U.S. Army Medical Department, Office of Medical History
Skip Navigation, go to content

HISTORY OF THE OFFICE OF MEDICAL HISTORY

AMEDD BIOGRAPHIES

AMEDD CORPS HISTORY

BOOKS AND DOCUMENTS

HISTORICAL ART WORK & IMAGES

MEDICAL MEMOIRS

AMEDD MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENTS External Link, Opens in New Window

ORGANIZATIONAL HISTORIES

THE SURGEONS GENERAL

ANNUAL REPORTS OF THE SURGEON GENERAL

AMEDD UNIT PATCHES AND LINEAGE

THE AMEDD HISTORIAN NEWSLETTER

Chapter XVII

Field Operations, Table of Contents

CHAPTER XVII

THE FIFTH CORPS (26TH DIVISION, THE FRENCH 15TH COLONIAL DIVISION, AND 4TH DIVISION)

On September 11, the day before the attack, the Fifth Corps sector, extending from Mouilly on the south to Watronville on the north, was held by the 26th Division on the right, the French 15th Colonial Division in the center, and the 8th Brigade of the 4th Division on the left (the remainder of the 4th Division being in reserve).1, 2

The mission of the Fifth Corps was to attack on the western face of the St. Mihiel salient simultaneously with the First and Fourth Corps on the south. In detail the zone of action of the Fifth Corps was as follows:2Right (south): Genicourt-sur-Meuse (inclusive)—Mouilly (exclusive)—St. Remy (exclusive)—Etang de Lachaussee (inclusive).  Left (north): Dieue to Haudiomont Road (inclusive)—stream running east (inclusive).

The infantry attack was launched at 8 a. m., September 12, after an artillery preparation of seven hours.2 In this connection it will be recalled that the army plans for the reduction of the St. Mihiel salient, discussed in Chapter XIV, provided for the southern attack to start at 5 a. m., and for the western attack at 8 a. m.

Very little resistance was encountered in the advance of the Fifth Corps, except from a few machine-gun nests, which, with one or two exceptions, were speedily reduced.2

At 9 p. m., the 26th Division extended along Tranchee des Hautes Ornieres, thence south and east to the western edge of Dommartin, thence northwest to the 26th Division sector limit.2

Field Orders No. 19, Fifth Corps, issued September 12, ordered the divisions of that corps to advance to the army objective. It ordered the French 15th Colonial Division not to advance beyond the line Hannonville—Longeau Ferme. This division was to organize the captured front from Montgirmont to Herbeuville (inclusive), and transfer to the 26th Division the captured territory lying between the line Herbeuville—Dommartin and the line Hannonville—Longeau Ferme. The 26th Division was ordered to continue its advance to the line Thillot-sous-les Cotes (exclusive)—Dompierre-aux-Bois (inclusive), maintaining close liaison with the French 2d Light Infantry Division on the south, and paying particular attention to the protection of its right flank.3

During the night of September 12-13 and during the morning of the 13th the attacking forces of the French 15th Colonial and the 26th Divisions advanced their line to the army objective with very little resistance from the enemy. The line established at the end of the day, September 13, may be


500

roughly described as running through Ville-en-Woevre, southeast through Riaville—Marcheville—Wadonville—Avillers—Hattonville—Vigneulles, inclusive.2

The plan of evacuation in the corps was prescribed in the following set of instructions, neither dated nor numbered, but issued the first part of September, 1918:

PLAN OF EVACUATION OF SICK AND WOUNDED

1. Divisional organization:

(a) Battalion aid station, relays of litter bearers and regimental aid stations will be established by regimental surgeons, under the supervision of the division surgeon. Additional sanitary personnel from divisions not in action may be obtained upon application to the corps surgeon.

(b) Station for slightly wounded: 26th Division, Genicourt; 15th Division (French), Dieue.

The American division in reserve will establish both of these stations.

Those able to return to duty at once will be returned to the line.

All other cases will be evacuated to Evacuation Hospital No. 6, at Souilly.

(c) Division Hospitals will be established by division surgeons as follows:

Collection and sorting stations (triage)—26th Division, Genicourt; 15th Division, Fontaine Brillante.

For treatment of gassed cases—26th Division, Genicourt; 13th Division (French), Fontaine Brillante.

Gassed cases get only preliminary treatment at these hospitals and will be evacuated as soon as possible to the corps gas hospital at Rambluzin. American division in reserve will establish field hospital at Rambluzin to assist in care of gassed cases. A careful sorting must be effected at these hospitals to prevent the necessity of a secondary evacuation from mobile surgical and special hospitals.

