Medical Units of 2 NZEF in Middle East and Italy
IT was cold and miserable in that January of 1942 for field units living in holes in the desert at Baggush and visited frequently by driving rainstorms and violent sandstorms that swept into tents, bivvies, or dugouts, coating everything with thick sand. The men were not sorry when, towards the end of the month, they climbed into goods waggons at the Sidi Haneish station and set out on a somewhat long-drawn-out journey for Maadi Camp.
At Maadi, in tents under the shadow of the escarpment, the units were able for a brief month to enjoy the amenities of a base camp, Cairo leave, and contact once again with civilisation. Running water, comfortable tented quarters, and a mess tent with tables and forms were some of the small things that made so much difference to camp life, while the new Lowry Hut, with its excellent appointments, facilities for writing and recreation, refreshment counter, and many entertainments, together with YMCAs, Naafi canteens, and Shafto's and Pall Mall cinemas provided almost all that the men could expect to make Army life in Egypt bearable.
With the arrival of further reinforcements bringing the units almost up to strength, some reorganisation was undertaken and a light training programme embarked upon. Route marches and routine training with medical equipment occupied but a small part of the day, however, and as leave was on a fairly generous scale some of the men were able to take advantage of specially conducted tours and visit many places of interest, not only around Cairo but at Luxor, Thebes, and Aswan in Upper Egypt.