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Chapter XXIII

Field Operations, Table of Contents




The Third Corps formed the right of the attacking troops, First Army, in the Meuse-Argonne operation. From left to right it at first consisted of the 4th, 80th, and 33d Divisions, with the 3d Division in reserve.1

The following extract from Field Order No. 18, published in advance of the Meuse-Argonne operation, gives the information and directions most pertinent to the present purposes:

Field Order No. 18.                                         P. C. 3D ARMYCORPS, A. E. F.
                                                        21 September, 1918-9 hour.

Maps: Verdun-Mezieres, 1: 80,000, 1: 20,000, 1: 80,000, attached.



(a) Right Division:

Major Gen. Bell.
33d Div. (less Art.).
52d F. A. Brig.
212th F. A. (Fr.).
1 bn. 308th R. A. L. (Fr. ).
1 Air sq. (less 1 flight).
1 Balloon Co.
Co. A, 1st Gas Regt.

1. (a) The enemy holds the front from the Meuse to the Aisne with about five divisions. He probably holds from the Meuse to Malancourt (exclusive) with one division. Enemy’s units are weak, discouraged, in poor morale, and afraid of Americans (announce above down to privates). Details of enemy positions shown on maps furnished.

(b) Center division:

Maj. Gen. Cronkhite.
80th Div.
228th F. A. (Fr.).
1 bn. 289th R. A. L. (Fr.).
1 Air flight.
Co. F, 1st Gas Regt.

(b) Allied armies (1st American Army on the right; 4th French Army on the left) attack on the front Meuse River (exclusive), Suippe River (exclusive), toward Mezieres. Remainder of 1st American Army will continue to hold between the Meuse and the Moselle.

(c) Left division:

Maj. Gen. Hines.
4th Div.
250th F. A. (Fr.).
1 bn. 308th R. A. L. (Fr.).
Troop "I," 2d Cav.
1 Air sqd.
1 Balloon Co.

(c) 1st American Army:
Right boundary of attack zone: The Meuse (exclusive).
Left boundary of attack zone: West edge of Foret d’Argonne—Grandpre (incl.)—Chatillon Sur Bar (incl.).
Direction: Buzancy—Stonne.
Objectives: See map herewith.a

3d Corps (4 divs.) on right.
5th Corps (4 divs.) in center.
1st Corps (4 divs.) on left.
Reserve, 3 divs.

aThe map mentioned shows the Third Corps objective to be roughly a line extending from Nantillois to Gercourt and north of Bois de Forges; the army objective within the limits of the Third Corps, from Forges to Bois de Rappes.


(d) Corps Artillery:

Brig. Gen. Gatchell.
289th (Fr.) (less 1 bn.).
407th "
413th "
81st "
456th "
1 bn. 308th (Fr.).
2 Air sqds.
1 Balloon Co.

(d) The 17th Corps, French (part of 1st American Army), holds the Verdun salient east of the Meuse and assists in the neutralization of the heights held by the enemy, east of the Meuse.

(e) Tanks:


(f) Air Service:

1 Air Squadron.
1 Balloon Company.

(g) Reserve:

Maj. Gen. Buck.
3d Div.

(h) Special troops:

See Annexes.

2. (a) This corps (less 1st Div. held as army reserve) will break the hostile positions and resistance between the Rau de Forges and Bois de Foret, exploit its success by advancing north from Bois de Foret, and meantime organize the left (west) bank of the Meuse for defense as the attack progresses northwards. The attack begins D day, H hour.

(b) Missions of this corps, in detail:

(1) To penetrate promptly the hostile second position, in order to turn Montfaucon and the section of the hostile second position within the zone of action of the 5th Corps (center corps) and thereby assisting in the capture of the hostile second position, west of Montfaucon.

(2) To await arrival of 5th Corps at corps objective (dashed brown line); then to advance in conjunction with 5th Corps to American Army objective (full brown line) and organize this line for defense.

