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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

The Medical Units

The Medical Units

During August the medical units were concerned mainly with the treatment of the sick. The relatively high sick rate of the Division was due to the prolonged nature of the battles and the trying conditions under which they were fought, not forgetting the summer heat with the water ration only three-quarters of a gallon a man a day. There was an increase in dysentery and diarrhoea (and later infective hepatitis) owing to the great number of flies, control being difficult because of the unburied dead lying beyond the forward defended localities out of reach of burial parties, and the prevailing wind blowing directly from the Italian lines.

On 28 July 6 Field Ambulance took over the MDS from 4 Field Ambulance on the same site, Deir el Hima, and 4 Field Ambulance moved into reserve at Abu Shamla. Fifth Field Ambulance was still in Maadi Camp. A surgical team from 1 NZ CCS under the command of Major S. L. Wilson joined 6 Field Ambulance on 30 July, page 354 and the surgical teams from 15 British CCS under Majors Taylor and Keller were withdrawn soon after to rest and refit.

military plans

6 NZ Field Ambulance MDS, July–August 1942

The 6th MDS moved on 4 August to another site at Deir el Hima to enable the previous site to be used as a defensive position. Here it stayed until 13 August, when the likelihood of an enemy attack page 355 made it apparent that the unit was too far forward to permit of sufficient mobility if overloaded with patients; it moved back but was still too close for 13 Corps' requirements. Fourth Field Ambulance, which had moved to Bir Abu Shineina on 19 August, took over and opened as MDS on 25 August after the New Zealand engineers had graded a satisfactory route to connect with the brigades. With the closing of 6 MDS, 1 NZ CCS surgical team and 6 Mobile Transfusion Unit joined 4 MDS. The location of 4 ADS and 6 ADS was Alam Nayil, and although 132 Brigade of 44 Division had come under command of 2 NZ Division, it was decided that, owing to the confined area, the two ADSs would be sufficient to treat casualties from all three brigades.

military plans

Alamein Line: Positions of Medical Units, August 1942

During the month 4 Field Ambulance treated 335 patients and 6 Field Ambulance 1616, of whom 103 were New Zealand battle casualties and 1310 sick from the Division.