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Medical Units of 2 NZEF in Middle East and Italy

2 General Hospital Established at Caserta

2 General Hospital Established at Caserta

The main body of 2 General Hospital, under Col Christie, embarked at Port Said in the Highland Brigade and sailed across the Mediterranean from 3 to 8 January, when it landed at Taranto. There was some difficulty in obtaining a site for the hospital. Eventually it was arranged that a New Zealand hospital wing of 250 beds be established on part of the site of 2 British General Hospital in an Italian barracks at Caserta, north of Naples, sharing the services of the British hospital. Then the Division's move to the Fifth Army front led to the decision to establish the complete hospital of 600 beds at Caserta with the utmost expedition. Arrangements were made for the New Zealanders, who crossed Italy from Advanced Base and Bari, to take over the 123 New Zealand page 339 patients in the British hospital. As equipment arrived, 2 General Hospital became partly a tented hospital and was called upon to work to capacity.

Because of the limited number of buildings available (five wards of a total of 24 in the barracks), it was decided to place all administrative offices in tents, and to use the indoor space entirely for patients. All the staff were accommodated in tents. The inclement weather brought many hardships. It was cold, with heavy rain and wind, and snow lay on the nearby hills. Many of the tents were flooded out, but the staff cheerfully accepted their conditions and discounted their discomforts. Sisters and nurses showed a particularly admirable spirit.

In January Maadi Camp Hospital sent an ‘off-shoot’ over to Italy to form Advanced Base Camp Hospital of 50 beds at San Basilio, between Taranto and Bari. Capt A. E. Erenstrom1 was the first OC of the new unit.

1 Lt-Col A. E. Erenstrom; born Palmerston North, 28 Sep 1914; Medical Practitioner, Palmerston North; Medical Officer Maadi Camp Aug 1941-Feb 1942; 4 Fd Amb Feb-Aug 1942; 2 Gen Hosp Apr-Dec 1943; OC Adv Base Camp Hosp Dec 1943-Jul 1944; SMO Maadi Camp Jul 1944-Jul 1945.