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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

Moves Following Regrouping

Moves Following Regrouping

As it became apparent that the enemy intended to fight in and about Florence, arrangements were made for a regrouping of forces. Canadians took over from the New Zealanders, who moved farther to the west to relieve 8 Indian Division and continued with the work of clearing any remaining pockets of enemy troops from the south bank of the Arno. These actions, though small, were quite fierce. At Montelupo on the night 8–9 August there was a number of casualties in a forward company of 26 Battalion, and the RMO, Captain Fletcher,1 went forward and treated and evacuated the wounded under heavy fire, repeating the action on 11 August at page 591 Empoli Vecchio. Earlier, at Cerbaia on 30 July, he had worked in his RAP under almost continuous shellfire. He was awarded the MC for his part in these operations.

In accordance with the regrouping, 4 MDS moved on 6 August some 6 miles to the west to the vicinity of Montespertoli. Here shells from long-range enemy guns fell near the MDS. Battle casualties, however, continued to be light, although sickness cases were on the increase. The weather was hot, humid, and trying, with several severe thunderstorms.

On 7 August 5 MDS moved from the San Donato area to Castelfiorentino, 7 miles south-west of Montespertoli, and there opened to receive battle casualties from 5 Infantry Brigade on the wider front along the river, as well as divisional sick. At Tavarnelle 6 MDS also remained open for battle casualties and sick.

1 Maj I. H. Fletcher, MC; Waitara; born Auckland, 4 Jul 1916; medical practitioner; 6 Fd Amb Dec 1942; RMO 26 Bn Mar 1943–Oct 1944; 2 Gen Hosp Oct 1944–Apr 1945.