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Medical Units of 2 NZEF in Middle East and Italy

To Trieste

To Trieste

Crossing the Piave River on the evening of 30 April, and then the Tagliamento and Isonzo, the Division pushed ahead and, advancing 75 miles, linked up at Monfalcone with forces of Marshal Tito advancing from the east. Keeping up with the forward elements of the Division, 4 ADS reached Monfalcone in the afternoon of 1 May and set up an ADS in a factory on the outskirts of the town.

Both 5 and 6 ADSs also kept up with the Division. 5 ADS was known as the ‘Light Horse’ as it set up successively at Massa Lombarda, La Balla, San Pietro, Poggio Renatico, Bondeno. Palazzo, Cura, Crocetta, Badia and Padua, to reach Trepalade by the end of April.

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With the rapidity of the advance, the distinction between reception and evacuation sections in the ADSs became purely nominal, as they had frequently to open individually as complete sections and then leapfrog each other.

The role of the ADSs was exacting, necessitating frequent sudden moves, often over bad roads, demolitions and improvised bridges, but except on a few occasions the ADSs were always less than an hour's run from the battalion RAPs, and usually much closer. The number of casualties was relatively small, but the line of evacuation to the MDS was seldom easy, because of the speed of the advance and the difficulties of narrow roads with many one-way stretches. A round trip for ambulance cars of six hours to the MDS, sometimes 40 miles away, was not uncommon. This time factor made it essential for resuscitation and immobilisation to be more thorough than was usually required at an ADS.

In spite of Marshal Tito's claim to have taken the city a few days before, Trieste was still in enemy hands. On the 27-mile strip of coast road between Monfalcone and Trieste, and particularly at Duino, Sistiana, and Miramare, there were strong German formations. The Yugoslav forces had worked their way through the mountains to the east, and the main road to Trieste had still to be cleared. As garrison after garrison surrendered, the gleaming city came into view beyond the rugged headlands. At last 22 Battalion entered Trieste on the afternoon of 2 May, while 26 Battalion entered Gorizia on the route to Austria. The long trek of the Division had ended. In the 23 days after the first Senio barrage, the New Zealanders had virtually destroyed three German divisions (98, 278, and 4 Parachute Division), captured over 40,000 prisoners, and advanced for 225 miles over difficult country. It was most fitting that the New Zealand Division, then the division with longest service in the Mediterranean theatre, should have been in at the kill.