For treatment of ordinary sick (except contagious cases), skin and venereal cases, the division surgeon, 26th Division, will establish a field hospital at the chateau at Le Petit Monthairons for all units east of the Meuse. Overflow from this hospital will be evacuated to Evacuation Hospitals Nos. 6 and 7 at Souilly.

2. Evacuation.

(a) Severely wounded, all troops: Americans to Mobile Hospital No. 1 at La Morlette, 1 k. west of Ancemont, Evacuation Hospital No. 8 at Petite Maujouy, 1 k. east of Senoncourt and Mobile Hospital No. 2 at Recourt. French to H. O. E. Hospital at Grande Maujouy immediately east of Evacuation Hospital No. 8.

(b) Slightly wounded, all troops: Americans to Evacuation Hospitals Nos. 6 and 7, at Souilly and Evacuation Hospital No. 9 at Vaubecourt. French to H. O. E. Hospital at Grande Maujouy and H. O. E. Hospital at Vaudelaincourt.

(c) Sick, skin and venereal cases, all troops: To Le Petit Monthairons and Evacuation Hospitals Nos. 6 and 7, at Souilly.

(d) Contagious cases, all troops: To French contagious hospital at Benoite Vaux.

(e) Gassed, all troops: To gas hospital at Rambluzin, 3 k. east of Heippes on Heippes—Recourt road.

(f) Psychoneurotic cases, all troops: To psychoneurotic hospital at Benoite Vaux.

(g) All evacuations for Corps Troops will be to the nearest medical unit.

* * * * * * *

MEDICAL DEPARTMENT ACTIVITIES

The chief surgeon of the corps reported that at this time the 4th and 26th Divisions were fairly well equipped, but that in the latter division there was shortage of Medical Department personnel, both commissioned and enlisted.


501

The corps surgeon’s office had no transportation and no sanitary train, except that, pursuant to army orders, United States Army Ambulance Service Section No. 604 was attached to it. Provision for the care of wounded made by the army in rear of the corps consisted of the establishment of 4 evacuation hospitals, 2 mobile hospitals, 1 gas hospital staffed by army personnel assisted by 1 field hospital of the 4th Division, 1 French contagious disease hospital, 1 psychoneurotic hospital and 1 medical supply dump.4

The corps surgeon anticipated that there would be a large number of casualties, and he made as thorough preparations as possible for their care while under his jurisdiction. Hospital sites for triage and for gas treatment of American casualties were taken over from the French at Fontaine Brillante and Genicourt, but when the French 15th Colonial Division went into line toward the left it was assigned the former site.4

THE 26TH DIVISION

Beginning on the night of September 6-7, 1918, the 26th Division, as a part of the Fifth Corps, entered the line in the Rupt sector east of Mouilly on the western face of the St. Mihiel salient, relieving the French 2d Light Infantry Division.4

On September 12, at 8 a. m., the infantry attacked eastward from southwest of Les Eparges. The enemy was driven from Saint Remy and Dommartin-la-Montagne; and after 10 p. m. Longeau Ferme—Dompierre-aux-Bois road, south of Dommartin-la-Montagne was reached.4, 5

During the night of September 12-13 the division occupied Hattonchatel and Vigneulles-les-Hattonchatel.4

On the morning of the 13th the division made connection with the 1st Division, which was operating on the south, on the left flank of the Fourth Army Corps, and by this junction of the two divisions the St. Mihiel salient had ceased to exist. On the night of September 13-14 the 26th was relieved by the French 2d Light Infantry Division; and on the night of September 14-15 it took over the general front, extending southeast from a point near Combres to a point near Thillot-sous-les-Cotes. At daylight on the morning of September 15 the enemy attempted a raid against St. Hilaire, which the division repulsed.4

MEDICAL DEPARTMENT ACTIVITIES

During the advance evacuation of wounded was greatly facilitated by 12 litter bearers detailed from each line company, who carried the wounded as far as the battalion aid stations. (Regimental stations were not utilized.) Without the aid of these company litter bearers evacuation would have been greatly retarded. The wounded had to be removed at this time by hand carriage, as ambulances could not cross the roadless belt of No Man’s Land, and long portage by litter bearers was therefore necessary. Liaison was maintained by runners detailed to the several regimental detachments from ambulance companies until the distance became so great that they could not maintain contact in the absence of motorcycles and saddle animals.7 The


502

division surgeon in his report emphasized the fact that had the motorcycles prescribed in Tables of Organization been available they would have made it possible to maintain liaison after contact by runners became impracticable, and consequently would have promoted cooperation and efficiency in the removal of wounded.7

AMBULANCE COMPANIES

In preparation for the advance, Ambulance Company No. 101 established a dressing station behind the right of the division at Mouilly and Ambulance Company No. 102 another at Noyon, behind the left flank.

