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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

Medical Units in Pursuit

Medical Units in Pursuit

Prior to the attack on 6 April 5 MDS on the GabesEl Hamma road in the divisional area was kept moderately busy with sick and mine and air-raid casualties. When 2 NZ Division moved through the enemy line at Akarit on 7 April, 5 MDS was left behind to deal with casualties in the early stages, with orders to follow on when clear of cases. Travelling with the Divisional Reserve Group immediately in rear of Main Headquarters, 6 Field Ambulance became the receiving MDS. A distance of 30 miles over low, flat, stony country was covered in the course of the day, and that night 6 MDS dealt with a few bombing casualties.

The Division moved on again on 8 April, but was delayed by an enemy gunline on the SfaxMaknassy railway line. In the evening casualties started to arrive, and 6 Field Ambulance pulled off a little from the divisional axis and opened near the eastern edge of Sebkret en Noual. About fifty battle casualties were dealt with, and the MDS was able to move again on the morning of 9 April, leaving a company to evacuate to La Skhirra on the coast road, where DDMS 30 Corps had opened an MDS, which was replaced that day by half of 1 NZ Mobile CCS.

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On 9 April the Division made good progress due north, 6 Field Ambulance setting up and operating about one mile north of Ksar Heirich. Enemy aerial activity had increased during the day as the Division was beyond RAF fighter cover. When the Division made an outflanking move on 10 April in an endeavour to cut off the enemy forces in Sfax, 6 Field Ambulance remained with the wounded and 4 Field Ambulance was ordered by wireless to join the Reserve Group with all possible speed. The Division cut the road north of Sfax at La Hencha in the late afternoon, but the enemy had already made a rapid withdrawal from Sfax. A further advance across rolling grass country was made on 11 April, and on 12 April the main road was reached at El Djem and the advance on Sousse continued. The few casualties were handled by 4 Field Ambulance, still with the Reserve Group, while 6 Field Ambulance had moved up to La Hencha to stage cases back along the main road to Sfax. When the Division moved through Sousse on 13 April, 4 Field Ambulance left 1 CCS surgical team and one company to follow on when it had disposed of the patients. The advance was halted on 14 April, and next day 4 Field Ambulance set up on a very good, flat, grassy site just off the main tarsealed road half a mile north of the village of Sidi Bou Ali, and remained the open MDS for the attacks on Takrouna.