Regiments
Of the Malta Garrison
42nd (Royal Highland
The Black Watch)

The 42nd (Royal Highland — The Black Watch)

Black Watch
The Star of the Order of the Thistle, on which is a thistle wreath, and within the wreath an oval inscribed Nemo me impune lacesset. Beneath the wreath a sphinx, from when the 42nd fought with Sir Ralph Abercrombie in the 1801 Egyptian Campaign. Within the oval is St Andrew holding a cross.

The 42nd Highland Regiment was raised between 1725 and 1739 as the 1st Battalion The Black Watch. In 1750, its title changed to The 42nd Highland Regiment. In 1758, the Highlanders received the Royal distinction to become The 42nd Royal Highland Regiment of Foot

In July 1861, the name Black Watch was incorporated into the regimental designation, becoming The 42nd Royal Highland (The Black Watch) Regiment of Foot.

On 1 July 1881, the 42nd Royal Highland (The Black Watch) Regiment of Foot amalgamated with the 73rd (Perthshire) Regiment to become The 1st Battalion The Black Watch (Royal Highlanders).

The 42nd (Royal Highland — The Black Watch)

1832 42nd Royal Highlanders

1 Feb 1832 The 42nd Royal Highlanders arrived from Gibraltar. It replaced the 85th Regiment which embarked for Winchester. The regiment had 16 Officers, 484 men, 52 females and 103 children at Floriana Barracks. Remittent fever prevailed, but the symptoms were mild.

7 Feb 483 men arrived from Gibraltar to replace the 2nd/Rifle Brigade which left for Corfu. The 42nd was affected by intermittent fever shortly after its arrival from Gibraltar.

14 Feb Lt Col Sir Charles Gordon 42nd Foot was sworn in as acting Lieutenant Governor and Garrison Commander. He took over the civil administration of Malta during the absence of Sir Frederick Ponsonby.

The 42nd Regiment assembled in Lodge No 104 of the Loyal Orange Institution, notwithstanding the Commander–in–Chief forbidding any officer or soldier from attending Orange Lodge meetings. Major William Middleton, officer commanding the 42nd Regiment, forbade his men from assembling in a lodge under pain of being tried by General Court Martial.

In 1832, there were 24 Loyal Orangeman in the 42nd (Royal Highland) Regiment. The office bearers were: Corporal John M'Kay Master, William Christie Deputy Master, Edward Sloss Secretary, James Bain Treasurer. Among the members were Private Malcolm M'Innes and Private John Eite, who had belonged to the Orange Lodge for 14 years and had been Deputy Master of Lodge No 175 of the 85th (Buck's Volunteers) Regiment.

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1833 42nd Royal Highlanders

St Elmo
Plan of Fort St Elmo dated 3 Dec 1836 showing Upper and Lower St Elmo Barracks. (TNA:MFQ 1/296).

In 1833, the 42nd Highlanders was quartered in the Cottonera District. There was no accommodation for married soldiers and their families in the barracks. Families were lodged instead in private houses in the streets and lanes of Bormla and Isola. Their quarters often consisted of small, damp, and poorly ventilated rooms.

Lower St Elmo
Lower St Elmo Barracks Valletta.

Dec 1833 The 42nd marched to Lower St Elmo Barracks Valletta. The upper storeys of Lower St Elmo Barracks were dry and were suitable as accommodation for the men; the rooms in the basement were damp as the floor level was just above the high water mark. These rooms were considered unsuitable for use as dormitories, but some of them were nonetheless used as married quarters due to insufficient accommodation in the barracks. The kitchens and an orderly room were also at this level.

In the beginning of the year, a draft of 24 men joined the 42nd from the Ionian Islands, increasing the strength of the regiment to 506 rank and file. By December 1833 the regimental strength dropped by 47 men to 459 men. 18 men who had been engaged on limited service only were discharged. Four men had completed their long service engagement and received their release from the army. Seven men were invalided on the recommendation of a Medical Board. Seven men died, and eleven men returned to the Depôt.

