Medical Officers
Of the Malta Garrison
Thomas Tarrant
1830 – 1909

No 399 Deputy Surgeon General Thomas Tarrant

LRCSI (1853) LKCPSI (1854) MD KHP (1903) CB (Mil 1907)

13 Nov 1830 [Queenstown] – 3 Feb 1909 [Queenstown]

Thomas Tarrant
Surgeon Thomas Tarrant Cape Mounted Rifleman (Lt Col Foster's collection of Netley photos - courtesy AMS Archives)

Deputy Surgeon General Thomas Tarrant qualified LRCSI in 1853 and MD on 7 April 1854. He entered the Army Medical Department as an Assistant Surgeon on 16 June 1854.

The early part of his service was chiefly in the Royal Artillery and 12th Lancers. He served in the Eastern Campaign of 1854–1855 and was present at the Siege and fall of Sebastopol. He received the Crimea Medal with clasp and the Turkish Medal.

Deputy Surgeon General Thomas Tarrant also served in the Indian Mutiny of 1857–1858. He was present at the Battle of Cawnpore, action of Kalee Nuddee, and affair of Kunkur (medal).

In South Africa, he was the Senior Medical Officer in Evelyn Wood's Force from June to September 1878. In the Zulu war of 1879, he served in Colonel Pearson's Column till March 1879 and then with the Ekowe relieving force. He was present at the engagement at Gingindlovu (mentioned in despatches 7 May 1879).

He was afterwards Principal Medical Officer of the 1st Division from its formation until its dissolution (medal with clasp).

Service Record

16 June 1854 Staff Assistant Surgeon.

Malta 3 Sep 1854 Arrived from England.

13 Oct 1854 Left for Turkey and the Crimea. Served in the Eastern Campaign of 1854–1855.

28 July 1855 Assistant Surgeon Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers (Ordnance Medical Department).

Malta 1855 Returned to Malta.

Malta June 1856 Left Malta.

1857–1858 Served in the suppression of the Indian Mutiny, including the battle of Cawnpore, action of Kalee Nudee, and affair of Kunkur.

10 July 1866 Promoted Staff Surgeon from B Bty Royal Horse Artillery.

14 Sep 1866 Appointed Surgeon Cape Mounted Rifles.

29 Dec 1869 Surgeon 12th (The Prince of Wales's Royal) Lancers. He served as their medical officer until April 1874 when he moved to the staff at Manchester.

1 Mar 1873 Promoted Surgeon–Major.

1875–1878 On duty at Manchester.

Sep 1878 Served in South Africa, as Senior Medical Officer in General Evelyn Wood's Force.

Mar 1879 Served in the Zulu War of 1879 as SMO of Pearson's Column on its formation. On 29 March, about 5,000 men under the command of Lord Chelmsford marched from Fort Tenedos on the Zulu side of the Lower Tugela river for the relief of Colonel Pearson's Column at Ekowe. The force consisted of over 3,000 European soldiers, 2,000 native contingent, and a naval brigade of about 600 men from the Shah, Teenedos, and Boadicea. Surgeon Major Tarrant was one of 12 medical officers and was in medical charge of the ambulance and the store wagon. He completed three Field Hospitals for Pearson's Column and established the Base Hospital at Herwen, where he remained until March 1879.

Appointed SMO of the Relief Column, taking part in its advance and was present at the engagement at Gingindlovu (2 April 1879), when the camp was attacked by about 13,000 Zulus. The action lasted 70 minutes and resulted in the loss of over a thousand Zulus. The medical officers attended the wounded under fire. The casualties were received by the senior medical officer Thomas Tarrant and his staff. They were treated in three small bell tents pitched beside the ambulance wagon in the rear, in an enclosed area which also had the horses and the oxen of the expedition. Brigade Surgeon Tarrant received a mention in despatches.

Appointed SMO of Crealock's Divis, remaining with it in that capacity until it was broken up. On returning to Zululand he was appointed SMO of the camp and convalescent station at Pine Town.

27 Nov 1879 Promoted Brigade–Surgeon.

Jan 1880–1881 On duty in Dublin.

Malta 27 Jan 1882 Arrived at Malta.

Censored by the Director General AMD who disapproved in the manner Tarrant dealt with the case of a dangerous lunatic.

1 June 1883 Promoted Deputy Surgeon–General.

Malta 25 June 1883 Returned to England.

June 1886 Served in the Madras command. Was granted leave of absence for six months on a medical certificate.

Apr 1887 Served in the Madras Command. Officiated as Surgeon–General in the Bangalore Division and Ceded and Belgaum Districts, with temporary rank.

Jan 1889 Moved from Madras to York.

28 Oct 1889 Promoted Surgeon–General, ranking as Major–General vice William Sim Murray MB, who was granted retired pay.

13 Nov 1890 Retired.

1903 Made an Honorary Physician to the King.

June 1907 Was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath in the King's birthday honours in recognition for his service in the suppression of the Indian Mutiny.

3 Feb 1909 Deputy Surgeon General Thomas Tarrant of Charlestow, Queenstown, Cork died at Queenstown aged 79 years. He left a personal estate worth £4126.