RAMC

Medical Officers
Of the Malta Garrison – 1822

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Malta Garrison – 1822

Malta Garrison

The total strength of the garrison in 1822, including invalids, was 2,480 troops. A detachment of 70 men, consisting of 52 men from the 18th Foot, 15 men from the Maltese Fencible Regiment and 3 soldiers from the Royal Artillery were at Fort Chambray, Gozo. They served as guards at Rabat (12 men), Comino (3 men), Mgarr-ix-Xieni (2 men) and Marsascala (2 men).

Fort Ricasoli was used as a depôt for troops sailing to and from Corfu. In April 1822, a ward was set aside in Fort Ricasoli for the treatment of ophthalmia patients. In August, a convalescent depôt was opened in Forts Chambray Gozo and Ricasoli for the invalids of the Ionian Islands

There were 2,817 admissions into the hospitals, including relapses, with 39 deaths. The main diseases were: continued fever 585 (12 deaths), febris synochus 23 (2 deaths), pulmonary abscess 193, pneumonia 139 (3 deaths), splenitis 4 (1 death), phthisis pulmonalis 10 (5 deaths), catarrhus acutus 49 (3 deaths), dysenteria 103 (3 deaths), apoplexy 1 (1 death), diarrhoea 150 (3 deaths), venereal 239, gonorrhoea 127.

Graham Alexander Balneavis, infant son of Lt Col Henry Balneavis and his wife Georgiana, born on 10 April 1822, died on 23 May 1822, aged 7 weeks. (Military and Civil Cemetery Floriana).

Sgt Pantany, 90th Regiment, aged 43 years, a hard drinker, arrived from Zante on his way to England, having been discharged from his regiment as unfit for service, died in Malta on the 15th day of continued fever.

Recruit John Bywater, 51st Regiment, aged 23 years, arrived from the Ionian Islands for change of climate. He died in Gozo from phthisis on the second day of his admission into the hospital of the 85th Foot. He was emaciated, short of breath, and had such a considerable deformity of his chest that the medical staff were surprised as to how he could have possibly been enlisted.

William Bridger 51st regiment, aged 28 years, died of dysentery 40 days after his admission to the hospital of the 18th Foot. He was a convalescent sent to Malta from the Ionian Islands.

Venereal disease

In 1822, the garrison recorded: syphilis primitiva 28, syphilis consecutiva 9, non syphilitic genital ulcers 134, bubo simplex 68, and gonorrhoea 27.

Hennen adopted the non mercurial treatment of syphilis. He however accepted its limitations and mercury was resorted to when considered necessary. He stated that upon the whole, during 1822 under the non mercurial practice adopted to its fullest extent in this garrison, there has not occurred a single embarrassing case or a single symptom which would lead to the shadow of doubt as to the propriety of continuing it.

Dress Regulations – Hospital Staff

General Orders Horse Guards 25 April 1822: Inspectors were to wear:

  • Blue coat, double breasted, lapels of the same colour.
  • Scarlet collar and cuffs, slashed sleeves and skirts.
  • Three gold embroidered loops on the collar, three on each cuff, three plain on each sleeve.
  • Gilt buttons with the crown, star, the letters GR and the words Hospital Staff raised thereon.
  • Plain cocked hat, black button and black silk loop.
  • White breeches and long boots or white pantaloons with Hessian boots.
  • White breeches with silk stockings, shoes and gilt buckles for full dress.
  • Blue overalls for undress.
  • Sword belt to be worn under the coat, knot, a regulation sword as approved for officers of infantry.
  • Black silk cravat or stock.
  • White leather gloves.
  • Blue great coat.

Deputy Inspectors wore two embroidered loops on the collar, two on each cuff and two plain on each sleeve.

From 28 Nov 1822, Physicians wore a single breasted coat with two embroidered loops in their collar to distinguished them from staff surgeons. Assistant Staff Surgeons distinguished themselves from Hospital Assistants by having one embroidered loop in the collar.

The apothecaries wore a single breasted blue coat, scarlet collar and cuffs, slashed sleeves and skirts, one button on the collar, one on each cuff and one on each sleeve.

The Assistant Staff Surgeons and Hospital Assistants wore a single breasted blue coat with scarlet collar, slashed sleeves and skirts, one button on the collar and two on each sleeve.

Chair of Anatomy

In 1822, a Professorship of Anatomy and a Chair of Surgery was established at the University of Malta. The first to hold the Chair was the former Army Surgeon Gavino Patrizio Portelli, who remained in post for 16 years.

Staff

Bibliography

  • A list of all the Officers of the Army and Royal Marines. War Office 11 February 1822.
  • Quarterly report on the diseases in the garrison of Malta for 21 March to 20 June 1822. Wellcome RAMC 374.
  • Annual report on the diseases in the garrison of Malta December 1821 to 1822. Wellcome RAMC 374.
  • Hennen J. Quarterly summary report of diseases in the garrison of Malta from 21 September to 20 December 1823. Wellcome Institute RAMC 374.
  • Dress Regulation for Army Medical Officers dated Horse Guards 25 April 1822.
  • TNA:WO 17/2233, Returns of the General and Staff Officers of the hospitals attached to the forces in Malta (25 January–25 December 1822).