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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

An Incident between Attacks

An Incident between Attacks

While preparations were being made for a second attack there were some casualties in the forward units. On the night of 7 March 1944 an ambulance car driven by Driver Furness,1 with Private Gunn2 as orderly, was called up to 25 Battalion RAP to get some minor wounded. They made the journey up safely in spite of the several crossroads which the enemy periodically shelled. However, when they were about to leave shells started falling around a nearby

1 Dvr R. J. Furness; Feilding; born Christchurch, 13 Aug 1917; linotype operator.

2 Pte I. Gunn; Wellington; born Roxburgh, 17 Aug 1916; school teacher; wounded 7 Mar 1944.

page 536 crossroads. From a mortar pit about 80 yards above on the hillside came cries for help. Taking a couple of stretchers, the driver and orderly scrambled up over the rubble and broken stone walls to the pit, which held a pile of boxes of mortar bombs. Material in the pit was burning dangerously. A man lying wounded and helpless against the side of the pit was carried to the shelter of a bank some distance away. He said there was another wounded man in the Italian oven in the pit. While Driver Furness went for help, Private Gunn cleared away rubble in the pit in order to get the oven door open. Padre Norris1 arrived from the RAP to help carry the wounded man across the pit to a stretcher, but before they were able to get out of the pit one of the mortar bombs exploded. Both Padre Norris and Private Gunn were wounded, the latter seriously, but the padre was able to crawl to the RAP for further help. Stretcher-bearers from the RAP carried Gunn and the other wounded man safely down. After a fortnight's brave fight for his life, Private Gunn spent three months in hospital in Italy and a further six months in a hospital in New Zealand.

1 Rev H. G. Norris; Christchurch; born Temuka, 12 Nov 1911; Anglican minister; wounded 7 Mar 1944.