New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy
Medical Staffs Remain with Wounded
Medical Staffs Remain with Wounded
Through these unforeseen delays only two trips were carried out by the trucks before dawn. The first trucks left at 10.30 p.m. and were expected back for the second load at 1 a.m. on 26 May. When no trucks came, those remaining expected to be prisoners of war, and well they might have been had the Germans advanced during page 185 the night, as the New Zealanders withdrew from Galatas about midnight to lines in the rear of the hospital. However, three trucks returned at 3.30 a.m. and loaded all but some twenty or thirty seriously wounded cases from 5 MDS. Two medical officers, Major S. G. de Clive Lowe1 and Lieutenant Moody, and a padre, J. Hiddlestone2 and fourteen men, decided to stay to attend them.
As 7 General Hospital had had to leave 300 stretcher patients in their caves adjacent to 5 Field Ambulance and had detailed two medical officers and twenty men to look after them, the CO 5 Field Ambulance considered that an attempt should be made to evacuate the balance of his ambulance staff and as many of the patients as possible. The three truck drivers volunteered for this mission, but as a result of the air activity with the coming of daylight only one truck got through, the others being attacked and forced to return. The one truck, flying a Red Cross flag, was kept under constant observation by an enemy reconnaissance aircraft, which left it immediately it turned in to the hospital area. While preparations for departure were being made, a German patrol entered the dressing station and captured the medical staff and the wounded. The truck driver, Driver Jenkins,3 made his escape by climbing down the cliff and clambering round the rocks to get behind the New Zealanders' front line. He returned to the MDS at Nerokourou at 11 a.m.
At midnight the CO 6 Field Ambulance (Major Fisher) had received orders from the ADMS NZ Division to evacuate 250 walking wounded, and as the unit still possessed only a single light truck, the majority of these men also had to walk. They reached the naval hospital and most of them were taken off by destroyers on 26–27 May. Then, at 4 a.m. on 26 May, Colonel Bull met Major Fisher and instructed him to move his unit to Nerokourou immediately to establish an MDS along with 5 Field Ambulance. Some 150 stretcher cases were to remain at the ADS in the charge of a medical officer and twenty orderlies. Sixth Field Ambulance moved out at 4.15 a.m. leaving one medical officer, Lieutenant D. A. Ballantyne, a padre, H. I. Hopkins,4 and twenty nursing orderlies with the wounded. At 7 a.m. the unit reached the MDS which 5 Field Ambulance had already established in the church.
About 8 a.m. on the 27th the German advance was resumed, this time unopposed, and about an hour later the medical staff and Padre Hopkins were rounded up at the point of tommy guns by excited German soldiers and marched over to 7 General Hospital. En route an ugly situation developed when an English-speaking enemy officer accused the prisoners of shooting from the hospital building on his men. However, after the enemy had stolen their wrist watches, they were marched on until they came to an enemy RAP established at 7 General Hospital, and there they met the captured remnants of 5 Field Ambulance and 7 General Hospital.
A short time afterwards Lieutenant Ballantyne and some of the staff went back to the dressing station and found that one of the orderlies had been killed and another wounded in the assault on it. Driver Hunt,2 who had escaped the round-up, had taken upon himself the direction of the ADS and, by a nice combination of authority and tact, had induced the Germans, who had by this time calmed down considerably, to assist in the care of the many wounded. The German RMO, who spoke good English, paid a courteous visit, and said that although German wounded had prior right of evacuation, he would do his best to assist and evacuate the worst British cases before evening. The Germans kept their word, and in three days all the patients were sent by air to Greece.