New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy
As the enemy was unable to penetrate our defensive position battle casualties were extremely low, the total of wounded in Eighth Army for the period from 6 p.m. 5 March to 6 p.m. 7 March, being 10 officers and 177 other ranks. One interesting feature was that out of this comparatively small number the total of penetrating abdominal wounds appeared unusually high, being approximately ten.
New Zealand casualties for the day of battle, 6 March, were fewer than twenty wounded, and these were dealt with at 5 MDS before being sent to 1 NZ CCS. Casualties from enemy bombing and strafing on the evening of 6 March and subsequent days were more numerous. Although the unit was showing Red Cross signs, 4 Field Ambulance was strafed by ten planes on the evening of 6 March, and Captain Foote1 and Private Holley2 were killed and others wounded.
The forward Corps medical group proved most useful, and although the small number of casualties did not provide a real test, it was obvious that even this small group could have dealt satisfactorily with and provided major surgery for a considerable number of cases. It saved the badly wounded men a long ambulance trip to Ben Gardane, to which it was at first arranged that the whole CCS should be withdrawn.
The rear Corps medical arrangements also functioned well, and it was felt that had the casualties been as estimated (3000 over four to five days) the arrangements made would have ensured their being dealt with satisfactorily. Air evacuation by ambulance planes, though on a light scale, did average, over a period of four days, twenty-eight to thirty a day and proved a great help in evacuating the more serious cases.