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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

Formation of New Zealand Section, Motor Ambulance Convoy

Formation of New Zealand Section, Motor Ambulance Convoy

In March 1942 the AIF in the Middle East was arranging to move to the Pacific zone, and it offered to the New Zealand Red Cross page 308 Commissioner eight two-stretcher ambulance cars originally donated to the AIF by the Anzac War Relief Fund, New York. This offer was gladly accepted and these cars, together with nineteen 4-stretcher ambulances which had been on loan to the AIF from the British Red Cross Society, were transferred to the NZMC in May. Although these cars were not entirely suitable for desert work, they were a valuable supplement to the vehicles available to the NZMC, and their receipt enabled a New Zealand Section, Motor Ambulance Convoy, to be formed as a unit of 2 NZEF on 9 June 1942. This was an NZASC unit with medical orderlies attached, but its services were always at the disposal of DMS 2 NZEF, and those particular ambulance cars rendered signal service at Tripoli during the advance to Tunisia. (Before this there was a motor ambulance section attached to 1 NZ Camp Hospital, but it was required solely for base camp and base hospital duties.)

The NZMC was greatly indebted to volunteer donors in regard to motor ambulance cars. Previously, a gift of ten ambulances had been received in June 1941 by 2 NZEF from ‘American Friends of the Anzacs’ through the Anzac War Relief Fund, New York. Prior to that the people of Paisley presented two motor ambulance cars through the British Volunteer Ambulance Corps to the Second Echelon while it was in England in 1940. These were sent to the Middle East in March 1941 and for a time were the only vehicles exclusively available to Maadi Camp, and they did a great deal of work in meeting convoys of sick and wounded after the evacuation of Greece and Crete.1

1In December 1942 there arrived from New Zealand two gift ambulances presented by Mr and Mrs J. Sutherland Ross, Dunedin, and the Hugh Baird family of Hastings. Then in April 1943 three ambulances were received via the United States, two the gift of the Young American Victory Club and one from the Samoan Red Cross. Also in July 1943 another gift ambulance was received from Miss E. Bellamy, Invercargill, and other ambulances were donated later from New Zealand.