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Medical Units of 2 NZEF in Middle East and Italy



A few soldiers' clubs already existed in Cairo when the First Echelon arrived in Egypt. Subsequently others were opened, notably the Tipperary Club and Empire Services Club. To provide a place of recreation for the troops, the Maadi Tent was opened on 24 February in the pleasant environs of that tree-girt suburb. The Tent provided games facilities such as draughts and page 33 table tennis, and supplied ice cream, soft drinks, and light meals; concerts for the troops were also held there. It was conducted by volunteers from the residents of Maadi and proved extremely popular with the New Zealanders.

Near Maadi Tent a swimming bath was constructed for the New Zealand troops. It was built in five weeks and was officially opened by General Freyberg on 7 April, when a swimming carnival was held.

In February a camp cinema was opened in a makeshift building in the centre of the camp. ‘Shafto's’, as it was called by the New Zealanders from the name of its proprietor, showed two sessions nightly and changed its programme each day from its well-worn film library. Admission charges were three, five, and eight piastres, the comfort of the chairs varying with the price. Regular features were the stoppages through breaks in the film, greeted inevitably by howls of derision from the audience.

Tennis and golf players were able to use the courts, course, and equipment of the Maadi Club. Rowing facilities on the Nile were provided by local clubs in Cairo and, later on, the Cairo Yacht Club placed its boats and amenities at the service of all those interested. Rugby football and hockey were played by the various units in the first weeks at Maadi and an inter-unit Rugby competition was completed during March.

Every man was expected to take part in some recreation. Committees were formed in each unit to control these sports, arrange matches and competitions, and select unit teams. The sports catered for during the year included cricket, football, athletics, boxing, rowing, tennis, deck tennis, swimming, and baseball. When the hot summer weather became most trying the troops were taken on excursions to such places as the Barrage, the Gezira Sporting Club's grounds, and the Cairo Zoo, where green grass and trees provided welcome relief from the dust and sand of Maadi Camp. On Gezira and Maadi Club grounds troops played and watched many a pleasant game of cricket.