The Royal Army Medical Corps
And the Malta Garrison

The Malta Garrison – 1912

Mediterranean Fleet

On 29 May 1912, the British Prime Minister Herbert Asquith and the First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, arrived in Malta to discuss with Field Marshal Kitchener, Minister Plenipotentiary and Consul General in Egypt, the relocation of the fleet to the western Mediterranean.

On 1 June, a grand naval and military parade was held at Marsa. The Infantry Bde together with sailors and marines paraded and were inspected by Gen Sir Ian Hamilton and the distinguished guests.

In June 1912, the Mediterranean Fleet left Malta for Gibraltar so as to bolster the naval power in the North Sea. In time of war the defence of the Mediterranean was to be placed in the hands of the French.

Messina Straits Earthquake

RAMC earthquake party
Hospital Staff of the Earthquake Relief Party Catona. The unit sailed in HMS Duncan to Gatano Calabria.

On 28 Dec 1908, a Field Ambulance had been mobilized from Malta to succour the victims of the earthquake which had struck at 5:20 am and had totally destroyed Messina (pop 150,000) and Reggio di Calabria (pop 50,000).

On 26 Aug 1912, the Governor presented the following officers, NCOs and men with the Silver Medal and Diploma of the Italian Red Cross Society at the Palace Valletta,:

  • Surgeon-Captain R Randon RMA
  • 10254 QM Sgt A Gillespie
  • 18335 Cpl W J Woolway
  • 19806 Pte W Deans
  • 1644 Pte C W Flavell
  • 19574 LCpl T Howe
  • 19621 Pte W E Kite
  • 19776 Pte J Swan
  • 95 Pte A G W Thomas
  • 19630 LCpl A Taylor
  • 11006 Pte A Brownsell
  • 132 Pte S Dart
  • 867 Pte J M Grogan
  • 988 Pte G Pretty
  • 19749 Pte J L Reynolds
  • 19979 Pte G E Thain
  • 19935 Pte J H Young

Sand-fly Fever

The Army Medical report of 1912 recorded 104 attacks of sand-fly fever among British troops at Malta. This represented a drop from 300 cases reported in 1908. The disease was often called Summer Influenza. The Phlebotomus papatasi bred in caves, in the interior of rubble walls and in collections of damp material, such as fragments of bricks and stones.

Soldiers arriving in Malta were highly susceptible to the fever during their first summer and were completely incapacitated for several days. The disease rarely endangered life. After an incubation period of four to seven days the onset of sand-fly fever was usually sudden, although sometimes the pyrexia was preceded by lassitude for a few days. The temperature rose rapidly, reaching 101 F (38.3 C) to 103 F (39.4 C) on the evening of the first day. It then fell gradually by the third or fourth day.

In Malta the duration of sand-fly fever varied between two to seven days. The patient complained of a chill but without the severe rigor of the ague fever. He had severe headaches, most often limited to the forehead and the back of the eyes, which were aggravated by slight movement of the head, back and leg pains, as well as a general muscle stiffness. He was drowsy and resented being disturbed; his face was deeply flushed; his eyelids were swollen and partially closed and his eyeballs were sensitive to movement and gentle pressure. He had complete loss of appetite, with pain or discomfort in the epigastrium. Vomiting and diarrhoea occurred in about one-quarter of the cases, but in general, constipation was the rule.

Infection provided a high degree of immunity with second attacks occurring in only 5% to 10% of cases. Relapses frequently followed excessive exercise during convalescence.

Water Supply Mellieha

On 2 June 1912, Sir Leslie Rundle inaugurated the extension of the water supply to Mellieha Village with a population of 3,500. Field Marshal Lord Kitchener was in attendance.

Military Families Hospital Valletta

In 1912, work was carried out on the Military Families Hospital which had been established at the former Station Hospital Valletta.

The Military Families Hospital admitted 126 general female patients, 85 cases of confinement, and 128 children, six of whom had infantile Kala Azar. Hospital patients were provided with laundry.

Royal Visit

Cottonera Military Hospital
Cottonera Military Hospital.

On 25 Jan 1912, King George V and Queen Mary visited Military Hospital Cottonera on their return from India. The king was met by Col R Porter (PMO) and Lt Col H M Sloggett in charge of the hospital, officers and matron.

The grounds from North Gate were lined by RAMC officers, the senior NCOs occupying the steps at the main entrance to the hospital, under the command of Maj M H Babington. The king was accompanied by the Governor and General Sir H Smith-Dorrien.


In 1912, a new gymnasium was provided for St Andrew's and St George's Barracks. Modern accommodation with dining rooms was also completed at Tigné Barracks for 150 families of the Royal Garrison Artillery.

Two quarters for Warrant Officers were constructed at Floriana, and a new block of 18 additional married quarters was built at Msida Bastion Floriana.

Military Hospital Mtarfa

Mtarfa Military Hospital
Mtarfa Military Hospital was completed after the Great War and occupied in 1920.

In 1912, funds were allocated for the commencement of the new military hospital at Mtarfa.