(3) To reach the American Army objective (full brown line) on the afternoon of D day and exploit this penetration of hostile third line during the night D/D plus 1.

(4) To conserve its strength and be prepared to advance north of combined army first objective (Bois de Foret) when ordered by army commander.

(5) To protect right flank of the general attack (organize west bank of Meuse for defense).

(6) Corps and divisional artillery to assist, when necessary, in neutralizing hostile fire and observation from heights east of the Meuse.

* * * * * * *


                           France, 21st September, 1918
Order No. 18

Annex #5 & 7 F. O. #18

1. Railheads:

3d Corps—Nixeville.
1st Div.—Souilly.
3d Div.—Nixeville.
4th Div.—Vadelaincourt.


33d Div.—Vadelaincourt.
80th Div.—Nixeville.

* * * * * * *

4. Roads:

(a) Circulation: See sketch. Axial roads: 33d Division—Thierville, Charney, Marre, Cummieres, Forges; 80th Division—Fromereville, Germonville, Chattancourt, Bethincourt, Cuisy, Gercourt; 4th Division—Sivry, Bethelainville, Sivry, Montzeville, Esnes, Malancourt, Cuisy, Septsarges, Nantillois, Cunel, Bantheville, Amereville. The road from Nantillois to Cunel will also be used by part of the elements of the right division of the 5th Corps.

(b) Traffic: Control of traffic at H hour by divisions in their respective areas north of the line Esnes, Chattancourt, Marre (all exclusive). South of this line by the Corps.

Stationary police posts at crossroads, bridges, and road forks. Bicyclists, motorcyclists, or mounted police patrols on main roads to control traffic, prevent jams, and preserve road discipline.

* * * * * * *

5. Evacuation:

(a) Men:

Sorting stations (triages).
33d Div.—Glorieux Verdun.
80th Div.—Fromereville.
4th Div.—Sivry la Perche.

Evacuations to divisional hospital by divisional ambulance companies. Ambulances will be augmented upon request to corps surgeon. Evacuation from divisional field hospitals by army ambulance companies as follows:

Seriously wounded: To mobile surgical hospitals at Claire Chene—Bois de Placys—La Morlette.
Severely wounded: To E. H. No. 4 at Fountain Routon and E. H. No. 8 at Petit Maujouy.
Sick and slightly wounded (truck cases): To E. H. Nos. 6 and 7 at Souilly.
Gassed: To gas hospital Souhesme le Grande.
Contagious: To hospital at Benoite Vaux.
Nerves and shock: Psych. Hospital No. 2 at Julvecourt.

As advance progresses corps surgeon will arrange for advance of division field hospitals. He will also arrange for evacuation of corps troops.

(b) Animals: To corps veterinary hospital at Souhesme le Grande by divisions and corps troops. From corps veterinary hospital to army veterinary hospitals at Heippes and Autrecourt by corps veterinarian.

* * * * * * *

On September 26, 1918, the attack was launched along the corps front at 5.30 a. m., from a line which extended approximately from Regneville, on the east, to about 1 km. (0.6 mile) southeast of Malancourt, on the west. By night, the corps line extended generally as follows: From a point about 1 km. (0.6 mile) northeast of Forges, along the Meuse, to the northeast of Dannevoux, thence to a point about 1 km. (0.6 mile) east of Nantillois, approximately along the line Dannevoux-Nantillois.1, 2

On September 27 strong enemy resistance developed at Montfaucon and Nantillois, and on the left of Cuisy woods. For a time the advance was checked by heavy machine-gun fire all along our front, by well-organized enemy nests. The left pushed as far forward as Bois du Fays, but because of heavy casualties withdrew for the night to a position on the reverse slope


of Hill 295, a point about 2 km. (1.2 miles) south of that which had been reached the day before. For the night, the corps line extended approximately as follows: Vicinity of Cote 295, northeastwardly to the vicinity of Cote 280, thence through the Bois de la Cote Lemont, thence eastwardly to the Meuse and southwardly along the west bank of the Meuse to the vicinity of Forges.1, 2, 3

