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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

RAP in Cassino

RAP in Cassino

The RMO of 28 (Maori) Battalion, Captain C. N. D'Arcy, set up his RAP in the church cellar in Cassino on Route 6 as his battalion moved ahead. Here casualties from all units were collected page 540 and held during daylight, and appropriate resuscitation, including blood transfusions, administered and splints applied as required. The entrance to the cellar was down a sort of rabbit hole and was covered by a sniper. After dark, when evacuation was reasonably safe, stretcher-bearer parties from the battalions, augmented by ADS stretcher-bearers, carried the wounded from the RAP to a jeep point, a distance of 300 yards. Jeeps then conveyed casualties to the RAP of 19 Armoured Regiment, half a mile from Cassino, where the RMOs of 19 Regiment and 21, 23 and 26 Battalions combined and worked a roster of duties. In effect, they and their orderlies acted as a forward ADS. They had under their control a pool of stretcher-carrying jeeps from the various battalions situated a further half-mile down Route 6. Motor ambulance cars were used to evacuate the cases to the ADSs. From these latter stations the patients were passed on to 4 MDS.

During the battle from 18 to 23 March Captain D'Arcy attended to all the wounded reaching his RAP. Conditions were most trying, but the skill with which the wounded were dressed was the subject of the highest praise from the dressing stations. For his outstanding work D'Arcy was awarded the Military Cross.

Another RMO, Captain A. W. H. Borrie of 24 Battalion, was also awarded the MC during the battle for Cassino. Captain Borrie courageously went forward and dressed wounded in the town of Cassino forward of the RAPs on 17 March. To reach the wounded, who had been collected by Private Wilson, one of his stretcher-bearers, Borrie had to go forward within observation of German snipers on Monastery and Castle Hills, jumping from bomb crater to bomb crater, circling round small lakes in old bomb craters, and leaping over boulders that had once been the walls of houses. In the post office building there were sixteen casualties. Two were dead, and two had fractures of the femur, one of these men suffering severely from shock. Dressings were applied and morphia given. Whilst Borrie was attending to the wounded a direct hit on another building nearby caused more severe casualties, which he also treated. The wounded were brought back during the night. When the isolated company of 24 Battalion withdrew on the night 24–25 March, the wounded had to be left in a cave. On 25 March Borrie led a stretcher party forward to try to find the wounded and bring them out. The five wounded men were found to have started to make their own way out although they were really lying cases. There were only two stretchers, so three of the wounded were hand carried. As the party were carrying the wounded down the hill they were stopped by a German soldier. Two of the party were taken to see a German officer on the ruins of Point 165, and he gave approval for the page 541 evacuation to continue. After a steep, difficult descent from the Castle, the party reached an Indian aid post, whence the wounded were taken by jeep to 6 ADS. An examination of the wounds showed them to be in excellent condition, a tribute to the care the stretcher-bearers had taken of them in their seven days' isolation.