The Army Medical Department
And the Malta Garrison

The Malta Garrison – 1858

Malta Garrison

Returns of the Distribution of the British Army to the Adjutant General dated 1 April 1858, show the garrison in Malta to have had an effective strength of 4,825 men against an establishment of 4,844 rank and file. The infantry were grouped into two brigades.

The 1st Bde consisted of: the 1st/14th (10 coys) 772 men, 1st/21st (10 coys) 805 men, and the 57th (8 coys with 2 coys at Aden) 604 men. (The 57th was ordered to Bombay).

The 2nd Bde had: the 2nd/2nd (10 coys) 783 men, 2nd/3rd (6 coys) 498 men, 28th (10 coys) 809 men, and the Royal Malta Fencibles (6 coys) 554 men.

The returns of the State of the Regular Army dated 1 April 1858 show the Malta Garrison to have 3,888 rank and file in the infantry, 577 men in the Royal Artillery, 149 men in the Royal Engineers.

Up to and including 1859, the system of army returns included the last 9 months of the preceding year and only the first 3 months of the current year (March 1857 to March 1858). The average strength of the garrison for the half year 1 July to 31 December 1858 was 6,305. There were 766 fever cases treated in hospital with 8 deaths.

Sir John Gaspard Le Marchant

John Gaspard Le Marchant
Armorial of the Governor Sir John Gaspard Le Marchant at the Lunatic Asylum Attard.
John Gaspard Le Marchant
His Coat of Arms also appears on St George's Barracks which was commenced in 1860 during his administration.

On 10 April 1858, Lt Gen Sir John Gaspard Le Marchant succeeded Sir William Reid as Governor of Malta and Commander of the Malta garrison. Under Le Marchant, the office of Governor and Commander of the Garrison was once again reunited under one head.

Army Medical Department

The Royal Warrant of 1 Oct 1858, Regulations for the Organisation of the Medical Department recognised four grades of Army Medical Officers: Inspector General of Hospitals, Deputy Inspector General of Hospitals, Staff or Regimental Surgeon. The ranks of Staff Surgeon 1st Class and Staff Surgeon 2nd class were discontinued. Military surgeons became known as either Staff Surgeons or Regimental Surgeons. After 20 yrs full pay service they were styled Surgeon Major, ranking as junior Lieutenant Colonels, and Staff or Regimental Assistant Surgeon.

Medical officers were granted relative rank which was to carry with it all the privileges of that rank. Thus, an Inspector General of Hospitals ranked as a Brigadier General; a Deputy Inspector General of Hospitals ranked as a Lieutenant Colonel or Colonel after five years' service; a Staff Surgeon or Regimental Surgeon ranked as a Major; and a Staff Assistant Surgeon or Regimental Assistant Surgeon ranked as a Lieutenant on appointment, and as a captain after six years' service.

The Royal Warrant stipulated that:

  • 1. No candidate shall receive a commission as Assistant Surgeon, until he passes an examination in Military Medicine, Surgery, and Hygiene, after attending the authorised course in a General Military Hospital.
  • 2. No Assistant Surgeon shall be eligible for promotion to the rank of Surgeon until he passes such examination as the Secretary of State for War may require, and shall have served on full-pay with the commission of assistant surgeon for 5 years, of which 2 years shall be with a regiment.
  • 3. A surgeon must have served 10 years on full-pay, of which 2 years must have been passed with the rank of surgeon in or with a regiment, to be eligible for the next rank of DIGH.
  • 4. A Deputy Inspector General of Hospitals must have served 5 years at home or 3 years abroad in that rank, before becoming eligible for the rank of IGH.
  • 5. Assistant Surgeons shall be promoted to the rank of surgeon in order of seniority. In case of distinguished service, however, an Assistant Surgeon may be promoted without reference to seniority.
  • 6. Six of the most distinguished medical officers shall be named Honorary Physicians to the Queen and six Honorary Surgeons to the Queen.

The Warrant of 1858 gave officers increased rank and pay and broadened their responsibilities. It organised a regular corps of orderlies and a staff of nurses; it increased and improved the supply of appliances and established a medical school at Chatham.

A separate school was required as the civil medical school did not provide the necessary training for a military surgeon. The school was opened in Oct 1860; the first competitive examination having been held the previous August.

The school moved from Chatham to Netley and then to Aldershot. A training depôt was established at Aldershot where a course of instruction in ambulance work and first aid to the wounded as well as infantry drill, military administration and law were taught.

Professor Charles Galland

Prof Charles Galland occupied the Chair of Anatomy and Surgery at the University of Malta from 1 January 1839 to 9 March 1858. He was the son of a British military officer and had graduated MD from the University of Malta in 1838. He carried out a lucrative medical practice looking after English invalids who wintered in Malta, which he combined with the delivery of lectures in anatomy and surgery at the university.

Galland was in the habit of escaping the summer to his alpine estate within the Sardinian territory, and returned to Malta in time to deliver his university lectures and greet his English patients. Initially, this arrangement worked well. However, when he disposed of his medical practice, moved his family to his alpine estate, and was no longer able to return to Malta, the Governor Sir William Reid, refused to accept a deputy and compelled him to resign the Chair of Anatomy.

Baptisms Burials 1858

  • 22 Apr Baptism of Henry Albert Dalby born 16 February 1858, son of Joanna and William Dalby War Department Valletta.
  • 23 May Baptism of Albert Rowland Monro son of Susan and Hugh Monro Civil Engineer War Department.
  • 3 Aug Baptism of Christopher Israel Clarke born 10 July 1858, son of Mary Anne and Garrison School Master Christopher Clarke.
  • 11 Aug Baptism of Mary Jarratt Somerville born 11 July 1858, daughter of Mary Anne and Assistant Chaplain to the Forces Dudley Somerville.
  • 25 Nov Burial at Ta' Braxia Cemetery, Pietà of Mary Horn aged 26 years 11 months, wife of Brigade Commander Major General Frederick Horn CB.