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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

Move to the Front and Establishment of Chain of Evacuation

Move to the Front and Establishment of Chain of Evacuation

In early November the Division began to move forward by road to join Eighth Army, which by this time had reached and crossed the Trigno River and, having captured Vasto and Casalbordino, was approaching the river Sangro.

The vehicles of the medical units arrived between 29 October and 19 November, the first unit to receive all its vehicles being 4 Field Ambulance, and the last 1 Mobile CCS. In transit, mostly while unloading, a number of vehicles were damaged, two of 4 Field Ambulance's trucks, as well as the specially fitted truck of 102 Mobile VDTC, being rendered useless.

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Although 4 Field Ambulance had not received all its vehicles by 3 November the unit moved north that day with 4 Armoured Brigade, reaching San Severo the following day and establishing an MDS in a two-storied derelict roadhouse. The troops had gone into battle dress before the move, and anti-malaria measures became unnecessary at San Severo. On 13 November 4 MDS moved up to Furci, established a small dressing station, received sick from all divisional units and evacuated them to 5 British CCS at Vasto. An ADS was set up by A Company 4 Field Ambulance at Casalanguida on 15 November, and the MDS again moved on 19 November to Gissi, taking over a building from 33 Indian Field Ambulance. Then on 20 November the MDS moved up to Atessa and, with the field surgical team and 2 FTU attached, set up in conjunction with 33 Indian Field Ambulance in the small civilian hospital in that town.

Meanwhile, companies of 5 Field Ambulance set up dressing stations at Lucera (on 10 November) and San Severo on 15 November, and then moved to Gissi on 20 November to take over the sick page 501 MDS there from 4 Field Ambulance. Here 102 Mobile VDTC was attached.

plans for medical support of military operation

Sangro and Orsogna battles: Medical Units and Lines of Evacuation

At Taranto 6 Field Ambulance continued to run its MDS until 19 November, when it moved to Gissi, reaching there on 23 November and remaining in reserve. However, B Company had moved with 6 Infantry Brigade on 13 November, establishing successive ADSs until 20 November, when it was located 5 miles north of Atessa and close to the Sangro.

Movement of 1 NZ Mobile CCS was delayed by the late arrival of its vehicles, but on 18 November the staff was taken in ASC trucks to San Severo, where the large two-storied building previously used by 5 Field Ambulance was taken over for a CCS. The light section of the unit went ahead on its own trucks to Vasto on 22 November and established itself there in a large school in the centre of the town. By this time 2 NZ Division was in action at the Sangro River, less than 20 miles to the north-west in a direct line, and the first casualties reached Vasto the next day. Thus the medical chain of evacuation was functioning, and only just in time. The railhead was at San Severo, and there the heavy section of the CCS staged casualties on their journey to 3 General Hospital at Bari, some 150 miles from the front line.