There were 491 men on the sick list during the year, with an average of 29 sick in hospital per day. The following diseases were recorded:

There were 19 cases of Remittent Fever, with one death. In most, fever was preceded by morning rigors with exacerbations in the evening, cold shivering, frontal headaches and epigastric pain. There were only two cases of Common Continued Fever during the year, none proved fatal.

There were 160 cases of ophthalmia. Five men were invalided to England due to loss of their sight or visual impairment.

Assistant Inspector of Hospitals John Davy described Acute Rheumatism as those cases such as commonly occur in Malta, and chiefly in the winter season, marked generally by pain and difficulty of motion, and some derangement of general health, and very rarely indeed attended either by redness or swelling of the affected part or by a pyrexial state. The texture affected appears to be more commonly the muscular fibre. The disease yields readily to treatment but is apt to recur.4

Acute catarrh was endemic in Malta. It affected the native population as well as troops. Acute catarrh first appeared among the 42nd in the early winter of 1832 when the regiment was stationed at Floriana Barracks. Early in 1833, it spread to the 7th Foot soon after the regiment relieved the 42nd at Floriana. In the 42nd, acute catarrh was very common from July to September. By the end of the year it became the dominant complaint among the men in Lower St Elmo Valletta. The officers almost entirely escaped it. In many instances acute catarrh was accompanied by a cutaneous eruption similar to urticaria. The PMO thought that acute catarrh was the same disease as the influenza which had prevailed in Malta and in almost every part of Europe during that year.

Two fatal cases occurred in barracks in the last quarter of the year. One died from a ruptured aneurysm of the thoracic aorta, the other from apoplexy. A fatal case of peritonitis occurred in the 42nd Regiment, probably secondary to pancreatitis. The man had been drunk on the night previous to his death. The PMO said that although it could not be ascertained, it was not improbable that the soldier had received a blow over the region of the pancreas, which resulted in a pancreatic bleed and death in less than 24 hours.

The winter of 1833 was cold, wet, and miserable. Women and children huddled in their lodgings. Inflammatory diseases, such as coughs, catarrh and pneumonia broke out among them towards the end of April, even though the weather had by then become mild and temperate. In July and August, the weather turned hot and sultry and bowel complaints became very common among the children. There was one fatal cases of fever among the women. Towards September, ophthalmia and measles appeared among the children.

The 42nd Regiment assembled in Lodge No 104 of the Loyal Orange Institution, notwithstanding the Commander–in–Chief forbidding any officer or soldier from attending Orange Lodge meetings.

In May 1833, there were 30 Loyal Orangeman in the 42nd (Royal Highland) Regiment. The office bearers were: Master Corporal John M'Kay, Deputy Master Josias Strachan, Secretary William Christie, Treasurer James Bain, Senior Deacon William Rennie, Junior Deacon William M'Kay, Chaplain George Watt and Tyler Edward Scott.

Marriages in 1833:

Baptisms in 1833:

Campbell Ronald
Paymaster Sgt Ronald Campbell died on 20 April 1833, aged 27 yrs.
(Msida Bastion Cemetery Floriana)

Burials in 1833:

1834 42nd Royal Highlanders

1 Jan 1834 Strength 475 men.

4 Dec The 42nd Royal Highlanders embarked for Corfu on the transport Jupiter. It was relieved in the garrison by the 1st/60th (The King's Royal Rifle Corps).

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The 42nd Royal Highland Regiment

1843 42nd Royal Highlanders

Robert Wood
Robert Wood son of Cpl Walter and Jane Wood died 1 Feb 1843 aged 3 yrs 5 mths (Msida Bastion Cemetery, Floriana, head stone moved from Quarantine Bastion Cemetery)

30 Jan HQ Coy 1st/42nd Foot embarked at Cephalonia for Malta.

11 Feb Ensign James McLachlan 42nd Regiment, was dining at the Main Guard Valletta when he threw some orange pips out of the window. Unfortunately for him, the viatico, or the taking of the host to the dying, was passing at the time and the lead man was hit. McLachlan was charged with committing an offence against the religion of the island and was imprisoned for six months. He had denied the charge, and the judge had recognised that there had been no malicious intent to profane the Holy Sacrament. As a result of this incident the governor ordered the windows of the Main Guard to be closed up.3

16 Feb 13 Officers, 345 men, 32 women and 44 children 1st/42nd Foot arrived from Corfu. They disembarked at Malta on 20 Feb 1843.

