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Medical Units of 2 NZEF in Middle East and Italy

5 MDS at Kamena Voula

5 MDS at Kamena Voula

While the occupation of the Thermopylae positions was being completed, 5 Field Ambulance maintained a well-protected main dressing station about two miles west of Kamena Voula. Throughout 18 April casualties were sent back to ⅔ Australian CCS, situated south of Levadhia. Ambulances carrying the wounded had to take the longer route through Molos, for the more direct route through Lamia was under constant air attack.

A wing of a Greek hospital at Kamena Voula containing hot mineral baths became the location of the MDS on 19 April, when 5 Field Ambulance moved in. The hospital was well equipped with beds, linen, and medical stores and equipment. When the field ambulance arrived, the Greek staff still had civilian patients under treatment. The hot baths were a boon to troops who had not been out of their clothing for many days.

Air raids on the convoys, reaching a peak on the 19th, continued to take toll of the retiring troops. Members of 5 Field Ambulance had a heavy day tending the wounded. By evening, when the field ambulance came under divisional control, 83 casualties had been admitted to the MDS. From the ADS, established about three miles up the road by 4 Field Ambulance, wounded came back to the 5 Field Ambulance MDS in a steady stream all next day. Assisted by the New Zealand ambulance men, the Greeks evacuated civilian patients and nursing staff from the hospital in the late afternoon. With their departure, 5 Field Ambulance took over the medical stores left behind and arranged for their distribution to nearby field ambulances and regimental aid posts. Throughout the next day enemy aircraft continually raided roads and dumps, but the Red Cross on 5 MDS was respected. In page 97 the late afternoon the unit was instructed to vacate the hospital buildings and set up a tented dressing station nearby.

black and white photograph of hidden ambulance

4 Field Ambulance MDS camouflaged and dug in near Katerine

black and white photograph of ambulance unit

6 Field Ambulance withdrawing through Larissa

black and white photograph of medical unit

1 NZ General Hospital ready to embark from Piraeus for Egypt

black and white photograph of unit on ship

On the Thurland Castle returning from Greece

By 21 April German domination of the air was such that men and vehicles of all units remained in concealment as much as possible during daylight, but at night the activity was intense as men hastened to perform tasks they had been unable to attend to during the day. On the evening of the 21st 6 Field Ambulance moved out from the Molos area with orders to open a small mobile dressing station at Livanates, some 30 miles from the field ambulance's location behind 6 Brigade. At midnight the unit pulled into the shelter of gnarled and ancient olive trees, and at dawn HQ Company began to erect shelters. It was a pleasant spot on a wide coastal promontory some little distance from the sea. As the dressing station was to be mobile, yet capable of expansion if necessary, the men dug pits over which tent flies could be thrown. Nothing was camouflaged, and for the first time Red Crosses were displayed by the unit. It is significant that three Messerschmitts flew over but made no attempt to attack. While HQ Company prepared the dressing station, the other companies remained packed and ‘on wheels’ close by. 4 Field Hygiene Section was camped just to the north of the dressing station. Few wounded were treated in the dressing station, for that afternoon orders were received to destroy all equipment and join in a night withdrawal.