2 March 1941: Malta Must Have More Medical Services

02 Mar

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900 patients in Malta's military hospitals

Malta’s hospitals

Malta’s Governor and Commander in Chief has reacted strongly to claims by the War Office in London that the Island does not need additional Garrison medical services including traditional dressing stations and ambulances in the field to deal with casualties. Based on the size of the Island, the authorities in London have suggested that Malta’s hospitals are close enough to military installations to act as dressing stations without the need for facilities closer at hand. 

In response Lt Gen Dobbie has pointed out that road difficulties in Malta make distances longer than appreciated. [Dressing stations in the field] save petrol, avoid swamping general hospitals and provide for the possible evacuation of general hospitals.  There are already 900 patients currently in hospital in Malta. Medical Services are working under pressure and in semi-peace conditions without reserve for any serious enemy attack and the current 161 Field Ambulance is not considered enough for the collection of casualties. 

Discussions between the Governor and C in C and the War Office have been going on since November, when Lt Gen Dobbie first applied for the medical reinforcements, and he repeated today that the they were “the minimum absolutely essential and from which I cannot accept diminution.”  His determination was rewarded when the War Office finally agreed to the formation of a second Field Ambulance unit. 32 officers, 54 other ranks and 50 sisters will now be despatched to Malta, with the proviso that 30 of the 179 other ranks still needed should be enlisted locally. 


A Flight Commander from HMS Illustrious was tragically killed today when the car in which he was travelling was fired on by a sentry. Lieutenant William Barnes, RN of 806 Squadron, Fleet Air Arm was returning to camp along the road between Luqa and Zurrieq.  The driver of his car failed to stop at a military checkpoint and the Maltese sentry opened fire.  The bullet ricocheted and killed Lt Barnes.   


Summer time was introduced in Malta today and all clocks were advanced one hour. Times of ‘stand to’ for troops were altered in line, to 0615/0700 hrs and 1845/1945 hrs.


Weather  Fine and warm.

1008-1110 hrs  Air raid alert for three formations of twenty enemy aircraft including one JU 88 bomber which approach and fly over the Island two or three times. No bombs are dropped.  Eight Hurricanes and three Fulmars are scrambled.  One formation of ME 109s attacks the Fulmars, damaging one; the pilot is slightly wounded.  Anti-aircraft guns engage; no claims.

1655-1705 hrs  Air raid alert; raid does not materialise.

Military casualties  Lieutenant (A) William L L Barnes, Royal Navy, 806 Squadron, Fleet Air Arm (HMS Illustrious); Flying Officer John Joseph Walsh, Royal Air Force, 261 Squadron.


HAL FAR Three Fulmars up during morning raid; one aircraft damaged in combat with the enemy; pilot slightly wounded. Lt Barnes, RN, 806 Squadron, was shot and killed by a sentry on the Luqa-Zurrieq road, while he was returning to camp.

1st Bn CHESHIRE REGIMENT  As far as the situation allowed a day of rest for the men but there are permanent posts to be manned.


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Posted by on March 2, 2021 in 1941, March 1941


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