Ambulance Companies No. 103 and No. 104 were in reserve at Rupten-Woevre, where a detachment of Field Hospital No. 104 operated a station for walking wounded.8 As the troops advanced, the last mentioned companies passed the others, and in cooperation established a station at La Cloche.9

The greatest difficulty encountered by the divisional medical service in this operation was that incident to advancing the dressing stations, as roads across No Man’s Land were impassable until repaired by the Engineers. As a result of this experience, an engineer squad was organized by each ambulance company and provided with material for making a certain amount of road repairs—an expedient which hastened considerably the movement of their motor transport in subsequent operations.10 At this time also all trucks belonging to the sanitary train were pooled to form a provisional truck company, with resultant improvement of service.7 As signaling between ambulance posts by some form of mechanical apparatus was considered advisable, the signal corps furnished material for that purpose.

FIELD HOSPITALS

The triage operated by Field Hospital No. 101 was located at Genicourt-sur-Meuse, and here also was Field Hospital No. 104 prepared to treat gas cases.8 While a detail from the latter operated a station for the slightly wounded and the sick at Chateau Petit Monthairon, west of the Meuse, on the road to the railroad at Souilly, Field Hospital No. 103, with Mobile Surgical Unit No. 7 attached, was held there in reserve.8 The medical supply unit was at Genicourt-sur-Meuse. From the triage at Genicourt-sur-Meuse the wounded were transferred to Evacuation Hospital No. 8, Petit Maujouy, and to Mobile Hospital No. 2 at Recourt; and to Evacuation Hospitals No. 6 and No. 7 at Souilly, gassed cases to the gas hospital at Rambluzin, psychiatric cases to Benoite Vaux. Other hospitals in rear of the division were also available to receive cases as required.11, 12 After the infantry advance and the establishment of a dressing station at La Cloche, the triage was advanced to Mouilly, where it was operated by Field Hospital No. 104; there were only a few admissions while it was located at that point.9

When the division took over the general front on the night of September 14-15 redisposition of medical department units proved necessary. A dressing station was opened at Les Eparges on the left by Ambulance Company No. 104, with the 103d in reserve, and another at Dommartin-la-Montagne on the


 PLATE XXIII


503

right, by Ambulance Company No. 102, with the 101st in reserve.9 The triage (Field Hospital No. 104) was established at Vaux les Palameix. Field Hospital No. 103 then cared for the seriously wounded at Troyon-sur-Meuse, and Field Hospital No. 102, at Petit Monthairon, cared for the sick. Field Hospital No. 101 remained in reserve at Genicourt-sur-Meuse.10

The following extracts are taken from a report made by the division sanitary inspector concerning matters of interest to the Medical Department in the St. Mihiel operation:13

Ambulance service was nil in advance of the front line for nearly 24 hours, due chiefly to impassable roads.

Company litter bearers and Medical Department enlisted personnel were generally with their companies and functioned properly.

Observation showed it to be desirable that these two things be reported back to the ambulance dressing station for transmission to the division surgeon: (a) Captured medical stations, with a description of them; (b) water supplies, also with a description.

Guards should be placed in charge of captured stations until taken over by the proper departments or until their probable usefulness is no longer apparent.

Medical stations taken from the Germans showed the following noteworthy conditions:

(a) Construction.-Proof against shell fire; generally almost absolutely fireproof.

(b) Access to stations was either on a level, as in dugouts on hillsides, or by runways of gradual slope.

(c) A general scheme in stations of—

(1) Officers’ quarters.

(2) Office and dispensary combined, with lavish but no unnecessary equipment.

(3) Ample storage room for patients, with beds generally in tiers of three, each provided with comfortable mattress and two blankets, the arrangement showing economy and ample space.

(4) Wheeled litters, both for use on roads and with car wheels for use on 60-cm. railways. Cars fitted for the reception of litters for use on 60-cm. railways. Wooden beds of light weight and wire bottoms and with handles at each end so that they can be used as litters.

(5) Storage of concentrated food in stations; usually canned goulash and compressed peas and rice in paper cartons. Storage of water both in cisterns and in bottles, more generally the latter.