On September 28 the 33d Division, on the right, started a consolidation of their lines, facing the east along the Meuse south of Vilosnes, and sending out patrols to reconnoiter for fords along the river front. Despite strongly organized machine-gun fire, the left and center divisions advanced, and by night occupied a line approximately as follows: About one-half kilometer (0.3 mile) northeast of Nantillois, thence through the northern portion of Bois de Brieulles, thence through Bois de la Cote Lemont, to a position about one-half kilometer (0.3 mile) in advance of the line of the day before, thence southeastwardly as of the day before.1, 2

On September 29 the 65th Brigade of the 33d Division, which had been held as divisional reserve, completed its relief of the sector held by the 80th Division, less its divisional artillery. On the corps left, the advance of our troops in the direction of Brieulles was halted by the stubborn resistance of the enemy, who had thrown fresh units in his lines opposite us. Severe flanking machine-gun fire to the left, as well as heavy frontal fire, made further advance by our troops impossible. The corps line remained practically unchanged throughout the day except for slight advance in Bois de Brieulles and Bois de la Cote Lemont.1, 2

From September 30 to October 3 the front line remained unchanged. On the night of October 3-4 the 79th Division was relieved from duty with the Third Corps, and proceeded to the zone of the French Second Colonial Corps.1


At this time the office of the corps surgeon was organized and operated as follows:4 The corps surgeon made all recommendations concerning medical department tactics and maintained relations with all division surgeons. His daily routine was to visit G-1 of the corps, the chief surgeon of the army or his representative, each divisional triage, and, if at all practicable, each division surgeon.5 Almost daily he visited the several evacuation hospitals serving the corps and frequently inspected the divisional sanitary units in addition to his daily visit to their triages. One assistant to the corps surgeon was in charge of all Medical Department matters relating to corps troops except tactical movements of the sanitary train, and another was office executive.4 The latter was occupied chiefly in receiving code reports by telephone and in giving verbal telephone directions with a view to coordinating the evacuation service.4 It was found essential that this officer have a good telephone voice, excellent hearing, and alert mentality. He had to deal with the difficulties of battle-field communication, grasp the meaning of faint and obscure messages, change quickly from one language to another, and be prompt and accurate in the formulation of orders given. Paper work was reduced to a minimum.4


Consultants in medicine, surgery, and orthopedics supervised the professional service in the corps.4 Enlisted personnel of the office of the corps surgeon consisted of 2 field clerks, both of whom were stenographers, 3 sergeants, and about 8 privates or privates, first class. It was found convenient to have among the field clerks or office sergeants a draftsman for map work.5 Maps were of two kinds: (1) Secret, issued preparatory to battle, given to the corps surgeon to study and the details of which he could communicate to no one; (2) confidential, knowledge of whose purport was restricted to those entitled to their official use. These latter, giving vague battle lines and approximate corps sectors, were posted in the corps surgeon’s office and gave accurate details of the location of medical units of the division, corps, and army. The routine office maps were: One of the general battle field, with the lines marked in charcoal, amended daily; the map mentioned above giving the details of the medical service and the corps circulation map indicating available roads and the regulations concerning traffic.5

The staff of the corps had now become a smoothly running machine. By interviewing daily the chief of G-1 of the corps, and the chief surgeon of the army or his representative, the corps surgeon was able to inform each of these officers what the other was doing or desired to do in matters affecting medical service. In comparison with the great difficulties encountered in the attack of July 18 and the lesser ones in the Vesle sector, work with the staff as it existed in the Argonne was much easier. Friendly intimacy, fostered by the corps commander, had grown up between the heads of sections and departments.5

The few sick from corps troops were sent to the hospitals established for the St. Mihiel sector, consisting of Mobile Hospital No. 1, at La Morlette (later at Les Clairs Chenes); Mobile Hospital No. 2, at Recourt; Evacuation Hospital No. 8, at Petit Maujouy; Evacuation Hospitals No. 6 and No. 7, at Souilly; Evacuation Hospital No. 9, at Vaubecourt; Army Psychopathic Hospital No. 1, at Benoite Vaux; and to an improvised gas hospital at Rambluzin.6

