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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

Medical Arrangements in United Kingdom

Medical Arrangements in United Kingdom

The Second Echelon arrived in England on 16 June at the time of the fall of France, when the situation in the United Kingdom became critical under the threat of German invasion. From the medical point of view it meant that two separate medical services had to be established, one in Egypt and one in England, and that 2 General Hospital sailing with the Third Echelon became the first fully staffed New Zealand general hospital to be provided for the NZEF in Egypt. The New Zealand Division, however, did not engage in any battles until the three New Zealand general hospitals were ready.

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To make all necessary arrangements for the arrival of the Second Echelon in the United Kingdom, Colonel MacCormick, ADMS 2 NZEF, went by air from Egypt to England, arriving in London on 26 May 1940. It was impossible to make any definite plans until the location of the force on its arrival had been finally settled as the Aldershot area, but preliminary inquiries and negotiations were made. To secure a hospital site for our troops at first appeared almost hopeless, and Colonel MacCormick was so informed by the DDMS Canadian Force and Medical Liaison Officer, Australian Force.

The Director-General of the Army Medical Service, Major-General Sir William MacArthur, had control of only pre-war military hospitals and was unable to help in the matter of hospital location, in spite of his willingness to assist. Sick and wounded were generally dispersed to hospitals of the Emergency Medical Service (EMS). Practically all hospitals in the United Kingdom had been graded and staffed under this scheme.

Colonel MacCormick interviewed Professor F. R. Fraser, head of the EMS organisation at the Ministry of Health, who gave sympathetic consideration to the desire of the New Zealand Government for New Zealand troops to be, as far as possible, under the medical care of New Zealanders. Professor Fraser directed Dr Murchie, head of the hospital department, to afford all possible assistance in the furtherance of this policy. As a result Pinewood Sanatorium, near Wokingham, some 10 miles from the New Zealand camp in the Aldershot area, was offered to Colonel MacCormick for a hospital.