New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy
The End in Tunisia
The End in Tunisia
To the north of the Eighth Army the First Army launched a thrust on 23 April and, after extremely heavy fighting, the Axis line was pushed back slowly, and nowhere in the other sectors had the Allies captured the enemy's main line of resistance. On the Enfidaville front the nature of the country made it impossible to gain a penetration of more than a few miles in any single successful attack, but on First Army's front the country was more favourable. page 441 General Alexander therefore regrouped his forces, and during the first five days of May the Allies massed for an all-out attack on the First Army sector. The 7th Armoured Division, 4 Indian Division, and a Guards brigade were transferred from Eighth Army to First Army, the plan being to attack with two infantry divisions and two armoured divisions. This main assault was to be assisted by simultaneous attacks in the extreme north by the Americans and in the south by the French. The role of 2 NZ Division was to support the French advance in the direction of Pont du Fahs, no major attack by the Division being intended.
2 NZ FTU with 4 MDS – left hook, Mareth, March 1943
Air ambulance aircraft, Tunisia, April 1943
A group in Tunisia: Major R. A. Elliott, Brigadier H. S. Kenrick, Lieutenant-Colonel R. D. King, Hon. F. Jones, Colonel F. P. Furkert. All four officers filled the position of ADMS 2 NZ Division
5 ADS, Takrouna, April 1943
28 Battalion RAP at Takrouna, 20 April 1943
Takrouna – showing the route down which wounded were carried from the Pinnacle
5 ADS at the Sangro, November 1943
4 MDS, Atessa, November 1943. Major C. E. Watson, Sister I. Simpson, Major N. H. Wilson, Lieutenant-Colonel J. K. Elliott, Major J. M. Staveley, Sister G. Connell, Brigadier H. S. Kenrick, Colonel L. F. Rudd
21 Battalion RAP, later 5 ADS, on the north bank of the Sangro, November 1943
Stretcher jeep, Sangro, December 1943
6 MDS, Castelfrentano, January 1944
2 NZ General Hospital, Caserta, February 1944
5 ADS, Cassino, March 1944
RAP at Cassino, showing the entrance to the crypt, March 1944
5 ADS, Sant' Elia, Cassino, April 1944
Using dust - gun at NZ Malaria School, Volturno Valley, April 1944
5 ADS, used during the attack on Faenza, December 1944
Taking medical supplies across the Lamone River, Faenza, December 1944
Stretcher jeeps of 1 NZ MAC at ADS, Gambettola, January 1945
3 NZ General Hospital in the Polyclinic area at Bari. The key to the numbers is: 1. Medical Stores Depot. 2. Tripoli Block (Surgical). 3. Staff quarters (officers, NCOs, and men). 4. Beirut Block (Medical). 5. Helmieh House (Sisters and WAACs). 6. Entrance. 7. Indian General Hospital. 8. British Depot Medical Stores. 9. 98 British General Hospital.
The Division accordingly moved to the north-west and took up positions threatening the gap in the hills before Pont du Fahs on 4 May. On 5 May 5 Field Ambulance opened an MDS a few miles behind Djebibina. At Sidi Bou Ali 4 MDS remained open, and 1 NZ CCS had moved up adjacent to this unit on 30 April. This position was only 10 miles from the forward defended localities, and the eight NZANS sisters who had remained with the CCS throughout the long advance were, as before, the sisters nearest the front line.
At dawn on 6 May the main Allied attack was launched along the axis of the Medjez el Bab–Tunis road. Before it the enemy defences crumpled. Tunis and Bizerta fell on 7 May and British armour swept across the base of Cape Bon peninsula before the enemy could regroup. On the southern flank of the attack 5 Infantry Brigade and New Zealand artillery actively supported the French and sustained some casualties, fifty-two being admitted to 5 MDS in five days and being evacuated to 4 MDS and 1 NZ CCS at Sidi Bou Ali.
On 8 May 2 NZ Division was ordered back into reserve near Enfidaville, and 5 Brigade was left to hand over its positions and follow on, while 5 Field Ambulance remained for a few days until its serious cases were fit to move and then rejoined the Division.
The Allied success in the north made the position of large forces of enemy infantry on the Enfidaville front precarious, as British armour was able to attack them in the rear. On 13 May Marshal Messe, who had succeeded Rommel and was commander of the Axis forces in Tunisia, surrendered unconditionally to General Freyberg. Resistance had now ceased and over 31,000 prisoners were taken on the southern front. For many days prisoners, both German and Italian, were marching back to prisoner-of-war cages in the rear. To the north the Royal Navy and Allied Air Forces prevented any large-scale evacuation from Cape Bon peninsula, and altogether over 200,000 prisoners and a vast amount of equipment were taken over by the Allies. By 13 May the battle for North Africa had ended with a disaster for the enemy comparable to that at Stalingrad.