17 Mar 248 men, 23 women, and 42 children of 1st/42nd embarked at Zante. They arrived at Malta on 27 March 1843.

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1844 42nd Royal Highlanders

Le Mesurier
Venerable Archdeacon John Thomas Howe Le Mesurier Chaplain to the Forces 1812–1846, Archdeacon of Malta 1843–1864.
Born 18 Aug 1785, died at Bembridge Isle of Wight aged 72 yrs on 29 Sept 1864.
(St Paul's Anglican Cathedral Valletta)

15 Jan 1844 The colonel of the 42nd was charged with compelling his men to attend the church of the Venerable Archdeacon John Thomas Howe Le Mesurier, Chaplain to the Forces in Malta, instead of being allowed to go to the Free Church of Scotland, lately set up in Malta, or to some other dissenting places of worship.2 By an order from Horse Guards, the Reverend Mr MacKail, minister of the Scotch Free Church in Malta has been called on to officiate to the 2nd/42nd Royal Highlanders, in the same way as his predecessor the Reverend Julius Wood.1

On enlistment, the religion of the troops was noted and the men were regularly marched to the church of their professed tenet. This happened every Sunday in Malta, when catholic soldiers and protestant soldiers went to the Normal School, the place where for many years they had been accustomed to listen to the Archdeacon, who for upwards of thirty years had been the Government Chaplain to the Forces. The 42nd Royal Highlanders and the 90th Regiment attended the church of Archdeacon Le Mesurier. For years they sat under his communion. In 1843, however, the Free Church of Scotland seceded from the Church of Scotland. This church was not acknowledged by HM Government as the Church of Scotland, established by law, but a church dissenting from the Church of Scotland.

Marriages in 1844:

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1845 42nd Royal Highlanders

Buchan Marth Elizabeth
Martha Elizabeth Buchan infant daughter of Sgt John and Elizabeth Buchan died 11 Feb 1845 (Quarantine Bastion Cemetery).

28 Apr 1845 The 42nd Royal Highlanders marched from Floriana Barracks to relieve its Reserve Battalion at Isola Gate.

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A Presbyterian burial ground existed on the Hornworks of Floriana for soldiers of the 42nd Royal Highlanders and the 92nd Gordon Highlanders. The cemetery was in use from 1840 to 1850. In 1965, the gravestones were moved to Pieta Military Cemetery.

1846 42nd Royal Highlanders

May 1846 During the rotation of regiments in the command, the 42nd moved from Isola Gate, St Salvatore Bastion and St Francesco de Paola to Floriana Barracks. There was one accidental death in 1846.

24 July At St Paul's Collegiate Church Valletta Bachelor Cpl Robert Wilson of the Parish of Douglas, Lanarkshire, Scotland married Caroline Parkinson, spinster born at Dover Kent, daughter of John and Ellen Parkinson.

Baptisms in 1846:

1847 42nd Royal Highlanders

Baptisms in 1847:

27 Feb 485 men, 32 women and 54 children from the 1st Bn and the Reserve Bn 42nd Foot embarked for Bermuda.

The 42nd Royal Highland Regiment

1855 42nd Royal Highlanders

Burials in 1855:

The 42nd Royal Highland (The Black Watch) Regiment

1874 42nd Royal Highland (The Black Watch)

A G Hamilton
Andrew George Hamilton infant son of Lt A Scott Stevenson and his wife Esmé died 15 Aug 1875 aged 6 weeks. (Ta' Braxia Cemetery Pietà)

14 Nov 1874 The 42nd Royal Highland (The Black Watch) Regiment embarked at Portsmouth and disembarked in Malta on 27 November. It relieved the 1st/13th Regiment which embarked for the Cape of Good Hope on 3 December 1874.

