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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

CCS at Siena

CCS at Siena

The site of the CCS at Siena was in the grounds of the agricultural stadium, and though slightly restricted in area was flat land, well drained and well shaded, with formed roads. A large building served as QM store, dispensary, and other offices. Hospital extension page 585 tents were used to accommodate the patients. Temporarily attached to the CCS were 2 NZ FTU (Captain Willoughby)1 and 1 NZ FSU (Major O'Brien),2 the latter having been relieved at 5 MDS by a surgical team from 6 Field Ambulance. The 1st FSU was attached to 6 MDS on 26 July and was replaced at the CCS by 8 British FSU.

The line of evacuation for New Zealand patients to 2 NZ General Hospital at Caserta was particularly long, nearly 300 miles. From our CCS at Siena patients were sent to 4 British CCS and from there to 58 British General Hospital near Borghetto, at the north-west corner of Lake Trasimene. This was a very hot and dusty 50-mile journey and particularly tiring for seriously ill cases. From the aerodrome at Castiglione del Lago on the west shore of Lake Trasimene, New Zealand patients went 200 miles by air to Naples and were soon transported thence to 2 General Hospital at Caserta. Later (on 10 August) air evacuation was instituted from an aerodrome at Malignano, near Siena. Patients were then sent to 2 British CCS, which controlled the air evacuation. The rush of battle casualties was, however, mainly over at that stage.

For the period from 22 July to 5 August, by which date the part of Florence south of the Arno had been captured, the battle casualties were relatively severe, 694 New Zealanders being admitted to MDSs. The treatment of battle casualties was shared by all the MDSs. The 6th MDS which had been taking in sick moved forward to a site near San Donato, some 5 miles north of Castellina and about 25 miles south of Florence, on 25 July and there admitted battle casualties while 5 MDS catered for the sick. The 2nd FTU and 1 FSU were attached to 6 MDS on 26 July. The area had been shelled just prior to their arrival and four casualties had resulted. Some 161 patients, including sick, were admitted in two days. In order to provide better evacuation routes, 6 MDS moved 7 miles on to a site just north of Tavarnelle on 27 July, and the following day 5 MDS moved to within 3 miles of Tavarnelle, while at the same time 4 Field Ambulance left the rest camp at Civita Castellana and came up to Tavarnelle, remaining in readiness to move forward to become the operational MDS as the drive to Florence continued.

1 Maj E. E. Willoughby, m.i.d.; Huntly; born Ohakune, 23 Nov 1913; medical practitioner; RMO 14 Lt AA Regt Jun 1941–May 1943; 6 Fd Amb May 1943–Mar 1944; OC 1 FTU May–Dec 1944.

2 Maj D. P. O'Brien; born NZ 23 Jul 1906; surgeon; SMO Norfolk Island, Oct 1942–Sep 1943; surgeon 1 Gen Hosp Feb–Aug 1944; OC 3 FSU Aug 1944–Mar 1945; surgeon 5 Gen Hosp Mar–Apr 1945; died Egypt, 29 Apr 1945.