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Medical Units of 2 NZEF in Middle East and Italy

Action at Wadi Akarit

Action at Wadi Akarit

The attack on the Wadi Akarit positions opened in the early hours of 6 April. Throughout the morning RAF fighters roared over in large numbers. The weather was fine, but with a hot, dust-laden wind. Although the New Zealand infantry was not committed to this battle, some casualties from British and other units came through 5 MDS. Again 50 and 51 Divisions suffered heavy casualties and our CCS worked with 14 British CCS in dealing with them. Accommodation was taxed to the full, every stitch of canvas being utilised. The operating theatres worked continuously for three days.

By the morning of the 7th a bridgehead across the wadi was established, and the Division moved forward through the 30 Corps positions and on northwards. Under the command of Divisional Reserve Group, 6 Field Ambulance MDS started to move at 8 a.m. Progress was slow, the column crawling through scattered fields of barley toward the Djebel Roumana, a range of hills some 15 miles north of El Hamma. Large numbers of prisoners were passed. Many Italians with vehicles were driving themselves, but the Germans were all under guard. The weather was hot, and the prisoners, trudging back through the dust, looked utterly exhausted. Taking pity on one Italian youth, the occupants of an MDS truck offered him a drink of water, and immediately the truck was surrounded by a thirsty, pleading horde.

Negotiating minefields at the foot of the hills, the Division entered a gap between the Djebel Roumana and the northern spurs of the Djebel Tebaga Fatnassa, lying immediately to the west. The MDS passed through the gap just after sunset, the vehicles jammed nose to tail in the dusty defile, and emerged on the open plain to the north.