New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy
During the operations from 22 September to 22 October the medical work in the Division was almost entirely undertaken by the field ambulances, certain special cases being referred for operation to the active Canadian CCS and to the British neurosurgical unit page 626 attached to 83 British General Hospital. Our own CCS was not used at this stage. Evacuation from the active MDSs was by motor ambulance direct to 1 General Hospital at Senigallia, and many cases were referred there for primary surgery. During the second period after the Division had returned to the front from the rest area, the New Zealand CCS was functioning at Forli and undertook the bulk of the forward surgical work.
Evacuation was still to Senigallia by motor ambulance, with staging available at a British hospital at Fano. In both periods the bulk of the medical cases was handled by the field ambulances and large numbers, up to a third of the total, were returned direct to their units.
At 1 General Hospital a great deal of primary and the bulk of the secondary surgical treatment was carried out and all the medical cases were admitted from the Division. Cases were then evacuated by hospital ship from Ancona to Bari and admitted to 3 General Hospital. A small number of cases, especially during the first period was admitted to 2 General Hospital at Caserta, but evacuation from Senigallia to Caserta proved unsatisfactory, the convoys being held up and the patients admitted to British hospitals at Rome. Not being busy, 2 General Hospital treated patients from other forces as well as the overflow cases from Bari, and the unit was held in readiness for transfer to the Po valley when Eighth Army reached that area.
The transfer of cases from Caserta to Bari led to some difficulty as hospital trains were seldom available, but walking cases were sent on civilian trains. At Bari 3 General Hospital acted as the base hospital for 2 NZEF in Italy, accumulating cases for evacuation to New Zealand by hospital ship, as well as giving later treatment to all types of cases. Hospital Ship Maunganui took 311 cases early in October and collected another 50 patients from 5 General Hospital at Helwan.
The Convalescent Depot functioned in two detachments, the headquarters being at Senigallia and the detachment at San Spirito. The detachment, being sited near the base hospital, received almost double the number of patients admitted to the headquarters section—1868 as against 1029 for the last quarter of 1944.
A well-equipped camp hospital was functioning at Advanced Base and cases of minor illness were adequately treated and returned to their units. This relieved 3 General Hospital and was economical in all respects, and also provided useful training for the medical personnel. The admissions were from 100 to 150 a month and the average bed state about thirty.