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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

Minqar Qaim

Minqar Qaim

At dusk on 26 June the divisional area at Minqar Qaim was bombed and seventy casualties were suffered by units of 4 Infantry Brigade and by a mobile column of 21 Battalion to the south. Next morning the enemy deployed artillery to the north of our positions and the first ranging shells fell near Divisional Headquarters. Then began an artillery duel which went on all day. At midday the enemy put down heavy concentrations for about two hours, after which he made several half-hearted attacks, all of which were easily repulsed. By late afternoon, however, the enemy had deployed on the northern and eastern sides of the New Zealand positions. At dusk shell and mortar fire gradually died away.

The RMOs had a difficult time that day; one of them, Captain R. A. Wilson,1 RMO of 23 Battalion, was awarded the Military Cross. Owing to the nature of the country his RAP could not be moved to a safe zone and was under heavy shellfire for a period of over eight hours. Captain Wilson remained at his post attending the wounded and carrying on under the most difficult and trying conditions. At one stage—under heavy fire—he personally went out with a stretcher to bring in a wounded man. His whole bearing and conduct during the day was an inspiration to the men around him.

1 Maj R. A. Wilson, MC; London; born Christchurch, 2 Feb 1909; medical practitioner; RAMC 1940; RMO 23 Bn Jun 1941–Oct 1942; medical officer 3 Gen Hosp Dec 1942–Jan 1944; 5 Fd Amb Jan–Sep 1944; Repatriation Unit (UK) May 1945–Mar 1946.