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The New Zealand Dental Services

War Diary ADDS, 25 March 1940:

War Diary ADDS, 25 March 1940:

The list of equipment being forwarded from New Zealand with the Contingent (Second) is given. A list is given of the total equipment (Dental) requested from ‘Liaison’1 London for the Dental Services with the 2 NZEF. This latter list does not agree with previous information from New Zealand. The equipment issue is becoming confused and after discussing the matter with the A.D.M.S. it has been decided to write to ‘Liaison’ stating the position and asking for verification of the information in the above cable and elucidation of other doubtful points.

The problem can be summarised:

Royal Army Dental Corps panniers, while possessing some advantages over the New Zealand ones, such as the collapsible front and sliding instrument trays, were insufficiently equipped for the service visualised by the NZDC. They were impracticable for field work unless the section was attached to a medical unit, and even then were short of essential instruments for oral surgery and certain stocks without which the New Zealand dental officer considered his conservative dentistry would suffer. The prosthetic pannier was bulky and heavy, being designed for work at a base, the policy of the RADC being not to process or repair dentures at sections in the field.

Owing to differences in design between British and New Zealand panniers, certain essential equipment such as engines and instrument containers were not interchangeable.

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Sources of supply would be mainly British, supplemented by selected items from New Zealand, if and when procurable.

Very little was available from local purchase but some articles such as folding tables and similar furnishings could be made when time permitted the drawing of designs.

The urgent need was to collect equipment from every source, break bulk and re-issue to a new standard more closely related to the needs of the New Zealand Dental Corps. It was an attempt to simplify the issue by viewing the dental treatment of mobile and static troops as one problem from the professional angle, establishing a standard minimum scale of issue for every section wherever employed, and regarding specialist equipment as something to be added to this when circumstances so demanded.

This was the appreciation of the situation at the time and was, of necessity, theoretical, although in the light of experience in the Western Desert some few months later it was remarkably accurate.

Apart from the equipment problem, there were daily questions affecting the general organisation requiring careful answers if the proposed service was to reach maturity in anything like the form in which it was visualised by the ADDS. Heads of all units were busy with their own problems and it was difficult for a junior captain in charge of a service on the outer fringe of the administrative circle to demand attention from brigadiers and colonels. Energy and perseverance, combined with idealism and a clarity of perception, broke these barriers and won respect and acknowledgment. Some of the early problems are of interest.

1 Code word for New Zealand Military Liaison Officer, London.