RAMC

Regiments of the Malta Garrison
The 24th (2nd Warwickshire) Regiment

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The 24th (2nd Warwickshire) Regiment

Introduction

The 24th Foot was raised in 1689 as Colonel Sir Edward Dering's Regiment of Foot for service in Ireland under William III.

In 1751 it was placed 24th in the line infantry order of precedence. Between 1782 to 1881, the regimental name was The 24th (2nd Warwickshire) Regiment of Foot.

On 22 January 1879, during the Zulu War, most of the companies of the 1st Battalion were at Isandhlwana where they were overwhelmed by the Zulus. Following on from their success at Isandhlwana, the Zulus attacked Rorkes Drift where there was only one company of the 2nd/24th Foot. The Zulus were unable to take the post despite their numbers and retreated. In 1880, in recognition of these actions, Queen Victoria placed a wreath of immortelles round the staff of the Queen's Colour.

Under the Cardwell Reforms of 1881, the regimental title changed to The South Wales Borderers.

In June 1969, The South Wales Borderers linked with The Welch Regiment (41st/69th Foot), to form The Royal Regiment of Wales (24th/41st Foot).

The 1st/24th (2nd Warwickshire) Regiment

1801 1st/24th (2nd Warwickshire)

Nov 1801 471 men of the 1st/24th arrived from Egypt. The troops suffered from ophthalmia.

1802 1st/24th (2nd Warwickshire)

3 Feb 1802 The battalion was at Fort Manoel. The 1st/24th left Malta for England.

The 1st/24th (2nd Warwickshire) Regiment

1866 1st/24th (2nd Warwickshire)

13 Oct 1866 The 1st/24th embarked in Belfast on 30 September 1866. It disembarked in Malta on 13 October. It relieved the 100th Foot which sailed for Canada.

In 1866, the regiment had an average strength of 139 men. There were 138 hospital admissions (992.8 admissions per 1000 of mean strength) with 1 death in hospital (7.19 deaths per 1000 of mean strength).

1867 1st/24th (2nd Warwickshire)

In 1867, the regiment had an average strength of 658 men. There were 553 hospital admissions (840.4 admissions per 1000 of mean strength) with 7 deaths in hospital and 2 out of hospital (13.68 deaths per 1000 of mean strength).

Continued fevers prevailed to a great extent from June to September and proved fatal. The 1st/24th Regiment had 137 cases of continued fever with 1 death.

The regiment was quartered at Fort Verdala Barracks.

1868 1st/24th (2nd Warwickshire)

The average annual strength in 1868 was 691 men. There were 476 admissions into hospital (689 admissions/1000 mean strength); 19 died in hospital and 1 from the invalids (28.94 deaths/1000 mean strength).

The 24th occupied Floriana Barracks. From June to September, the regiment had 105 admissions for continued fevers, with 5 deaths.

1869 1st/24th (2nd Warwickshire)

Barracks Occupied by 1st/24th Regiment in 1869
Barracks Average Strength Fever Admissions Percentage Sick Soldiers Remarks
Floriana Barracks 468 66 14.1 From 1 Jan to 23 Sept 1869.
Notre Dame Huts 42 10 23.8 In use from 17 April to 23 Sept
Fort Ricasoli 216 2 0.92 Fort Ricasoli and the huts were occupied from 24 Sept to 31 Dec by HQ Coy and 7 companies.
Fort Ricasoli Huts 64 0 0 Fort Ricasoli and the huts were occupied from 24 Sept to 31 Dec by HQ Coy and 7 companies.
Fort San Salvatore 38 0 0 One company from 24 Sept to 31 December.
Zabbar Gate 75 2 2.66 Two companies from 24 Sept to 31 December.
Table 1: Barracks occupied by the 1st/24th showing the average strength, number of hospital admissions from fever, and the percentage of sick soldiers when each barrack was occupied. Ventilation of rooms was inadequate. Wooden huts housed single and married soldiers but these were too hot in summer and too cold and damp in winter.

