The Army Medical Department
And the Malta Garrison

The Malta Garrison – 1894

Malta Garrison

The average strength of the Command was 7911 men, exclusive of colonial troops. There were 5059 admissions into hospital (639.5 admissions/1000 mean strength), with 46 deaths (5.81 deaths/1000). The Garrison Staff had 81 men with 18 hospital admissions and 1 death.

90 men returned to England as invalids, 47 of whom were discharged from the service. The average number constantly non-effective through sickness (mean daily sick), excluding the RMA, was 358.85 men (45.36/1000 mean strength). The average sick time to each soldier was 16.56 days; the average duration of each case was 25.89 days.

There were 215 officers, with 152 attacks of illness. There were no deaths among the officers, but 16 officers were invalided home. Admissions were for: simple continued fevers (72), influenza (8), chicken pox (1), enteric (1), ague (1), bronchitis (10), digestive disorders (11), injuries (18).

Health of the Garrison

Fever accounted for 877 admissions into hospital with 16 deaths. Admissions were for:

  • 31 for nervous system diseases (13 neuralgia)
  • 29 for circulatory diseases
  • 162 for respiratory conditions (5 deaths)
  • 590 for digestive diseases (3 deaths)
  • 6 for urinary problems
  • 241 for generative disorders
  • 368 for cutaneous diseases
  • 122 for rheumatism (1 death)
  • 140 for primary syphilis
  • 103 for secondary syphilis
  • 614 for gonorrhoea
  • 22 for phthisis (8 deaths)
  • 651 for accidents (9 deaths)
  • 36 for alcoholism (4 delirium tremens)
  • 8 for parasitic diseases (taenia solium)
  • 70 for debility

There was 1 admission for eruptive fevers (chicken pox), 42 for enteric fever (12 deaths), 24 for dysentery (1 death) and 273 for malarial fevers with 1 death. The majority of malarial fevers were at Valletta and Pembroke Camp in corps which had received drafts from India.

There were 834 admissions for simple continued fever with 4 deaths. There was 1 admission for influenza and 1 for mumps.

There were 6 admissions for gun shot wound. A man was injured in the neck with a bullet from a Lee Metford Rifle while painting a target at Pembroke Camp, but recovered; another committed suicide by shooting himself with a revolver. A second suicide by hanging occurred in a prisoner at the Corradino Military Prison. Other deaths followed heat apoplexy (1), drowning (2), accidental falls (3), (at night over the fortifications at Vittoriosa (1), fall out of bed onto the stone floor (1), fall from a cab (1)). A soldier was found dead in St Clement's Ditch, Verdala from a ruptured aortic aneurysm.

The following were buried in Pietà Military Cemetery in 1894:

  • Good Friday 23 Mar H Blackburn 2nd Dragoon Guards, aged 28 years.
  • 5 May Pte H Morris 19th Hussars, aged 23 years died on his passage home.
  • 16 Nov Child Edith Emma Rudd, aged 1 year 1 month, daughter of CSgt Rudd.
  • 25 Nov Infant Ellen Francis Gertrude Mathews aged 6 weeks.

Soldiers' Families

There were 352 wives, with 237 attacks of illness and 5 deaths. Admissions were for: simple continued fevers (44/1 death), enteric (3/2 deaths), debility (59), digestive disorders (37), generative system disorders (21), rheumatism (10). Deaths were from puerperal sepsis (1) and postpartum haemorrhage (1).

There were 649 children with 402 illnesses and 30 deaths. Admissions were for: chicken pox (10), simple continued fever (64/3 deaths), debility (24/2 deaths), conjunctivitis (26), bronchitis (78/2 deaths), diarrhoea (57/6 deaths), enteritis (10/8 deaths). Deaths were from teething (2), infantile convulsions (2), diphtheria (1), fractured skull (1) and pneumonia (1).

The PMO, Surgeon Major General James Inkson again highlighted the need for a proper hospital accommodation for women and children, especially for cases of parturition, cases of puerperal fever being not uncommon among women who were confined in their quarters and attended by ignorant midwives.

