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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

Across the Sillaro

Across the Sillaro

When 13 Corps took over this sector of the front 2 NZ Division came under its command. Then at nine o'clock in the evening of 15 April, in fine weather and with a new moon, 6 and 9 Infantry Brigades attacked to cross the Sillaro, the operation being completely successful, involving only sixty-five battle casualties. It was necessary for the advanced dressing stations to move daily to keep up with the advance.

The Poles on the left and the Indians (now of 10 Indian Division, which had been switched from far on the left flank to replace 8 Indian Division) had kept abreast of the New Zealanders, who on 17 April made a sweeping advance along the Medicina-Budrio railway and reached the Gaiana River, where they found the enemy to be in strength on the far bank. On the night of 18–19 April the New Zealand Division stormed the Gaiana crossings in the face of vicious fire from dug-in positions on the floodbanks, and swept on across the Quaderna Canal against heavy resistance from German paratroops, many of whom died at their posts rather than surrender or retreat. Our casualties for the operation totalled 65.

The 5th MDS moved up to Ganzanigo on 17 April to take battle casualties from the Gaiana battle. It occupied a building that had been vacated by a German medical unit only the previous night, but had to clean it as it was in a filthy state. The MDS was temporarily reinforced by 3 FSU and 2 FTU and had a few days' heavy work with the wounded, and then on the night of 22–23 April there was another influx of casualties from the bombing and strafing of supply columns by enemy planes.