12 Dec 1847 The 1st/69th Regiment consisting of 572 men, 51 women, and 67 children arrived from Portsmouth on the transport Bellisle. Also present were 21 officers, 12 wives and 7 children. The regiment was quartered at Lower St Elmo Barracks, which it shared with The 54th Regiment. It remained in Valletta from 15 Dec 1847 to 31 Mar 1848.
Lower St Elmo Barracks is situated at the foot of Valletta to the west of Fort St Elmo. The barracks is constructed behind the parapet wall and that part of the arch which is scarped out to form the sea front of the works looking towards the Quarantine Harbour. It consisted of three storeys lying east to west. The back of the rooms were formed by the solid rock; the front opened on to a barrack yard, which originally was the quarry from where the building material was obtained.
The rooms at the lower tier were badly ventilated and were used as stores and offices. The two upper storeys were occupied by the men. They were well lit and ventilated. Each tier had a common passage running along the whole front. A large window was present opposite each room in which the men slept, while the uppermost tier also had a small window at the back as these rooms rose above the level of the platform of the works. Each room housed 30 men. The men slept on boards and trestles, there were no iron bedsteads.
15 Dec 1847 The regimental hospital opened on 15 Dec 1847. It formed part of the General Hospital at Lower Merchant Street Valletta and consisted of four wards. The largest was capable of holding 28 patients. Two smaller wards, each capable of holding six beds, were reached from the large ward. Between these two small wards, and opening into the large one, was a small room where mobile patients ate their meals. The large ward was heated in winter by a stove, which also warmed the two smaller ones, as they both opened directly into the large ward. The fourth ward was situated to the side of the great staircase leading from the quadrangle to the large ward. This was capable of holding nine beds. The surgery was located on the landing between this ward and the large one. A covered staircase led from the large ward to the privy so that the patients were not exposed to the weather. Patients took their exercise on the flat roof and corridors.
The average strength of the battalion was 608 men. The average daily sick in hospital was 31. There was a small detachment consisting of an officer, one sergeant and 25 men at Fort Tigne, which was relieved every month.
Twenty eight children were treated between 15 Dec 1847 and 31 Mar 1848. There were 15 cases of rubeola, which first appeared during their passage to Malta. All the children recovered. One child with Tabes Mesenterica died shortly after the regiment disembarked at Malta.
Eleven men of the 54th Regiment remained under treatment in the hospital of the 1st/69th Foot when their regiment embarked for the West Indies on 27 Dec 1847.
Twenty seven cases of Common Continued Fever were treated in the regimental hospital. The medical officers blamed the effects of intemperance for the fever which was usually of a mild character.
29 Aug Batchelor Pte Hugh Donelly born in the parish of Dover in the County of Kent married Catherine Harrington born in Cork, Ireland, daughter of Pte Cornelius Harrington 1st/69th Regiment.
The following died in 1848:
6 JanMargaret Burnett wife of James Burnett 1st/69th Regiment, aged 27 years. (Military and Civil Cemetery Floriana).
1 Mar Pte John Marsh 1st/69th aged 19 years died of Phthisis Pulmonalis. He had only been in the regiment for 18 months.
13 Mar Sgt William Calvert No 1 Coy 69th Regiment aged 36 years. (Military and Civil Cemetery Floriana).
19 Oct Sgt William Carroll 69th Regiment. (Military and Civil Cemetery Floriana).
19 Nov Sgt Edward Brooke 1st/69th (?) aged 26 years. (Military and Civil Cemetery Floriana).
22 Sep Bandsman George Barnett died of cholera, aged 29 years 2 months. The civilian doctors could not agree on the postmortem results, and the military surgeons were likewise equally divided as to the actual cause of death. (Military and Civil Cemetery Floriana).
10 Oct 1848 On 10 Oct, three soldiers died of cholera within a few hours of falling ill. Another soldier in the Royal Artillery died on 11 October. The regiment was moved from Lower St Elmo Barracks to Floriana, and the barracks was cleaned and white washed in readiness for occupation by the Reserve Battalion 69th Foot.
Oct 1849 The 1st/69th Foot moved from Floriana Barracks to Isola. They were relieved by the 44th Regiment.
Apr Capt Moore 69th Foot with a detachment of 130 men and 3 subalterns moved to Fort Manoel.
The following were married in 1849:
6 Jan Widower CSgt Thomas Creech born in the parish of Ballymodan in the County of Cork, Ireland to Adelaide Taylor spinster and minor, daughter of Richard Taylor deceased and his wife Susannah, now the wife of Garrison Staff Sgt Thomas Rodgers.
24 Apr CSgt John Markrall to Anne Roofe, widow.
13 July Batchelor CSgt William Bustard of Kent to Elizabeth Greener, spinster of Surrey.
1 Jan 1850 The regiment had a total of 570 men (6 coys) consisting of: 1 Captain, 1 Lieutenant, and 1 Ensign per company, 30 Sgts, 11 Drummers, and 24 Cpls and 505 soldiers. The state of health of the 1st Bn was reported to be good with the prevailing disease being venereal. The Battalion had an average daily sick of 27 men.
26 Feb Batchelor Sgt James Earl married Elizabeth Taylor, spinster, of the Parish of Rusholme in the County of Lancaster.
May The Reserve Bn amalgamated with the 1st/69th Regiment.
