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Medical Units of 2 NZEF in Middle East and Italy

2 General Hospital

2 General Hospital

The staff of 2 NZ General Hospital assembled in Trentham Camp on 17 May 1940. Some of the officers and prospective NCOs had entered camp a month earlier.

Most of the unit will remember the prize known as ‘the cup’ (sometimes qualified with an adjective). Nearly all the activities counted for points in the cup competition—drill, fatigues, lectures, work on field days. Beautiful thresholds appeared in front of the huts, fancifully ornamented and bordered with whitewashed stones. Dust was ejected from obscure corners of the huts, and hut orderlies, who swept and garnished their domains both inside and out, jealously guarded their work against the encroachment of muddy boots and untidy inmates.

On the theatrical side there was activity, too. A party from the unit staged a concert in a packed camp theatre. An unusually varied programme was presented—sketches, a choir, recitations, piano-accordeon, tap dance, and last but by no means least, ballet ‘girls’ with the inimitable Wally Prictor as leading lady.

In charge of the unit was Colonel Spencer, a forceful and vigorous personality and an able administrator, who was later to die of sickness in North Africa. One of his officers (Lt-Col P. A. page 11 Ardagh22) became DDMS 30 Corps and was in the United Kingdom preparing the medical plan for the Second Front when he died. Two others, Lt-Col D. Pottinger23 and Capt J. E. Caughey24 became COs of general hospitals, and one (Maj A. L. de B. Noakes25) CO of the Convalescent Depot.

On 27 August the unit marched from the train in Wellington to embark on the Mauretania for the Middle East. Its embarkation strength was 18 officers, 39 sisters, and 148 other ranks.