at the REME base in Gzira so as to enable them to deliver the correct voltage at Taranto. On 29 March he embarked on HMS Bicester, and rejoined his unit in Taranto.

7 Nov 1944 115982 WS/Captain Hector-Jones, trainee in radiology, joined No 45 (UK) General Hospital from No 65 (UK) General Hospital Naples (attached 103 General Hospital Nocera) and took over from T/Major G. A. D. Gordon.

Yugoslav Partisans arriving at Malta
(Nursing Mirror 25 March 1944).

9 Nov 1944 T/Major Gordon moved to No 3 Transit Camp en route for England.

3 Dec 1944 Disembarked in England.

4 Dec 1944 – 15 Jan 1946 Home Service.

3 Jan 1945 Joined POW Camp No 99 Military Hospital Chepstow.

21 June 1945 Granted release from military service on grounds of parliamentary candidature.
Dr G. A. D. Gordon became a Liberal Party candidate for the General Election on 5th July 1945. The results were declared on 26 July. Clement Attlee swept Labour to power (393 seats); Churchill and the Conservatives were defeated (213 seats); the Liberals only won 10 seats out of 627 seats with a a fifth of the candidates forfeiting their deposits.

27 July 1945 Posted to S/S The Depôt from unemployment.

8 Aug 1945 Posted to Brookwood Military Hospital Woking as a Specialist Radiologist.

22 Sep 1945 Struck off unit strength.

23 Sep 1945 – 15 Jan 1946 On demobilisation leave.

16 Jan 1946 Demobilised.

20 Aug 1954 Relinquished his commission. Granted honorary rank of Captain.