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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

Medical Units with Third Echelon

Medical Units with Third Echelon

On 1 February 1940 there began at Burnham Camp a training course for the NCOs of the field medical unit to accompany the Third Echelon. It was attended by twenty-five men. Practically all of them were raw recruits who (unlike 4 and 5 Field Ambulance NCOs) had not had any territorial training.

The Commanding Officer of 6 Field Ambulance, Lieutenant-Colonel Bull, entered camp at Burnham on 2 April and other officers arrived on 16 April. The main body of 6 Field Ambulance was mobilised on 15 May and entered on a comprehensive scheme of training, which culminated in combined exercises with infantry battalions and the construction of a large underground dressing station.

With a total strength of 234, the unit embarked with other units of the Third Echelon at Lyttelton on 27 August, its ship being the Orcades. Other ships embarking troops at Wellington were the Mauretania and Empress of Japan.

Officers and prospective NCOs for 2 General Hospital entered Trentham Camp on 17 April, to be followed by the main body of the unit a month later. The standardised medical training was carried out, with the addition that nursing orderlies received training in the Wellington Public Hospital as well as at the camp hospital. Colonel F. M. Spencer was its commanding officer.

Embarkation on the Mauretania took place at Wellington on 27 August 1940, and the unit strength was 18 officers (including the chaplain), 39 nursing sisters, and 148 other ranks. The convoy carrying the Third Echelon sailed for Egypt on 28 August and there linked up with the First Echelon. The Second Echelon was still in England.

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