Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

New Zealand Women's War Service Auxiliary (Hospital Division)

New Zealand Women's War Service Auxiliary (Hospital Division)

The first contingent of the women of the NZWWSA (Hospital Division)1 proceeded overseas in the Maunganui on 22 December 1941, with Miss King2 as commandant. They numbered 200, but sixty-five were disembarked at Fremantle owing to overcrowding, and were picked up by the Oranje some weeks later. After reaching Port Tewfik on 25 January 1942, they commenced duty at 1 General Hospital and 3 General Hospital on 30 January. The remainder reached Egypt on the Oranje on 17 February and were also attached to the hospitals.

The eventual postings were:


Nursing Section:

  • Attached office Matron-in-Chief—1 officer (commandant)

  • 1 Gen Hosp—1 officer, 3 sergeants, 69 nurses

  • 2 Gen Hosp—1 officer, 2 sergeants, 38 nurses

  • 3 Gen Hosp—1 officer, 2 sergeants, 64 nurses

  • Attached YWCA Cairo—2 nurses

  • Attached 1 NZ Rest Home—1 nurse

  • Attached 2 NZ Rest Home—3 nurses

The nursing section, comprising the majority, were posted to the various wards as assistants. In the wards their duties consisted mainly of bed-making, taking temperatures, taking round the meals, sweeping and cleaning, and helping in the kitchen.


Clerical Section:

The clerical section was absorbed immediately, particularly in the hospital offices, where the women replaced men who were sent off page 300 to field units. They were also employed in the stewards’ stores, company offices, QM stores, and X-ray departments of the hospitals, where the duties consisted of shorthand, typing, and clerical work.

In each of the three hospitals there was, at the time of the voluntary aids’ arrival, a shortage of staff in NZMC personnel, with insufficient reinforcements available to make up the deficiencies. It was felt that any further weakening of male staff by reduction in hospital establishments would decrease the efficiency of hospitals, particularly if any hospital was shifted. Female staffs could not replace males in the packing and unpacking necessitated in the closing and opening of hospitals. It was also agreed that military hospitals were, in general, understaffed, particularly in comparison with New Zealand civil standards. The male staff, therefore, was not reduced after the arrival of the voluntary aids but some sections were built up to give increased efficiency, and adjustments were made between the nursing and general duties sections so as to provide for the establishment of a fire-fighting section.

1 Afterwards changed to WAAC, Women's Army Auxiliary Corps.

2 Senior Commander Miss M. King, MBE; born Australia, 30 Jun 1903; accountant; officer i/c WAAC (Med Div) Dec 1941–Mar 1945; died 23 Oct 1953.