Medical Units of 2 NZEF in Middle East and Italy
At the CCS, as in other units, Christmas was spent in a merry manner. Again the cooks went to a great deal of trouble. The patients were not forgotten; all received Patriotic and Red Cross parcels, and there was plenty of beer for those who were well enough. The staff, too, had a Christmas beer ration, but if this was not of the desired quantity it was well supplemented by other more potent beverages. At Forli it was really a white Christmas, for three inches of snow fell on 23 December. It was not unexpected page 405 as the weather during the month had become more severe, and conditions in the open were most unpleasant.
A wedding at 3 NZ General Hospital, Bari (l. to r.) Lt T. I. McCluggage, Sister E. M. Baillie, Lt J. W. G. Wilson (bridegroom), Sister D. J. H. Hards (bride), Capt W. T. Simmers, and Sister A. M. Goldsmith
Lieutenant-General Sir Bernard Freyberg (with Matron Miss I. MacKinnon) shaking hands with members of the nursing staff at 6 NZ General Hospital, Florence, during his farewell visit
At Senigallia snow had also fallen, but by Christmas Day it had melted and there was only an aftermath of mud and slush. A choir of mixed voices was formed from the staff of 1 General Hospital and HQ 2 NZEF in Senigallia, to provide Christmas music at church services and in the gaily decorated wards of the hospital. On Boxing Night the Kiwi Concert Party was back again to provide entertainment, and the following day a double wedding took place in the unit chapel.
Scarcely a month passed but there were one or more weddings among the sisters and nurses of the unit. Many of the bridegrooms were New Zealanders, and sometimes came from within the unit, but a number were from other Allied forces. These occasions were pleasurable and exciting, especially for the female staff. Short notice was often the order of things. On one occasion at this time it was announced at 7 p.m. one day that a charge sister was to be married at 11 a.m. next day. Yet a turkey, a great variety of savouries, and a lovely wedding cake graced the wedding luncheon. The behind-the-scene story revealed that cooking and fudge-making (from Army biscuits) had gone on far into the night; that the contents of parcels from home had been pooled and the best cake donated for the wedding cake. A walk in the country had produced red berries and great boughs of autumn-tinted foliage for decorations. The one thing lacking was the icing for the cake. This lack, however, was ingeniously overcome by adorning the cake with a thick coat of pale-pink chrysanthemum petals and girding it with fancy paper.