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The New Zealand Dental Services

Précis of Dental Arrangements and Proposed Distribution of Dental Sections with 2 NZEF

Précis of Dental Arrangements and Proposed Distribution of Dental Sections with 2 NZEF

All ranks are being rendered dentally fit before leaving for Egypt and to achieve this there is one dental officer to every 200 men in camp in New Zealand.

The object of the Dental Corps overseas is to maintain all ranks dentally fit, to prevent a return to the uneconomical condition that mouths were in on enlistment, and to justify the … expenditure in New Zealand.

With the first contingent the basis is one dental officer to every 2,000 men. (Three dental officers apart from the A.D.D.S.)

With the second contingent the basis will become one dental officer to every 1,000 men overseas. (Arrival of seven dental officers.)

With the third contingent the basis will become one dental officer to every 600 men overseas. (Arrival of twelve dental officers.)

Thereafter the dental personnel will be such that there will be a basis of one dental officer to 600 and one mechanic to 1,200 men. [This ratio was changed later.]

This figure is an international one and is considered by the profession to be that necessary to maintain dental fitness.

The allocation of personnel will probably be as follows:

Convalescent Depot 1 dental officer
Inf. and Gen. Base Depot 1 dental officer
General Hospital 1 dental officer
Field Ambulance 3 dental officers
Divisional Dental Hospital 8 dental officers
Total 14 dental officers

This will leave a surplus of eight dental officers to be used as a ‘Pool’ and to be used in training camps etc., to augment units requiring additional dental personnel, e.g., should there be 700 men at Base, one dental officer will be attached. Should there be 3,000 it may be necessary to attach five dental officers.


Training Camps.

The policy is to establish camp dental blocks in training camp areas, NZDC personnel being temporarily detached from their units such as Field Ambulance etc., this arrangement not only enabling the maximum number of dental officers to use the minimum equipment but also enabling the maximum volume of work to be done with the least interference with unit training programmes.


Convalescent Depot.

One dental officer, one orderly and two mechanics. This section is fully equipped and it is proposed that all ranks be examined on arrival at the depot and rendered dentally fit before returning to their unit or other formation, i.e., the soldier returns dentally as well as medically fit. The attached personnel can be augmented depending on the work presenting.

page 141

Infantry and General Base Depot.

One dental officer, two orderlies and one mechanic. As above it is proposed that all ranks be examined on being taken on the strength of this unit and, as far as practicable, rendered dentally fit before proceeding to the Field. The attached personnel can be augmented depending on the amount of work presenting.


Reserve Depot, Command Depot, etc.

If and when these are established, dental sections will be attached and a procedure similar to the above adopted.


Discharge Depot. (When established.)

It is submitted that all ranks to be discharged should be returned to New Zealand dentally fit and to this end, and when work warrants it, a dental section will be attached to the depot. In the meantime the section attached to Headquarters 2 NZEF Base will render these men dentally fit.


General Hospital (600 beds).

One dental officer, one orderly and one mechanic.


Dental Arrangements with the Division.


Field Ambulance Sections.

One dental officer and one orderly. The dental outfit with the Field Ambulance equipment has no provision for repair or replacement of broken or lost dentures.

A van, 12 cwt., 4-wheeled, is provided for the dental officer and his equipment. The above is in accordance with RAMC establishment.


Mobile Divisional Dental Hospital.

50% of our troops are wearing artificial dentures, a feature peculiar to New Zealand troops. Denture casualties were a problem in the last war, and already more denture cases are presenting in a month with 6,000 men than present in three months with two Divisions of British troops in Egypt.

It is obvious that the Field Ambulance Sections are unable to deal with this problem, neither can they cope with the bulk of surgical and filling work that is present with troops. Without some other arrangement the evacuation of dental casualties is inevitable. For this reason the Mobile Divisional Dental Hospital is once again being established.

I have to admit that as yet I am not familiar with the details of this unit but expect details to arrive from New Zealand at any moment. The establishment is eight officers and twenty-six other ranks including cook, batmen and drivers.

According to a communication from Colonel Finn the unit is completely self-contained with its own transport. The fully equipped body and personnel are arriving with the third contingent. The chassis for a 3-ton Leyland Lynx lorry is page 142 due to arrive from the United Kingdom in June. All available information is contained in notes written by Colonel Finn. I have revised these and enclose a copy.

J. F. Fuller,
Captain, NZDC,

2 NZEF Base,
14 April 40

Colonel Finn's notes are included later when the details of the formation of the Mobile Divisional Dental hospital are discussed.

This report was well received and undoubtedly helped the Corps to gain a foothold on the administrative ladder. It received the following reply:

Memorandum for:


The statement produced by the ADDS covering the distribution of the dental sections has been perused by the Comd. NZ Div., who wishes to express his appreciation of the clear manner in which it was set out.

The following comments are made:


Only one General Hospital appears to be allowed for but there appear to be ample officers in the ‘Pool’.


The ‘Mobile Divisional Dental Hospital’ while an excellent idea in principle, cannot in fact be either ‘Mobile’ or ‘Divisional’, in the true sense of the words. With a highly mechanized fast moving Division it would be very difficult for such a hospital to function as a real integral part of the Division. What would, in fact, happen would be that the hospital would proceed to the Overseas Base and there would wait until the Division came out for a period of rest. The hospital would then move up and commence operating. I gather that, in fact, it cannot function efficiently without remaining in one place for at least a week.

The memo. from the DDS New Zealand is clearly based on memories of Trench Warfare in France.

I think the term ‘Divisional’ must be dropped. ‘Mobile’ could be retained and the hospital be known as the ‘Mobile Dental Hospital’.

W. G. Stevens,1

19 April 40.

With the formation of a Headquarters 2 NZEF Base imminent, the time was ripe for a stabilisation of the equipment position by the establishment of a dental store and the ADDS made detailed submissions accordingly, concluding with the statement:

1 Maj-Gen W. G. Stevens, CB, CBE, m.i.d.; England; born London, 11 Dec 1893; Regular soldier; NZ Fd Arty 1915–19 (Maj); AA & QMG, NZ Div, 1940; Officer in Charge of Administration, 2 NZEF, 1940–45; GOC 2 NZEF, 22 Nov 1945–6 Jul 1946.