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Medical Units of 2 NZEF in Middle East and Italy

Reactions at Base

page 211

Reactions at Base

The approach of the enemy nearer to the Nile Valley and his premature boasts of complete victory brought consternation in Cairo. The staffs of the medical units at Base shared the growing uncertainty for a while. Some knew more than others of the plans for evacuation. The DMS Office knew more than most, and the staff were busy reducing files and burning less essential papers so that the remainder could be packed quickly. Maadi Camp units were organised into a defensive formation called 6 NZ Division, the Camp Hospital becoming 23 Field Ambulance. Sisters and nurses had their bags packed ready to move out of the country at a few hours' notice. The men of the hospitals never heard of any plans for them and presumed they were to stand by their patients if the enemy came. But the enemy did not come. Days of uncertainty passed, and gradually confidence returned and life resumed its normal course. The civilians who had fled returned, and news of the battles in the desert was followed closely in the Cairo newspapers. The hospital staffs, as they attended to the needs of the wounded, admired the men who barred the enemy's progress at Alamein.