Medical Units of 2 NZEF in Middle East and Italy
An increasingly familiar sight to members of 2 NZ Division in Italy was the yellow armband worn by personnel of 4 Field Hygiene Section. These men were engaged on the work of safeguarding the health of the troops, in the field or on the move. They were concerned, too, with the prevention of malaria and of the intestinal diseases, especially dysentery, diarrhoea, and the typhoid group. Where troops were in contact with a civilian population, which was likely to increase the incidence of these diseases, steps were taken by the Field Hygiene Section to ensure that civilians, too, observed the elementary rules of hygiene. This formed a major portion of their work in the mountain sectors near Cassino.
Difficulties were often encountered. Foremost among them was the language problem; much patience and ingenuity were devoted to overcoming this, so that the section could make its ideas understood and get them carried out. Another difficulty was to find someone in authority in a village to undertake responsibility for the supply of labour and materials, and for the execution and continuation of the works which the section planned. The podesta, or mayor, was usually found to be co-operative, while the local doctor, when there was one, also assisted. Help was furnished by the carabinieri (police), whose office in the villages was often an hereditary one.