New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy
Arrangements in Italy
Arrangements in Italy
Operations in Italy were being carried out by the Central Mediterranean Force. In Egypt, 2 NZEF was part of the Middle East Forces. The liaison between these two forces left something to be desired and DMS 2 NZEF considered it advisable to send Colonel Stout to Italy to make a preliminary ‘medical reconnaissance’, and he left Maadi for this purpose on 24 September. He reported at Taranto to Brigadier Galloway, DMS Port Force, and made investigations as to the siting of 3 NZ General Hospital and 1 NZ Convalescent Depot. A very suitable location was arranged for the hospital in part of a large unfinished Polyclinic hospital at Bari on the east coast, but there were great difficulties in finding a site for the Convalescent Depot. Winter was approaching and buildings were thought essential, but they proved very difficult to find; finally, at a later date, a rather bare, comfortless school was procured at Casamassima, a small town on the Taranto–Bari road. Colonel Gower, CO 3 General Hospital, arrived at Taranto a few days later, and arrangements were immediately made to develop the hospital site, part of which was being used as barracks by Italian troops. Fortunately it was possible to take over part of the completed and functioning part of the buildings from a British page 495 CCS, so that the hospital could make an early start. Casualties from Italy at that time were all evacuated to North-West Africa and representations were made that any New Zealand cases should be held pending evacuation to Egypt.
Besides all the divisional medical units (including 102 Mobile VDTC, 2 FTU, and 1 Mobile Dental Unit), it was proposed that 1 Mobile CCS (including the surgical team), 3 General Hospital and 1 Convalescent Depot, and also NZ Section MAC, should be sent to Italy. As 3 General Hospital and 1 Convalescent Depot were still in Tripoli, they were to move direct from there to southern Italy. Both these units closed at the end of September to pack in preparation for the move.
The DMS 2 NZEF went by air to Italy on 8 October to decide the location of the base medical units. The Advanced Base for 2 NZEF had been set up at San Basilio, inland half-way between Taranto and Bari, and with its development the establishment of an Advanced Base camp hospital and hygiene section had to be considered.