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Frederick Augustus Chalk, Surgeon of Eythorne (Part 1)

Frederick Augustus Chalk (born 1807 in Dover) was a Surgeon in Eythorne, possibly from the date he qualified with his MRCS (Member of the Royal College of Surgeons), which he obtained in 1828), until his death in 1870 at the age of 64. He gained his LSA (Licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries) in 1822. He was the Medical Officer for Eythorne (replacing George Elgar in 1843) in the Eastry Union from April 1843 until 1867 when he left due to ill health. He thus gave 24 years of service to the Eastry Union although it was not without conflict and tension with the Union Guardians (of which more in Part 2). He also had a busy private practice in the village and its surrounds and his activities here are first mentioned in 1836 (Part 3).
Frederick Augustus Chalk was the youngest of five children born to Stephen (1772-1841) and Catherine Chalk (nee Wiggins, 1774-1839) who was also a Surgeon and Apothecary in Dover.
Frederick married Caroline Octavia Murray (born Hertford, Hertfordshire in 1808) on November 17th, 1832, and they had seven children, all born in Eythorne. All the children except the second born (James Cowling Chalk, born 6th March 1836, who died in 1838 aged 3½) reached adulthood. Caroline gave birth to two sets of twins. The first set was Nydia (or Lydia) and Maria born on 14th January 1839. The other twins were Julia and Caroline, born on the 3rd of April 1840. Sadly, the mother, Caroline Octavia Chalk, died giving birth.
Frederick Chalk then married Emma Clark on 4th June 1846 in Dover. She died 26th August 1866 aged 56. Frederick and Emma had one child; Harriet Susanna who died in June 1850 aged 2.
There is a monument to Frederick Augustus Chalk and those members of the family that he outlived in Ss Peter and Paul, Eythorne.
The third born child of Frederick and Caroline was Frederick Murray Chalk (born 22nd November 1836). He followed his father’s profession and became qualified as a Surgeon (MRCS) on 30th April 1858. On 5th April 1859 he was Commissioned Staff Assistant Surgeon, vice Staff Assistant Surgeon Samuel Pratt Woodfull who was appointed Assistant Surgeon to the Royal Artillery. Assistant Surgeon is equivalent to a Lieutenant rank. Shortly after he was promoted to Assistant Surgeon 2nd/15th (York, East Riding) Regiment of Foot and on 9th December 1858 he arrived at Malta with his regiment.
Malta had been captured by a French expeditionary force during the Mediterranean campaign of 1798. They expelled the Order of St John of Jerusalem who had ruled the island since 1530 and garrisoned it with 3,000 soldiers. After the British Royal Navy destroyed the French Mediterranean Fleet at the Battle of the Nile on 1 August 1798, the British were able to initiate a blockade of Malta, assisted by an uprising among the native Maltese population against French rule. Malta was taken by the British in September 1800 when the French surrendered as starvation and disease took its toll on the health, morale, and combat capability of the French troops. Malta was developed into an Island Fortress by the British. Its strategic location in the centre of the Mediterranean, made it an important naval base and staging post for troops en-route to the Middle East and India.
In 1858 the garrison in Malta had an effective strength of 4,825 men and there were 766 fever cases treated in hospital with 8 deaths.
On 26th November 1860 he was granted leave to proceed to England on private affairs from 17th November 1860 to 20th February 1861 but the reason for this is unknown. The Principal Medical Officer for Malta, in his confidential report of January 12th, 1861, described him as “A good officer zealous but requires experience in the service”.
In 1861 the average strength of the Malta garrison was 6,185 excluding colonial troops. All the regiments in the command were affected by ophthalmia, an inflammation of the eye, which in severe cases caused blindness from corneal ulceration. During the year, there were 4,775 admissions into hospital. The highest number of admissions were due to respiratory conditions (182 with 5 deaths), digestive disease (222 with three deaths), venereal diseases (632) and accidents (453 with ten deaths). 15 soldiers were admitted to hospital after receiving corporal punishment. One soldier was shot by sentence of a Court Martial.
On 10th July 1861 he left for Corfu and was based there until 1864. Corfu fell under British Rule following the Napoleonic wars of 1803-1815 and remained under British control until it was handed back to Greece by Britain in 1864 as a coronation gift from Britain to the newly elected King, Prince Wilhelm (William) of Denmark, who took the name King George I of the Hellenes.
The attachment shows a card that would have been used by the soldiers keeping a watch to identify the shipping around Corfu and to accurately describe them if need be. The card is of sufficiently small size that the soldiers could easily carry it and it is dated 1862.
On 28th Oct 1864 he was appointed Assistant Surgeon 2nd (Queen’s Royal) Regiment of Foot on the death of Assistant Surgeon Henry Stewart Lodge at Bermuda on 31st August 1864. The Bermuda Garrison was the military establishment maintained on the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda by the regular British Army, and its local militia and voluntary reserves from 1701 onwards. The Garrison existed primarily to defend the Royal Naval Dockyard (HM Dockyard Bermuda) and other facilities in Bermuda that were important to security in the region. St. George’s Garrison was the first permanent military camp of the Bermuda Garrison
On 9 Feb 1865 he died in St George’s Bermuda, the Colonial Capital of Bermuda, presumably due to illness or disease. He was only 29 years old.

Vince Croud

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