Medical Units of 2 NZEF in Middle East and Italy
Life at Fabriano
Life at Fabriano
In the Scuola Tecnica Agraria in Fabriano, 4 Field Ambulance opened an MDS for the Division's sickness cases. This was a commodious, red-brick building, overlooking the valley in which the town spread itself over mild slopes. On the other side of the valley rose a rocky ridge, soon to be covered with snow. As it was necessary to hold only up to 150 patients in this agricultural college, the school authorities were allowed to continue functioning in a wing of the building. The structure itself, so unlike most buildings in the path of the war in Italy, was virtually undamaged and was a hallmark in the unit's history as being the first it had occupied page 395 in Italy with its electric light and water services still intact. The town's electricity system had escaped major damage.
For the remainder of the month and until 27 November, the MDS looked after the sick, the more serious cases being evacuated to 1 General Hospital at Senigallia.
The widespread dispersal of the Division and the congestion of traffic on the narrow roads necessitated the opening of 6 MDS, under Lt-Col W. Hawksworth,1 in the castle on Rocca Lanciano, near Castel Raimondo, in the 6 Brigade area, ten miles to the south. Previously it had taken as long as three hours for patients to reach 4 MDS from 5 ADS, farther south at Camerino, in 5 Brigade's area. The weather at this time continued to be bad, but all units were accommodated in houses, factories, or castles and were able to keep dry.
Much of the life of Fabriano appeared to centre round the main square, the Piazza del Podesta, bounded by public buildings and containing a chain-encircled fountain in a moss-covered basin. On warmer evenings the pillared terraces of the post office, public library, and art gallery were lined with troops peacefully enjoying the spectacle of crowds of citizens taking their after-dinner stroll.
The NZ YMCA opened a cafeteria in the post office building. Because of the shortage of cups, the tea was served in adapted milk tins, wrapped around with several layers of gauze as a protection for the hands. Even so, the counter radiated darting figures as men snatched up the tins and leaped to deposit them on the nearest table or ledge before they dropped from their scorched hands.
Three cinemas were operating in the town, but all suffered the effects of a shortage of power. It was impossible to run the projectors at anything like the normal speed, and the resultant drawling speech was almost unintelligible. The most popular entertainment was presented by a party of local Italians in the town's main theatre. It is probable that many soldiers still remember the lyric soprano voice of 14-year-old Sylvana Tisi and the exuberant personality of her sister, Anna Maria. They were followed by the Kiwi Concert Party. Then came an excellent ENSA show. Unfortunately, the New Zealand allocation of admission tickets for the page 396 latter were mere typewritten slips of paper, and widespread forgery caused a crowd of genuine ticket-holders to be left outside when the doors closed. However, the problem was solved in the usual manner: the doors gave way and most gained admission.