The Royal Army Medical Corps
And the Malta Garrison

The Malta Garrison – 1957

Defence White Paper

The Defence White Paper of Apr 1957 heralded the biggest changes in military policy. To counteract the threat of a nuclear attack, the Ministry of Defence chose nuclear deterrence against maintaining a large conventional force.

Military conscription ended and troop numbers were cut. The combined strength of the three Services was to fall from 690,000 in 1957 to 375,000 by the end of 1962.

The Maltese economy which had been intertwined with defence spending suffered a major blow. The Services not only employed 27% of the work force, but also Forces spending provided four-fifths of its foreign exchange. As a consequence of defence cuts, the Admiralty had excess dockyard capacity and closed its dockyard in Malta.

David Bruce Military Hospital

A M Scott
23185317 Cpl A M Scott RAMC died on 20 July 1957 aged 22 years (Mtarfa Military Cemetery).
David Bruce Military Hospital Mtarfa 1954 with the maternity hospital is the isolated building in the centre. (Courtesy AMS archives).

On 13 Nov 1957, the Families Wing of the David Bruce Military Hospital delivered its 1000th baby. It set a new record in the highest number of births delivered in any service hospital anywhere since the beginning of 1957.

These 1000 babies came from the following services: 500 Royal Navy, 160 Army, 150 Maltese personnel, with the rest from the RAF, Dockyard, Admiralty officers at the RN W/T Station Dingli.

The number of deliveries by the end of the year was expected to rise to 1150 babies. The 1000th baby of 1957 was a boy delivered by QARANC Sister P R Duffy. The baby weighed 9lbs 30 ozs. His proud mum was Mrs Marjorie Farnworth, from Wigan Lancs, wife of Bdr Fairworth 37 HAA Regt RA. Mrs Farnworth was a mother of seven children.

To commemorate the event, Lt Col R J Gray, OC DBMH presented the baby with an inscribed silver tankard. The Maternity Wing was among the largest and certainly the most hard working department overseas. A new maternity wing was planned for Mtarfa conditional on funds being voted upon in defence estimates.