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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

Moves to Senigallia of HQ 2 NZEF and Medical Units

Moves to Senigallia of HQ 2 NZEF and Medical Units

On 28 August 1 General Hospital moved from Molfetta to a site near Senigallia, some 18 miles north of Ancona, and opened there on 9 September, being only 20 miles behind the Division. Its site at Molfetta was handed over to 95 British General Hospital. Then on 11 September HQ 2 NZEF, including DMS office, moved to Senigallia, leaving sections of 1 Convalescent Depot and Medical Stores Depot to follow later.

The move took HQ 2 NZEF much nearer to the Division, especially when the Division was again switched to the Adriatic coast south of Rimini, but it was nearly 400 miles away from Taranto, which continued to be used as the port of embarkation for patients returning to New Zealand by hospital ship. It was hoped that at a later date New Zealand hospital ships would be able to use the port of Ancona. However, Ancona did not prove as satisfactory a port as anticipated, due partly to enemy demolitions and also to the presence of mines in the Adriatic Sea, and hospital ships never embarked patients there for New Zealand. A coastal hospital ship service, however, was organised between Ancona and Bari for the transfer of patients from 1 General Hospital to 3 General Hospital.

As Ancona was not a satisfactory port, reinforcements from Egypt continued to be sent to Taranto. The move of NZ Advanced Base page 609 was therefore cancelled, and Advanced Base Camp Hospital and Advanced Base Hygiene Section, along with 3 General Hospital and Detachment 1 Convalescent Depot, remained in southern Italy.

When 1 General Hospital opened at its new site on 9 September on the coast near Senigallia, the staff and patients were accommodated partly in buildings, partly in huts, and partly in tents. The hospital, a former children's holiday centre, was situated on the coast about 100 yards from the water on a sandy site about 700 yards long and 100 yards wide close to Route 16. There were three large buildings (the best of which became the surgical block) and two smaller buildings, but four tented wards with concrete floors were also required, and the staff was accommodated in tents until Nissen huts could be erected. Huts were necessary for the winter conditions, and they were early erected for kitchens, dining halls, and stores. On the opening day 100 patients were admitted, and by 26 September the unit was holding 839 cases. (The Division had gone into action at Rimini on 22 September.) In the initial stages all water had to be carried and lighting arrangements were inadequate, while torrential rain fell as winter approached. That the unit was able to function at all reflected great credit on the staff. Gradually conditions were improved and many more huts erected before the very cold weather set in. Evacuations of patients were made by hospital ship from Ancona to Bari for 3 General Hospital, and by ambulance train from Iesi to Caserta for 2 General Hospital.