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Medical Units of 2 NZEF in Middle East and Italy

6 Field Ambulance

6 Field Ambulance

Early in February 1940 25 men arrived in Burnham to form the nucleus of 6 Field Ambulance. They were soon in training to become NCOs of the unit. A month later the commanding officer, Lt-Col W. H. B. Bull,26 with eight other officers, arrived at the School to complete their course of training before the main body was drafted into camp.

On 14 May the unit came into being as a third field ambulance for the New Zealand Division overseas. Though the training was hard and much of it dull at first, the new life was not without compensations. Training as a separate body, the unit had its own block of huts, ablution benches, parade ground, square, and orderly-room offices. Leave at the weekends was generous, and within the camp were several huts and canteens where the men could find occupation for spare time in games, reading, or writing. page 12 Frequently there was a cinema show in the camp and concert parties also entertained the troops.

After a few weeks the unit was ready to go into the field and set up dressing stations under varying conditions. Combined exercises were frequently held with the infantry. In the construction of a large underground dressing station just behind the training school, officers and men wielded picks and shovels with a will; it was dug in trenched sections some 120 yards long and its construction was at times as much a picnic as an exercise. With these exercises came some sense of realisation of what lay ahead, and the unit developed and matured until, when it came to final leave in mid-August, a spirit of unity and goodwill existed.