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Medical Units of 2 NZEF in Middle East and Italy

The Advance

The Advance

The enemy still held positions in the Terelle sector on 25 May and New Zealand troops were still unable to move in daylight without drawing fire. Just before dark on the 24th, three men of A Company, 5 Field Ambulance, were wounded, one fatally, while adjusting the blackout covers over openings in the battered cookhouse building, the only part of the ADS above ground.

An attack was delivered toward Terelle in the early hours of the 25th, and in anticipation of heavy casualties extra stretcher-bearers were sent up to the car post. However, the enemy had practically evacuated Terelle and the surrounding territory overnight, and casualties were so light that the stretcher-bearers were not needed. page 360 Later in the morning the Rt. Hon. Peter Fraser, with General Freyberg, called at the car post and talked with the men.

Some of the stretcher-bearers of 5 ADS were attached to the battalion RAPs and moved forward with the infantry through Terelle and on toward Atina. Most of the vehicles were held up by demolitions on the roads; but one of the MAC jeeps, carrying a party of the ADS stretcher-bearers, made a few bumpy detours, one taking it over the remains of a demolished house, and was probably the first New Zealand vehicle to reach Atina. The stretcher parties camped with the battalions on the outskirts of the town.

On the 28th Maj R. A. Wilson went forward to Atina to select a site for the ADS. Meeting some of the stretcher-bearers returning to Sant’ Elia for further orders, he took some of them with him and sent the remainder to the car post to act as a first-aid post for casualties on the long trip up. The only building that seemed at all suitable for an ADS was a schoolhouse, and it was in a filthy condition. Leaving one of the men there to hold the building and to look after a wounded German whom the local Italians were intent on killing, the rest of the party carried on in an unsuccessful search for more suitable quarters. Next day 4 MDS, under Lt-Col F. B. Edmundson, arrived at Sant’ Elia, and the remainder of A Company moved along the road through Belmonte to Atina, and the full ADS set up in the schoolhouse.

After treating battle casualties and sick, and incidentally, feeding the few half-starved civilians who had returned to the town, A Company moved forward again, an advanced party leaving on the 31st and the remainder of the company following on 1 June, to establish the ADS in a two-storied house on the Atina-Sora road. There were casualties immediately—a party of Maoris who, in their advance, had run into an ambush.