New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy
Evacuation of Wounded
Evacuation of Wounded
Early on the morning of 27 June the seventy bomb casualties were cleared from the ADSs to 5 MDS. The ADS ambulance cars were met at the car post of 2 British MAC north of the divisional area by Major Boyd,2 who was taking the ten reserve AFS cars to Main Divisional Headquarters. The wounded were here transferred to cars of 2 British MAC and to four of the AFS cars. With the remaining six AFS cars and the seven ADS cars, Major Boyd attempted to continue on to the divisional area, but, being cut off by two German columns, was forced to circle round via Rear Divisional Headquarters and get to the Division from the south, crossing the head of one German column. The convoy reached Main Divisional Headquarters safely at 3 p.m.page 334
The ambulances were quickly filled at the ADSs with casualties which had occurred during the day, and set off on their return to the MDS. The convoy was forced to retire to the ADS area as the Division was almost surrounded by enemy armour. Shelter was taken in a wadi, wherein some amount of protection from enemy shelling was available for the casualties and medical personnel.
During the afternoon both 4 and 5 ADSs were threatened by the sudden approach of enemy armour and had to be hurriedly brought in to a position close to Main Divisional Headquarters. One tarpaulin shelter was left behind by 4 ADS as there was no time to collect it, but otherwise there was no loss as ADMS NZ Division had warned the officers commanding ADSs to be prepared for emergency moves.
The detachment of B Company 4 Field Ambulance worked as an ADS at several locations during the day, the moves being occasioned by the proximity of enemy shellfire and our own artillery concentrations. For most of the afternoon the detachment was combined with 5 ADS, and later cleared patients from the RAPs of 6 Field Regiment and 18 Battalion to 5 ADS by means of an AFS ambulance car and trucks of 6 Field Regiment.
At 5 p.m. General Freyberg was wounded in the neck by a shell splinter while watching from a forward position the progress of an enemy attack. By great good fortune the splinter went through the back of the General's neck without injury to vertebral column or spinal cord. He was attended by Colonel Ardagh and Major Boyd. There was, of course, no chance of evacuating wounded then and the General lay on a stretcher in a widened slit trench until the shelling ceased at last light.
During the day the ADSs in the battle area performed efficiently and the ambulance cars, both our own and those of the AFS, did wonderful service in going forward to RAPs and beyond to collect the wounded early. Emergency surgery and immobilisation of fractures were all completed well before the ultimate withdrawal took place.