The following were baptised in 1894:

  • 11 Apr 1894 Baptism of Bertram Eustace Houlton Firman born 26 Jan 1894, son of Sarah Havelin and Garrison Librarian Frederick French Firman of Sliema.
  • 7 Apr Baptism of Twin Augustus Morris Holbrook born 3 Apr 1894, son of Elizabeth Lilian and SSgt Frederick Holbrook Gymnastic Staff Cottonera.
  • 7 Apr Baptism of Twin Geoffrey Joseph Holbrook born 3 Apr 1894, son of Elizabeth Lilian and SSgt Frederick Holbrook Gymnastic Staff Cottonera.
  • 13 May Baptism of Frederick Sherwood Clover born 6 Apr 1894, son of Abigail and Army School Master Frederick William Clover of Cottonera.
  • 15 Nov Baptism of Ruby Elizabeth Ingram born 19 Oct 1894, daughter of Ellen Harriet and Army School Master Walter Ingram of Fort St Elmo.

Pembroke Camp

Pembroke Camp provided 20 admissions for enteric fever. The outbreak had commenced in Nov 1893 and continued until the end of Feb 1894. Another outbreak broke out in Dec 1894, which was attributed to an old drain in the north west of the parade ground in the vicinity of the barracks.

An inquiry into the sanitary conditions at Pembroke Camp, was carried out by a joint civil and military committee early in 1894. The inquiry revealed grave defects in the sanitary arrangements of Pembroke Camp. The chief points requiring attention were the water supply, which was shown to be polluted, and the drainage, which required complete renovation. Suspicion was also cast on the supply of mineral water and milk to the soldiers by hawkers.

Consequently, tank water was cut off, and none but aqueduct water was used. The question of renovating the drainage of the camp proved more difficult, as a complete scheme for remodelling the drainage of the whole island had been under consideration. A thorough reconstruction of the sewers of the camp could only be undertaken in conjunction with the renovation of the island's drainage.

Much had, however, been done to improve the sanitation. The remodelling of the drainage of the upper half of the camp had been sanctioned in May 1893, and considerable progress had been made with the work. In 1895, a sum of £300 was spent on improving the existing drains.

Sickness in the Mediterranean Station

The British Medical Journal reported that it is unfortunately the fact that there is always a good deal of fever on this station, due probably to the extremely insanitary conditions of the ports in the Mediterranean basin. Owing to the comparative absence of tide, most of the harbours are in a very foul condition from accumulations of old sewage matters, and at every port of call the opportunities for catching fever are considerable.

For the last couple of years the Admiralty have been actively engaged in dredging out the French creek, close to which the dockyard at Malta is situated, and carrying out to sea the old sewage deposit which has been gathering there for ages. Fever at that spot has since then much diminished, but over other ports we have no control, and their inhabitants seem content with a condition of affairs which is undoubtedly a danger to vessels calling at them.

Corradino Prison

On 10 Mar 1894, the Governor called for the employment of a Sister of Charity as assistant matron for the female prisoners at the new penitentiary at Corradino. In July 1895, the female prisoners were removed from the Ospizio at Floriana to a new wing at Corradino Prison.

Chief Government Medical Officer

In July 1894, the Chief Government Medical Officer was transferred from the Office of the Secretary to the Government to a new Department of Public Health where it was proposed to concentrate several sanitary authorities dealing with public health.

Professor Hamilton Stilon

On 26 Sept 1894, the Governor compelled Dr Hamilton Stilon, Professor of Anatomy at the University of Malta, to resign the Chair of Descriptive, Normal and Pathological Anatomy at the University. On 27 June 1894, Chev. Augusto Bazzoni, Consul General for Italy in Malta, was shot and seriously wounded by Prof Stilon.

Stilon had returned home at 23 Strada Zaccharia, where he surprised his wife with Bazzoni. In a fit of jealous rage, he fired two shots from a revolver at Bazzoni, who died of his wounds on 10 July. Stilon was acquitted of the murder of the Consul General, on the grounds of justifiable homicide, but his position in the University became untenable.

Surgeon Edward Dobinson RN

Surgeon Edward Miall Dobinson of HMS Imogene, born on 27 Jan 1864 died at Malta on 17 Nov 1894, aged 30 years. His commission dated from 11 Nov 1891.