The Royal Army Medical Corps
And the Malta Garrison

The Malta Garrison – 1945


Malta Conference 30 Jan – 2 Feb 1945

Floriana Officer's Mess
Montgomery House Floriana was originally a market for the suburbs of Valletta. Under Sir Alexander Ball, 1802-1810, it became the administrative offices for the control of the importation of grain. In 1826, it was converted into an officer's mess at a cost of £1301 4s 6d. During the war it was used as the HQ for Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery during the planning of the invasion of Sicily, Operation Husky. After the war the building became the Command Pay Office for the garrison.

The Malta Conference was held from 30 Jan to 3 Feb 1945, although President Franklin D Roosevelt did not arrive until 2 February.

Meetings of the Joint Chiefs of Staff began on Jan 30 at Montgomery House Floriana to agree on a strategy in North West Europe. Roosevelt and Churchill held meetings with their Joint Chiefs of Staff on USS Quincy in the Grand Harbour on 2 February. The parties left for Yalta from Luqa Airfield on the night of 2 February.

Served in Malta in WW II

Staff 90 GH
Officers, Nursing Officers and Senior Other Ranks 90 General Hospital Mtarfa 1945.

Dr William Sydney Charles Copeman was a 2nd Lieutenant in the First World War and a Lieutenant Colonel RAMC (Acting Brigadier) in the Second World War. He became a Medical Adviser to the Malta Command and was appointed OBE in 1945. He became a CBE in 1964 for his services to medicine and rheumatology.

Dr Evans Ernest Hywel served in the RAMC as a medical specialist and later as officer in charge of a medical division. He served in Malta and later in Italy under Brigadier Max Rosenheim.

Dr Macpherson Ian joined the Territorial Army in 1938. He was attached to the 4th/1st Northern General Hospital, which in 1939 became the 18th General Hospital and with which he went to France in February 1940. In May of that year he was evacuated through Boulogne and then served in Malta for three years during the period of the siege, and later in the Canal Zone as officer commanding the Medical Division of 1st General Hospital, with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He was demobilized in 1945, and in the following year was appointed assistant physician to Leeds General Infirmary.

Cessation of Hostilities

Military Operations 1945
Military Operations in Western Europe 6 June 1944 to 8 May 1945 (Brittany American Cemetery St James).

The German armies in Italy surrendered on 2 May 1945. On 4 May those in the Netherlands and Denmark also surrendered. The war in Europe ended on 8 May 1945 (VE Day).

On 6 Aug 1945, a US Army Air Corps Bomber dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima causing 80,000 deaths. On 9 Aug, another atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki causing 40,000 deaths. Japan surrendered on 14 Aug 1945 (VJ Day). The Second World War was over; over 40 million had lost their lives.

On 15 Aug 1945, the Maltese celebrated the feast of Santa Maria in their towns and villages. On the following day they flocked to Valletta where the Deputy Governor, Vice Admiral Sir Frederick Dalrymple-Hamilton appeared on the Palace balcony and told the crowd to go and make merry.

On 17 Aug, the Governor sent a message of congratulations to King George VI.

On this glorious day of triumph, I desire to offer to Your Majesty the heartfelt congratulations of the Government, garrison and people of Malta and Gozo. These islands which even in the darkest days and air attacks and siege never lost confidence in final victory, are proud of the part which they have played in its attainment. They now look forward to a lasting peace, worthy of the great efforts made by the Empire and Your Majesty's Allies in the cause of freedom.

RAF Medical Officers

Some of the medical officers who served at RAF Station Hal Far in 1945 were:

  • Wng Cdr R Napier – PMO Air HQ Malta
  • Wng Cdr D Skinner – PMO Air HQ Malta. Invalided to England 22 Feb 1945.
  • Wng Cdr J Roche – PMO AHQ Malta from 6 Feb 1945
  • Sqn Ldr H E Walker – SMO RAF Station Hal Far
  • Flt Lt J J McNair – MO 283 Squadron
  • Flt Lt H P Scurlock – MO 137 Maintenance Unit
  • Flt Lt D N Kiff – Left 8 Feb 1945
  • Flt Lt H Clifton – Left 12 Feb 1945
  • Flt Lt F F Sligo – RAF Station Luqa

Additional Nissen Huts were constructed at Hal Far in anticipation of the arrival of 1000 Fleet Air Arm personnel in March 1945. The naval PMO Surg Capt Murray attached a Naval Medical Officer and 4 Sick Berth Attendants to RAF Station Hal Far to provide medical care for the men of the Fleet Air Arm. All medical stores used by the RAF were drawn from the Medical Stores of 90 General Hospital. A new sick quarters was opened at Luqa.

In June 1945, British Overseas Airways Corporation (BAOC) started using RAF Station Luqa. It had no day flights but a regular schedule from dusk to 01:00 hours every night.

In June 1945, the wards and administration of Air HQ Sick Quarters were moved to Vincenti Buildings Tax Xbiex. The place was, however, far away from the Medical Inspection Room in Valletta where most of the actual medical work was done. Transport proved a problem as the only vehicle, the ambulance, was under the direct control of the Sick Quarters.

British Delegation Yalta Conference

A York aircraft bound for Malta from England failed to find the island on the night of 1 Feb 1945, and attempted to ditch into the sea just off Lampedusa. The aircraft, which was carrying a party of the British Delegation to the Yalta Conference, broke up on striking the water. Out of twenty on board, five escaped serious injury, No 38594 Lt Col Ivor Stuart Huntly Hooper West Yorkshire Regiment died shortly after being rescued from his multiple injuries, eleven were killed instantly. Three bodies were not recovered.

The medical officer of Air HQ Malta arrived by Anson from RAF Hal Far and was joined on 2 Feb by Sqn Ldr Walker and Flt LtMcNair who had arrived from Malta by Naval Motor Launch. Five survivors had been picked up by an American Destroyer USS Kenerick and were transferred to No 90 General Hospital. The twelve passengers killed were also brought to Malta on a British destroyer and buried at Mtarfa Military Cemetery.

The injured were: Air Commodore Sanderson, Flt Lt Holdaway, Flt Lt Eaton Clark, Sgt Burge and Flying Officer Vernieuwe; the death were: Lt Col Wilfred George Newey, Mr Armine Roderick Dew, Gp Capt Philip Stuart Jackson Taylor, Capt William Henry Finch, Mr Peter Noel Loxley, Miss Patricia Maxwell Sullivan, Mr John Chaplain, Capt Albany Kennett Charlesworth, Mr R MacDonald Guthrie, Lt Col I S H Hooper, Mr Harry Joseph Battley and Flt Sgt Alfred Claude Jack Walker.

Bubonic Plague

In June 1945, six cases of plague were notified by the Civil Authorities. The cases were all widely scattered and believed to be in dockyard workers. Two cases were confirmed bacteriologically.

The Civil Medical Department experienced considerable difficulty in finding medical men to help deal with the outbreak. The number of Maltese doctors who had joined the RAMC together with those away on postgraduate training in England, had caused a shortage of doctors in Malta.

On 29 May 1945, the Secretary of State for the Colonies had asked for six Maltese doctors to volunteer for civil administration service in the Far East. The doctors were to be given temporary commissioned rank in the RAMC for service with the Army Civil Affairs Units which were to administer Malaya and Borneo after the liberation. The Civil Medical Department was unable to spare doctors for overseas service.