RAMC Officers
Of the Malta Garrison
William Owen Wolseley
1854 –1905

Colonel William Owen Wolseley


4 Apr 1854 [Armagh] – 3 June 1905 [Tilbury]

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Surgeon Major W O Wolseley AMS on the Ashanti Expedition. (RAMC/2005)

Colonel William Owen Wolseley was the son of the Reverend Capel Wolseley and Anne Jane Proctor. He entered the Army Medical Service as Surgeon on 6 March 1880 and reached the rank of Colonel on 27 August 1903.

In 1895, he served with the Expedition to Ashanti, for which he was honourably mentioned, promoted to Surgeon-Lieutenant Colonel, and received a star. He was also with the Tirah Expeditionary Force in the campaign on the North-West Frontier of India in 1897–1898 (medal with two clasps).

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Memorial Tablet erected at the Barracca Church Valletta on 11 January 1907 (Courtesy Alan Keighley).

Colonel William Owen Wolseley was Principal Medical Officer Malta Command from November 1903 to 3 June 1905. He was a very keen supporter of the Corps, and did all in his power to foster and stimulate Esprit de Corps amongst his officers and men. He was a very keen sportsman and a first class shot, and though not able to indulge in his favourite sport in Malta, he took a very keen interest in Corps sport. At his last public appearance before falling ill, he presented a silver badge to each member of the Corps football team as a keepsake memento of the past football season.

Colonel William Owen Wolseley died on 3 June 1905 at Tilbury, twenty four hours after being invalided to England with Mediterranean Fever. A memorial brass tablet was erected at the Royal Victoria Military Hospital Netley by his brother officers. This is now preserved at the chapel of the Army Medical Services Museum. Another memorial tablet was erected at the Barracca Garrison Church Valletta, on 11 January 1907. This is in the safe keeping of the The Friends of Ta' Braxia Cemetery.

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Memorial Brass Tablet erected at Netley Hospital. This reads: In the memory of Colonel William Owen Wolseley RAMC Born April 1854. After a distinguished career during which he received special promotion for his services in the Ashanti Campaign 1895-6 he contracted Mediterranean fever while Principal Medical Officer Malta and died on 3 June 1905 at Tilbury (Chapel AMS Keogh Barracks)
On Friday morning 11 Jan 1907, the RAMC assembled at the Barracca Church Valletta to unveil a tablet to the memory of Colonel W O Wolseley. His Excellency the Governor Mansfied Clarke performed the ceremony. The service commenced at 11:15 by the voluntary evening choir, Organist Major J Burnett RGA, singing the hymn, For all the Saints who from their labours rest as they advanced, proceeding up the church to the choir stalls with the Senior Chaplain and the Rev W Haines CF. The hymn being ended, H E the Governor, accompanied by Colonel MacNeece and Lt Cols Richard Jennings and James Havelock Alexander Rhodes and the Rev A Gedge SCF, together with the Barracca Church Wardens, Capt G Gordon Hall and Capt W Spender, took up his position near the tablet.
Colonel W O Wolseley worshiped at the Barracca Church and it was appropriate that the Tablet should be on a line with the seat he occupied so regularly on a Sunday. After unveiling the plaque H E the Governor said:
I, at the request of the PMO, unveil this tablet erected in memory of the late PMO by his wife. The late Colonel Wolseley, may be said to have died at his post. He was taken ill with a disease which he was engaged in combating, was sent home in the hope that the change might preserve his life, but he, unhappily, died a few hours after his arrival in England. I now hand the Memorial Tablet over to the church authorities for safe custody.
The Senior Chaplain having received it in the name of the Chaplain and Churchwardens of the Barracca Church, then proceeded with the dedicatory prayer and service, all having returned to their seats. After the service H E the Governor inspected the men of the RAMC on the square outside the Barracca Church.
In everything pertaining to the Corps, Colonel Wolseley recognised that unity is strength and to him were indebted the inauguration of the officer's monthly meetings, which had been so useful in bringing together the officers from the scattered stations in the Malta command, for the discussions of questions of professional and social interest. The last meeting held two days his death was adjourned out of respect to his memory. Under his auspices were also started a quarterly Corps dinner, which has been a great success.

Service Record

6 Mar 1880 Appointed to the Army Medical Department as a Surgeon-Captain.

Aug 1886 Posted to Bombay.

6 Mar 1892 Promoted Surgeon Major.

1894 Proceeded in the steamship Coromandel on the Ashanti Expedition under Sir Francis Scott. He was one of the first to move to the front with the Bearer Company immediately on arrival of the Coromandel at Cape Coast Castle.

The Ashantis were the most powerful ethnic tribe in what is now Ghana in West Africa. They traded gold mined in their territory for guns. Between 1826 and 1896, Britain fought four wars to subjugate the Ashanti kings. In 1900, Britain finally subdued the Ashanti kingdom and renamed it the Gold Coast Colony.

25 Mar 1896 Promoted Surgeon-Lieutenant Colonel.

Special promotion for service in the Ashanti Expedition of 7 December 1895–17 January 1896. Was in command of the HQ of the Bearer Company. Returned to Madras at the end of the expedition.

1897 – 1898 Served in the Tirah Campaign and in the North West Frontier British India. He was selected for higher rate of pay under article 365 of the Pay Warrant of 3 Oct 1898.

3 Oct 1898 Promoted Brigade Surgeon.

11 Oct 1899 – 31 May 1902 Anglo–Boer War

7 Dec 1899 Married Mary Seton Jacob, daughter of Wensley Tyrrell Jacob.

1899 – 1901 Served in South Africa.

27 Aug 1903 Promoted Colonel L/RAMC vice William Launcelotte Gubbins who was promoted Surgeon General.

5 Nov 1903 Embarked for Malta as Principal Medical Officer.

Arrived from Edinburgh. Resident at 45 Strada It Torre Sliema.

28 Aug 1904 To England on leave.

23 Oct 1904 Returned to Malta.

2 June 1905 Fell ill with Mediterranean Fever in May 1905. He was invalided to England after three weeks illness. On his arrival at Tilbury he was so ill, that he could not be moved further than the Cottage Hospital, Tilbury. He died at Tilbury aged 51 years. His obituary stated that All who knew Colonel Wolseley will ever remember him as a man devoted to his duty. His kindly disposition endeared him to many, and he was always ready to help others by work, advice and sympathy whenever he could.