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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

Preparations for Breakthrough

Preparations for Breakthrough

At dusk instructions were issued that the New Zealand troops would withdraw from the area during the night. It was known that our withdrawal route to the east was blocked by the enemy, who had enveloped the positions from the north round nearly to the south. Fourth Brigade was given the task of clearing a wide lane through the enemy so as to allow the remainder of the Division through. Plans were made for an attack with the bayonet by the whole brigade on a narrow front. There would be no artillery support page 335 for the field regiments were down to thirty rounds a gun before dark and there was no possibility of replenishment. During the day enemy fighting vehicles had come in between 5 Brigade and its troop-carrying transport which had concentrated farther south. As the brigade was thus grounded, it was ordered to the Divisional Reserve Group area on foot, and there arrangements were made to carry the brigade on its own fighting vehicles, a few borrowed from 4 Brigade, and Artillery and Reserve Group vehicles.

This shortage of vehicles had its effect on the medical units, particularly 5 ADS which, of course, had also not been able to evacuate patients during the day. A request was made by this unit to ADMS NZ Division for extra transport, which he obtained after considerable difficulty. By 11 p.m. all the patients and medical personnel were crammed on the available transport ready for the breakout. The GOC's caravan truck, in which were the wounded general, his ADC, and Colonel Ardagh, had a Red Cross flag attached and headed a medical convoy which included 5 ADS and a detachment of B Company 4 Field Ambulance, under Captain Kennedy,1 travelling with 5 Brigade.

1 Lt-Col D. P. Kennedy, m.i.d.; Wellington; born Christchurch, 19 May 1915; medical practitioner; Adjutant 7 Fd Amb (Fiji) Oct 1940–May 1941; DADMS Army HQ (NZ) Jun–Nov 1941; medical officer 4 Fd Amb May–Oct 1942; OC 4 Fd Hyg Sec Oct 1942–Aug 1943; Dpty Asst Director Hygiene, NZ Corps, Feb–Mar 1944; DADMS 2 NZ Div Apr–Nov 1944; DADMS 2 NZEF Nov 1944–Feb 1945; OC 4 Fd Hyg Coy and DADH 2 NZ Div Feb–May 1945; CO 5 Fd Amb Jun–Oct 1945; Assistant Director Hospitals Division, Wellington, 1955–.