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Medical Units of 2 NZEF in Middle East and Italy

Division Moves up from Bardia

Division Moves up from Bardia

The Division, too, was eager to be on the move again. The region of flat desert at Bardia, without even an escarpment to break the monotonous horizon, had begun to pall; and the frequent heavy rain, combined with bitterly cold winds, had often made living page 247 conditions extremely unpleasant. Hence when the field ambulances, on instructions from the ADMS, began evacuating patients to 1 NZ CCS at Tobruk, all ranks had one thought in mind—Tripoli; and they had their Army Commander's assurance that there would be no more of these annual trips to Benghazi.

The enemy position at Agheila was strong, flanked on the north by the sea and in the south by a desert of soft sand, and covered frontally by salt marshes. Out into the desert the Division was to make an outflanking movement, a ‘left hook’, coinciding with a frontal assault by British forces on the Agheila line. When it received its role it was still at Bardia, 350 miles from the front, but early on the morning of 4 December the force moved west and in three days crossed 356 miles of desert to an assembly area at El Haseiat, east of the Agheila position. All three field ambulances accompanied the Division, while 4 Field Hygiene Section and 1 Mobile Dental Unit remained near 1 CCS and moved with that unit to Agedabia on 8 December. When the CCS reached its new site near Agedabia three days later, the presence of the sisters so far forward was a surprise to wounded soldiers, some of whom had not seen white women for many months.