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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

Initial New Zealand Arrangements

Initial New Zealand Arrangements

On 26 April Colonel Kenrick went to Crete Force headquarters to make medical arrangements, and, having acquainted himself with the overall medical situation, instructed 6 Field Ambulance to open a dressing station at Perivolia transit camp and evacuate serious cases to 7 General Hospital. As 5 Infantry Brigade Group was to move out on the following day to occupy a defensive position on high ground some 6 miles west of Canea, 5 Field Ambulance was detailed to service this brigade.

During the night some 400 walking wounded arrived at 6 MDS without warning, and in many cases their dressings had not been changed for a week. These men were all treated, the ADMS of the page 153 Crete garrison having provided two tents and two surgical panniers, and additional dressings were obtained from 189 Field Ambulance. More than 700 casualties were treated in twenty-four hours.

On the morning of 27 April 5 Field Ambulance marched 8 miles to Ay Marina, west of Canea on the coast, and set up a skeleton MDS. The New Zealand force in Crete had taken up defensive positions from Canea to Maleme against invasion by air and sea. The 4th Field Hygiene Section had been attached to 5 Field Ambulance, and one staff-sergeant and 20 orderlies from 1 General Hospital, who had escaped to Crete after the bulk of their unit had gone to Egypt, were also attached for the move. On the arrival of the ambulance at Ay Marina these orderlies were posted to 7 General Hospital.

One company of 6 Field Ambulance also moved on 27 April and established an MDS for 4 Infantry Brigade right at the junction of the Canea and Galatas roads, not far from 7 General Hospital, and arrangements were made for 6 Field Ambulance to supply 24 nursing orderlies and 30 general duty men for daily duty at 7 General Hospital. On the following day, after 168 Light Field Ambulance had taken over the dressing station at Perivolia, the remainder of 6 Field Ambulance moved out and joined the rest of the unit.

The weather was fine at this stage but the nights were cold. All ranks lived in olive groves; most of the troops were near enough to the coast to be able to enjoy a swim, and to some extent were able to relax and recuperate after the ordeal of the final days in Greece.