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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

Evacuation by Road

Evacuation by Road

The road evacuation was by means of the main axial road of Greece from Larisa through Pharsala to Lamia, then by the coastal road to Molos and Atalandi, and back again to the main road at Levadhia and then to Thebes and Athens. The roads in the mountain areas were narrow and in wet weather the surface became muddy and slippery. The main road generally was not very wide and ambulance cars returning for unit personnel, or for wounded and sick still in forward positions, found it difficult to proceed against the stream, of traffic during the withdrawal. The bombing of the roads was an page 137 additional hazard, but the force was lucky in not having any bridges of importance destroyed ahead of it on the main roads.

The road evacuation was undertaken by the Australian MAC, which serviced the whole of the forward medical units, British, Australian, and New Zealand, and carried out their work in such a way as to win unstinted praise from the New Zealand Medical Corps. On 16 April Colonel Kenrick had arranged with DDMS Anzac Corps for six MAC cars to be attached to each field ambulance during the withdrawal, so that each medical unit had cars at its disposal for evacuation of cases to the CCSs and 1 NZ General Hospital, and also to help in the evacuation of the medical units and the many casualties, nursed and transported by all the units, during the withdrawal.

Special car posts were set up, not only to act as relaying posts between the different medical units, but also as collecting posts for the wounded and to act as extra ADSs. As a rule they were staffed by a medical officer and orderlies. The successful evacuation of medical units and casualties was due to the way the medical transport was used, and to the ability of the officers of the Medical Corps to improvise and to commandeer, and to handle the difficult problem of collecting the wounded, scattered as they were over the whole line of evacuation.

Trucks were used to a great extent to transport wounded, and Flint stretcher apparatus was used as much as possible, but the supply was very limited. The smaller 15-cwt and 30-cwt trucks were found to be not nearly as suitable as the three-tonner. The wheel base of the 30-cwt truck was not long enough, and the three-tonner could not only carry many more patients and personnel but it could also carry much more petrol—a matter of great importance.

It was stressed by 4 Field Ambulance that all trucks should be self-contained, and that all drivers should have full information as to their destination. The field ambulances were not themselves self-sufficient as regards transport. This was partly due to an excess in equipment, as each unit had made efforts to supplement the regular army equipment with extras designed to enable more efficient surgery to be carried out. In the forward areas 15-cwt trucks were used by the RMOs, both for transport and also as RAPs.