Preparations for the Meuse-Argonne operation began immediately after September 12. Field Hospital No. 332, the only field hospital in the sanitary train of the Third Corps, was placed at La Morlette, where, augmented by personnel expert in the treatment of gassed patients, assigned by the First Army, it was utilized as the Third Corps gas hospital.6 Mobile Hospital No. 1, which had been located at La Morlette, caring for nontransportable wounded from the St. Mihiel sector, moved to Les Clairs Chenes, near Blercourt, where it served the Third Corps during the early part of the Meuse-Argonne operation.7

Mobile Hospital No. 5 was placed at Bois de Placys near Rampont. Evacuation Hospitals No. 6 and No. 7 remained at Souilly.7 Evacuation Hospital No. 8 remained at Petit Maujouy to care for the wounded who came from the eastern part of the sector along the Meuse and from the heights to the east of that river. Evacuation Hospital No. 4, coming from the Vesle sector, established itself at Fontaine Routon.7


Army Neurological Hospital No. 2, at Benoite Vaux, together with the French hospital for contagious cases at the same place, continued to serve there throughout the Meuse-Argonne operation.7

The triage of the 33d Division was placed at Glorieux, in the vicinity of Verdun, because it was convenient to a well-equipped French hospital at that place.8

Great inconvenience was caused by the necessity for preserving absolute secrecy in regard to the plan of campaign, which required that all troop movements be made at night, and trucks ran only after dark. No tents were pitched, and all of the thousands of men were required to bivouac in the woods, sheltered by brush and trees, rather than in their tents. Field hospitals were dependent largely upon tentage for shelter, and it proved difficult to maneuver them into position behind troops without being observed by enemy airplanes. At the time when the 33d Division was narrowing its front next the Meuse to make more room for the 80th and 4th Divisions, which had taken over part of the front held by the 79th Division, it was necessary for the field hospitals to occupy buildings at Sivry-la-Perche and at Fromereville and then to expand by erecting tents after the battle actually commenced. For the few days that the 79th Division was a part of the Third Corps its triage was at Les Clairs Chenes, at the site afterwards taken over by Mobile Hospital No. 1.8

Immediately before the advance commenced on September 26, additional ambulance companies and sections and a number of French omnibuses reported as additions to the Third Corps sanitary train.8 These ambulance units were of different character, two of them being ambulance sections which had been loaned to the Italian Army and later reborrowed. There were also other United States Army Ambulance Service sections and some sections which were purely French.4 Difficulties arose from time to time in the use of these organizations, because of the different regulations under which they operated. French ambulance formations, for instance, had to be dealt with exclusively through their commanding officers, who were not always at hand, and as their vehicles were large and heavy there was great difficulty in moving them over the poor roads.4 The United States Army Ambulance Service sections were under rigid regulations from higher authorities to hold their vehicles together and that certain cars be withheld from service in order that proper routine repairs might be made and the drivers have needed rest.4 Necessary as these regulations were, in the stress of battle it was difficult to apply or even to remember them, because they were not uniform.4 The various ambulance units and ambulances assigned the corps were distributed equitably to the divisions for service back of their triages, but they remained under the general control of an officer of the corps medical staff. They were administered as a part of the corps sanitary train, with headquarters at Sivry-la-Perche, and a reserve was maintained for use in emergencies.9

On September 26 its hospitals pitched their tents and expanded to battle proportions. As the triages at Glorieux, Fromereville, and Sivry-la-Perche were connected by good roads with the fine highway running from Verdun, through Blercourt, to Dombasle-en-Argonne, transportation to evacuation


hospitals was easy after this turnpike was reached, although the total distance traversed was considerable.9 Fromereville, where there were sufficient buildings for a triage, was particularly easy of access because of a number of good roads. In the early stages of the offensive, evacuation to Glorieux was precarious because of artillery fire sent across the lines from heights east of the river, and for this reason the 33d Division for a time had a secondary triage at Fromereville. The 4th Division also found this a convenient point for triage at certain times during the early stages of the advance.9

