Hospitals: Egypt

raamc-badgeArriving in Egypt on 14th January 1915, the 1st Australian General Hospital was accommodated in a building and tents at Heliopolis, on the outskirts of Cairo. The building was large and grand, having previously been the Heliopolis Palace Hotel.

On 24th January 1915 the Hospital was opened for the reception of patients. Soon demand for bed space increased to the point that the ANZACS expanded the medical facilities, first to the nearby Luna Park‘s ice skating rink by establishing No.1 Australian Auxiliary Hospital (photograph below). By 28th April 1915, over 500 beds filled the rink, and further accommodations were provided in makeshift-fashion in the haunted house, the scenic railroad, and the pavilion. The ticket office was modified to contain an operating theatre. In addition other buildings such as the Aerodrome, The Atelier, The Sporting Club buildings and grounds at Heliopolis, and The Artillery Barracks at Abbassia Depots were used, and they were attached to and within the command of the 1st AGH.

Heliopolis - H18510.JPGBy middle of May 1915, the hospital was treating casualties from the fighting at Gallipoli. At this point, Luna Park contained over 1,200 beds constructed of bamboo and palm wood. By August 1915, the number of wounded at Luna Park reached 1,400. However in addition to battlefield wounded many of the troops treated in the hospitals in Egypt would be recovering from illnesses such as pneumonia, influenza, rheumatism and other exotic diseases contracted in the Middle East.

In March 1916 and following the decision that the AIF should serve in France, the various AAMC units were ordered to close and pack up, their patients being transferred to the Auxiliary and other Hospitals. Ultimately, Australian Auxiliary Hospital Number 1 left Luna Park on 10th July 1916, to be re-established in Harefield, England, to serve soldiers injured in France for the rest of the war.

The No. 2 Australian General Hospital and No. 2 Australian Stationary Hospital served the 1st Australian Division camp at Mena. On 25th January 1915, 2nd AGH took over Mena House, with 35 hospital marquees for general and seven for isolation cases pitched in the vicinity. In May, additional beds were set up at Ghezireh Palace Hotel while Mena House was retained as an auxiliary. The total staff at this time was 14 officers, 51 nurses and 133 others.

The 14th General Hospital was formed in 1916 and would serve in Egypt throughout the war. It departed Melbourne on 19th August 1916 and was located at Abbassia, Cairo, along with No.4 Auxiliary Hospital which opened in October 1915 to deal with respiratory infections prevalent during this period. During the first EEF offensive from October to November 1917, Australian wounded were mainly treated in the 1,040 beds of the 14th General Hospital. Although No. 2 Australian Stationary Hospital at Moascar was organised, equipped, and staffed for any type of medical or surgical work, it was retained as a Camp Clearing Hospital by the EEF.


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