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Medical Services in New Zealand and The Pacific


page 157


For all war purposes, the Royal Navy and the navies of the various British Dominions were combined in a single organisation in which personnel, ships and equipment were intermingled and freely pooled in a common plan. Under those circumstances, the Royal New Zealand Navy cannot be regarded as a separate self-contained and independent force, its war story being inextricably bound up with that of the Royal Navy in various parts of the world.

Although New Zealand maintained a considerable number of ships and establishments at home and overseas, the Dominion's greatest contribution to the naval war effort was the provision of personnel, selected and entered into the Royal New Zealand Navy but despatched to the United Kingdom after brief preliminary training for service in the Royal Navy. These drafts, which included many Fleet Air Arm personnel and formed numerically a major part of the Royal New Zealand Navy, did not serve overseas in New Zealand units, being dispersed throughout the Royal Navy in all types of ship and in every theatre of operations. In respect of this considerable body of men, the New Zealand Naval Medical Service was concerned only with initial selection, care during early training, and final boarding on return to New Zealand.

On the other hand, ships and establishments which were regarded as essentially New Zealand units carried varying proportions of Royal Navy personnel, while Royal Navy ships, throughout the war, made repeated demands upon the medical services and facilities of New Zealand base establishments.

The history of the medical and ancillary services of the Royal New Zealand Navy is not therefore the record of an independent organisation dealing specifically with the medical problems of New Zealanders on naval service, but the story of a small share in the naval medical services of the British Commonwealth, conforming to the general plan of the Royal Navy, but modified by available resources and adapted to local conditions.

page 158