The Royal Army Medical Corps
And the Malta Garrison
1918

The Malta Garrison – 1918

Armistice

An armistice had been declared on 11 Nov 1918, but a peace treaty with Germany was not signed until 28 June 1919.

Although the war in Europe was over, British soldiers were still involved in military operations on the north-west frontier of British India, on the borders of Mesopotamia and in the Sudan. They were also engaged in the Baltic, on the Black Sea, in Persia and elsewhere. The conflict had taken the lives of 681 medical officers.

Malaria

Malaria was not endemic in Malta. The common mosquito was the stegomyia, although anopheles were found in the villages behind Mdina. During the war when malarial patients were nursed at Mtarfa, infection spread to a small extent among the civilian population in the vicinity. This was a self limiting minor epidemic of malaria in farmers working in the vicinity of the hospital but no further cases were reported elsewhere.

QAIMNS / TFNS

On 1 Nov 1918, the effective strength of the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Services in Malta was 56. That of the Territorial Force Nursing Services in Malta was 83. The distribution on 1 Apr 1920 was 12 QAIMNS and 0 TFNS.

SS Polynesien

Serbian troops
Survivors of the SS Polynesien

On 10 Aug 1918, the troop carrier SS Polynesien moving Serbian troops and a detachment of cadets of the Serbian Army between Bizerte in Tunisia and Salonica was torpedoed 3 km east of Marsascala.

Eleven crew members and six passenges died. The injured were treated at Cottonera Hospital while the rest were accommodated at Fort Ricasoli.

Awards Great War

The following were brought to the attention of the Secretary of State for War for their valuable services rendered in connection with the war (War Office 13 Mar 1918):

  • Temp/Lt Col (Hon Surg-Col) W R Smith RAMC (TF)
  • Major J C G Carmichael
  • Major (Local Lt Col) C H Carr
  • Temp/Maj G Graham
  • Temp/Maj G Taylor MB FRCS
  • Temp/Maj T Mackenzie
  • Maj (Temp local Lt Col) A C O'Sullivan
  • Capt (Temp Local Major) C R Nicholson
  • Capt (Temp local Major) J A Arkwright
  • Capt (Local Major) G R Bruce
  • Capt Adam Patrick MB CHB MD
  • Capt (Temp Local Major) H J Pickering
  • Capt (Temp Local Major) C H G Prance
  • Capt (Temp Local Major) A B W Rust
  • Capt (Temp Local Major) H H Serpell
  • Capt (Temp Local Major) E G B Starkie
  • Temp/Capt G Hamilton

Kala Azar (Visceral Leishmaniasis)

In 1917, Dr R J Lytle was in charge of the Medical Division of the Valletta Military Hospital, where she treated a case of Kala-Azar.

In the summer of 1917, a draft of No 1 Malta Coy RAMC, all British soldiers, paraded for inspection before proceeding to Salonica. At the conclusion of the parade it was remarked that Sergeant G was not only the smartest soldier on parade but the fittest. The draft was unavoidably delayed in the island owing to U boat activities.

Some six weeks later Sgt G fell ill. On admission he was wasted, having lost 2 stones in weight and had an enlarged spleen. Colonel Sir Archibald Garrod, consulting physician to the Malta Command, who visited the hospital twice weekly, diagnosed Kala-Azar.

Sir Archibald had already seen two soldiers who had contracted the disease in the island. The similarity of their symptoms and appearance plus the splenic enlargement suggested the tentative diagnosis of Kala-Azar. Splenic puncture demonstrated the Leishman-Donovan Bodies.

Sgt G was treated with intravenous antimony. He made an uninterrupted recovery, during the course of which, he was visited by the Governor Lord Methuen and Sir Thomas Yarr, DMS Malta Command.

Influenza

Influenza became prevalent in June and July 1918, but this was mild and resulted in no deaths.

The epidemic, however, recurred in a more severe form in the following months; during Sept and Oct 1918 there were 3079 cases and 59 deaths.

Baptisms 1918

  • 26 Feb John Carnegie Robertson born 24 Nov 1917, son of Elizabeth Doran and William Charles Heming Robertson Lieutenant Governor of Malta of Casa Leone Hamrun, was privately baptised at the Barracca Church, Valletta.
  • 3 Mar Guy William Banner Martin born 29 May 1917 to Dental Surgeon Banner Harry Martin and Winifred Nora, resident at 215 Strada Forni Valletta, was baptised at the Barracca Church, Valletta.
  • 28 Oct Tpr William James Hamilton Evans 1/1st Surrey Yeomanry (Queen Mary's Regiment), born 8 July 1894, of Mtarfa Military Hospital, son of Annie and William Henry Evans of No 2 Bonneville Road Clapham Park, London SW, was baptised in the Mtarfa Church Room.

Bibliography