Medical Units of 2 NZEF in Middle East and Italy
Move to Kalivia
Move to Kalivia
At 6 p.m. on 26 May instructions were received from Lt-Col Bull to move at dusk to Kalivia, some 15 miles to the south-east along the coast. The front-line troops were steadily falling back and a general move was being made towards the south coast, from which evacuation from the island, now decided on, was possible. For the move 5 and 6 Field Ambulances, 4 Field Hygiene Section, and 7 General Hospital were all placed under the command of Lt-Col Twhigg. The more seriously wounded were taken by transport in two trips. The walking wounded were assisted over part of the journey, but the staffs of the units all walked, arriving at Kalivia shortly before daybreak on 27 May.
As Capt G. B. Palmer, of 5 Field Ambulance, described it:
‘Another night's march—this time past the stone walls of the Suda base, past the scattered dumps whose bombing had been witnessed from the higher slopes earlier in the day—and from the slopes of Nerokourou the systematic destruction of the old city of Canea was a continual background to the day's activity. On along the coast road over the promontory demolitions were being prepared; on past the embarkation point for those who were being evacuated by sea; on through the deserted and echoing streets of Kalivia into another olive-studded dispersal area. Here was a small stream, a small taverna, whose wine was quickly exhausted, and a graveyard between whose headstones so many of the living rested soundly, feeling strangely secure from most overhead annoyances. A few scattered houses lay near the road. In the early morning most refreshed and washed themselves; some endeavoured to clean or repair damaged footwear. Fortunate ones had sandshoes or spare footwear, others used any available leather to reline their worn soles and to keep sharp nails out of lacerated feet.’
During the night 2/1 Australian Field Ambulance had, on receipt of orders from DDMS Creforce, established a temporary hospital in the school buildings in the village of Kalivia. It received 100 cases from 5 Field Ambulance and stretcher cases and walking wounded from 6 Field Ambulance, as they reached the village. This Australian unit was soon coping with 530 patients.