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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

Review of Medical Aspects of July Campaigns

Review of Medical Aspects of July Campaigns

In the vital and strenuous campaign following the Division's sudden recall from Syria the field medical units played a significant part. The total wastage from the Division from 27 June to 31 July was 6005, made up of: Killed and prisoners of war 2479 (later reduced by 100 or so); wounded 1864; and sick 1662.1 Considering the heavy casualties suffered by other units in the Division, the New Zealand Medical Corps escaped very lightly during the campaign. Its losses were:

Medical officers: 1 prisoner of war (Captain Feltham)2 and 2 wounded (Captains Macdonald3 and A. W. Sutherland);

Other ranks: 1 killed in action; 15 prisoners of war (plus 4 NZASC attached), and 8 wounded. In addition, three AFS drivers were taken prisoner and one driver wounded.

The medical units treated all the battle casualties and sick from the Division together with many British, South African, Indian, and prisoner-of-war sick and wounded. The grand total of these for the page 349 period 27 June to 31 July came to 5223, of which 4 Field Ambulance treated 3202, 5 Field Ambulance 1460, and 6 Field Ambulance 561.

In the period under review all admissions and discharges were controlled by the field ambulance, even when the Light Section 15 CCS was attached. It was easier to arrange evacuation according to severity of cases—stretcher, sitting, and those for air evacuation—without duplicating orders and to co-ordinate with the MAC. When the Light Section 15 CCS was functioning it took over the nursing of cases from the attached surgical teams up to the time of their evacuation.

The British transfusion unit proved a boon. It gave 109 intravenous transfusions, while the MDS gave 193 and the ADS companies 46 transfusions from 24 June to 27 July. The transfusion unit, consisting of 1 officer, 3 medical orderlies, and 2 other ranks, was attached on 19 July and thereupon took over nearly all transfusions, giving 96 in the following seven days. Prior to this the field ambulance had organised its own separate transfusion squad and had used seventy blood donors for the supply of blood.

1 Panzerarmee losses for July 1942 were reported as killed and missing 1981, wounded 3193, sick 5051, i.e., 10,225, apart from Italians.

2 Maj R. J. Feltham; Hunterville; born Ohakune, 5 Jul 1914; medical practitioner; 2 Gen Hosp Sep–Dec 1941; RMO 20 Bn Dec 1941–Jul 1942; p.w. 15 Jul 1942.

3 Maj R. A. Macdonald; Auckland; born Rotorua, 7 Jan 1912; medical practitioner; RMO Long Range Desert Group; 28 (Maori) Bn 1942; 1 Gen Hosp1944; wounded 4 Jul 1942.