New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy
The need for convalescent homes in order to make the medical services as complete as possible had been realised for some time. It was most difficult, however, to find suitable buildings in a favourable locality. Many possibilities were considered and numerous inspections made by DDMS 2 NZEF and others before any choice was made, and protracted negotiations and arrangements were necessary for hiring the buildings finally chosen. The three rest homes for nurses, officers, and other ranks were formed as units of 2 NZEF on 28 November 1941.
The financial arrangements made for these rest homes were that the Army was responsible for rent, payment of (civilian) staff, rationing, and the ordinary articles of furniture such as tables, chairs, and beds. All extras in the way of curtains, floor-covering, and easy chairs were to be provided by the Joint Council of the Order of St. John and the Red Cross Society of New Zealand.
1 NZ Rest Home for NZANS and NZ WAAC was situated in the Garden City, Cairo. It was a large house with a pleasant garden and could hold forty convalescent patients. A sister (Miss Sutherland)1 page 303 was placed in charge of this home, which received its first patients on 17 December 1941 and was officially opened by Lady Lampson, wife of the British Ambassador to Egypt, on 27 January 1942.
3 NZ Rest Home for officers of 2 NZEF was in a very fine residence overlooking the Nile. It was capable of holding fifty patients and was a quarter of a mile from 1 Rest Home. One medical officer was able to supervise the medical care of this institution and 1 Rest Home, and also visit the New Zealand Forces Club, Cairo, where the floating population and the staff of NZWAAC (Welfare Division) necessitated daily medical attendance. The rest home received its first patients early in January and was officially opened by Lady Lampson on 27 January 1942. New Zealand officers serving in the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy were also at times received in this home.
2 NZ Rest Home was for other ranks of 2 NZEF. For this purpose a small hotel of four stories on the seafront at Sidi Bishr, some 7 miles from the centre of Alexandria, was taken over and renovated. It was an attractive and comfortable location for men who were recovering from the more serious illnesses or wounds, and excellent sea bathing was available. It could hold 120 patients. It received its first patients on 12 January 1942 and was officially opened on 21 February by Lady Freyberg.
To the official openings of the rest homes were invited local residents and officials, many of whom had already generously interested themselves in providing outings and other forms of entertainment for the patients. Comfortable furnishings were provided in all the rest homes from funds made available through the Joint Council.