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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

The Evacuation from the Operating Centres

The Evacuation from the Operating Centres

Casualties from the battles of Medenine and Mareth were sent back from the forward medical centres by ambulances to the Army Medical Centre at Ben Gardane, 35 miles farther east, and then back to Tripoli, staging at Zuara, 65 miles back, with a further 80 miles of good road to Tripoli. The road to Zuara was in bad order, with pot-holes, mine craters roughly filled in, and road diversions to be negotiated.

Base hospitals were sited at Tripoli, with special orthopaedic and chest centres and also the base section of 4 Neurosurgical Unit. No. 3 NZ General Hospital was active at the latter part of the campaign. From Tripoli evacuation to Egypt was carried out at first by road and air and later largely by hospital ship to Alexandria and Beirut. For the Akarit battle the forward centre was at Teboulbou, near Gabes, and the patients staged back by road to Tripoli. After Akarit no special medical centre was formed, the CCSs acting independently. Evacuation was by road until Sousse was available for evacuation by sea. Air evacuation back to Tripoli, however, was utilised to an increasing extent as the campaign continued. Our CCS used air evacuation at both El Djem and Sidi Bou Ali.

In connection with the air evacuation from El Djem to Tripoli, the Consultant Surgeon noted that with one plane patients had to be changed from army stretchers to plane stretchers of a wire cradle type and back to army stretchers on arrival at their destination. The utilisation of the army stretcher on planes would have been a distinct advantage had it been possible, as the retention of the patients on the same stretcher was one of the secrets of comfortable and safe handling of the wounded during evacuation by the army medical services.