War Surgery and Medicine
Important to the health of 2 NZEF, as indeed of any force, was the morale and welfare of troops. Fundamental to morale and welfare are freedom from disease, good varied food, satisfactory clothing and accommodation, while sport and recreation facilities are also very important. Most officers, from the GOC downwards, were mindful of all these aspects.
Units judiciously used regimental funds to supplement the basic ration with local extras in the way of food and vegetables. The page 719 troops had summer and winter outfits of clothing, drill open-necked shirt, shorts and slacks, and battle dress. Head dress varied from peaked hat to forage cap to beret, with the topee in use occasionally at the beginning of the war until it was found unnecessary. Extra socks, blankets, leather jerkins, etc., were available when conditions were cold and wet, as in Italy.
Care was taken in the siting of camps—as far from native villages as possible, not in malarious areas if they could be avoided, etc. Tents and huts were provided on a liberal scale, though shortage of labour and material resulted in the minimum space standard in huts being reduced to 45 square feet per man, while the number in tents had to be increased above that allowed in peacetime. The situation in regard to venereal disease was carefully watched. On field service the men used their bivouac tents or slept on trucks. In Italy in the winter it was necessary to house all troops in buildings and make arrangements for heating.
Sport received plenty of attention in 2 NZEF. Swimming baths were constructed for Maadi Camp and many units benefited from proximity to the Mediterranean from time to time. Chlorination of the baths was a responsibility of Base Hygiene Section. Football needed no stimulation. Informal games were played whenever opportunity permitted, and unit competitions in the Division were organised. Cricket and hockey could not be so easily organised, but these sports were played regularly by base units and at least occasionally by other units. Athletic meetings were arranged from time to time.
Many amenities were provided through the National Patriotic Fund—YMCA recreation huts and canteens, mobile film units, forces clubs, libraries, and parcels, etc. Concert parties were encouraged, and the Kiwi Concert Party became famous. The NZEF Times was published weekly, giving items of New Zealand news and special features. Mail and parcels were delivered as soon as possible after their receipt.
Regular leave was granted to base units every six months, apart from day leave, and to divisional units when operations and leave accommodation permitted. Some leave camps were arranged, and troops were also accommodated at the forces clubs which were established in many of the larger cities in Egypt and Italy.
At the Convalescent Depot patients from hospital were fitted for full duty again by special programmes of rehabilitation. Where men were down-graded they came up for review periodically, and efforts were made to fit them usefully into base and L of C jobs. An employment officer was appointed in Maadi Camp to help deal with the problem of the accumulation of graded men there and the provision of work suited to the individual.page 720
The developments and adaptations in hygiene and sanitation in 2 NZEF in its different locations after its basis had been established in Maadi Camp in 1940 can probably best be discussed generally under the specific headings that affected the health of troops.