New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy
On the morning of 31 May arrangements were made with the embarkation authorities to evacuate those patients and medical personnel who had arrived overnight. At 4 p.m. eighty walking wounded were conducted to Sfakia, and taken on to the beach at 9 p.m. That night the Royal Navy with all the ships available – the cruiser Phoebe, the minelayer Abdiel, and the destroyers Jackal, Kimberley, and Hotspur – carried out the last organised evacuation from the beach. All the walking wounded were embarked in the early hours of 1 June. Fighting troops in organised units and wounded were given priority. A number of medical personnel, including a party of fifty whose embarkation had been arranged, had to give place to other units; and when the evacuation ceased, they, with a large number of British, Australian, and New Zealand troops, remained on the island. Most of these men became prisoners on 1 June, but a few escaped to live in hiding assisted by the Cretans, or to continue the battle in the hills. Odd members of medical units made a belated escape in landing craft used to embark the evacuees, and after a most trying voyage in these open boats reached the coast of Africa behind the British lines in the Western Desert.