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Medical Units of 2 NZEF in Middle East and Italy

Medical Staffs Remain with Wounded

Medical Staffs Remain with Wounded

Through these delays the trucks made only two trips before dawn. They had left at 10.30 p.m. and were expected back for the second load at 1 a.m. on 26 May. When no trucks came, those remaining expected to be taken prisoners of war, and well they might have been had the Germans advanced during the night, as the New Zealanders withdrew from Galatas to lines to the rear of the hospital. However, three trucks returned at 3.30 a.m. and loaded all but some 20 or 30 seriously wounded cases from 5 MDS. Maj S. G. de Clive Lowe, Capt Moody, Padre Hiddlestone,9 and 14 men decided to stay and attend them. 10 Most of the staffs of 5 Field Ambulance page 134 and 7 General Hospital and the lighter walking wounded went on foot by road and reached Nerokourou at 3 a.m. on 26 May.

At midnight CO 6 Field Ambulance (Maj Fisher) had received orders to evacuate 250 walking wounded to Nerokourou, and as the unit still possessed only a single light truck, the majority of these also had to walk. Remarkable fortitude and endurance was shown by the wounded. Their cheerfulness and courageous bearing at the dressing station at all times was deeply impressive, and many endured without a murmur most severe pain and continued discomfort. Nothing was more touching than the appreciation they showed for the attention bestowed upon them, sadly inadequate though it was.

Some 150 stretcher cases were to remain at 6 MDS in the care of a medical officer and 20 orderlies. 6 Field Ambulance moved out at 4.15 a.m., leaving Lt Ballantyne, Padre Hopkins and 20 nursing orderlics with the wounded. At 7 a.m. the unit reached the MDS which 5 Field Ambulance had already established in the church at Nerokourou.

Seventh General Hospital had had to leave 300 stretcher patients in the caves adjacent to 5 Field Ambulance and had detailed two medical officers and 20 men to look after them, but CO 5 Field Ambulance (Lt-Col Twhigg) considered that an attempt should be made to evacuate the rest of his ambulance staff and as many of the patients as possible. The three truck drivers volunteered to return, but as a result of the air activity with the coming of daylight only one truck got through. This truck, flying a Red Cross flag, was kept under observation by an enemy reconnaissance aircraft, which left it immediately it turned in to the hospital area. While preparations for departure were being made, a German patrol entered the dressing station and captured the medical staff and the wounded. The truck driver made his escape by climbing down the cliff and clambering round the rocks to get behind the New Zealanders' front line. He returned to the MDS at Nerokourou at 11 a.m.

Both 5 and 6 Field Ambulances ran an MDS at Nerokourou on 26 May. An operating theatre was rigged up in the church and 21 cases received operative treatment during the day, assistance being given by the surgical team from 7 General Hospital.

9 Rev. J. Hiddlestone, MBE, ED; born Christchurch, 19 Mar 1893; Baptist Minister, Tasman; p.w. May 1941.

10 Capt E. Stevenson-Wright also stayed with wounded of the Divisional Cavalry.