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Medical Units of 2 NZEF in Middle East and Italy

The First Night at Santa Teresa

The First Night at Santa Teresa

It was a quarter to three when the unit reached the divisional area. All thoughts and conversation were on the subject of food; unfortunately there was none. The unit rations and equipment, assumed to have been sent forward promptly, were still on the wharf awaiting transport. The cooks were helpless. Finally, some oddments of dry rations were distributed, and the cooks of Divisional HQ provided tea. With a certain amount of bitter comment the men settled down under the olive trees for the night. Fortunately the weather was warm and bedrolls were not missed.

Trucks arrived at the wharf early on the 10th, and the baggage party loaded on the gear, scrambled on themselves, and set off for the camp, passing through the drab streets with their endless three-story buildings. All windows and shopfronts were shuttered. The trucks ploughed through deep pools of water where the mains and drains had burst, sending muddy waves washing against the walls and among the piles of rubble and fallen bricks.

At Santa Teresa conditions were good and the area pleasant. Although noticeably low-lying, the ground was firm and clean. Across a gully, evidently an old quarry but now overgrown with rough shrubs and wild flowers, stood a barracks building, housing many Italian soldiers who were still in uniform and who seemed to have plenty of time on their hands. The house on the other side page 301 of the track, occupied by Divisional HQ, was the home of the landowner, reputed to be a count, who had fled with the retreating Germans and Fascists.

As all British hospitals were evacuating patients to Sicily and North Africa, a large detachment of HQ 6 Field Ambulance returned to Taranto on the 10th and established an MDS in the Archæological Museum building to hold New Zealand patients.