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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

Evacuation from MDS and CCS

Evacuation from MDS and CCS

The wounded were evacuated from Atessa by motor ambulance to Vasto, at first, by the CasalanguidaGissi road and later by Scerni and Cupello. Sick were evacuated from Gissi direct to Termoli. From Castelfrentano the route was along the road parallel to and south of the Sangro to join the Casalbordino and coast roads at the mouth of the river. At first the main road, Route 16, through Casalbordino, was used, but by 14 December the much shorter and level coast road came into operation and it was possible to cover the distance to Vasto in one and three-quarter hours. Before the NZ CCS was functioning at Vasto a British CCS admitted all our patients, and head, eye, and facio-maxillary cases continued to be sent to the special centres established there after our own CCS was open and able to take all other New Zealand casualties.

From Vasto evacuation was by motor ambulance at first to San Severo, where part of 1 NZ CCS was stationed for a short time, and thence by ambulance train to Bari, where 3 NZ General Hospital was open. Later, the railhead was shifted forward to Termoli and two British CCSs established there as staging posts. The road north of Termoli was soon in bad condition and remained so throughout the winter, causing some delay in the evacuation of casualties. Some congestion at Termoli was caused during December by the withdrawal of ambulance trains to the east coast. The train service to Bari was also interrupted from 2 to 16 January because of flood damage to the railway bridge over the Trigno, and the railhead had to shift back to San Severo. Most of our cases were staged at Termoli. This broke our New Zealand line of evacuation and upset our plans formed at the CCS for the disposal of our cases. Many patients were evacuated on the understanding that they would proceed straight through to Bari, and for some of the cases it was especially desired that further surgical work should be carried out at 3 General Hospital soon after arrival. An unbroken line from the Division to Bari would have been a great advantage.