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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

Across the Adige

Across the Adige

The difficult obstacle formed by the fast-flowing Adige River, between 100 and 200 yards wide, was forced by resolute infantry on the night of 26–27 April and one of the last water barriers before the Alps was crossed. Next day the New Zealand engineers were the first to bridge this second great water hazard. On 27 April it was directed that 9 Infantry Brigade and 43 Gurkha Lorried Infantry Brigade would pass through 5 and 6 Infantry Brigades, which would go temporarily into reserve. In the later afternoon 9 Brigade, accompanied by the 4 ADS, moved across the river Adige north of page 655 Badia. The Division advanced rapidly against slight opposition with few casualties, and on 28 April 4 ADS moved forward through San Margherita, continuing on through Este and Monselice to Padua, where it opened at night in a large house. Casualties received on the road were treated by a reception section by the roadside and evacuated back to 6 MDS at Trecenta.

Established across the Po on 26 April, 6 MDS had two operating teams and a capacity for thirty patients in its evacuation section, but the evacuation of patients back across the Po against the endless stream of traffic advancing over the bridge was precarious. On the 27th four ambulance cars left the unit to go south, but they experienced considerable difficulty in crossing the river. Eventually they were ferried across in returning tank ferries and hauled up the opposite bank by bulldozers. Later in the day 3 FSU and 2 FTU crossed the river and took some of the pressure off the unit operating teams. Admissions on successive days were only 29, 29, and 45, but the unit had to do all necessary surgery in case of hold-ups at the bridge. On 28 April these were considerable as the provost of 13 Corps objected to passing the ambulance cars over. After getting across the river the cars off-loaded at 4 MDS in order to make a quick return.

A move to the vicinity of Bondeno, south of the Po, was made by 4 MDS on the evening of 28 April in order to act as a staging post for all battle casualties and seriously sick cases on their route from 6 MDS to 1 Mobile CCS. Cases of minor sickness were held and all other cases sent back through Ferrara and along Route 64. On the way to Bondeno, at the Reno River crossing, was another zone of wreckage and a patch of road as rough as any yet encountered in the advance. Towards the Po there was untouched farming country, although the roadside was heavily stacked with German dumps, many of them blasted by the Desert Air Force.