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Medical Units of 2 NZEF in Middle East and Italy

1 General Hospital Reorganised

1 General Hospital Reorganised

When 1 General Hospital returned from Greece it went to Maadi Camp. The unit counted its casualties and found them to be 79 prisoners of war and two killed. It heard with pride of the good work of its small group on Crete. The fate of the unit hung in the balance for a time—it might have ceased to be a hospital—but the decision was made to re-form it. Members of the staff who had been helping other medical units were recalled, reinforcements were posted, and a search for fresh equipment began.

In August Col Stout, who had been acting CO, and Col Boyd became Consultant Surgeon and Consultant Physician, 2 NZEF, respectively, while Col Pottinger was appointed commanding officer of the hospital. On 8 September Brig MacCormick inspected the unit and expressed his pleasure at its reconstitution, making mention of Quartermaster-Sergeant Rhind's5 good work in collecting the equipment.

Early in September the order came for the transfer of the administration of the hospital at Helwan to 1 General Hospital. It was desired to give 2 General Hospital an opportunity to take its turn as the ‘mobile’ general hospital of 2 NZEF, and it was felt that a change of conditions might benefit the health of the staff.

With mixed feelings the staff of 2 General Hospital prepared to leave the hospital where they had worked for nearly twelve months. Though loth to leave the institution, most welcomed the change and the possible opportunity of establishing and running a field hospital. The conditions under which they had been working were as near to those of a civilian hospital as would be possible in an army on active service, and there was a danger of becoming too set and stale. But, in the words of the commanding officer, Col Spencer:

‘The monotony of the same daily toil week after week, and the heat of the summer months, when the hospital was full to capacity and staff was short, never affected the efficiency or thoroughness of our work—calls for extra duty, night or day, were answered without exception with energy and cheerfulness…. For us there page 152 is none of the élan of a combatant unit. The success of a hospital is dependent on a spirit of service to one's fellows—service which is freely and cheerfully given under all circumstances. It is this spirit which has built up the name of 2 General Hospital, and I rest confident that the same spirit will enable us to answer any call made on us in the days to come for the utmost well-being of the sick and wounded who may find themselves under our care.’

On 15 September an advanced party from 1 General Hospital moved to Helwan, the change-over being completed on the 18th. The work of the hospital in its care for 530 patients continued without interruption. 1 General Hospital was to remain at Helwan until April 1944. The hospital had been expanded to 900 beds and preparations were made for emergency expansion to 1200 beds.