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Medical Units of 2 NZEF in Middle East and Italy

On Mount Olympus

On Mount Olympus

While the action at Servia was in progress, 5 Brigade was fighting at Olympus. Wounded in this sector were cared for by 4 Field Ambulance, with its advanced dressing station near Ag Demetrios, at the summit of the pass, and its main dressing station near Dolikhe. Along with 5 Field Ambulance, the unit evacuated patients to ⅔ Australian CCS at Elasson until that unit withdrew.

Pte Fleming, who was at 4 Field Ambulance ADS, describes life in those eventful days:

‘One day, a beautifully fine one, at a time when the guns were silent, I was resting outside our tent. There was a grassy flat patch below a tree-covered slope. Bees were droning lazily among the many wild flowers, while the tinkling music of a mountain stream in a rocky bed sounded a pleasant symphony. On the slopes of the opposite hill a bearded ancient was ploughing. Everywhere was peace.

‘Awakening was rude. A distant hum grew swiftly to a droning scream, a sound like the vicious voices of countless angry bees multiplied until it filled the air with menace. An air armada—there must have been over a hundred planes—was passing above and beyond us. They were mere black shapes to us, but soon after they had vanished behind the hills came the crash of bombs.

‘When the first wounded began to arrive they brought with them many a story of high courage and work well done. Jerry was getting hell, they said. The artillery was giving him the Devil's own page 84 of a hammering. “The Maoris put the fear of Hades into 'em with the bayonet….” Before long it became plain that the Medicals, too, were doing their work splendidly.

‘Several times shelling came pretty close. Once an MO was shaving, with his usual carefree stroke of razor and brush, when the morning barrage began. There was a roar and a crash. Something whizzed close to his head, leaving a gaping hole in the roof above him. He dropped the razor and swore violently, eyed the hole in the roof, eyed the smoke of the burst shell outside, then slowly and deliberately walked to the doorway and directed a stream of invective in the general direction of the enemy.’