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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

1 General Hospital

1 General Hospital

Colonel McKillop, 13 officers, and 69 men of 1 General Hospital arrived at Alexandria from Greece on 23 April. They disembarked and entrained for Amiriya, where they were marched into a staging camp. The next day they proceeded to Maadi Camp and were quartered in the camp hospital area. On 29 April a detachment under Major Hunter went to Helwan Camp to assist in the establishment of a rest centre there for troops returning from Greece, and other officers and men were attached to 2 and 3 General Hospitals to assist them to cope with the expected added pressure of work. The ophthalmic and ENT surgeon and the radiologist were attached to 3 General Hospital as that unit was deficient in these specialist services, and the orthopaedic surgeon was attached to 2 General Hospital to help both in the wards and the out-patient department.

The matron and the fifty-one nursing sisters arrived in Cairo from Crete, accompanied by Captain King1 and Captain Sayers, on 1 May. The six more seriously hurt of the nineteen involved in the truck accident prior to embarkation in Greece were admitted to 2 General Hospital. The remainder were quartered at 2 General Hospital, where they carried out nursing duties, and all had leave in rotation, special extra leave being granted them.

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An inquiry was held by Headquarters 2 NZEF into allegations that the evacuation of 1 General Hospital from Pharsala had been precipitate and that the sisters should have been evacuated from Greece before or with the unit. Colonel McKillop was completely exonerated, it being definitely established that the evacuation of Pharsala was carried out in compliance with definite and specific orders from ADMS 80 Base Sub-Area, and that Brigadier Large had made definite arrangements before the departure of the unit from Greece for the sisters to be evacuated by hospital ship from Athens.

Colonel McKillop was admitted to hospital shortly after the return of the unit to Egypt and was medically boarded and returned to New Zealand on HS Maunganui on 10 June 1941. Lieutenant-Colonel Stout assumed temporary command of the unit and strenuous efforts were immediately made to replace the lost equipment.

1 Brig R. D. King, CBE, DSO, m.i.d., Greek Medallion for Distinguished Deed; Timaru; born Timaru, 25 Feb 1896; medical practitioner; 1 NZEF 1918–19, Private, NZMC, England and Hospital Ship; physician 1 Gen Hosp Feb 1940–Jun 1941; 2 i/c 4 Fd Amb Jun 1941–Jan 1942; CO 4 Fd Amb Jan 1942–Jun 1943; ADMS 2 NZ Div Jun 1943–Dec 1944; DDMS NZ Corps Feb–Mar 1944.