Medical Officers
Of the Malta Garrison
John Harry Ker Innes
1820 – 1907

No 93 Surgeon–General John Harry Ker Innes

CB (1858) QHS (1877) KCB (1887) MRCS (1841) FRCS (Eng 1860)

27 Jan 1820 – 12 Mar 1907 [Florence Italy]

Surgeon General Sir John Ker Innes was educated at University College London. He entered the Army Medical Department as an assistant surgeon in 1842. He retired from the service in 1880. In 1855, he volunteered to serve in the Crimea (his regiment being in India). He took part in the siege of Sebastopol and was engaged in the attack on the Redan on 18 June. He received the Crimea Medal with clasp and the Turkish Medal.

Surgeon General Sir John Ker Innes served in the Indian campaign of 1857–1858 with the 1st/60th Rifles. He took part in the action on Hindun where he was wounded and had a horse shot. He was also at the Battle of Badli ki Serai, the storming of the heights before Delhi and the siege, assault and capture of the city. He was Principal Medical Officer to Sir John Jones's Force throughout all the subsequent operations in Rohilcund and with Brigadier Troup's Force in Oude during the winter of 1858–1859. He was mentioned in despatches and was appointed CB.

In 1871, he was selected to act as British Medical Commissioner on the staff of the Crown Prince of Prussia during the Franco-Prussian War.

In 1878–79, Surgeon General Ker Innes was PMO of the Afghanistan Expeditionary Force. He was present at the assault and capture of Ali Musjid and the subsequent advance up the Kyber Pass. He was mentioned in despatches.

Among his publications were: Report on Cholera in Oude and Rohilcund AMD Report Vol III (1866), and On Enteric Fever in India Lancet Vol XX (1878).

Surgeon General Sir John Ker Innes died at his residence in Florence from pneumonia at the age of 87 years.

Service Record

8 Apr 1842 Assistant Surgeon 78th (Highlanders) Regiment of Foot.

9 Jan 1846 Assistant Surgeon 4th (Royal Irish) Dragoon Guards.

21 May 1847 Exchanged with Assistant Surgeon James Flyter 83rd Foot, to become Assistant Surgeon 83rd Regiment of Foot.

7 Oct 1851 Exchanged with Staff Assistant Surgeon Edward Touch.

1852 In Bermuda.

11 Mar 1853 Promoted Surgeon 56th (West Essex) Regiment of Foot.

15 Mar 1854 – 4 July 1855 His regiment being in India, he volunteered for the Crimea and was present at the siege of Sebastopol and in the failed attack on the Redan on 18 June 1855.

12 Jan 1855 Appointed to 9th Light Dragoons vice Surgeon Grant promoted to Staff. The vacancy in 56th Foot was filled by the promotion of Assistant Surgeon William Deeble 56th Foot.

26 Jan 1855 The order to 9th Lt Dragoons being cancelled Innes was appointed Surgeon 60th (The King's Royal Rifle Corps), vice Surgeon Charles Robert Boyes promoted to Staff.

1857–1858 Served in the suppression of the Indian Mutiny with 1st/60th Rifles. He was wounded and had his horse shot in the action in the Hindun. He was present at the battle of Badli ki Serai, and the storming of the heights before Delhi and after the fall of Delhi was elected prize agent. He was also present in the operations of the Roorkee Field Force, action of Nugeenah and Dojoora; campaigns in Rohilcund and in the Oude.1

1858–1859 Was Principal Medical Officer of Sir John Jones's Force throughout all the subsequent operations in Rohilcund and with Brigadier Troup's Force in Oude during the winter of 1858-59.

31 Dec 1858 Promoted Deputy Surgeon–General from 1st/60th Foot.

1859 Served in the East Indies.

1860–61 Served in Colchester.

1862 Served in Canada and Cork.

1863–67 Served in Bengal.

1868–71 Served in Dublin.

1870–71 Served as British Medical Commissioner on the Staff of the Crown Prince of Prussia in the Franco Prussian War. At the end of the campaign he received the Steel War Medal and The Iron Cross.

24 July 1872 Promoted Surgeon–General.

Malta 24 Dec 1872 Arrived at Malta from Bengal vice Inspector General Joshua Paynter.
Resided at 15 Strada Mezzodi Valletta.

Malta 1 Mar 1873 Promoted Surgeon-General

Malta 3 Aug 1873 To England on medical certificate.

Malta 18 Oct 1873 Returned to Malta

Malta 1874 Surgeon-General.

