New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy
AT a commanders' conference at Headquarters 2 NZ Division in the Siena area on 18 August instructions were received to lighten loads on transport to the greatest possible extent in order to achieve a high standard of mobility for future roles, and the ensuing days saw medical units rigidly cutting down their medical and personal gear.
The demand for extreme mobility was not an idle one as the Adriatic sector was again to be the destination of the Division in a secret move across Italy. The first convoys started their long journey on the night of 26 August. The route followed was through Siena, down Highway 2 to San Quirico, then to Torrita di Siena, Nottola, Castiglione del Lago, then along Highway 75 through Perugia to the staging area at Foligno. The day was spent in the staging area and the move resumed at 10 p.m. on 27 August, without lights and over appalling roads, with dust adding to the difficulty of driving over the coastal mountains and through Macerata to Iesi. The Division was now concentrated in a very hot, dusty valley, where the presence of swarms of mosquitoes necessitated great vigilance in anti-malaria precautions. As the area was only a short distance from the sea, swimming parties were soon arranged.
No. 1 NZ General Hospital under Colonel Fisher was establishing itself at Senigallia, on the coast a few miles to the north, after a move from Molfetta, and men from the field ambulances helped to erect the hospital tents on the last day of August and on the ensuing three days. It was autumn again, and the Italian peasants were busy in the fields gathering in the harvest of grain.
All the New Zealand medical units were concentrated in the one area with 5 MDS, under Lieutenant-Colonel Coutts, open to receive sick and evacuate to 1 Canadian General Hospital at Iesi and 11 and 71 British General Hospitals in the Loreto area, while 6 MDS under Lieutenant-Colonel Hawksworth operated a divisional rest camp on the beach near the junction of the road from Iesi with the coast road.page 606