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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

Activities of Medical Units

Activities of Medical Units

Patrol activity along the line east of the Senio River was more or less continuous and casualties resulted from patrol clashes, shellfire, and mine explosions. Early on the morning of the New Year 4 MDS at Faenza was kept busy with casualties following an attack by 24 Battalion. Admissions that day were 24 battle casualties and 31 sickness cases, but on subsequent days the totals were much lower. The disposition of medical units remained the same, with 1 Mobile CCS and 6 MDS both open in Forli. The 5th MDS remained closed but 5 ADS was open forward all the time. In spite of the bleak and biting weather, with frozen mud and snow, the sickness rate was satisfactorily low.

In the buildings occupied by the medical units, kerosene and oil-burning stoves were used to keep all departments and living quarters well heated and comfortable for both patients and staff.

In the latter part of January the British Central Medical Inspection Room moved from the area, and on 30 January 4 MDS took over the responsibility for treating sick from British and other neighbouring units. Necessary evacuations of British cases were carried out to 5 British CCS at Forli. Over a reasonably good road, this journey took approximately thirty minutes. Total sickness cases for the month were 578 and battle casualties 125.

At this time meetings of all available medical officers were held at weekly intervals. Short papers on different clinical subjects were page 645 read and free discussion followed. Brigadier Stammers, Consultant Surgeon to the Eighth Army, spoke on forward surgery and our own NZMC officers read papers at the other meetings, thus disseminating recent developments in war medicine and surgery and also providing a mental stimulus in the quiet period.

The Division continued in the line during February in a purely holding role which made the month one of the quietest in its recent history. For the whole month only ninety-two battle casualties passed through 4 MDS, all but eight being New Zealand troops. Most of these admissions were from mine wounds, and a few from patrol clashes and enemy shelling. Admissions of sickness cases for the month totalled 592, of whom 446 were New Zealanders and 123 British.

The weather during February remained calm and fine except for two days on which rain fell. The sickness rate of the Division remained remarkably low and the morale of the troops was excellent.

On 1 February A Company 4 Field Ambulance had passed to the command of the newly formed 9 Infantry Brigade, comprising 22 Battalion, the Divisional Cavalry, and 27 Battalion, and moved with that group to Fabriano, where the brigade was organised. A Company set up an ADS for sick in the agricultural college building formerly occupied by 4 MDS and remained there throughout the month, sending patients daily to 1 General Hospital at Senigallia.