The 42nd Regiment had an average strength of 62 men. It had 61 admissions (983.9/1000 mean strength) into hospital with no deaths (5.81 deaths/1000 mean strength).

1875 42nd Royal Highland (The Black Watch)

Agnes G Cooper
Agnes Gertrude Cooper child of Capt E W Cooper and his wife Agnes Julia died 22 Aug 1875 aged 3 mths.
(Ta' Braxia Cemetery Pietà)

The 42nd Foot had an average strength of 663 men.

It had 634 admissions into hospital with 4 deaths including 1 among the invalids. 25 invalids were returned home for discharge from the service.

Its average daily sick was 25.72. The average sick time to each soldier was 14.81 days. The average duration of cases of sickness was 14.81 days.

The 42nd Regiment had 5 cases of remittent fever which were relapses of West African fever.

26 officers, 43 Sgts, 21 Drummers and pipers, and 630 rank and file occupied Isola Gate Barracks.

1876 42nd Royal Highland (The Black Watch)

The 42nd Regiment had an average strength of 648 men.

It had 867 admissions into hospital with 5 deaths.

11 invalids were returned to the Royal Victoria Hospital Netley for discharge from the service.

Its average daily sick was 23.42. The average sick time to each soldier was 13.19 days. The average duration of cases of sickness was 23.29 days.

Soldiers from the regiment lined the route during the visit of The Prince of Wales to Malta.

1877 42nd Royal Highland (The Black Watch)

Arabella Stewart Forbes
Arabella Stewart infant daughter of QM John Forbes and Louisa Marcella his wife died 9 July 1877 aged 4 yrs 6 mths. (Ta' Braxia Cemetery Pietà)

The 42nd Foot had an average strength of 718 men. It had 575 admissions into hospital with 5 deaths. It had 17 invalids returned to England.

Its average daily sick was 30.44. The average sick time to each soldier was 15.48 days. The average duration of cases of sickness was 19.31 days.

25 July 1877 A large draft of 13 corporals, 2 drummers, and 271 privates from the 79th (Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders) joined the 42nd at Malta, the 42nd being linked to the 79th under the brigade depot system.

1878 42nd Royal Highland (The Black Watch)

The 42nd Foot had an average strength of 477 men. It had 298 admissions into hospital with 2 deaths. 20 invalids were returned to England. Its average constantly sick was 16.28 (34.13/1000 mean strength). The average sick time to each soldier was 12.46 days. The average duration of cases of sickness was 19.94 days.

9 Jan 1878 In 1878 the regimental establishment was increased to 1,103 all ranks. The right half battalion moved to Fort Chambray Gozo on the anticipated arrival of the Indian Expeditionary Force in May.

5 Feb Headquarters Coy and the left half battalion moved from Pembroke Camp, to Fort Manoel.

18 July The 42nd Royal Highlanders along with half a battalion of the 101st Regiment formed part of Lieutenant-General Sir Garnet Wolseley's Expeditionary Force to Cyprus. It embarked on HMS Himalaya on 18 July, and arrived in Cyprus on 23 July 1878.

The total number of troops landed in Cyprus amounted to 2,643 British, and 5,015 Indian, including in the latter, one company of European artillery. They arrived at Larnaca on the 22 July 1878. The Indian contingent remained in Cyprus for a very short time before re-embarking for India.

19 Nov The 42nd left Cyprus for Gibraltar after 120 days on the island. The men lived under canvas. Malaria was rife. Out of a strength of 727 men, there were 1258 admissions for disease with 12 deaths, or a rate of 1730/1000 for admissions, and 16.5/1000 for deaths.

The Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) Regiment

1 July 1881 The 42nd Regiment became The 1st Battalion The Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)

1886 The Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)

1 May 1886 The Black Watch embarked in Egypt following operations in the Sudan. It had been in Egypt since 20 August 1882, and was at Trinkitat (Sudan), Suakin, and Lower Egypt. It disembarked in Malta on 5 May 1886.

The 1st/Royal Highlanders was stationed in Cottonera for 8 months. It had an average strength of 523 men.

