No. 5 Medical Rehabilitation Depot RAAF

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Brief History

No. 5 Convalescent Depot was formed at Mount Osmond, South Australia, on 19 Oct 1942. On 20th October, the first patient arrived for admission, followed on 31 October by quantities of comforts, chairs, lockers and fittings donated by the Red Cross, who also supplied cigarettes for the patients in November. The Burnside Council visited the Unit on 8 December, when fire reaks were made and discussions held on precautions to be taken in the prevention of bushfires.

The physiotherapy department began functioning on 14 December. In December 1942, Livestock were donated to the Unit, increasmg the availability of fresh milk and eggs. Sporting facilities on the Unit were excellent, consisting of a nine-hole golf course, and two lawn tennis courts, one of which was used for bowls. Swimming parades were held once or twice weekly. Workshop, gardening and livestock work, and study, were available in the way of occupational therapy. Most patients gladly participated in activities offered.

The Unit moved to Mount Barl<er on 16 Sep 1943, taking over the Red Cross rest home. Up until now, two-thirds of pat•ents had been accommodated in this home. which was situated 15 miles from the depot. The move made it easier to run a carefully planned program and routine of work, play and rest, combined with remedial games, physiotherapy and occupational therapy. During September 1943, plans were made to set up a model farm on seven acres of land adjoining the Unit. Functions of the farm mcluded instructing patients in methods of mixed farming, wh1lst making some profit for welfare by the sale of stock and produce. By January 1944, occupational therapy activities had expanded to include leather work, bookbinding, spinning. and twine and basket work. On arrival at the depot, each man was issued with a card, setting out a daily program on a weekly basis. By the end of March 1944, there were 65 beds equipped at the Unit. Work ceased on the model farm at the beginnmg of October 1944, as the Unit awaited a decision on a move to a new location. A week-long move to Victor Harbour commenced on 14 May 1945, with Limited function resuming at the new location on 23 May. In August 1945, a special daily program of activities was introduced, after the arrival of a number of ex-POWs. During the months after the Japanese surrender, the main function of the Unit was the rehabilitation of ex-POWs.

At Christmas 1945 the Red Cross donated Christmas hampers. Ex-POW numbers had decreased, and maximum effort was put into occupational therapy and physiotherapy, as most convalescents were orthopaedic patients just out of hospital. The unit ceased to hlnction on 20 Apr 1946, and patients were transferred to No. 7 RAAF Hospital and No. 4 Personnel Depot RAAF. No. 5 Medical Rehabilitation Unit ceased to be a RAAF unit as of 8 May 1946.



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