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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

3 NZ General Hospital, Helmieh

page 216

3 NZ General Hospital, Helmieh

This unit under Colonel Gower had arrived in Egypt on 23 March 1941 with the third section of the 4th Reinforcements and detrained at Zeitoun siding on 28 March, taking over the site at Helmieh recently vacated by 1 General Hospital, which had proceeded to Greece, leaving a small holding party in occupation. On the site at that time there were erected nine marquees, sixteen huts, the roofs of which were being repaired after having been blown off in a storm, and thirty-three tents for officers' and sisters' quarters. The operating block of army design was nearing completion, electric wiring was being installed in marquees and huts, mud-brick walls were still being built round some tents and buildings, and a comprehensive roading scheme had been begun.

As equipment arrived the hospital was gradually established, although it was well into April before medical equipment was received. On 24 April the first 134 patients were transferred from 2 General Hospital, a further convoy of 57 arrived from the Western Desert on 28 April, and there were 209 patients in hospital at the end of the month.

On 12 May all patients except seven were transferred to 2 General Hospital to make room for the admission and isolation of 261 influenza cases from the 5th Reinforcements, following the epidemic experienced on the voyage from New Zealand. The hospital and staff were isolated from 13 to 26 May.

On 29 and 30 May 387 battle casualties from Crete were admitted, increasing the number of patients to 619. These were accommodated with some difficulty; 59 men had to be placed on palliasses on the floor, but they were only too thankful to be safely back in Egypt and well looked after by the willing staff.