1869 To avoid overcrowding, a proportion of the men at Floriana Barracks were made to sleep under canvas. In 1869, there were only 87 cases of fever admitted into the regimental hospital as opposed to 175 admissions in 1867, and 137 admissions in 1868. Those ill with fever had milder symptoms in 1869 than in previous years. In 1867, the cases of fever were severe and protracted, with lingering convalescence and troublesome sequelae. In the summer and autumn of 1868, there were many fatal cases of typhoid fever, but in 1869 there were only 3 cases of typhoid fever among the men and 1 among the women, which proved fatal. One of the reported three cases of typhoid fever was the husband of the women who died of typhoid. He was admitted into hospital three days after the death of his wife, having been in constant attendance on her during her illness. The couple lived in one of the huts on the Horn Works Floriana. All the families at the Horn Works used the same drinking water which was carried to them daily and stored in barrels.

During the year a great number of soldiers, women and children became infected with tape worm and round worm. None were admitted to the regimental hospital in Upper Vittoriosa. Those harbouring tape worm were given liquid extract of Male Fern, while those infested with round worm were treated with castor oil or turpentine. The worms were expelled within ten to twelve hours of ingesting the oil.

At Fort Ricasoli troops were quartered in eight large rooms situated under the land defences on the eastern and southern sides, and in small rooms on the south west side. The large rooms were allotted the following number of men

The rooms at Fort Ricasoli were situated on the ground floor. They ran parallel to the face of the fortifications with the exception of nos 7 and 8 rooms which ran longitudinally, and four rooms which were placed end to end, but which did not communicate with each other. Between each pair of the latter four rooms was a wide passage.

A staircase led from one of these passages up to Nos 7 and 8 rooms which were at a higher level than the others, having their floors almost at a level with the ceilings of the other rooms. These were better lit and ventilated, with their windows looking out on to the barrack square. The windows in the other large rooms were small. In No 5 room there were six windows each 6 feet by 3 feet placed at a height of 12 feet above the ground. To assist ventilation, inlet openings, about a foot square, were cut in the wall above each window, close to the ceiling. An opening was also created in the centre of the arch of the ceiling for the escape of vitiated air, the latter communicating with square louvered turrets on the roof. The casemates measured over 24 feet in height on average, 80 to 120 feet in length, and 22 feet in breadth. Although the great height of the casemates gave each men more than the regulated 600 cubic feet of air space, the floor space was overcrowded, the beds being so close together, that not more than 2 feet intervened between them.

In the lower part of the recesses of the counter-forts were 28 small rooms occupied by married private soldiers and a few single non-commissioned officers. Each room was 11 feet 5 inches in length, 9 feet 7 inches in breadth, and 8 feet 7 inches in height. They were cramped, badly lit and ventilated, with no cooking facilities. Families inhabiting these rooms were obliged to cook their meals out in the open on small stone stoves used by Maltese women.

In addition to the 8 large rooms, Fort Ricasoli had 18 small rooms for unmarried soldiers situated in the south west side of the fort. Ten of these rooms were meant to hold 7 men each, two to hold 6 men each, and the other six to hold 9 men each. In 1869, only five of these rooms accommodated single soldiers, the rest were used by the Staff and Colour Sergeants and their families, for whom there were no available quarters. The rooms were well lit by two windows in the front wall each being 7 feet 6 inches by 3 feet 11 inches and by a fan light over the door. The upper parts of each large window opened separately from the other parts and moved inwards on a pivot. In the front wall, high above each window, was an inlet opening to improve ventilation of the rooms. The small rooms had no fire places to warm them in winter.

On the south-west end of Fort Ricasoli, were three other quarters for married non commissioned officers which were linked to a small cook house. In front of these small rooms were five wooden huts for 26 men each.

