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Medical Units of 2 NZEF in Middle East and Italy



On New Year's Eve the cold on the Sangro front grew more intense. The wind stung the skin like needles of ice. At 6 MDS many rooms had been fitted with home-made, oil-drum stoves, with lengths of galvanised iron piping through the windows for chimneys. The stoves did not draw very well, and the men moved dimly through acrid smoke and thickly-floating flakes of carbon from the oil used to boost the fires. Snow began to fall about 8 p.m. When the church bells rang in the new year, the night was all flurrying whiteness. The blankets nailed over the empty window frames were no protection whatever, and the snow whirled in to form drifts in rooms and corridors.

Later in the morning the snow began to melt and flow over the floors in streams of slushy water. A working party was detailed to page 334 clear the second-floor corridor, where it lay six inches deep. They shovelled snow rapidly through the windows until brought to a halt by the disgusted drivers of vehicles parked beneath. They then adopted the slower but more reasonable method of carrying it out.

With the interior more or less in order, the unit turned out to clear the street. Pickaxes were needed as the snow had already been packed to an ice-like hardness by the passing traffic. After two hours of solid work, with only an occasional snow battle, it was finally cleared. The men leaned on their shovels and viewed the scene of their labour with a satisfaction that suddenly evaporated when a bulldozer appeared, sent for the specific purpose of clearing the street.