Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Medical Units of 2 NZEF in Middle East and Italy

2 General Hospital at Gerawla

2 General Hospital at Gerawla

The first convoy of patients (57 in all) was admitted to 2 General Hospital at Gerawla on 27 November, followed by others, the largest being 174 on 11 December. Only very ill patients were held for any length of time, the others being transferred back to Base hospitals as quickly as possible. Consequently, though the hospital was seldom filled to capacity, at times duties were very heavy, as nursing very sick men under the primitive conditions of a canvas desert hospital was no light matter.

Many of the casualties from the Western Desert were in a worse condition than those from Greece and Crete. Sick and badly wounded, many had been driven miles across the desert, sometimes in the backs of trucks, with German tanks and planes pursuing them. On arrival they were travel-stained and weary, some weak from loss of blood, and all very much in need of nursing care.

Later came patients from Bardia. These men had been taken prisoner at Sidi Azeiz on 27 November and had been prisoners for five weeks when Bardia was recaptured by the South Africans early in January. As was to be expected after so many weeks of privation, all had drawn and emaciated faces, which their long beards and page 182 motley garb only emphasised. One Maori soldier was resplendent in a complete Italian Marine's uniform, while most patients wore German canvas lace-up boots. Nearly all were suffering from enteric disorders. But once again rest, good food, and nursing care soon restored most to physical and mental health.

In its four months at Gerawla 2 General Hospital admitted 3266 patients, including battle casualties. New Zealand patients numbered 990. The hospital experienced numerous dust-storms and occasional rain, but it was never subjected to air attack. At Gerawla the unit felt that, from nothing, it had built up something really worth while. The men of the unit, of whom only two or three were trained tradesmen, did a great deal of construction work as carpenters, tinsmiths, plumbers, electricians, and engine-hands. Improvements were still being made up to the time the movement order to leave for Palestine was received. The unit left by train at the end of March.