The detachment at San Salvatore Barracks was sheltered in a large casemated room outside the fort, situated over the gateway leading to Rinella Creek. This room was once used as an artillery store. It was divided into four parts by stone partitions which had large openings for communications with each other. The room was meant to hold 56 men. It was lit by two doors and six windows. Its ventilation was from a glass louvre in the upper part of the large windows at either side of the door, and by openings in the back wall and ceiling which were connected with square stone louvre turrets on the roof. Married families of the detachment occupied five rooms built on a higher level than the men's rooms, two of which were double quarters and three single. The food for the detachment was cooked in a small kitchen inside the fort, which was shared with the detachment of the Royal Artillery.

Two companies 24th Foot were quartered at Zabbar Gate Barracks. The barrack rooms were situated on either side of the gateway leading into the country, and were divided by the main road running between them. They consisted of seven rooms; two rooms held 12 men each, two rooms had 22 men each, and three rooms took 11 men each. The rooms were dark gloomy and poorly ventilated. Close to the men's barracks, but separated from them was a block of quarters, two stories high, consisting of 20 rooms used by married soldiers. The rooms had a veranda running along their front facing north-west. The cook house for the barrack had five steel boilers and an oven. It was located underground, beneath the guard room and the quarters, on the west side of the gateway.

Morbidity 1st/24th – 1 January to 31 December 1869
Month Strength on 1st day of month Admitted to Hospital Deaths
January 640 21 0
February 636 18 0
March 636 21 1
April 631 29 0
May 629 27 0
June 632 43 0
July 619 45 1
August 616 77 1
September 614 52 0
October 613 25 0
November 609 24 2
December 606 21 0
Table 2: Regimental strength on the first day of each month, showing admissions to hospital and deaths recorded per month. (TNA:WO 334/62)

The regimental hospital on the Cottonera side of the Grand Harbour was in the former Armeria of the Order of St John. This building was known as The Upper Vittoriosa Hospital to distinguish it from two hired houses, Lower Vittoriosa Hospital, which were combined for use as a regimental hospital. The regiment had an average of 56 women and 79 children.

The average annual strength in 1869 was 623 men. There were 403 admissions into hospital; 4 died in hospital; 1 died out of hospital. The ratio per 1000 strength of those admitted was 646.9 and for deaths 8.02.

The following were buried in Malta in 1869:

1870 1st/24th (2nd Warwickshire)

Barracks Occupied by 1st/24th Regiment in 1870
Barracks Average Strength Fever Admissions Percentage Sick Soldiers Remarks
Fort Ricasoli 221 42 19.00 Head Quarters and 7 Companies from Sept 1869 to 31 Dec 1870
Fort Ricasoli Huts 83 1 1.20 Occupied all year
Fort San Salvatore 42 10 26.19 One Company all year
Zabbar Gate 66 9 13.63 2 companies all year
Table 3: Barracks occupied by the 1st/24th showing the average strength, number of hospital admissions from fever, and the percentage of sick soldiers when each barrack was occupied. Ventilation of rooms was inadequate. Wooden huts housed single and married soldiers but these were too hot in summer and too cold and damp in winter.

Jan 1870 A draft of 57 men and boys arrived from England. To avoid overcrowding the men at Fort Ricasoli Barracks, St Salvatore Barracks and Zabbar Gate Barracks were provided with tents to sleep under. At Fort San Salvatore a slate bath was fitted in the corner of an old artillery store room, close to the men's barracks, for the men of the company quartered there. Zabbar Gate Barracks had two slate baths, one for the men, and the other for the women and children. However, no water had been laid down to the ablution rooms, and water had to be carried in water carts from a distance. Gas lighting was introduced at Zabbar Gate Barracks during the year. The drainage of Zabbar Gate Barracks was collected in a cesspit which was emptied by contractors.

The average strength of the officers in 1870 was 34.5.

The average strength of the women in the regiment between 1 January to 31 December 1870 was 56. In January, 14 women were admitted to hospital from chronic bronchitis, one died.