(6) Electric or acetylene lighting.

(7) Gas masks in the shape of a hood, to be tied around the neck of unconscious wounded. Extra masks.

(8) Portable individual oxygen sets in cases.

(9) Portable medical and surgical equipment completely filling and economically fitting into a knapsack.

(10) Auto-ambulances for four recumbent and no sitting cases, lighter in weight and with proportionately greater motor power than our G. M. C. ambulances.

(11) Medical wagons; light, four-wheeled, two-horse, cut-under type, with compartment for equipment, hooped roof and tarpaulin cover.

(12) Diagnosis tags with data spaces similar to our field medical card, but without inclosing envelope.

THE 4TH DIVISION

During the operations in the St. Mihiel salient, the 4th Division held the subsector des Hures, extending from Watronville to Cote 372, inclusive.14

The 59th Infantry had relieved elements of the French 10th Colonial Division and the French Light Infantry Division September 5 to 7, 1918, and held this sector throughout the operation. The 12th Machine Gun Battalion


504

was in the front line with the 59th Infantry. The 58th Infantry remained in support in a position of concealment north of the Sommedieue—Haudiomont Road. The remainder of the 4th Division (less the 4th Field Artillery Brigade) constituted the Fifth Army Corps Reserve. The 4th Field Artillery Brigade had been temporarily detached from the division on September 7 and was attached to the 26th Division and the French 15th Colonial Division. The 4th Division did not take part in the attack.14

Activities on September 14 took the form of an attack on Fresnes and Manheulles. The formation was taken up at 10.30 p. m. and both places were occupied before 2 p. m.14

During the night of September 14-15 part of the 59th Infantry was relieved in the front line by the French 15th Colonial Infantry Division. The 58th Infantry also moved back from its position in support.14

MEDICAL DEPARTMENT ACTIVITIES

At the beginning of this operation the use of bandsmen as litter bearers was prohibited by general orders, but litter-bearer service to Infantry troops was increased by the detail of the following number of men from each organization: Rifle company, 10; machine-gun company, 8; headquarters company, 12; supply company, 6. This arrangement provided 146 such bearers to a regiment of infantry. These men were ordered to report to their respective medical officers, without rifles, at the beginning of the operation.15

SANITARY TRAIN

The sanitary train, less Ambulance Company No. 33, which had proceeded to Sommedieue, was advanced to Haudainville and its vicinity. There Field Hospital No. 28 opened for the reception of all classes of cases and also as divisional triage, while Field Hospital No. 33, detached for service with the Fifth Corps, moved to Rambluzin to reinforce the gas hospital there. Elaborate and complete preparations were made by the corps (q. v.) for evacuation from the triage, and there is no record in the divisional history that divisional hospitals, other than Field Hospital No. 28, were established. A total of 522 patients passed through the triage while the 4th Division was in this sector. When the division moved to the vicinity of Lemmes, Field Hospital No. 21 was opened near that town for the reception of divisional sick, and the remainder of the train was held in reserve.15

REFERENCES

(1) Report of assistant chief of staff, G-3, General Headquarters.

(2) Special report of recent operations, Fifth Army Corps, September 25, 1918.

(3) F. O. No. 19, Fifth Army Corps, A. E. F., September 12, 1918.

(4) Outlines of Histories of Divisions, U. S. Army, 1917-1919, prepared in the Historical Section, the Army War College. On file, Historical Section, the Army War College, 1700 (26th Division).

(5) Map 26th Division, St. Mihiel operation.


PLATE XXIV


505

(6) Report of Medical Department activities, 26th Division, A. E. F., prepared under the direction of the division surgeon (undated). Part II, 25. On file, Historical Division, S. G. O.

(7) Ibid., Part II, 33.

(8) Ibid., Part II, 30.

(9) Ibid., Part II, 31.

(10) Ibid., Part II, 32.

(11) Annex 6, F. O. No. 9, Headquarters First Army, September 6, 1918.

(12) Report of Medical Department activities, Fifth Army Corps, by Col. W. R. Eastman, M. C., corps surgeon (undated), 2. On file, Historical Division, S. G. O.

(13) Report of Medical Department activities, 26th Division, A. E. F., prepared under the direction of the division surgeon (undated). Part II, 74. On file, Historical Division, S. G. O.

(14) Operation report, 4th Division, St. Mihiel operation.

(15) Report of Medical Department activities of the 4th Division, A. E. F., prepared under the direction of the division surgeon (undated). Part I, 6. On file, Historical Division, S. G. O.