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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

Health of Troops

Health of Troops

In the first week on Crete it was noted by ADMS NZ Division that the general health of the troops was good, in spite of only four-fifths of the standard food ration being available and most troops being without a change of clothing. Hygiene and sanitation were not up to standard. The normal water supply came from wells which generally were reliable, although many of them became contaminated during the campaign. There was a lack of facilities for water-testing and sterilising and no water carts were available. Water was boiled and individual water tablets supplied, but unfortunately, although these were given out to units in Greece, many had never been distributed to the individual soldiers and were not available in Crete. A serious shortage of spades, picks, and shovels interfered with proper sanitary arrangements, especially as trenches had to be dug for the protection of personnel from air attack. Fifth Field Ambulance was able to commandeer six shovels and six picks or adzes at Ay Marina and these proved invaluable. Instructions were given, however, to dig deep trenches for latrines. After the evacuation of Crete, dumps of picks, shovels, and rifles were found page 156 which could have been available to Creforce. Evidently, the handover to the new Creforce Headquarters had been incomplete.

No transport was available and troops had to march considerable distances, with the result that many men suffered from sore feet. On 30 April there were 126 New Zealanders, wounded and sick, among the patients at 7 General Hospital.