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Medical Units of 2 NZEF in Middle East and Italy

3 General Hospital Replaces 1 General Hospital

3 General Hospital Replaces 1 General Hospital

On 20 February 1 General Hospital received word that the whole establishment was to be prepared to move at 48 hours' notice. Immediately, patients were transferred or discharged, and packing began. An amendment to the movement order, instructing that members of the NZANS should not go with the unit, was a blow to the sisters, and they were not a little envious and disappointed page 51 when the rest of the unit left Helmieh on 6 March for an unknown destination. However, they were left at Helmieh only a short time, and on 25 March they embarked at Alexandria en route to rejoin their unit—on the way to adventure and experience none were ever to forget. The day the sisters left Helmieh for ‘destination unknown’, 3 General Hospital arrived in the Middle East with the 3rd Section, 4th Reinforcements.

Members of 1 General Hospital had felt a little sorry to have to leave the scene of so much formation work without an opportunity to function as a fully equipped hospital. The tented hospital was completed and the hutted section nearly finished. Electricity had been connected to the tents, and the operating theatre was nearly ready for use, after a prolonged period of construction due to the ‘go slow’ policy of native labour. Towards the end of March the hospital was taken over by 3 General Hospital, the tents having been left in position.

Miss M. Chisholm, Assistant Matron at 2 General Hospital, was appointed Matron of 3 General Hospital and took up her new appointment on 14 April.

Through weeks of stifling heat, 3 General Hospital worked to repair damage done by a khamseen and to develop the hospital area further. A comprehensive drainage system was completed and water was laid on to all wards. Roads and paths were extended and improved, making it possible to move patients on trolleys from one part of the hospital to another over a smooth surface. This meant increased comfort for the patients and easier work for the staff.

The theatre block, built of brick and comprising three theatres, a plaster-room, X-ray department, massage department, work rooms and sterilising rooms, had now been completed. With the equipping and staffing of the theatre finished, it was possible for all types of surgical work to be undertaken. The hospital had already been functioning on the medical side for some weeks and, when the time came to receive patients from Greece and Crete, was ready to meet all demands placed upon it.

In the hospital grounds just as much was accomplished. Along the roads and pathways between the wards scores of trees, chiefly flamboyants and gums, were planted. Where once was desert there now flourished a hospital which compared very favourably with page 52 any of its type in the Middle East, and one of which New Zealand might well be proud. Trees, flowers, and lawns now softened the dazzling glare of the sand. A rustic summer-house, centrally situated, looked cool and offered rest to the weary. The New Zealand flag, kindly given to the hospital by the ladies of Waikato, flew bravely over what had become a garden hospital, but which was soon to receive some of New Zealand's sons as battle casualties.