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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

Division Moves to Italy

Division Moves to Italy

During October 2 NZ Division moved secretly from Egypt to southern Italy. From Burg el Arab the troops moved into the page 496 transit camp at Ikingi Maryut and thence to Alexandria, the embarkation port. There were two main convoys. The first flight of troops embarked on 5 October and the second on 17 October.

The medical units in the first flight were ADMS and staff, 6 Field Ambulance, 4 Field Hygiene Section, and 2 FTU; and in the second flight 4 Field Ambulance, 5 Field Ambulance, 1 Mobile CCS, 1 Mobile Dental Unit, 102 VDTC, and 1 Section MAC.

Not until the convoys were at sea was the destination announced. The voyages were short and on the whole comparatively uneventful, and the convoys reached Taranto on 9 and 22 October respectively. Disembarkation was by lighters, just as embarkation had been. A divisional assembly camp was established at Santa Teresa, about 5 miles to the north of Taranto, and here the troops remained throughout October. The camp area was on low-lying ground alongside the expansive inner harbour, and the whole Taranto area was malarious. Wet weather added to the difficulties of the establishment of the camp, and these were accentuated by the shortage of transport.

The vehicles and supplies were embarked in Egypt in several later flights and by the end of October only the first of these flights had been landed in Italy. Until transport was available the Division was delayed in its move forward and the combatant units gained experience in fieldcraft in a new country. The delay in arrival of vehicles meant that the RMOs began to run short of medical supplies. This caused a heavy drain on the field ambulances, but the supplies were made good by indents on 7 British Advanced Depot Medical Stores at Taranto. Although it was nearing the end of the malaria season, full anti-malaria precautions were taken with good results, though a few cases of malaria did occur.