Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Medical Units of 2 NZEF in Middle East and Italy

Detachment of 3 General Hospital at Alexandria

Detachment of 3 General Hospital at Alexandria

In November 1941 it was decided to establish a small hospital at Alexandria to deal with the casualties coming by ship from the desert before they were sent on to our Base hospitals at Cairo. Accordingly, a small staff of five officers, 25 sisters, and 32 other ranks from 3 General Hospital was sent to Alexandria on 23 November. Lt-Col Button was in charge and Miss Hennessy20 was Matron. Their destination was the Anglo-Swiss civilian hospital, where two wings were taken over along with a large pavilion in the grounds. The sisters found it a joy to be working once more in a building with normal hospital conveniences.

Previously the wards taken over had housed German prisoner patients, and barbed wire still fenced in the balconies and some of the windows. The first few days were spent in the usual scrubbing and cleaning of wards and living quarters, unpacking equipment, and setting up 200 beds. On 4 December the first patients (41) arrived by ship from Tobruk; the number of patients grew to 171 by the end of the month.

The hospital functioned till the end of April 1942 and admitted 626 patients. The main excitement for its staff was an air raid page 183 almost every night, sometimes twice on bright moonlit nights. A large Egyptian civilian prison was situated across the road from the hospital, and it was equipped with an air-raid siren which none could ever fail to hear. Its blare could be almost as alarming as a raid. Regularly, about 11 p.m. or midnight, it would sound, and after about ten minutes the anti-aircraft guns would start firing as the planes passed overhead. Although the docks which were the bombers' targets were a mile away, the planes seemed to start to dive farther back and would scream overhead quite low. Then the sisters, donning their tin hats, would take their rugs and cushions down to the cellars to sleep till the raids were over. Occasionally an attempt was made to bomb the railway bridge not far away, but fortunately there was never any damage done in the hospital area. German propaganda leaflets were found in the area after one raid, some of the sisters rescuing a few as souvenirs.

20 Matron Miss M. Hennessy, RRC, m.i.d.; born NZ, 5 Feb 1901; Sister; Sister 1 Gen Hosp 1940-41; Matron Det 3 Gen Hosp Nov 1941-Apr 1942.