Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

Moves of 1 NZ Convalescent Depot

page 466

Moves of 1 NZ Convalescent Depot

Early in March when Advanced Base was being organised at Tripoli, a request was made for a convalescent section, and some of the personnel of 1 NZ Convalescent Depot went to Tripoli, arriving there on 15 March and receiving patients on 18 March. At the beginning of April the depot at Kfar Vitkin was divided into main body and detachment. The main body packed and moved to Benha on 9 April, embarked at Alexandria on 28 April, and reached Tripoli on 3 May after being bombed on the voyage. It joined the advance party at its site one mile from 3 General Hospital. The site was on sandy soil amid acacia trees, and an old fort was used as an administrative block as at 3 General Hospital. The unit joined with 3 General Hospital to line part of the route along which King George VI passed on 21 June on a visit to the Tripoli area.

The detachment of the Convalescent Depot remained at Kfar Vitkin until 24 April, when it moved to Maadi Camp and occupied part of 23 Field Ambulance area and received convalescents from 1 and 2 General Hospitals as formerly.

After much prospecting for a suitable site for the Convalescent Depot, DMS 2 NZEF in July decided on El Arish on the Palestine coast, a site previously used by an RAMC convalescent depot and four hours' motor travel south of Jerusalem. This location again involved train travel, though it was a trip some hours shorter than to the previous site at Kfar Vitkin. The few suitable sites in the Suez Canal and Alexandria areas were wanted for other medical units.

On 16 August 1943, when the main body of 1 Convalescent Depot was packed and ready to move to El Arish, DMS GHQ MEF urgently requested that the depot be allowed to remain in the Tripoli area for a further four weeks to take British convalescents. The shortage of hospital and convalescent beds in Tripolitania was due not so much to the battle casualties as to the unexpectedly large number of malaria cases admitted from Sicily. It was agreed that the unit should remain to assist in coping with a difficult situation, and the Convalescent Depot was moved by the local DDMS from Suani Ben Adem to Sabratha, on the coast 45 miles west of Tripoli, where a depot complete with patients was taken over from 11 British Convalescent Depot. The site was not altogether satisfactory.

Another shift, this time to Della Madia, 17 miles east of Tripoli, took place on 3 September. Taking with it 350 patients from Sabratha, 1 Convalescent Depot took over a site with concrete buildings from 11 British Convalescent Depot. Here the unit handled British, Canadian, South African, and Free French cases before packing up at the end of September preparatory to going to Italy.

page 467

Meanwhile, Detachment 1 Convalescent Depot had moved from Maadi Camp to El Arish on 6 September, taking with it 100 patients, and here received convalescent patients from 1 and 2 General Hospitals until the end of December 1943.