The Royal Army Medical Corps
And the Malta Garrison

The Malta Garrison – 1914

World War I

Kaiser Bill
Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria. (Achillion Palace Corfu)

The peace establishment of the RAMC in Malta in 1914 was 23 officers, including 2 quartermasters, 150 other ranks and 12 nursing sisters of the Queen Alexandra Imperial Military Nursing Service. On the start of the Great War, the majority of regular RAMC officers were withdrawn from Malta for active service elsewhere, and replaced by four RAMC Territorial Force officers (TF), and four officers and 193 men of the 1st (City of London) Field Ambulance TF.

Malta had four military hospitals. The Station Hospital Cottonera with 278 beds was the main hospital and HQ of 30 Coy RAMC. At Mtarfa Barracks was the Mtarfa Barrack Hospital with 55 beds; at St Julians was the Forrest Hospital with 20 beds which was used mainly for venereal diseases. In Valletta was the Station and Military Families Hospital with 36 beds, of which, all but 10 constituted the hospital of the Royal Malta Artillery. In addition there was a small military hospital at Fort Chambray Gozo and the large Royal Naval Hospital Bighi.

Floriana Barracks, Verdala Barracks and Fort San Salvatore were used to intern German POWs from the cruisers Emden and Breslau. Among the prisoners from the Emden was Franz Joseph Prinz von Hohenzollern who was not repatriated until 12 Nov 1919.

Garrison Strength August 1914
Regts Officers Soldiers
Royal Artillery 62 1383
Royal Eng 21 394
Infantry 130 4180
Army Service Corps 12 101
RAMC 20 132
Army Vet Corps 1 0
Army Ord Corps 10 47
Army Pay Corps 0 21
Local Troops 25 419
Total 281 6677
Garrison Strength Malta August 1914

1st London (City of London) Field Ambulance

The 1st London (City of London) Field Ambulance RAMC arose from the 3rd and 4th London Volunteer Brigade Bearer Companies. On 1 Apr 1908, the Territorial Force replaced the old Volunteer Force. The 1st, 2nd and 3rd London Field Ambulances were formed from the London Companies of the Volunteer Medical Staff Corps and served the 1st City of London Territorial Division. Sept 1914, witnessed the departure from England of the first territorial units for service abroad. Among the earliest to embark was the 1st London (City of London) Field Ambulance companies for Malta.


On 3 June 1914, seventeen NCOs and men proceeded to Scutari Albania to relieve the detachment that had been stationed there since June 1913. The latter returned to Malta on HMS Duke of Edinburgh on 9 June 1914

French Fleet

The French fleet including 11 battleships arrived at Malta on 12 Aug 1914. In the Mediterranean were the German Battle Cruiser Goeben and the light cruiser Breslau which had paid a visit to Malta in Nov 1912.

Mortality Maltese Islands

On 1 April 1913, the population of the Maltese islands was 216,617 (193,231 in Malta and 23,386 for Gozo). In 1813, it had stood at 110,803 (96,403 in Malta and 14,400 for Gozo) according to Surgeon William Henry Burrell.

During the month of Aug 1914, there were 438 births (243 males and 195 females), with 471 deaths (240 males and 231 females) in Malta and Gozo. Of these, 275 deaths were in the under fives (142 males and 133 females), with 226 of this total being under the age of 12 months. Enteritis, infantile atrophy, marasmus and debility were the major contributors to the high infant mortality rate.

In 1914 there was an epidemic of chicken pox among the children in the garrison with 91 admissions to hospital.

John Donal Caroll

Dr John Donal Carroll qualified MB BCh BAO in 1913 and received a commission in the RAMC in Aug 1914. He served in Gibraltar, Malta, Egypt and France. He won the Military Cross in Apr 1917 for attending the wounded at an observation post under heavy shell fire.

During the attack on Ypres in Aug 1917, his dressing station was blown up. Although he was not wounded he suffered severely from shell-shock. He later served with the Army of Occupation until 1919. He died in 1928 at the early age of 38 years.

Henry William Parnis

On 10 Sep 1914, Dr Henry William Parnis MB, eldest son of Judge Dr Alfredo Parnis and Helen nee Ferro, residing in London and who had volunteered his services at the outbreak of hostilities was gazetted a Temporary Lieutenant in the Royal Army Medical Corps (London Gazette issue 28902 page 7298 dated 15 Sep 1914).