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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

Departure of NZANS

Departure of NZANS

On 28 April New Zealand Divisional Headquarters moved to a new site in Galatas, a village about a mile and a half south-west of the hospital, and the New Zealand nursing sisters were moved into billets in the village as they had vacated their tents at 7 General Hospital to make room for patients the previous night and had themselves slept on the ground.

The stay of the sisters at Galatas was short, for they were called at four o'clock the following morning and taken by truck to Suda Bay. Here, with 130 British and Australian nurses and some 500 walking wounded and 200 troops, they embarked during the early morning on the small Greek ship Ionia. The crew, fearful of air raids, had fled to the hills, so volunteers from among the troops manned the ship. Australians were in charge and gave the sisters the few available cabins. The voyage to Egypt was a slow one and the first night was one of apprehension, for there were enemy attacks; but later the ship joined up in convoy with a naval escort and the rest of the voyage was uneventful, Alexandria being reached on 1 May.

The decision to evacuate the nursing sisters forthwith to Egypt was both prompt and wise, as their presence during the attack would have created much anxiety and trouble to the command—more than their valuable services warranted.