The situation on the first day was very satisfactory. The 33d Division reached the Meuse except in one small section, had fewer casualties than had been expected, and none of the complications in evacuation9 developed which had been feared. The 80th and 4th Divisions, on the other hand, had many wounded in the neighborhood of Septsarges.9 How to use the roads about this village and Nantillois and Cuisy, leading to Esnes through either Malancourt or Bethincourt, became the great problem not only of the medical service but of all other departments. This area was in No Man’s Land, and both towns and roads had been destroyed. Esnes was a heap of ruins; the surrounding hills full of dugouts.10 Malancourt and Bethincourt were laid flat, with not a building left standing, the sites of houses occasionally being marked by pieces of doorsteps or by twisted fragments of iron projecting above mounds of débris. Torrential rains washed away even the foundations of the roads, which had been shoveled clear, and deep mud impeded traffic.10 The engineers did remarkable work with sandbags. Thousands of men carried stone from the blackened, shell-pitted fields and ruined villages to the roads, for food and ammunition had to go forward for the supply of advancing troops.10 Wounded from the 79th and 3d Divisions of the corps to the left obliqued through the Third Corps area, and large numbers of them were transported by the Third Corps and sorted in its triages.10 For a short time subsequent to September 26 it was almost impossible to move the wounded from Cuisy and Septsarges, and the trip when made consumed much time. Certain of the ambulances took 23 hours in carrying wounded from Cuisy to Bethincourt, a 20-minute trip under normal conditions.10

Many days of the hardest kind of work were required to organize traffic, but considering the conditions under which the corps chief of staff labored the service of evacuation of wounded received as sympathetic attention as the situation permitted.10 Immediately following the advance, the 4th Division established a field hospital near Cuisy and the 80th Division one at Bethincourt. Both of these hospitals were under fire. It was difficult to get wounded out of Cuisy by way of Malancourt and Esnes, and this developed in the 4th Division a desire to care for its casualties at Cuisy.10 The demand for operating teams was insistent. The 80th Division evacuated its wounded to Bethincourt and thence to Fromereville, detaining at Bethincourt only such cases as were not fit for removal beyond that point. When the road from Malancourt to Bethincourt was made passable, the 80th Division removed from Cuisy by that route the remaining wounded of the 4th Division.10 During the delay an officer from the corps surgeon’s office proceeded to Cuisy


and helped greatly with the evacuation service of the 4th Division and in the organization of emergency operating teams.10 Astonishing as it may seem, the wounded who were held at Cuisy much beyond what was considered the safety limit, including even those developing gas gangrene, showed but small mortality.11


On the night of September 25-26 the 4th Division took over the line of Ruisseau de Forges, north of Esnes, as the left unit of the Third Corps.12

The division attacked at 5.30 a. m. September 26. The division was arranged in a column of brigades, each brigade with its regiments side by side. The 7th Brigade attacked and encountered little opposition before reaching the corps objective at 12.40 p. m. Here the attacking brigade halted and entrenched to await the arrival at the corps objective of the division on the left, when it was to proceed to the army objective.3

The advance of the 79th Division, on the left, was very much delayed by enemy resistance at Montfaucon. Consequently the 7th Brigade, 4th Division, remained at the corps objective until 5.30 p. m. Little advance was made before dark, owing to increased enemy resistance, and the troops remained for the night of September 26-27 on the corps objective.3

The attack was resumed without artillery support at 7.30 a. m. September 27, and the division pushed as far forward as the  edge of Bois de Brieulles on the right and the southern portion of Bois du Fays on the left. The left suffered heavy casualties, however, and withdrew to a position on the reverse slope of Hill 295, from which it attacked again the following day without appreciable gains. During the two days’ fighting the line was along the northern edge of Bois de Brieulles and along the Nantillois—Brieulles road.3

