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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

MDS Opens in Faenza

MDS Opens in Faenza

After the capture of Faenza by 2 NZ Division on the evening of 16 December, 4 MDS under Lieutenant-Colonel Owen-Johnston1 left Forli at midday on 17 December and opened that afternoon in Faenza. From the time of opening there was a steady stream of patients, and as for the first few days this MDS was the only one in Faenza it handled not only New Zealand but also British, Indian, and Italian troops and a certain number of Italian civilians. Evacuation was by Route 9 to 1 Mobile CCS for New Zealand and attached troops, while seriously wounded British and Indian troops went to 57 FDS, less serious British cases to 5 British CCS, and similar Indian cases to 9 Indian CCS in Forli. Priority was given to ambulance cars on the road, with the result that patients arrived at the CCS usually within half an hour of leaving the MDS. A Bailey bridge was a big help in this sector.

The bank building used by the MDS was solidly constructed and offered fair protection from the heavy shelling of the town by the enemy, who during the night of 17–18 December had reached the page 624 outskirts of the town in a counter-attack. The reception and evacuation departments were both set up in one large room divided by a low partition, and both were within easy access of a large theatre beside which was a combined resuscitation and pre-operative ward. During busy periods two tables were conveniently accommodated in the theatre. Separated from these departments by a small courtyard was the hospital cookhouse, near enough to serve meals still hot to the patients. The members of the unit were billeted either in the bank building or in nearby houses, which they managed to heat by one means or another.

1 Lt-Col A. W. Owen-Johnston, ED; born Christchurch, 30 May 1892; surgeon; 1 NZEF, 1916–19, France and England; surgeon 2 Gen Hosp Aug 1943–May 1944; 6 Fd Amb May–Dec 1944; CO 4 Fd Amb Dec 1944–Aug 1945; CO 1 Mob CCS Aug–Oct 1945; CO 2 Gen Hosp Nov 1945; killed in accident 7 Dec 1955.