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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

Strength of Units, 1939

Strength of Units, 1939

The staff establishments of the territorial units of the New Zealand Medical Corps in 1939 provided for three territorial field page 9 ambulances with a total of 31 officers and 318 other ranks, the Otago University Medical Company with 13 officers and 194 other ranks, 62 medical officers attached to other territorial units, and 35 medical officers unattached. The establishments of the field ambulances were, however, not fully manned and the effective strength was considerably smaller.

On the strength of each territorial field ambulance at the outbreak of war in September 1939 were nearly all the officers required but only about one-third of the other ranks.1 A large proportion of the Territorials immediately volunteered for service with 4 and 5 Field Ambulances and formed the backbone of these units.

Thus, in 1939 the New Zealand Medical Corps was in a similarly difficult position to that in which it had found itself in 1914, with an inadequate administrative staff and not even the nucleus of some of the medical units that were suddenly required when war was declared. That there was even an embryo Medical Corps was due to the zealous work of a few officers at some personal sacrifice, and to the handful of volunteers who had presented themselves for training.

1 Strength of NZMC territorial units at 31 May 1938 was:

1 Fd Amb849
2 Fd Amb1329
3 Fd Amb1038