Medical Units of 2 NZEF in Middle East and Italy
In January 1942 the first of the New Zealand Rest Homes was opened. This was a rest home for New Zealand sisters and nurses, established in a delightful house in Garden City, a suburb of Cairo. There was a pleasant garden at the back of the house, and after the necessary renovations were made all was ready to receive guests.
In December Charge Sister E. M. Sutherland2 gave a reception to enable officials to see the Rest Home before its official opening. Much had been accomplished and everyone was well pleased with the transformation. From that time onward the Rest Home was very much appreciated by sisters and nurses on convalescent leave, bi-annual leave, or even on a night off. Cool, clean, and quiet, it was an ideal place for a rest after sickness, but near enough to the city when one wanted to go into town.
Shortly afterwards, another Rest Home for officers was opened nearby. It offered the same comfortable hospitality to officers of the Division during convalescence. All the time the Division was in the Middle East the Rest Homes continued to carry on very successfully, giving unspectacular but greatly appreciated service.
The official opening of these two Rest Homes (Nos. 1 and 3) was performed by Lady Lampson, wife of the British Ambassador to Egypt, on 27 January 1942. Opportunity was taken at this function to extend hospitality and return thanks to the many people of Cairo, Maadi, and surrounding districts who had assisted to entertain patients in hospital and the troops. These people, who made all welcome to their lovely homes and gardens or worked unstintingly page 189 in clubs and canteens, as well as visiting the hospitals, will never know how much good they did for the men of the British forces in Egypt.
Another Rest Home (No. 2) for other ranks, with Maj Kirker3 in command, was opened in Alexandria by Lady Freyberg on 27 February. Seriously sick or wounded patients who were not fit enough to go to the Convalescent Depot were sent there. To the patients it seemed the nearest thing to a home away from home they could find: linen on the beds, tablecloths and china in the mess, little discipline, much freedom, and a long sea-front with excellent bathing facilities to explore. One hundred patients could be accommodated at this Rest Home, though the term ‘patient’ was not encouraged. Rather, they seemed to the Charge Sister her ‘family’ under medical supervision and orders.