Medical Units of 2 NZEF in Middle East and Italy
Move to Rest Area
Move to Rest Area
On 10 September the Division moved to a rest area on the coast to rest, train, and reform, and with it went the medical units, except 4 Field Ambulance, which returned to Maadi Camp to rejoin 4 Brigade, which was training for conversion to an armoured brigade. In the rest area the soothing music of the sea replaced the noise of the guns, and there were fewer flies. Groups from each unit went in turn for a few days' leave to Cairo or Alexandria, and on the coast the men spent much of their time swimming. With band page 221 concerts, the Kiwi Concert Party, YMCA canteens in the unit areas, and a supply of beer from the Naafi store at Burg el Arab, the men were able to spend a pleasant ten days or so.
A month's training in the desert followed. This proved a relatively busy period for the field ambulances, for although little training was done, 5 and 6 Field Ambulances provided ADSs for the units in training and 6 Field Ambulance set up an MDS for cases of sickness from the Division.
The New Zealanders had spent a trying summer. For two and a half months they had seen almost continuous action under most difficult conditions, and after a brief respite had continued with hard training. It was not surprising that the rate of sickness was high. It seemed always to increase when units came out of the line to rest or train, and in September and October this was again the case. A wave of infective jaundice reached almost epidemic proportions and caused much concern, and the dressing stations were taxed to capacity to hold the cases that flooded back to them, 6 MDS forming almost a small desert hospital.
Through the latter part of September and early October the dressing stations were kept busy, but towards mid-October all patients were evacuated through the CCS and 6 MDS moved into reserve near the coast. It was becoming cooler, and dust-storms were a frequent, almost regular, occurrence. On one occasion rain set in. It was heavy rain with a high wind, driving right into the bivvies that remained standing and completely flooding the low-lying area on which 6 Field Ambulance was camped.