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War Surgery and Medicine



As regards deaths from disease the record of 2 NZEF was a good one, aided by spectacular advances in medicine. There were only 190 deaths in 2 NZEF from 1939 to 1945, as against 1579 in 1 NZEF from 1914 to 1918 (Table VIII). It has to be noted that 1 NZEF had an average strength nearly half as great again (in round figures 40,000 as against 30,000), but its period was 4 years 2 months against nearly six years. The most notable reductions were in deaths from pneumonia, influenza, tuberculosis, typhoid, dysentery, and malaria. Most of the deaths in 2 NZEF could have occurred normally in a civilian population, except a page 751 handful of deaths from dysentery (8), typhus (6), infective hepatitis (6), and malaria (2). The death rate is almost exactly equal to that for deaths from natural causes for the RNZAF in New Zealand—100 deaths for a force of average strength of approximately 16,500—and very similar to the rate for the army in New Zealand. The average age of the forces in New Zealand was probably somewhat older.

In the group of 8000 who were prisoners of war, most of them for nearly four years, there were 105 deaths from disease (Table IX). Doubtless there would have been more deaths but for the good work of Allied medical officers in captivity and the steady arrival of Red Cross parcels.