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Medical Units of 2 NZEF in Middle East and Italy

CCS at Siena

CCS at Siena

After staging for ten days at Panicale, near Lake Trasimene, the CCS, under Lt-Col A. G. Clark,3 moved on 23 July to Siena. Upon the arrival of the advanced section, the equipment was unloaded and the vehicles left to collect the remaining section at Panicale. Some of the departments were erected that afternoon.

Everyone was delighted with the new location, which was separated from the town by a ridge and a gully. The unit had never before set up as a tented hospital so close to a town. From the ridge Siena could be seen spread out over its hills; silhouetted against the sky was the graceful tower of its famous cathedral and the looming bulk of its many churches. The site where the CCS was set up was a very narrow one bounded on one side by a road (Eighth Army express route) and on the other by a creek at the foot of wooded hills. Originally it had been an agricultural stadium, but it was a clean area and well drained, with a good system of roads and concrete channels. Thickly foliaged trees provided plenty of welcome shelter and gave an attractive appearance to the camp.

Since space was so limited only six wards were erected, as well as pre-operative theatres, cookhouses, and other smaller departments; the QM was well established in modern office buildings facing the road. Officers' and nursing sisters' tents were in a grassy paddock to the east of the area, while the men's bivouacs, pitched necessarily close together, were in a plot at the westward end. Here, too, were camped the Italian Army personnel who, since Presenzano, had been employed in the cookhouses and mess tents.

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On the day after the CCS arrived at Siena, casualties were admitted from the Division, which was now in action 15 miles south of Florence. For the following three weeks, as the fighting advanced towards the city and the Arno River, admissions remained at a high level, the average number admitted daily being 110. Although these casualties came in the main from the New Zealand Division, others were received from Canadian and British units, while South Africans, Americans, and South African native troops were also handled.

The line of evacuation at this time was a particularly long one, at least for New Zealand troops. From Siena patients were sent to 4 British CCS, 15 miles south, and from there they went to 58 British General Hospital at Lake Trasimene. This was a very hot and dusty 50-mile journey and particularly tiring for seriously ill cases. From Lake Trasimene New Zealand patients went 200 miles by air to Naples, and were soon transported to 2 NZ General Hospital at Caserta. Later, air evacuation was instituted from Siena.