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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

Lessons from the Campaign

Lessons from the Campaign

On 17 November Colonel G. W. B. James, Consultant Psychiatrist, BTE, visited 4 Field Ambulance and with medical officers discussed the question of the prevalence of neurosis in the forward areas. General opinion indicated that the incidence was very small, at least in New Zealand troops, but it was suggested that any such cases should be treated with sedatives and held in the forward medical unit rather than be evacuated to a general hospital, where the complex increased, thereby making it much more difficult to return the men to their units.

In the campaign in December it had been possible for the commanding officer 4 Field Ambulance, Lieutenant-Colonel Graves,1 to accompany Colonel Kenrick as far forward as Bardia to the MDS of 2/1 Australian Field Ambulance. There valuable information was gained on the evacuation of battle casualties from the battle then in progress. Three ADSs were functioning at the time about 2 miles behind the front line and all casualties passed through the MDS, which was situated close to the division's headquarters, about 12 miles back. From observations made, it was clear that in future operations New Zealand's field ambulances would have to make provision at the MDS for the following:


The holding of many more cases than previously planned.


The performance of major surgery as required.


The attachment of additional surgeons.


An electric lighting set for theatre work.


Use of walking wounded as blood donors.


Improvement of arrangements for clerical recording at the admission and discharge of patients.

When 4 Field Ambulance concluded its first period of four months in the field under active-service conditions, valuable experience had been gained in hospital work and field training, and the unit felt confident that it could undertake any role in field ambulance work.

1 Col P. V. Graves, ED; Waverley; born Hawera, 1 Apr 1896; medical practitioner; medical orderly NZ Hospital Ship Maheno, 1917–19; RMO 2 Div Cav Sep 1939–Sep 1940; CO 4 Fd Amb Sep 1940–Aug 1941; ADMS Central Military District Sep 1942–Aug 1944.