2/5th Australian General Hospital

From Our Contribution

2-5th AGH POWs.jpg
members of 2/5th AGH at Fort 15, Stalag XXa, a German POW camp. They were ordered to remain in Greece to treat wounded.
Name 2/5th Australian General Hospital
Where formed Greta, New South Wales
Date formed May - June 1940
Capacity 1,200 beds
Locations Palestine

General Information

Formed in May - June 1940, to be a completely self contained hospital of about 1200 beds, fully equipped with operating theatres, wards, staff quarters and all ancillary items, together with tents to house them. The main body of the hospital staff sailed for the middle east on 20 Oct 1940 aboard the HMT Queen Mary to Bombay, India where they transhipped to smaller vessels for the trip to Palestine. On arrival they set up hospital in Rehovot, with many of their staff detached to other units in the Middle East.

On 9 Apr 1941 the hospital was moved to Ekali in Greece and within 3 days was fully operational receiving casualties from northern Greece. Quickly the military situation became untenable and all female staff and many of the male staff were evacuated to Egypt, while the 165 male staff left behind continued to look after their patients until they became POWs. As those patients recovered the staff were sent to various parts of occupied Europe, mostly to POW camps in Poland. 128 were repatriated to Australia in October 1943, leaving 36 stil in Europe. Sadly one died in Greece and one was aaccidentally killed by US troops, only hours after being released by the Germans.

Meanwhile the unit was being rebuilt in Egypt, and after a brief period in Eritrea and Ethiopia, the unit returned to Australia in March 1942. Re-established at Armidale in northern New South Wales, they were soon sent overseas again - this time to Bootless Bay in Papua to treat patients with tropical diseases in addition to battle casualties. At one point they had 1,500 beds in use, before in late 1944 returning to Australia to be re-equipped for their final posting.

In April 1945 the 2/5th Australian General Hospital was sent to Morotai, before it was entirely in allied hands. Within four days of their stores being unloaded they were again an operational hospital, and by the end of the month they had 386 patients, a number which quickly increased to 1,500 in June. By July they were also treating 100 Japanese POWs. From the end of the war until November they also treated Australian POWs who were being recovered from across Asia, to prepare them for their return to Australia.

2-5th AGH.jpg



New South Wales

Bootless Bay (17 Mile) Papua






Content has come from The Unit Guide - Volume 3 - The Australian Army 1939-1945 - page 3.610 - Graham R McKenzie-Smith - Big Sky Publishing - 2018