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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

Staff for Repatriation Unit, United Kingdom

Staff for Repatriation Unit, United Kingdom

With the ending of the war in Europe and the consequent release of thousands of New Zealand prisoners of war, most of whom were taken across Western Europe to England, there was an accentuated demand for the expansion of medical facilities with the New Zealand Prisoner-of-war Repatriation Unit in the United Kingdom. The ADMS 2 NZEF (UK), Brigadier J. M. Twhigg, in anticipation of the cessation of hostilities, was anxious to receive reinforcements of medical officers, sisters, and other ranks from 2 NZEF in MEF page 672 and CMF earlier than May. Personnel, however, could not easily be spared prior to, and during, the final offensive, as there was more often an insufficiency rather than a surplus of staff for medical units, especially as regards medical officers.

However, by 14 May a total of 67 medical personnel (12 medical officers, 12 NZANS, 9 NZWAAC, and 34 other ranks) had been despatched to the United Kingdom. While the DMS 2 NZEF fully appreciated the difficulties under which this medical unit in the United Kingdom was working owing to the sudden influx of repatriated prisoners of war, he found it impossible to send more in the meantime because of: (a) the long lines of communication in Italy; (b) the fact that New Zealand hospitals were still dealing with battle casualties, sick, repatriated New Zealand prisoners of war, and wounded German prisoners; (c) the closing of 2 General Hospital preparatory to its move to Egypt; and (d) the late arrival of the medical draft of the 15th Reinforcements. When the post-battle rush of work had been cleared and the tension eased in Trieste, it was possible to release more personnel to the United Kingdom.