New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy
Crossing the Piave River on the evening of 30 April, and then the Tagliamento and Isonzo, the Division pushed ahead and, advancing 75 miles, met at Monfalcone the forces of Marshal Tito advancing from the east. Keeping up with the forward elements of the Division were the ADSs, and 5 MDS joined 5 ADS at Trepalade, near Monfalcone, on 30 April ready to take battle casualties. Following its employment as the forward operating centre, this unit had been immobilised, well in the rear at Ganzanigo, by serious abdominal cases which could not be evacuated. On the morning of 1 May the ADS received some wounded from a company of engineers who had been attacked during the night by a strong party of escaping Germans. Later, German wounded came in, some of them in their own vehicles.
In spite of Marshal Tito's claim to have taken the city a few days before, Trieste was still in enemy hands. On the 27-mile strip of coast road between Monfalcone and Trieste, and particularly at Duino, Sistiana, and Miramare, there were strong German formations. The Yugoslav forces had worked their way through the mountains, but the main road to Trieste had still to be cleared. As garrison after garrison surrendered, the gleaming city came into view beyond the rugged headlands. At last 22 Battalion entered Trieste on the afternoon of 2 May. The Division's long trek had ended. In the twenty-three days from the attack across the Senio the New Zealanders had virtually destroyed three German divisions (98 and 278 Infantry Divisions and 4 Parachute Division), captured over 40,000 prisoners, and advanced for 225 miles over difficult country through the wreckage of German armies.1 It was most page 657 fitting, too, that the New Zealand Division, then the division with the longest service in Eighth Army, should have been ‘in at the kill’.
To the north of the New Zealanders 6 British Armoured Division had captured Udine and moved towards Gorizia, while on the Fifth Army front Americans had fanned out as far as the French border capturing Verona, the Brenner Pass, Milan, Genoa, and Turin.
1 New Zealand casualties from 27 October 1944 to 2 May 1945 were: Killed in action 324; died of wounds 111; wounded 2092. Most, but not all, of these were from the final offensive.