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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

The Hospitals

The Hospitals

The hospitals were rearranged to serve the Division in Syria. No. 1 General Hospital remained at Helwan as the static base hospital to service the base camps at Maadi and Helwan and to evacuate cases to New Zealand by the hospital ship. No. 2 General Hospital was shifted from Garawla, where it had acted on the lines page 321 of communication during the Libyan battle, and was established in several buildings in the centre of Nazareth. Although a long way from the Division, it was able to deal satisfactorily with the work, civilian in type, and had the newly formed VD Treatment Centre attached to it.

No. 3 General Hospital, having been warned that it probably would be needed in Syria, received final instructions on 6 May to close and move to a new site at Choukri Ghanum, some 5 miles east of Beirut, on the lower slopes of the Lebanon Mountains on the road to Damascus. The staff of the detachment of 3 General Hospital which had been functioning in the Anglo-Swiss building in Alexandria since November 1941 had rejoined the parent unit on 30 April 1942.

The hospital closed at Helmieh on 18 May, left for Beirut on the 23rd, and opened to receive patients on 3 June. Some 200 trucks were required to move the equipment of the 900-bed hospital. One of the two blocks of buildings occupied by the hospital had previously been French barracks and the other had been part of the Lebanon mental hospital. No. 3 General Hospital was the first military hospital to move at that time into that area of Syria, and its establishment had been regarded as of urgent importance by Headquarters Ninth Army. The hospital quickly got established again and by 26 June had 1032 occupied beds.

An outbreak of typhoid fever involving the VADs caused one death and led to doubt as to the immunity provided by TAB injections in New Zealand.