The Army Medical Department
And the Malta Garrison

The Malta Garrison – 1890

Malta Garrison

The average strength of the Command was 7,055 men, exclusive of colonial troops. There were 4,151 admissions into hospital (588.3 admissions/1000 mean strength), with 69 deaths (9.77 deaths/1000) including 9 among the invalids. The Garrison Staff had 45 men with 14 hospital admissions, 1 death with 3 invalids returning home.

160 men returned to England as invalids; 95 of whom were discharged from the service. The average number constantly non-effective through sickness (mean daily sick), excluding the RMA, was 270.13 men (38.28/1000 mean strength). The average sick time to each soldier was 13.97 days; the average duration of each case was 23.75 days.

The considerable increase in the strength of the garrison stretched the available accommodation. Early in winter, the Sanatorium Citta Vecchia was reserved as temporary accommodation for troops. In summer, a third of the men slept under canvas, relieving overcrowding. In addition, all the wooden huts which had been erected in 1889 were used to shelter the troops.

There were 194 officers, with 160 attacks of illness, 2 deaths and 9 invalided home.

Officer admissions were for: continued fevers (51/1 death), of which 2 were enteric, influenza (20/1 death), digestive disorders (27), injuries (22).

Surgeon General Duncan Alexander Campbell Fraser requested two rooms to be set aside at the Cottonera Station Hospital as there was insufficient accommodation for sick officers in the garrison. He also recommended the closure of the Station Hospital Valletta, and building a new one at Floriana.

Health of the Garrison

Fever accounted for 665 admissions into hospital with 29 deaths. Admissions were for:

  • 71 for nervous system diseases (1 death)
  • 60 for circulatory diseases (3 deaths)
  • 165 for respiratory conditions (1 death)
  • 595 for digestive diseases (7 deaths)
  • 24 for urinary problems
  • 299 for generative disorders
  • 220 for cutaneous diseases
  • 224 for rheumatism (1 death)
  • 51 for primary syphilis
  • 72 for secondary syphilis (1 death)
  • 419 for gonorrhoea
  • 25 for phthisis (11 deaths)
  • 539 for accidents (14 deaths)
  • 16 for alcoholism (2 delirium tremens)
  • 7 for parasitic diseases (all taenia solium)
  • 50 for debility

There were 2 admissions for eruptive fevers (scarlet fever and cowpox), 60 for enteric fever (20 deaths), of which 31 admissions took place at Valletta, 20 at Cottonera (9 deaths), 5 at Citta Vecchia and 4 at Forrest. 16 cases at Fort Pembroke were due to drinking polluted water from a tank with a damaged filter bed. 13 were admitted from Fort Manoel (2 deaths) and a fatal case from Fort Tigne. One case occurred in a man in hospital at Citta Vecchia who had been an inpatient for some months; four were admitted from Fort Bingemma.

There were 33 admissions for dysentery, 22 at Cottonera, 9 at Valletta and 2 at Forrest. There were 4 cases of malarial fevers, 180 admissions for influenza in Jan 1890, two for mumps and one fatal case of diphtheria from Verdala Barracks.

There were 603 admissions for simple continued fever (9 deaths). The medical officer in charge of Cottonera Station Hospital stated that the fever varied in intensity, many being mild and of short duration and due to direct exposure to the sun, while others were severe, accompanied by great exhaustion, delirium and an almost typhoid state. Relapses were frequent and at times more severe than the original attack. The usual sequelae, rheumatism or sciatica, occurred in most of the severe cases and convalescence was prolonged. There were 36 admissions for neuralgia, another well known complication of brucellosis.

Deaths from injuries were due to: heat apoplexy (2), multiple injuries from falls (2), drowning (5), accidental gunshot wound to skull by a comrade in the barrack room (1), fall from the parapet while drunk (1), self inflicted wound to the neck (1), and brain concussion form an accidental fall.

Dr Giuseppe Caruana Scicluna

On 21 Apr 1890, Dr Giuseppe Caruana Scicluna aged 35 years, a Government analytical chemist, was appointed Sanitary Inspector on a salary of £250. He replaced Dr Agius who had died on 16 April.

Scicluna had received his warrant as Physician and Surgeon on 23 Aug 1880. He had studied in London and Paris where he had trained as a practical and analytical chemist.

Soldiers' Families

There were 334 wives, with 257 attacks of illness and 8 deaths. Admissions were for: simple continued fevers (64/4 deaths), debility (50), digestive disorders (36), respiratory (25/1 death from tubercular), disorders of the generative system (19). Deaths were from empyema (1), peritonitis (1) and child birth (1).

There were 569 children with 328 admissions and 37 deaths. Admissions were for: diarrhoea (93/11 deaths), bronchitis (56/5 deaths), fevers (39/1 deaths) and debility (27/6 deaths). Deaths were from convulsions (3), teething (3), gastritis (2), enteritis (2), dysentery (1), meningitis (1), epilepsy (1) and burns (1).

Asylum for the Aged

The Ospizio at Floriana was overcrowded. It had 371 males, 311 females, exclusive of 21 female prisoners, 13 voluntary inmates of the Magdalen Asylum, and 6 foundlings.

In 1884, it was proposed to move the penitent women to the convent of the Buon Pastore at Balzan, the foundlings to the orphan asylum, the female prisoners to Corradino, and to build a new Ospizio for 1000 old inmates. This would also incorporate the Hospital for Incurables.

In 1884, the Hospital for Incurables had 252 patients, 103 males and 149 females. An Asylum for the Aged and Incurables was built at Luqa between 1890 and 1908, when the chapel was completed.

Baptisms in 1890:

  • 2 Apr Randolf Carr born 26 Sep 1886, son of Amelia and Army School Master Matthew Carr of Rinella.
  • 11 May Muriel South born 14 Apr 1890, daughter of Emma and QM Sgt William Henry South Garrison Staff, of Piazza Calcedonius Floriana.
  • 16 June Violet Florence Lilian Tuffer born 17 Apr 1890, daughter of Elizabeth Isabella and Army School Master Robert Davis Tuffer of Fort Manoel.

Burials in Pietà Military Cemetery in 1890:

  • 25 Feb Cpl J Wright 2nd/Munster Regt aged 26 years.
  • 28 Feb Pte J Little 2nd/South Wales Borderers Regt aged 26 years.
  • 10 Oct Infant F John Gilchrist, aged 6 months, son of Sgt Gilchrist Madras Staff Corps.