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To Greece

Withdrawal of 1 General Hospital

Withdrawal of 1 General Hospital

Among the units which made this early withdrawal was 1 New Zealand General Hospital, which had been at Pharsala ever since 22 March. On the night of 14–15 April the patients were taken to a train at the Demerli railway siding, but the orders were countermanded and they had to be brought back to camp. The following evening, however, sisters, staff and patients were all evacuated. The sisters2 left in the transport provided by the Mobile Dental Unit. The 428 patients moved at first light, 112 convalescents page 229 walking with the staff to the siding some six miles away, and the others being transported in relays in the six available vehicles. The expected hospital train did not arrive, but one without an engine was made up from the wagons at the siding and, in spite of protests from the Greek transport officials, was added to another which came through from Larisa.

Once daylight came, those aboard had their exciting moments. There were air raids and the Greek engine-driver did not want to work, but a New Zealander and an Australian kept him to his task and in the afternoon of 16 April the train reached Athens. The patients and the majority of the staff went either to 26 General Hospital or 2/5 Australian General Hospital. The others1 went to Voula, where on 17 April they established a convalescent hospital at the Reinforcement Base Camp. Next day the sisters who had been billeted in Athens were transferred to houses in Kifisia.

2 Eight Australian sisters who had been sent back from the north travelled with them.

1 Captains A. N. Slater and G. R. Kirk, Lieutenants H. M. Foreman, J. Borrie and P. N. R. McDonald.