Medical Officers
Of the Malta Garrison – 1918

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Malta Garrison – 1918


An armistice had been declared on 11 Nov 1918, but a peace treaty with Germany was not signed until 28 June 1919.

Although the war in Europe was over, British soldiers were still involved in military operations on the north-west frontier of British India, on the borders of Mesopotamia and in the Sudan. They were also engaged in the Baltic, on the Black Sea, in Persia and elsewhere. The conflict had taken the lives of 681 medical officers.


Malaria was not endemic in Malta. The common mosquito was the stegomyia, although anopheles were found in the villages behind Mdina. During the war when malarial patients were nursed at Mtarfa, infection spread to a small extent among the civilian population in the vicinity. This was a self limiting minor epidemic of malaria in farmers working in the vicinity of the hospital but no further cases were reported elsewhere.


On 1 Nov 1918, the effective strength of the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Services in Malta was 56. That of the Territorial Force Nursing Services in Malta was 83. The distribution on 1 Apr 1920 was 12 QAIMNS and 0 TFNS.

Aubrey Goodwin (1889 - 1964)

Mr Aubrey Goodwin OBE MD FRCS was obstetric surgeon to the Westminster Hospital and gynaecological surgeon to the Chelsea Hospital for women and the Prince of Wales General Hospital Tottenham. He qualified MB BS London in 1913.

He served from 1914 to 1919 in the RAMC and saw service in Salonica and Malta, where he was staff officer to the Director of Medical Services Malta Command. He retired with the rank of captain.

Awards Great War

The following were brought to the attention of the Secretary of State for War for their valuable services rendered in connection with the war (War Office 13 Mar 1918):

  • Temp/Lt Col (Hon Surg-Col) W R Smith RAMC (TF)
  • Major J C G Carmichael
  • Major (Local Lt Col) C H Carr
  • Temp/Maj G Graham
  • Temp/Maj G Taylor MB FRCS
  • Temp/Maj T Mackenzie
  • Maj (Temp local Lt Col) A C O'Sullivan
  • Capt (Temp Local Major) C R Nicholson
  • Capt (Temp local Major) J A Arkwright
  • Capt (Local Major) G R Bruce (SR)
  • Capt Adam Patrick MB CHB MD
  • Capt (Temp Local Major) H J Pickering
  • Capt (Temp Local Major) C H G Prance
  • Capt (Temp Local Major) A B W Rust
  • Capt (Temp Local Major) H H Serpell
  • Capt (Temp Local Major) E G B Starkie
  • Temp/Capt G Hamilton

Kala Azar (Visceral Leishmaniasis)

In 1917, Dr R J Lytle was in charge of the Medical Division of the Valletta Military Hospital, where she treated a case of Kala-Azar.

In the summer of 1917, a draft of No 1 Malta Coy RAMC, all British soldiers, paraded for inspection before proceeding to Salonica. At the conclusion of the parade it was remarked that Sergeant G was not only the smartest soldier on parade but the fittest. The draft was unavoidably delayed in the island owing to U boat activities.

Some six weeks later Sgt G fell ill. On admission he was wasted, having lost 2 stones in weight and had an enlarged spleen. Colonel Sir Archibald Garrod, consulting physician to the Malta Command, who visited the hospital twice weekly, diagnosed Kala-Azar.

Sir Archibald had already seen two soldiers who had contracted the disease in the island. The similarity of their symptoms and appearance plus the splenic enlargement suggested the tentative diagnosis of Kala-Azar. Splenic puncture demonstrated the Leishman-Donovan Bodies.

Sgt G was treated with intravenous antimony. He made an uninterrupted recovery, during the course of which, he was visited by the Governor Lord Methuen and Sir Thomas Yarr, DMS Malta Command.

Dental Surgeon B H Martin

Guy William Banner Martin was born in Malta on 29 May 1917 to Dental Surgeon Harry Martin Banner and Winifred Nora, resident at 215 Strada Forni Valletta. He was baptized at the Barracca Church Valletta on 3 Mar 1918.


Influenza became prevalent in June and July 1918, but this was mild and resulted in no deaths.

The epidemic, however, recurred in a more severe form in the following months; during Sept and Oct 1918 there were 3079 cases and 59 deaths.


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  • The Army List May 1918, London 1918.
  • The Army List June 1918, London 1918.
  • The Army List July 1918, London 1918.
  • The Army List Nov 1918, London 1918.
  • Rivaz P M, Medical Notes on the Mediterranean Station J Roy Naval Med Services 13: 4 (October 1927).
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  • Thorburn W, Two years of war surgery in Malta and the Mediterranean. J Roy Army Med Corps Vol XXXI, 2: 106 (August 1918).
  • Balance Charles, Cottonera Hospital Malta: A case of ligation of the first part of the left subclavian artery J Roy Army Med Corps Vol XXX No 5 November 1918 p 417.
  • Report on bacteriological examinations in cases of Influenza Malta command 1923 J Roy Army Med Corps Vol XL p 133 January-June 1923.
  • Enteric cases Mtarfa Malta Military Infectious Hospital Mtarfa Malta. J Roy Army Med Corps Vol XXXII No 5 p 229 (January-June 1919).
  • Civil Surgeons in military hospitals Br Med J (1918), 1; 2979: 37 (Published 2 February 1918).
  • War experiences in dysentery 1915-18 Egyptian Expeditionary Force J Roy Army Med Corps Vol XXXII No 5 January-June 1919 p 268.
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  • TNA:FO 383/478. Platt A H. POW Camp Influenza outbreak in Oct 1918 (Courtesy of Mr Alan Green [Malta Study Circle]).
  • Obituary A Goodwin OBE MD FRCS FRCS ED Br Med J (1964) 2: 577 (Published 29 August 1964).
  • Lytle R J Kala-Azar in an adult contracted in Malta Br Med J (1944) 1:670.2 (Published 13 May 1944).