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Medical Units of 2 NZEF in Middle East and Italy

Italy Declares War

Italy Declares War

The threat of war with Italy brought the prospect of action nearer to the troops of the First Echelon. After almost three months of routine work in their desert camp, the men showed a page 34 live interest in the news of tension between Italy and the Allies, of the German invasion of Holland and Belgium and the capitulation of these two countries, and of the blitzkreig against France. There were rumours that 2 NZEF would shortly sail for France. Later in May, the news of the diversion of the Second Echelon also brought with it the inevitable speculations concerning its fate and destination, and rumours of moves to other war theatres.

Believing that Britain and France could not offer serious resistance, Mussolini declared war against them on 10 June 1940. At Maadi Camp the passive air defence scheme was at once put into effect. Each night at 9 p.m. there was a complete dispersal of troops and transport, the vehicles moving out to prearranged positions in the surrounding desert without confusion or incident, under a rigid blackout. The tents occupied by 4 Field Ambulance were dispersed and dug in, while collective slit trenches were dug and sandbagged. The Camp Hospital's tents were not dispersed, although shelters were dug for the patients and the tent walls were sandbagged. In a dugout on a hill adjacent to the field ambulance area, an operating theatre was provided. This was completely sandbagged and made light-proof.