It had 303 admissions (579.3/1000 mean strength) into hospital with 2 deaths (3.82/1000 mean strength). 3 invalids returned to England. Its average constantly sick was 18.70 (35.75/1000 mean strength).

The average sick time to each soldier was 13.05 days. The average duration of cases of sickness was 22.52 days.

1887 The Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)

Marsamxetto
Marsamxetto Barracks 1884. (Photo album Dame Sidney Jane Browne. Courtesy AMS Archives QARANC/PE/1/15/Brow)

The 1st/Royal Highlanders had an average strength of 849 men. It had 419 admissions into hospital with 3 deaths. 17 invalids returned to England.

Its average constantly sick was 29.64. The average sick time to each soldier was 12.74 days. The average duration of cases of sickness was 25.82 days.

Baptisms in the Garrison Church, Valletta in 1887:

Burials in Pietà Cemetery in 1887:

1888 The Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)

Hugh Dixon
Pte Hugh Dixon A Coy 1st/The Black Watch died at Malta 6 July 1887 after an illness of 12 days aged 25 years.
Pte James Miller died 8 Dec 1888
Dixon was the source of the splenic tissue from which Surgeon–Captain David Bruce isolated the micrococcus melitensis, the cause of Mediterranean Fever. (Pietà' Military Cemetery)

The 1st/Royal Highlanders had an average strength of 821 men. It had 455 admissions into hospital with 4 deaths. 15 invalids returned to England.

Its average constantly sick was 30.45. The average sick time to each soldier was 18.57 days. The average duration of cases of sickness was 24.49 days. The battalion was quartered at Lower St Elmo Barracks Valletta with detachments at Forrest Station Hospital.

In 1888, the Malta Garrison included two Scottish Regiments, the Black Watch and the Gordon Highlanders.

Burials in Pietà Military Cemetery in 1888:

1889 The Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)

The 1st/Royal Highlanders had an average strength of 520 men. It had 209 admissions into hospital with 2 deaths. 17 invalids returned to England.

Its average constantly sick was 16.12. The average sick time to each soldier was 11.31 days. The average duration of cases of sickness was 28.15 days.

8 Aug 1889 The 1st/Royal Highlanders was quartered at Lower St Elmo Barracks and Marsamxetto Barracks Valletta. It embarked for Gibraltar where it arrived on 13 August.

Burials in Pietà Military Cemetery in 1889:

The Black Watch Regiment

1963 The Black Watch

The 2nd/42nd Reserve Battalion Royal Highland Regiment

1843 2nd/42nd (Reserve Bn)

Thomas Robb
Thomas Robb Reserve Bn 2nd/Royal Highlanders died 29 Dec 1843 after a short illness, aged 23 yrs.
(Msida Bastion Cemetery, headstone moved from the Quarantine Bastion Cemetery, Floriana)

1 Jan 1843 535 men, 36 women, and 38 children of the 2nd/42nd (Reserve Bn) arrived from Portsmouth.

1843 15 officers and 537 men were at Valletta with a detachment 26 men at Fort Tigne.

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1844 2nd/42nd (Reserve Bn)

1844 Strength: 536 men.

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1845 2nd/42nd (Reserve Bn)

Apr 1845 The regiment marched from Isola Gate to relieve the 88th Regiment at Fort St Elmo.

May Colonel MacDougal, commanding the Reserve Battalion 42nd Royal Highland Regiment fell off his horse fracturing his arm. The colonel was on his rounds when the accident happened while he was riding through Porta Reale Gate Valletta.

Baptisms in 1845:

1846 2nd/42nd (Reserve Bn)

Torre
Strada Torre Barracks 1851. (TNA:MPH 1/912)

May 1846 During the annual rotation of regiments in the command, the Reserve Battalion 42nd Foot moved from Fort St Elmo to Strada Torre Barracks and St James Cavalier.

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1847 2nd/42nd (Reserve Bn)

25 Feb 1847 The 2nd/42nd embarked on the troop ship Resistance for Bermuda, but their departure was delayed by an outbreak of measles.

16 Mar 469 men, 26 women and 38 children from the Reserve Bn 42nd Foot left for Bermuda.

Baptisms in 1847:

Bibliography