There was an average of 94 children in the regiment. 82 children were admitted to hospital during the year. A total of nine died from: Scarlet fever (1), diphtheria (1), tabes mesenterica (1), convulsions (1), diarrhoea (1), teething (3), and simple continued fever (1). During September 1870, scarlatina erupted in a family occupying the small room adjoining the mens' barrack rooms of Fort Ricasoli, with fatal consequences. In October, diphtheria attacked a child in an adjoining room, and another child in a small barrack room, some distance away at the rear of the officer's quarters which was being used by married non-commissioned-officers. One child died. An attempt was made to stop the spread of diphtheria by segregating the ill, and by fumigating and lime washing the quarters. A child, who was convalescing from typhoid fever contracted two months earlier, died at Zabbar Gate Barracks from simple continued fever. Surgeon John Coates remarked that she developed a temperature after being exposed to the sun for which the parents were entirely to blame.

The average regimental strength, excluding the officers, was 625 non-commissioned-officers and rank and file. There were 349 admissions (558/1000 mean strength) into hospital with 2 deaths in hospital and 2 out of hospital (6.4/1000 mean strength). The fall in the number of admissions in 1870, was due to a lower incidence of febricula, wounds and sprains. Their surgeon attributed the reduction of fever in the regiment to the acclimatisation of the men after serving two summers on the island. This gave the troops a degree of immunity against recurrent attacks of sand-fly fever, the commonest cause of simple continued fever. In 1870, there were only 21 cases of febricula. About a third of these occurred in the draft of men which had recently arrived in January.

Three soldiers at Fort Ricasoli went down with typhoid fever, but recovered. Five cases of simple continued fever admitted during the year were remarkable for their lingering character, slowness of the convalescent stage, and the long duration of treatment, the average number of days under treatment in the five cases being 64 days. The men also developed rheumatism of the extremities, predominantly of the lower limbs, as a sequelae. In his annual report on the health of the troops, the regimental surgeon commented that there were pretty numerous admissions for rheumatism during the year, and the cases were remarkable for their obstinate resistance to treatment. Rheumatism was a common complication of brucellosis or undulant fever which was often included under the generic heading of continued fever.

Morbidity 1st/24th Regiment – 1 January to 31 December 1870
Month Strength on 1st day of month Admitted to Hospital Deaths
January 602 24 0
February 647 25 1
March 646 21 2
April 644 22 0
May 632 38 1
June 625 36 0
July 625 41 0
August 621 33 0
September 621 42 0
October 621 19 0
November 609 28 0
December 608 20 0
Table 4: Regimental strength on the first day of the month, showing number of admissions to hospital per month, and the number of deaths recorded. TNA:WO 334/77

The following were buried in Malta in 1870:

1871 1st/24th (2nd Warwickshire)

The regiment had an average strength of 633 men. There were 362 admissions into hospital (572/1000 mean strength), with 4 deaths in hospital and 1 among the invalids (7.90/1000 mean strength).

The 1st/24th Foot occupied Fort Verdala Barracks and Fort Ricasoli.

Smallpox had been prevalent in the Mediterranean during the autumn of 1870 and appeared in the civil population in October. The military had 66 admissions and 12 deaths.

On 3 January 1871, the first case of smallpox among the troops occurred in the 87th Regiment. The 1st/24th alone escaped without a case.

1872 1st/24th (2nd Warwickshire)

In 1872, the 1st/24th had an average strength of 99 men. It had 31 admissions (313/1000 mean strength) into hospital with 1 death in hospital (10.10/1000 mean strength).

29 Feb 1872 The men were quartered at Fort Ricasoli, San Salvatore Barracks, and Zabbar Gate Barracks. The 1st/24th embarked for Gibraltar in February. It disembarked in Gibraltar on 5 March 1872.

The 2nd/The South Wales Borderers

1935 2nd/South Wales Borderers

Sep 1935 Reinforcements of 28 Officers and 763 men of 2nd/South Wales Borderers Regiment arrived at Malta during the crisis in Abyssinia.

1936 2nd/South Wales Borderers

14 July 1936 The reinforcements which were at Malta during the Abyssinia Crisis left for Palestine in July 1936.

Bibliography