Malta 23 July 1874 Appointed by the Malta Government to head a commission of the medical profession to inquire into and report upon the causes of the recent increase in the mortality rate of Malta. The report of the Commission published on 10 October 1874, blamed growing poverty, overcrowding, and living in reckless violation of the primary laws of health as contributory factors. The Commission recommended the establishment of a sanitary authority and the appointment of a medical officer of health.2

Sanitary matters have recently attracted considerable attention in Malta. This island, which, from situation and climate, should be one of the healthiest spots in the world, is evidently not so fortunate in its sanitary condition. The enumerated population of Malta in 1871 was 123,373; and, as the superficial area is but ninety-five square miles, the density of the population is equal to 1,309 persons to each square mile, exclusive of the garrison and fleet. The average annual rate of mortality in Malta from all causes has been as high as 28.3 per 1000 during the last ten years. The island suffered from a severe epidemic of cholera in 1865, and from one of small-pox from 1870 to 1873, while diphtheria was more or less prevalent from 1867 to 1873. These epidemics contributed largely to raise the death rate to the high figure before mentioned; indeed, from 1867 to 1871, the death rate in Malta and Gozo was 29.0 per 1000. In 1872, however, the rate in the two islands declined to 24.3,, and further fell in 1873 to 22.4. A moderate rate of mortality prevailed during the first five months of this year; but, during June, July, and August, the deaths increased so rapidly, that the death rate rose to 49.2 in Malta, the rate for the twelve months ending August being 34.9.
As fortnightly returns of mortality have been regularly published in Malta since May 1872, this high death-rate during last summer attracted the attention of the Government authorities; and, on July 23rd, a Commission was appointed by the governor to inquire into, and report upon, the causes of the recent increase in the mortality of Malta. This Commission was presided over by Surgeon General J. H. Ker Innes, and was composed of members of the medical profession. The Report of this Commission, dated Valletta, October 10th, is now before us. The cause of the high death-rate in Malta is, generally, referred to growing poverty, a depressed trade, and a population too dense to admit of fitting expansion, and living in reckless violation of the primary laws of health. With regard to the specific defects in the sanitary condition of the island, the most important appears to be the want of pure water. The water supply of Malta may be said to be simply its collected rainfall, which, in town districts, is principally stored in cisterns sunk in the solid rock beneath the basement of the houses. In agricultural districts, the inhabitants are dependent upon tanks, in which the surface-water is collected. Under these circumstances, it may be easily imagined the water is at times very scarce, as well as generally of inferior quality. In towns, cesspits often exist in close contiguity to these underground cisterns. Very little sewerage is said to exist, and much of what does exist is more dangerous to health than the want of it. Overcrowding in its worst forms is the natural result of combined poverty and a redundant population. The evils of this overcrowding are intensified by the faults of local drainage, and the "many sources of foulness which have their origin in the prevalent and too general usage which admits the lower animals to share the same roof with their owners"; house cellars are frequently used as stables.
The first step suggested by this Report for the redress of these sanitary shortcomings, is the creation of some sanitary authority who should have charge of the hygienic condition of Malta, and the appointment of a central officer - indeed, a medical officer of health-who would be responsible to such authority.
Harry Corte only son of Surgeon General Innes and Victoria his wife drowned at St Julian's Bay 14 Nov 1874 aged 13 yrs.
Mabel Geraldine youngest daughter died 21 Dec 1874 aged 3 yrs. (Ta' Braxia Cemetery Pieta)

Malta 14 Nov 1874 Deaths of his only son Harry Corte who drowned on 14 Nov 1874 at St Julians Bay, and that of his youngest daughter Mabel Geraldine on 21 Dec 1874.

Malta 1 July 1875 To England on leave.

Malta 14 Sep 1875 Returned to Malta.

Malta 1 Mar 1876 Left Malta for Bengal as PMO.

1876–80 Served in India.

15 Aug 1877 Appointed Honorary Surgeon to HM the Queen.

1876–Jan 1880 PMO HM Forces India.

1878–1879 Served as Principal Medical Officer of the Afghanistan Expeditionary Force, Second Afghan War. He was present at the assault and capture of Ali Musjid, and the subsequent advance up the Kyber Pass. In General Orders HQ Simla, dated 14 October 1879, His Excellency in Council recorded his warmest acknowledgments for the very valuable aid he rendered the Government. The Commander-in-Chief, Sir Frederick Haines, also added his own sincere thanks for the ready and able assistance he had at all times received from Surgeon-General Innes, who had added to a remarkable list of previous campaigns the distinction of having most successfully administered the medical department in the field throughout the Afghan War. The Surgeon General prominently noted the valuable services rendered to him by his Secretary-Surgeon J. A. Marston MD, Army Medical Department.3

27 Jan 1880 Retired to half-pay. Surgeon-General T. Crawford replaced Surgeon-General Innes as Principal Medical Officer in India.

1887 Nominated a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath.