New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy
MDS at Igiea Marina
MDS at Igiea Marina
During the morning of 4 October 4 MDS, with 1 FSU and 2 FTU, moved to a new building, formerly an Italian children's hospital and sanatorium on the coast road at Igiea Marina, just south of Bellaria, which is at the mouth of the Uso River. This building consisted of three stories, with a central block of small rooms and two wings forming large dormitories very suitable for holding patients. It had previously been occupied by a Canadian FDS, a Greek ADS, and 5 NZ ADS.
The reduced length of the Allied salient and the general dispositions of units allowed the MDS to receive patients direct from the RAPs, with 6 ADS functioning only as a transfer and emergency aid point. On 5 October the MDS was reinforced by a surgical team from 1 Mobile CCS with equipment for a 50-bed ward, an X-ray truck, and six nursing orderlies. The unit was considerably nearer the actual battle zone than was usual, and consequently in a very noisy position from nearby guns, but it provided a fully equipped surgical and medical centre. This arrangement was commented on very favourably by visiting senior combatant officers, who expressed the view that such a set-up contributed greatly to the morale of the troops in the actual fighting zone. With the help of the engineers windows were replaced with windolite, the water supply on the ground floor was put into working order, and a portable lighting set was used to provide a lighting circuit in the building.
By 8 October the unit had three completely equipped and staffed operating theatres as well as the Field Transfusion Unit and an X-ray plant, an impressive collection of surgical facilities. Fortunately these arrangements proved over-adequate as a very limited number of casualties occurred in the divisional sector. The total admissions for the first week at Igiea Marina were 238 sickness cases and 84 battle casualties. The latter were mainly victims of sporadic shelling, as persistently wet weather forced the postponement of the actual crossing of the Fiumicino.
On 10 October 2 NZ Division moved to the adjacent western sector, which had previously been held by Canadians. No great increase in distances of evacuation resulted and 4 MDS remained at the same site receiving cases from 5 ADS, some three to four miles due west.
The weather started to improve on 11 October. An increase in the number of guns in the vicinity incited the enemy to some page 617 artillery retaliation. During the afternoon several airbursts were observed over the building, and later accurate enemy counter-battery fire on neighbouring gun sites produced a sudden influx of battle casualties. No damage to MDS property resulted but odd fragments made open-air conditions unpleasant for a while.