Volume 6 Issue 34
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cupied by a Maori woman and her small child. Theyhad been ordered to vacate the premises, but wheredoes one go when there is an acute shortage of hous-ing brought about by war regulations that forbade theconstruction of any houses for the duration of the war?So the woman was forced to stay put. Early one morn-ing Fletcher's workers arrived and began to prize off the iron roof while the woman and her child were stillinside. Some of the locals objected and rang the Min-ister of Works, Bob Semple, who immediately put astop to all work on the site until he had found alternateaccommodation for the pair.
The government broke its own rules when it built arow of state houses along Victor Street and around thecorner into Rosebank Road in the hospital grounds. Ahigh barbed wire security fence was erected in front of these making them part of the hospital. These houseswere occupied by the navy surgeons and doctors untilthey left and then they reverted back to public hous-ing, when the high fence was removed and a low oneerected at the back of the houses to separate themfrom the school.The high security fence that surrounded the hospitalwas never meant to be a permanent structure, beingconstructed of raw pine logs with bark still intact.Strands of barbed wire were tightly stretched, sixinches apart. At the top a board was inset on an angle,on the side of each post, pointing inwards towards thehospital grounds, with strands of stretched barbed wirefixed over-head the same as the rest of the fence. Thefence was still being erected when the hospital movedin.
Mobile Hospital (Mob-6) arrived in Silver Stream,Wellington, 7
August 1942. The patients that weretreated there suffered from compound fractures causedby gunshot and bomb fragments along with soft tissueand chest wounds, arising from the battle of Guadalca-nal and sea battles associated with it.
Mobile Hospital No.4 (Mob-4), under the command of Captain John H. Robbins, was housed in the groundsof the Auckland Domain and was well established butunder pressure as casualties began to arrive in increas-ingly large numbers as the war escalated. BetweenNovember and December 1942 the hospital expandedto 16 new wards plus additional barracks, storeroomsetc. Mob-4 also took over the receiving barracks at thesouth end of the domain converting them into a 100bed convalescent hospital, to free up beds for morecritical cases. They were able to use the facilities of the Auckland Public Hospital nearby and they alsoused the Epsom Racecourse buildings as isolationwards for contagious diseases and a car pool.
Mob-6 in Wellington served as an evacuation and con-valescent hospital in many ways and had its own bandand recreational facilities to speed up the recovery of patients; this appears to be the role that they continuedto play in Avondale as there were a lot of walking pa-tients. That is, patients nearing the end of their treat-ment and close to being discharged and returned totheir units. Many were U.S. marines who were givenregular leave to visit the city.
The situation was growing worse for Mob-4, as morepatients arrived. They were now seeing a large in-crease in malaria cases at nearly all the mobile andbase hospitals. According to naval records, "of 870patients at Mob-6 Wellington on 6 March 1943, 660or 76 percent had malaria". The records also note, "thelargest influx of patients to Mob-6 were patients withrecurring malaria. In February 1943, the hospital cen-sus reached its highest point to date with over 1,000patients admitted as recorded on 23 February. Malariawas the dominating medical problem; 61 percent of those admitted had malaria".
Mob-4 was having the same malaria problem, oftentransferring patients to Mob-6 because of overcrowd-ing, as the hospital ship Solace (AH-5) brought moreand more malaria patients from the Pacific area fortreatment. What was needed was another hospital toease the load and provide more beds for the wounded
s the Pacific war raged. Also another fierce campaignwould soon to be launched; the battle of Tarawa, late1943.
The Mob-6 hospital was re-commissioned and re-named Base Hospital No. 4, 17 March 1943 and a newMob-6 was sent north to Auckland using the excesssupplies and materials to form a new hospital at Avon-dale. It is on record that no mobile hospital was evercomplete when the medical staff and patients movedin. Avondale would prove no exception.
The buildings that were complete had been quicklyconverted to wards but a lot was needed to be done.Security was a problem with virtually no fences com-plete and a lot of facilities were lacking. Fletcher Con-struction workers would take some months to com-plete their work and consequently had to be issuedwith entry passes long after the navy had moved in.
On arrival at Avondale the Naval authorities were tofind a lot of basic facilities were very lacking. For in-stance there was a shortage of toilets so that the navyresorted to having to build a long row of temporaryprimitive latrines down where the school rifle rangewas later situated. Here one would see a lot of US ma-rines in their distinctive olive-green uniforms min-gling with the sailors going on leave; down here, thesewere patients, as no marines were stationed at the hos-pital.
The main entrance to the hospital was in Victor Streetand was officially called by the Americans the VictorStreet gate along with the Holly Street gate. VictorStreet gate was used by all pedestrian traffic and light