Medical Units of 2 NZEF in Middle East and Italy
DURING September the field ambulances moved to the Western Desert with the Division. The convoys of trucks and ambulance cars moved out on the road through Cairo, past the Pyramids and Mena Camp, and on to the stretch of desert road leading to Alexandria. Then, turning west from Alexandria, the convoys drove along the coastal edge of the Western Desert that all were to get to know so well during the next two years.
On the third day, after moving in easy stages, trucks swung past the small station of Sidi Haneish, some 30 miles from Mersa Matruh, and halted near the little wadi that was to be the new camp area. The area into which the Division had moved was the Baggush Box, the defensive position dug and manned by the troops of the First Echelon in 1940. Wells in the small oasis of palm trees at the end of the little wadi provided a good supply of water.
The Germans and Italians were holding strongpoints in the Sidi Omar, Sollum, Capuzzo area near the border and besieging Tobruk. Another drive had to be launched against them, if possible before they were in a position to storm Tobruk, for which it was known they were preparing. The New Zealanders naturally expected to be given a role in the Western Desert again, this time as one of the foundation divisions of the Eighth Army, which took over operational command of all troops in the Western Desert at midnight on 26-27 September.