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Hospital Ships

Hospital Ships

Two hospital ships were staffed by New Zealanders, the new Dutch ship Oranje and the Maunganui, already well known to New Zealanders, especially to soldiers of the 1914–18 War. These ships carried wounded and sick back home and they also made trips with other patients to Britain, South Africa, and Australia. Towards the end of the war the Maunganui was posted to work in the Pacific.

The chaplain on a hospital ship was really a normal hospital chaplain, except that he lived on a ship. At one time the Senior Chaplain posted a new chaplain to the Maunganui each time it reached the Middle East, and thus a Divisional chaplain had a voyage home, a few weeks in New Zealand, and then returned for duty in the Middle East, rested and refreshed. This practice ceased when the ship's staff complained that the constant changes were proving detrimental to the good work of the ship. There were special difficulties on the Oranje as she was manned by a Dutch crew and administered by a joint staff comprised, at various times, of British, Dutch, Australians, and New Zealanders. Not every chaplain succeeded in these conditions, one of which was the difficulty in creating a unit spirit amongst the mixed staff, but at the request of the staff, Padre Holland was specially recalled for a second term of duty as he had been very successful on the first. Life on the hospital ships varied between the intense activity of a voyage home, laden with wounded and sick, and the quiet peace of the voyage out in a ship empty but for the staff.