New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy
Post-Armistice Medical Arrangements
Post-Armistice Medical Arrangements
The buildings occupied by 4 MDS at Villa Vicentina were former Italian-German barracks entirely suitable for medical work, water supply, electricity, latrines, and ablution rooms being available. As was usual during a rest period, there were numerous accidental injuries, many minor and some serious. As 1 Mobile CCS at Mestre was at first 70 miles away, all acute surgery was done at the MDS with the assistance of the attached 3 FSU. There was a steady stream of sickness cases, with ten cases of malaria and many with skin infections, and fewer cases of diarrhoea than might have been expected. The MDS also took the sick parade for any of the adjacent units of the Division which were without RMOs, and for several British units, some of which were attached to 2 NZ Division. The average number of cases examined and treated daily in the reception section without admission was fifty. From 3 May 102 Mobile VDTC was attached and was kept extremely busy, there being a very marked increase in the incidence of venereal disease, due partly to the cessation of hostilities and partly to the impossibility, because of political difficulties, of exercising adequate control in Trieste.
In Monfalcone 4 ADS treated and evacuated casualties on the morning of 2 May and then in the afternoon moved forward to Trieste. A building was selected in the town and the unit set up an ADS that night. During the next three days numerous casualties, mostly enemy, were treated and evacuated. During May cases of sickness and accidental injuries were treated by all three ADSs attached to their respective brigades in the areas of Monfalcone and Trieste, and then evacuated to 4 MDS at Villa Vicentina.
Instructions were received on 20 May for the evacuation of Trieste by 9 Infantry Brigade in the event of the outbreak of hostilities. It page 665 was expected that warning would be given and that A Company 4 Field Ambulance would move to a position west of Miramare, five miles from Trieste. It was, however, considered inadvisable to retain unnecessary transport and staff in Trieste, and on 21 May twenty-one men, three vehicles, and attached AFS ambulances were sent back to 4 MDS. At the same time 5 Brigade was moved nearer Trieste and 6 Brigade was deployed to protect lines of communication. The plans in the event of hostilities were amended on 25 May, when it was decided that 9 Brigade would remain in Trieste. The ADS then moved to a site in the vicinity of Brigade Headquarters and there set up for the reception of casualties. Fortunately there were no battle casualties after the first few days of the month, and it was possible to carry on the work of the ADS with the reduced number of staff resulting from the transfer of the party to 4 MDS.
In June 4 MDS continued to remain at Villa Vicentina and handled sickness cases. During May there had been delay in the cases reaching the CCS as the Division was one hundred miles away. This was rectified when the CCS moved to Udine at the beginning of June. Evacuation from 4 MDS to the CCS then took less than one hour, but some cases had still to be evacuated by road to Ferrara, a distance of 160 miles, and isolated cases were sent by road direct to Senigallia. The lack of adequate air transport for casualties at that period caused much anxiety to our medical service. After 1 Mobile CCS had moved north to a large school building in Udine, where there was an adjacent airfield, patients were evacuated by one plane twice weekly to Falconara for admission to 1 General Hospital at Senigallia.
With the opening of 6 MDS at Villa Opicina on 21 June, 4 MDS closed but continued to hold sick parades for neighbouring New Zealand and British units. Accidents, especially traffic accidents, had increased, and scarcely a day passed without one or two serious traffic casualties. Along with the remainder of 9 Infantry Brigade, 4 ADS had moved from Trieste to an area north of Prosecco on 2 June. The ADS was established there until 17 June, when a further move by the brigade took it north-west of Basovizza.
Ample facilities for recreation continued to be available during June. There were brigade and divisional sports meetings, cricket matches, and whenever possible swimming parties went to the beaches daily. Members of the units went on leave to Venice, to leave camps, and on organised four-day tours of northern Italy to Milan and the Lake district. Frequent cinema and operatic performances also provided entertainment. Day leave to Trieste was permitted later in the month and those not on duty made good use of this privilege. The active campaigning of the Division was over, the page 666 tension in Trieste eased, and the Division generally relaxed prior to the gradual return of men to New Zealand and a decision by the New Zealand Government regarding the future employment of the force in the Pacific.