1 Aug The regiment had 1,053 men, 42 male children, 45 female children, 20 wives of Sgts, 57 wives of drummers and rank and file, 21 drummers, 47 Sgt, 985 rank and file. The commanding officer was Col W L Paxton. Paxton was appointed on 22 Feb 1850 on purchase of his commission following the retirement of Col Dillon, the former commanding officer 69th Foot.
The average daily sick was 57 with the prevailing disease being Febris continuans. 13 soldiers died in August as opposed to only 1 death in July.
8 Aug Death of Cpl William Howe 69th Regiment, aged 21 years, (Military and Civil Cemetery Floriana).
1 Sep Strength: 1,035 men. The state of health was reported to be good with bowel complaints as the prevailing illness. The average daily sick for Sept was 72. The battalion was at HQ at Lower St Elmo, 8 coys at HQ, 1 coy at Fort Ricasoli and 1 Coy at Fort Salvatore. In Sept there was a predominance of bowel complaints with an average average daily sick of 77 men.
11 Dec 1847 The Head Quarters of the Reserve Bn 69th Regiment with 301 men, 17 women, and 25 children arrived from Portsmouth on the transport Blenheim. The battalion was commanded by Lt Col Dillon. Small pox broke out during their passage from England. Every possible means was adopted to stop the contagion by cleanliness, ventilation, and fumigation, and the bedding and clothing of those who died was thrown overboard. A soldier of the 69th died from smallpox on board the Blenheim.
12 Dec The regiment disembarked at Fort Manoel to undergo quarantine, where four fresh cases occurred. The men became infected despite showing all the distinct marks of vaccination. Three patients recovered, but the fourth had confluent small pox which terminated fatally. Those infected where removed to the Lazaretto as there was no hospital in Fort Manoel.
The regimental Head Quarters remained at Fort Manoel until 21 Jan 1848, when it moved to the Cottonera District. It was united with the 2nd Division of the regiment, which arrived from Portsmouth on the Maria Soames. On 6 Jan 1848, 255 men, 23 women, and 33 children of the 2nd Division of the Reserve Battalion disembarked and marched to Fort Ricasoli, which it occupied for a few days.
The Reserve Battalion occupied the Cottonera District from 14 Dec 1847 to 31 Mar 1848. The companies were located in the following barracks:
Isola Gate - 3 coys. The fort at Isola Gate Barracks had 13 rooms of various sizes and accommodation for 330 men and 12 officers.
Francesco de Paola - 2 coys. St Francesco de Paola had 15 rooms and accommodation for 221 men and 3 officers. Four of the rooms were large, the rest very small, there not being room for more than four or five in each. The fort also had the orderly room, guard room, two cells and a canteen.
Fort Salvatore - 1 coy. Fort San Salvatore had accommodation for 135 men and 2 officers. All the barrack rooms were well ventilated by windows and numerous ventilators on the roof. There was no bathroom for bathing, but each man had a small bathing tub.
The regimental hospital of the Reserve/69th Regt was located in the former Armeria of the Order of St John in Vittoriosa. It was an extensive building with ample accommodation for 92 patients. The hospital consisted of an upper and lower flights of rooms. In the upper portion were 3 long wards parallel to each other, and running nearly north - south in their longitudinal axis. The central ward accommodated 18 beds while those on either side of it had 20 beds each. One of these wards had a fireplace in which a fire was kept constantly burning in the afternoon during the cold weather.
The lower floor of the hospital had a large central ward of 22 beds, with five small wards on either side. The kitchen, store rooms, bakery room with an abundance of good water, and water closets were in the lower div of the hospital. The surgery and reception room were in the upper part of the hospital. The hospital had rooms for two medical officers. All the wards were well ventilated by large windows.2
30 July Pte James Jervis Grenadier Coy 2nd/69th Regiment died, aged 35 years. (Military and Civil Cemetery Floriana).
10 Oct 1848 The Reserve Battalion moved to Fort Lower St Elmo. No sooner had it arrived there, that the men were attacked with cholera. This was attributed to the presence of stagnant water under the fort. Three died, and the Res/69th was removed to Floriana.
Jan 1850 Six coys including one coy were at Fort Manoel. The battalion had a total of 573 men consisting of 2 Field Officers, 6 Capts, 8 Sub Lieutenants, 4 SSgts, 28 Sgts, 12 Drummers, and 27 Cpls and 506 soldiers.
The general health of the Reserve Battalion was reported to be good with the prevailing disease being catarrh. It had an average daily sick of 23 men.
May 1850 The Reserve Bn amalgamated with the 1st/69th Regiment.
TNA:WO 156/122; List of gravestones at the Military and Civil Cemetery Msida 1801–1865 and the Quarantine Bastion Cemetery 1819–1867 compiled by the Rev D B L Foster Assistant Chaplain General Western Mediterranean in May 1939.
TNA:WO 156/595. No 3, Marriage Register 11 July 1839 to 14 May 1859.
TNA:WO 379/11. Stations of Regiments 1859–1900.
TNA:WO 334/16. Army Medical Department Sick Returns and Reports, Infantry Regiments and Hospitals abroad (1 April 1847 to 31 March 1848).
2TNA:WO 334/16, Report of Surgeon J Bathurst Thomson 69th Regiment dated 1 April 1848.
Pisani S. L., 1888.Report on the cholera epidemic in the year 1887. Malta, Gov printing Office.
Malta Mail and United Service Journal no 286, 24 December 1847.
Malta Mail and United Service Journal No 328 dated Friday 13 October 1848.
Cannon J., 1990, The Quarantine Bastion Cemetery Malta. Bucks Cannon Associates.