Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The New Zealand Dental Services

Extract from a Survey of Dental Services within the NZ Division by Major Middlemass

Extract from a Survey of Dental Services within the NZ Division by Major Middlemass

The NZ Division was hurriedly moved from Syria to Matruh in order to help stem Rommel's apparently irresistible advance on the Nile Valley. 1 NZ Mobile Dental Unit moved with the Division as far as Cairo and then proceeded independently to Maadi Camp with LOB personnel. This was the first occasion on which the unit had moved with the Division. Hitherto, it had always moved independently of the latter—up to Baggush, down to the Canal Area, up to Maadi and finally up to Aleppo. This involves the issuing of a separate movement order by Middle East, through a variable number of Movement Control Officers to the area in which the unit is located and would seem to serve no useful purpose beyond demonstrating that No. 1 NZ Mobile Dental Unit is a non-Divisional unit. Indeed it has the disadvantage that the late arrival of the unit in the Divisional area or billets has always meant a re-arrangement of some Divisional unit in order to provide room for the Mobile Dental Unit. In Baggush, 4 NZ Field Ambulance was affected; in the Canal Area, the 5 NZ Field Ambulance; in Aleppo the 21 NZ Battalion. It is certainly inconvenient to these units while it is most certainly not to the advantage of 1 NZ Mobile Dental Unit.

All these difficulties and unnecessary inconveniences can be overcome by attaching the unit to the Division before the latter moves. Provision is then automatically made for the supply and movement of the unit, and allocation of an area on arrival at the destination is carried out by Divisional Headquarters. Less administrative work is required and there is less inconvenience to all concerned. It should be remembered too that when the unit is some distance from Base, and operationally this must always be so, it must move under Divisional arrangements. It is unwise therefore to break the normal routine on the comparatively few occasions when it is possible for 2 NZEF to move the unit.

Finally there is no loss of time in commencing work on units, at the latest on the day after the Division arrives in an area. Such is not possible if the unit moves under separate orders.

These opposing views were reconcilable by a fuller knowledge of how, where and when the Mobile Dental Unit could operate. The fullest co-operation between the ADDS, the OC Unit and the ADMS made it possible for attachment to the Division to be done with discretion, to their mutual advantage without the dangers so clearly demonstrated in Greece. In addition to this co-operation, page 207 however, it was essential that each, independently, should fully understand the capabilities and limitations of the unit. With the right officers it was unlikely that the unit would be improperly used. With even one of the trio imperfectly trained or unduly headstrong, Major Middlemass's suggestions might have led to disaster. Non-divisional attachment may have had disadvantages but it possessed advantages, especially in the early stages when the full implications of modern mobile warfare were imperfectly understood.

After the Mobile Dental Section had worked for some time under very trying conditions of rain, cold weather, mud and dust, it was announced that the Division would be withdrawn from the Western Desert to the Cairo and Canal areas. It was again noticed after the Libyan battle that there was a large number of broken and lost dentures, making it appear that this could normally be expected after the Division had been in action. It also again emphasised how vulnerable the denture wearer was to war conditions and how essential it was that an efficient dental service should always be available to a force such as the New Zealand Division.