Medical Officers
Of the Malta Garrison
William Godfrey
1821 – 1899

No 120 Surgeon General William Godfrey Watt

MRCS (Eng 1842) LSA (Lond 1842)

24 Feb 1821 – 18 July 1899 [Deal Kent]

William G Watt
William Godfrey Watt 15 Hussars (Lt Col Foster's collection of Netley photos - courtesy AMS archives)

Surgeon General William Godfrey Watt served with the 23rd Fusiliers throughout the Eastern Campaign of 1854–1855. He was at the Battles of Alma, Inkerman, Bulganac and Mackenzie's Farm, Balaklava and Sebastopol. He was present at the great explosion of magazines in the French camp and remained behind when the troops were marched to the front to avoid the danger of a second explosion, supposed to be imminent. He received the Crimea medal with three clasps, the Turkish medal and the Order of the Medjidie 5th Class.

Watts and Surgeon Thomas Longmore, 19th Regiment, were considered to be trouble makers by the army authorities in the Crimea. Both constantly harassed their superiors with their demands for medicines, when none were available. They constantly wrote letters drawing the attention of the authorities to the the lack of the necessary accommodation and medicines to treat the sick. When Inspector General Hall told him to treat his dysentery cases with charcoal, Watts sarcastically replied to Dr Alexander, Deputy Inspector General of Hospitals, who was in charge of the Light Division, in the following manner:

Sebastopol 3 Feb 1855: I am still without any astringents, and many medicines I consider indispensably necessary for the treatment of dysentery and diarrhoea are also wanting. I have tried the treatment by means of charcoal which was so kindly suggested by Dr Hall. As I have never seen it used in dysentery, and in reference to the books in my possession, I cannot find any description as to the manner in which it is desirable it should be used. I should feel much indebted if I could be informed how this remedy should be given, as in the present dearth of medicines any addition to our supply would be a great boon.1

Surgeon General William Godfrey Watt died at Deal in 1899, aged 78 years.

Service Record

1 Mar 1844 Assistant Surgeon Staff.

26 Mar 1844 Assistant Surgeon 23rd (Royal Welsh Fusiliers) Regiment of Foot.

28 Mar 1854 Promoted Surgeon 23rd Foot.

Malta 18 Apr 1854 Arrived at Malta on the Steamer Trent.
Served in the Crimea as surgeon of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers.

13 Mar 1857 Exchanged with Surgeon William Joseph Macfarlane 99th (Lanarkshire) Regiment of Foot. Shortly after, Surgeon Macfarlane 23rd Foot died at sea on 23 July 1857.

23 Oct 1857 Surgeon 2nd/5th (Northumberland Fusiliers) Regiment of Foot.

2 Mar 1858 Awarded the Imperial Order of the Medjidie (5th Class) by the Sultan for his distinguished services before the enemy during the war against Russia.

5 Mar 1858 Appointed Surgeon 15th Light Dragoons.

1 Mar 1864 Surgeon Major 15th Hussars.

19 May 1869 Exchanged with Surgeon Neil Henry Stewart 3rd Dragoon Guards.

13 Apr 1872 Exchanged with Staff Surgeon James Landale.

1872–1874 Served in Ceylon.

8 May 1872 Promoted Deputy Surgeon General Army Medical Department.

1875–1878 Served in Dover.

Malta 26 Jan 1879 Arrived from England.

30 May 1879 Promoted Surgeon General vice Surgeon General James McGrigor Grant who retired upon half-pay.

Malta 14 Feb 1880 Returned to England on sick leave, leaving the post of PMO Malta vacant until the arrival of Surgeon-General W. A. Mackinnon in October 1880.

26 Mar 1880 Retired to half-pay in accordance with the term of the new Royal Warrant when officers were made to retire on reaching the age of sixty years.