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Medical Units of 2 NZEF in Middle East and Italy

The Division near Nofilia

The Division near Nofilia

For the rest of December the Division was occupied in recreation and training near Nofilia. The weather was fine, and the medical units that were closed indulged in a period of pleasant relaxation. There were, as always, varying interpretations of the word relaxation. Some took it literally; others relaxed on the football field. The tenniquoits enthusiasts made courts and organised tournaments. Though the water was rather cold for swimming, many of the hardier spirits bathed among the piled slabs of rock of which the beach was composed.

Others occupied themselves in other ways. In 6 Field Ambulance a sergeant was seen squatting outside his bivvy, oblivious to everything but a block of white sandstone from which he was carving a head with his jack-knife. The idea took on, and within a short time heads, feet, clenched fists, and various other parts of the human anatomy, all carved from the same material, were to be seen page 253 lying about the area. No doubt they have since been picked up and examined by more than one puzzled bedouin.

Water was practically the only source of complaint at this time. Drawn from local wells, it was brackish and almost undrinkable, and as it curdled milk, decent tea was out of the question.

The arrangements for Christmas Day astonished everyone. It had been thought that it would be impossible to have Christmas fare and parcels up to the units in time. However, everything arrived in abundance. The Division was a thousand miles from its base after a rapid advance; nevertheless, a huge consignment of Christmas mail and parcels was distributed on 24 December.

The 25th was a fine, bright day. The medical units held the midday meal in the tarpaulin shelters, and officers and sergeants, in the traditionally happy fashion, moved among the tables serving soup, poultry, and plum pudding. A bottle of beer and fifty cigarettes were issued to each man, and the cooks received an ovation that they more than deserved. There was not much movement during the afternoon. Everyone was enjoying that pleasant torpor that comes of a really well-filled stomach. The evening meal was equally satisfying, consisting of roast pork and apple sauce, fruit salad and cream, and iced Christmas cake. He was a most unimaginative man who did not wonder how it had been done.