Medical Units of 2 NZEF in Middle East and Italy
In the hospitals life seemed uneventful after the excitement of the previous months, but work went on. At 1 General Hospital accidental injuries took the place of battle casualties, some of whom were invalided back to New Zealand on the hospital ships. Seasonal sickness, with the onset of another summer, brought an influx of patients from the concentration of troops in Maadi Camp. The 1762 admissions for July were the highest recorded since 1 General Hospital had been at Helwan, and helped to build up the total of 12.642 patients which it received during 1943. Patients were transferred periodically to 2 General Hospital to ease the burden. The summer was very trying indeed, and its effect was shown on the staff. At Tripoli 3 General Hospital was kept busy; it found the summer the hottest of all.
Changes came about, too. With the furlough drafts, many of the sisters and men from all hospitals returned to New Zealand for well-earned rest, including most of the sisters who had arrived in the Middle East in the beginning and had paved the way in the page 294 hospital work that was now so well established. Farewell parties, large and small, were the order of the day; but the regrets of those leaving the units and breaking old associations were, generally speaking, overshadowed by the prospect of the reunions at home with families and friends after three and a half years of separation. The arrival of fresh staff with the 9th and 10th Reinforcements brought new blood into all the units. At the end of 1943 the staff changes at 1 General Hospital during the year were totalled up and found to comprise 35 medical officers, 82 sisters, 64 VADs, and 68 men.
On 12 June the staff of 2 General Hospital were shocked by the news of the death of their popular and most capable commanding officer, Col Spencer, while on leave in Tripoli. He was a sad loss to the Medical Corps. Col H. K. Christie was appointed CO of the unit, and Miss V. M. Hodges became Matron on Miss Brown's return to New Zealand. The matron of 1 General Hospital, Miss E. C. Mackay, was promoted to the position of Principal Matron in succession to Miss Nutsey on 22 November and was succeeded at 1 General Hospital by Miss M. Chisholm, while Miss M. E. Jackson became matron of 3 General Hospital.