The Army Medical Department
And the Malta Garrison

The Malta Garrison – 1896

Malta Garrison

The average strength of the Command was 8316 men, exclusive of colonial troops. There were 6602 admissions into hospital (793.9 admissions/1000 mean strength), with 66 deaths (7.93 deaths/1000).

178 men returned to England as invalids, 68 of whom were discharged from the service. The average number constantly non-effective through sickness (mean daily sick), excluding the RMA, was 433.52 men (52.13/1000 mean strength). The average sick time to each soldier was 19.08 days; the average duration of each case was 24.03 days.


Zabbar Gate
Zabbar Gate Barracks
Zabbar Gate Barracks
Zabbar Gate Barracks (TNA:WO 78/2815)

Zabbar Gate Barracks was vacated in 1895 because of defective drainage. It was reoccupied in Mar 1896 after the drains were reconstructed.

Tigné Barracks
Tigné Point and Tigné Barracks

There were married quarters at St Nicolas Bastion, Fort Salvatore and Fort Ricasoli.

At Fort Tigné, 3 new blocks of married quarters containing two to five rooms each, for 21 families, were completed and occupied. Families were also placed in hired houses and lodgings.

Soldiers' Families

There were 425 wives, with 207 attacks of illness and 4 deaths. Admissions were for simple continued fevers (90), debility (42), digestive disorders (22), generative disorders (11), rheumatism (7). Deaths were due to simple continued fever (3) and haemorrhage from placenta praevia.

There were 735 children, with 378 sickness and 37 deaths. Admissions were for: simple continued fever (78/4 deaths), bronchitis (39/6 deaths), diarrhoea (43/2 deaths), mumps (25), conjunctivitis (18), debility (18 admissions/6 deaths), inflammation of intestines (18/12 deaths), eczema (15), sore throat (10).

Other deaths were from: congenital syphilis (1), infantile convulsions (1), tetanus (1), burns (1), nephritis (1), intussusception (1).

Arrangements were put in place to supply milk to troops and their families from goats milked in barracks under regimental supervision.

The following were baptised in 1896:

  • 12 Jan Sidney Arthur Burbidge Danes born 11 Dec 1895, son of Georgina and Assistant Warden Sidney Danes Military Prison Corradino.
  • 11 Apr Arthur Beresford Carew Firman born 23 Nov 1895, son of Sarah Havelin and Sub Librarian Garrison Library Frederick French Firman of Sliema.
  • 30 June Violet Mary Ellaline Parish born 2 April 1896, daughter of Caroline Mary and Army School Master Charles George Parish of Valletta.
  • 8 July Alice Louise Kimm born 3 April 1896, daughter of Clara and Army School Master William Kimm of Valletta.
  • 16 Dec Catherine Ada Hussey born 14 Nov 1896, daughter of Ada Louise and Army School Master Henry Hussey of Floriana.

The following were buried in Pietà Military Cemetery in 1896:

  • 22 Jan Child Thomas William Humphreys aged 5 years 6 months, son of Sgt Humphreys.
  • 28 July Infant Marian Harriett Ruthven aged 8 months, daughter of Army School Master Ruthven.
  • 9 Aug Child Beatrice Mary Anne Piercy aged 2 years 4 months, daughter of George Piercy, St Julians.
  • 20 Sep Infant Edith Littlejohn aged 3 months, from Fort Manoel.
  • 4 Oct Still born child of Alfred Bacon of Sliema.
  • 15 Oct Infant Emily Lingard aged 6 weeks, of Floriana.
  • 10 Dec Infant James Edmondstone aged 2 days from Sliema.

Health of the Garrison

Fever accounted for 1627 admissions into hospital with 36 deaths. Admissions were for:

  • 38 for nervous system diseases (10 mental) (2 deaths)
  • 27 for circulatory diseases (1 death)
  • 101 for respiratory conditions (5 deaths)
  • 593 for digestive diseases (3 deaths)
  • 15 for urinary problems (2 deaths Bright's)
  • 225 for generative disorders
  • 647 for cutaneous diseases
  • 200 for rheumatism
  • 394 for primary syphilis
  • 135 for secondary syphilis (2 deaths)
  • 810 for gonorrhoea
  • 8 for phthisis (5 deaths)
  • 749 for accidents (8 deaths)
  • 10 for alcoholism (1 delirium tremens)
  • 5 for parasitic diseases (4 taenia solium)
  • 38 for debility

There were 6 admissions for eruptive fevers [scarlet fever 4 admissions/1 death and cowpox (2)], 49 for enteric fever (20 deaths), 44 admissions for dysentery.

There were 179 admissions for malarial fevers, with 172 of ague, one remittent fever and 6 malarial cachexia.

There were 1572 admissions for simple continued fever with 15 deaths. The large number of admissions was attributed to the increased liability for infection of no less than 4542 men in the Command with under a years' service. There were 17 cases of neuralgia.

There were 235 officers, with 171 attacks of illness and 3 deaths (2 from enteric fever); 8 officers were invalided home. Admissions were for simple continued fever (76), injuries (16), hepatic disorders (11). The third death was from pulmonary tuberculosis.

Mtarfa Barracks – Gebel Imtarfa

Mtarfa Barracks
Designs for Gebel Imtarfa Barracks C and E Blocks.
(TNA:WO 78/4457)
Mtarfa Barracks
Designs for the Clock Tower Gebel Imtarfa Barracks.
(TNA:WO 78/2459)
Clock Tower Block D Gebel Imtarfa Barracks

Mtarfa Barracks was commenced in 1891 and completed in 1896. Seven new two storied blocks were occupied at the beginning of the year. A small hospital of 42 beds was also built at the same time as the barracks. The hospital opened in June 1901. It was used for all minor cases amongst the troops stationed there and at Fort Bingemma. All serious cases were transferred to the Station Hospital Valletta.

The Barrack Hospital became a Families Hospital when Mtarfa Military Hospital was completed and occupied in 1920.

On 2 June 1896, the War Department at Military Head Quarter Office, 215 Strada Forni Valletta, invited tenders (in duplicate) for the winding, regulating, oiling and keeping in good working order the barrack clock at the new barracks Gebel Imtarfa, for a period of three years from 10 June 1896.

Sanitary Inspector

On 10 Jan 1896, Mr Francesco Saverio Ross was appointed Sanitary Inspector for Gozo, on a salary of £120 a year.

Mr Ross was still in the fifth year of his academic course, but prior to obtaining his warrant was allowed to continue his practical training at the Hospital in Gozo. In due course, he obtained a certificate from the Superintendent of the Hospital, which under the terms of Gozo Notice No 19 dated 1883, enabled him to be admitted to the final examination by the Medical Board.


In July 1896, an auxiliary quarantine establishment was set up at Comino Island to provide suitable medical treatment for ship crews infected with cholera. The Council of Government voted £1,840 for the scheme.