The Royal Army Medical Corps
And the Malta Garrison

The Malta Garrison – 1910

Station Hospital Valletta

Sacra Infermeria
Plan of the hospital of the Order of St John showing the Lower and Upper Quadrangles. (TNA:MPH 1/912)

In 1910, the old Valletta Hospital was converted into a Reception Station. The wards and offices which had become redundant after the reduction in Malta Fever cases were re-appropriated and converted into wards for the Military Families Hospital or quarters for the nursing staff.

Paratyphoid B Fever

On 28 Jan 1910, an outbreak of Enteric Fever broke out among the 2nd/Somersetshire Light Infantry when 4 soldiers were admitted to hospital. Two soldiers came from Floriana Barracks and two from Hutments at Fort Manoel. The source of the infection was intermittent contamination of the water supply of the Wignacourt Aqueduct which had taken place between 20 Dec 1909 and 14 Feb 1910.

On 29 Jan, the PMO instructed the Command Sanitary Officer to investigate the cause of the outbreak. In accordance with para 119, Regulations for the Army Medical Services, the War Office was cabled on 2 February. An order was issued to boil drinking water and not to eat uncooked vegetables.

Out of 4 officers and 3 non commissioned officers diagnosed with enteric fever, 1 officer had been inoculated 10 years previously, 1 man had received 1 dose in Oct 1908, and another two doses in Dec 1908 and Jan 1909. Those inoculated had a mild infection. None of the rest had been inoculated.

Towards the end of Aug 1910, there was another sudden outbreak of fever in the 1st/Suffolk Regt. The first soldier fell ill on 4 May at St Andrew's Barracks. He was admitted to hospital on 29 May 1910 and returned to barracks on 25 July 1910. Sixteen days later a second soldier fell ill. In total there were 14 ill soldiers from 1st/Suffolk at St Andrew's Barracks. A soldier of the King's Royal Rifle Corps from the adjoining St George's Barracks also fell ill. The last case was hospitalised on 14 Sept and discharged on 12 Oct 1910. The pyrexia varied from 4 to 23 days with the Bacillus paratyphoid being isolated in blood cultures.

Tigné Barracks

Tigne Barracks
Tigné Barracks Marsamxetto Harbour 1906 (RAMC/793/4/4)
Tigne Barracks
Map of Tigné Point and the Quarantine Harbour

A plan of Dragut Point and Fort Tigné dated Sept 1852 showing the site of Tigné Barracks which was erected in 1910.

Isolation Hospital Cottonera

The outer Cottonera Lines and inner Firenzuola Lines protected the Three Cities of Cospicua (Bormla), Vittoriosa (Birgu) and Senglea (L'Isla) from a land attack. The area between Verdala Barracks and St Clement's Bastions is the St Clement's Retrenchment. (TNA:MFQ 1/220)

A new isolation hospital was completed on top of the ramparts of St Louis Bastion.

The re-appropriation of buildings required for the accommodation of staff, stores and laboratory transferred to Cottonera was completed in 1910.

Plans were also in place for the building of a new hospital on Mtarfa Ridge.

Bubonic Plague

On 16 July 1910, bubonic plague was introduced into Malta on board the SS North Wales. The ship was ordered to proceed to Comino, where the patients were admitted into the quarantine hospital.

The steamer was loaded with coal at Comino and then proceeded to Antwerp with a clean bill of health. The seas around Comino were patrolled for two months to prevent communication with Gozo and Malta.

Kala Azar

In 1910, the first authentic case of Kala Azar in an adult in Malta was reported in a soldier of the Royal Garrison Artillery.