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Medical Services in New Zealand and The Pacific

I: Administrative Control

page 243

I: Administrative Control

PRIOR to the onset of war, the New Zealand Medical Corps was wholly Territorial and consisted of the following administrative officers, each of whom received a small honorarium:

Director of Medical Services

Deputy Assistant Director of Medical Services

Matron-in-Chief, NZANS (all at Army Headquarters)

An Assistant Director of Medical Services in each of the Military Districts (Northern, Central and Southern)

On 3 September 1939 a move was made to place the New Zealand Medical Corps on a war footing, and three weeks later the administrative staff at Army Headquarters was placed on a full-time basis and comprised the Director-General of Medical Services (Army and Air), Colonel F. T. Bowerbank, the Assistant Director of Medical Services (Lieutenant-Colonel I. S. Wilson), a Staff Officer and Quartermaster and a civilian staff of four. The Matron-in-Chief (Miss Willis1) continued to remain on a spare-time basis until 1940, when she was employed by the Army on a part-time basis and did not become a full-time officer until April 1941.

In each of the military districts the Assistant Director of Medical Services was employed at first on a half-time basis but later on a full-time basis.

With the mobilisation of the First Echelon whole-time Senior Medical Officers were appointed to Ngaruawahia, Trentham and Burnham camps, and later also three assistant medical officers. With the completion of the mobilisation camp at Papakura, the Senior Medical Officer and staff from Ngaruawahia were transferred there. Subsequently, in 1940, full-time medical officers were stationed at Motutapu, Narrow Neck, Waiouru and Fort Dorset. At the last three places camp hospitals had been established. Part-time medical officers were appointed to Wellington Fortress Troops and Lyttelton Fortress Troops.

1 Matron-in-Chief Miss I. G. Willis, OBE, ARRC, ED, m.i.d.; born Wellington, 29 Dec 1881; Asst Inspector of Hospitals, Wellington; 1 NZEF 1914–18: sister 1 Stationary Hosp, surgical team, Matron 1918; Matron-in-Chief, Army HQ, Sep 1939–Mar 1946.

page 244
diagram of hierarchy for army medical officers


page 245
Deputy Director of Hygiene

This appointment was made in November 1940. The officer's function was that of technical adviser to the DGMS on hygiene and sanitation. Earlier the Army had been dependent on the Health Department, whose officers, however, still continued to assist the Army in an advisory capacity.

ADMS (Air)

An ADMS (Air) was appointed in September 1939. He was a whole-time officer of the NZMC seconded to the RNZAF, and his relationship to the DGMS was similar to that of the ADMS (Army). (In April 1943 the Air Medical Service ceased to be a branch of the NZMC and was incorporated in the RNZAF under the control of the Director of Medical Services (Air), who was still responsible to the Director-General of Medical Services (Army and Air).)1

Officer-in-charge Medical Stores

At the outbreak of war, and for a year thereafter, all medical stores and equipment were part of the Ordnance Depot, Trentham, but stocks, requisitions and indents were controlled by the DGMS. In 1940, when the medical service took over all medical stores and equipment from Ordnance and established a medical store in Victoria Street, Wellington, an officer in charge of medical stores was appointed.

Officer Commanding Medical Training Depot, Trentham

An NZMC officer was appointed in charge of the NZMC Training Depot when it was established as a separate unit at Trentham.


A consulting pathologist, a consulting ophthalmologist and a consulting venereologist were appointed by the Army.

1 See Part IV, RNZAF Medical Services.