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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

Medical Transport

Medical Transport

There was insufficient transport for the conveyance of the wounded. Walking wounded had not only to walk between the dressing stations and the hospital, but most of them had eventually to walk across the island during the evacuation. Lying cases had to be left behind at the medical units, both because of lack of vehicles and the impossibility of embarking stretcher cases at Sfakia.

Constant machine-gunning of the roads after the invasion made conditions still more difficult and often caused serious delay; it was only by strenuous efforts on the part of medical officers and drivers that the essential work was carried out. At times lorries were found page 201 abandoned and were brought into service when urgently required. Patients had to be moved in the darkness to escape the bombing and machine-gunning of the roads. Some of the cars were damaged in this way.

It was found that, generally, the German airmen respected the Red Cross if it was effectively displayed, and this eventually led to the use by 5 Field Ambulance of transport furnished with large Red Cross markings. During the evacuation this method was used in the transport of wounded, with great success. It was stated that six ambulances, marked with small crosses only, were destroyed, whereas those marked with large crosses proceeded unharmed through the same area.