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Medical Units of 2 NZEF in Middle East and Italy

With 4 Brigade in the Last Stand

With 4 Brigade in the Last Stand

Sgt Price27 and the 16 stretcher-bearers from A Company, 4 Field Ambulance, who were attached to 2/1 Australian Field Ambulance, had an exciting time with 4 Brigade before getting away from Greece. While 5 Brigade moved to beaches near Porto Rafti, Raphena and Marathon, east of Athens, and embarked, and 6 Brigade moved across the Corinth canal to the Peloponnese, 4 Brigade remained hidden in its rearguard defensive positions near Kriekouki. Not until the morning of 26 April did the enemy know the New Zealanders were there; not until an enemy column of 100 vehicles driving confidently down the main road towards the pass they covered was rudely halted by artillery fire. During the afternoon news was received of the paratroop landing near Corinth page 112 Bridge, across which 4 Brigade was to withdraw that night. For a time the brigade was in an exceedingly awkward position, with enemy movements threatening it from both the east and the rear. Fortunately the Royal Navy was able to arrange to embark the brigade group at Porto Rafti beach, south-east of Athens.

The group withdrew that night in readiness. The next day, as the New Zealanders and Australians moved into positions from which to defend their route to the beaches, coming under aerial attack as they did so, was one of the most trying the Anzacs had ever known. German tanks, guns, and troops were pouring into and beyond Athens, and at any moment a tank attack in force was expected. But no attack came, and that night the troops were able to embark and get safely away to Crete.

During the evacuation of Greece twelve medical officers and 24 orderlies were made available for duty on the troop-carriers going from Egypt to Greece and back. All the transports on which these New Zealanders served went unscathed, except for the Dutch ship Slamat, which on its return journey from Greece on 27 April was attacked from the air. While Capt L. Douglas28 and Lt J. W. Newlands29 were going towards the bridge to render medical service, an incendiary bomb struck the ship. The troops launched the lifeboats, which were machine-gunned by the plane. Some of the men were taken on board a destroyer, but this was torpedoed later in the day. Only one of the men in the medical duty party on the Slamat survived. Capt Douglas and Lt Newlands were the first of the small number of medical officers to be killed in action.

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black and white photograph of nz sisters

New Zealand Sisters at Suda Bay, Crete

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black and white photograph of wounded soldier

Wounded German paratroops treated at 5 Field Ambulance, Modhion, Crete

black and white photograph of wounded soldier

Wounded sheltering in a ditch at 6 Field Ambulance, near Canea

27 Lt J. R. Price; born Dunedin, 13 May 1918; wood machinist, Christchurch; 4 Fd Amb Oct 1939-Oct 1942; Lt QM Maadi Camp Hospital, Oct 1942-Dec 1943; 4 Fd Amb Jan-Apr 1944.

28 Capt L. Douglas; born Oamaru, 2 Aug 1901; Surgeon, Oamaru; Medical Officer 2 Gen Hosp May 1940-Apr 1941; killed in action 27 Apr 1941.

29 Lt J. W. Newlands; born Oamaru, 17 Aug 1915; Medical Practitioner, Dunedin; Medical Officer Maadi Camp 1941; killed in action 27 Apr 1941.