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Medical Units of 2 NZEF in Middle East and Italy

Work of 6 ADS

Work of 6 ADS

On the morning of 23 November, as they pulled up for breakfast near Bir Chleta, elements of 6 Brigade clashed with part of the Afrika Korps headquarters. Working from the trucks and ambulances under shellfire, the men of 6 ADS, under Capt Staveley,4 treated many wounded, mostly German prisoners, whom they were obliged to leave with water and a Red Cross sign to be picked up by others. Moving on again in the afternoon, the ADS set up in a wadi seven miles east of Sidi Rezegh. Here again the unit was shelled, and then came under fire again when four German tanks directed an attack on nearby New Zealand units. Machine guns blazed straight through the dressing station and bullets whistled among the tents. Hurriedly the staff pulled down their tents, threw them aboard the trucks, and moved with all speed towards Brigade HQ. Here some tents were erected again to deal with the numerous casualties. The recent experience had been unsettling, but Capt Staveley managed to restore order and Father Kingan5 assisted in organising the evacuation centre. Soon everything was back to normal. This was fortunate, for many casualties from the bitter struggle for Point 175 were admitted during the afternoon and night. The staff worked at high pressure, and in the early morning it was possible to evacuate the wounded.

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The ADS then set up again in the wadi which it had hastily left the previous afternoon. But there was no rest as more wounded flooded in. Work again went on into the night. About midnight HQ and B Companies of 6 Field Ambulance arrived to set up an MDS and take over the patients, now amounting to 250. The ADS had already evacuated 200 cases, who had a long journey of 72 miles over rough desert before reaching 15 British CCS.

4 Maj J. M. Staveley, MC; born Hokitika, 30 Aug 1914; Medical Officer, Auckland Hospital; Medical Officer 6 Fd Amb Mar 1940-Jan 1942; OC 2 Field Transfusion Unit Aug 1943-Apr 1944; Pathologist 2 Gen Hosp Apr-Nov 1944; wounded 18 Apr 1941, 1 Dec 1941, and 2 Dec 1941.

5 Rev. Fr. J. L. Kingan, MC, m.i.d.; born Tai Tapu, 16 Sep 1901; schoolmaster, St. Patrick's College, Silverstream; wounded 27 Feb 1944.