On the morning of the 29th the 7th Brigade was relieved in the front line by the 8th Brigade, the 59th Infantry relieving the 47th on the right and the 58th Infantry taking the position of the 39th Infantry on the left. A slight advance was made by the 58th Infantry against machine-gun and artillery positions.3

During the four succeeding days no advance was made. The 59th Infantry cleared the northern part of the Bois de Brieulles of hidden machine-gun nests and held this terrain against continued and violent artillery and machine-gun fire.3


The sanitary train, less Field Hospital No. 21, which remained at Lemmes, advanced to Sivry-la-Perche, where Field Hospital No. 33 established a triage, Field Hospital No. 19 opened for nontransportable wounded, and Field Hospital No. 28 for sick.

The ambulance section established a park and dressing station at Esnes.13

During the first two days’ advance the 39th Infantry regimental aid station was established in Esnes, battalion stations not being demanded because of the extreme narrowness of the sector and the depth of the echeloned bat-



talions. One medical officer with the advancing battalion, with two Medical Department men to each company, followed the attack as far north as Cuisy, where a semipermanent aid station was established and maintained. A collecting point for wounded was also established near Haucourt, about midway between Esnes and Cuisy, to which point the wounded were carried by litter. The 47th Infantry regimental aid station was located just north of Esnes and later moved to the barracks known as Bismark Lager, in Bois de Septsarges. Not more than 40 patients had been evacuated from the regimental collecting point near Haucourt by ambulance when all movement was stopped by hostile fire. The only axial road was choked with guns, ammunition trucks, and traffic of all kinds moving in both directions, preventing all possibility of rapid evacuation of the forward aid stations.13

It was seen at once that traffic congestion would render prompt evacuation of the wounded to field hospitals at Sivry-la-Perche almost impossible. Accordingly, Field Hospitals No. 19 and No. 21, with tentage, were advanced to Cuisy for station 24 hours being consumed by the trip. Here they rapidly filled to beyond their capacity because of the impossibility of evacuating to the rear. Evacuation from the regimental aid station established in Bois de Septsarges became very slow, on account of the muddy and congested condition of the roads and also because of intermittent hostile fire. Therefore, the wounded were held at this station, where facilities for caring for patients were as favorable as immediately to the rear. In some instances, regimental aid stations were obliged to retain their wounded 72 hours.13

The value of animal-drawn ambulances was appreciated at this time, and it was reported that evacuations from the front to the field hospitals at Cuisy would have been more rapidly effected and more efficiently performed by animal-drawn ambulances than by motor vehicles. Although comparatively slow, the former could have moved forward with the marching command for use in collecting the wounded on a difficult terrain without any established routes, since they were able to move where the motor vehicles could not. Notwithstanding the difficulties, all ambulances available which could be spared were filled and were started to the rear in order to clear the field. They required from 24 to 48 hours for the round trip. Though returning ammunition and supply trucks also were used to the utmost of their capacity, little impression was made on the large number of wounded collected.13

The site selected for the triage, at the foot of the southern slope of a hill near the main cross and axial roads, slightly in advance of the division post of command and at one time in front of the regimental aid station, was the only location suitable at the date of selection. Some artillery shortly afterwards moved to this same site and laid their guns in a semicircle, the hospital being in the middle. It was inevitable and to a certain extent foreseen that the hospital would be subjected to enemy fire intended for the Artillery. This fire became so severe that the hospital was ordered to retire to Bethincourt, 4 km. (2.4 miles) to the rear. The hospital was plainly marked with a large red cross and no attempt at camouflage or concealment was made. It


FIG. 73.-View from Cuisy across the alley toward Septsarges, showing Field Hospitals No. 19 and No. 21


was not the opinion, however, of those on the ground at the time that the hostile fire was directed at the hospital, but, rather, against the artillery, ration dumps, and roads.13 Eighteen casualties resulted from intermittent firing before the hospital was moved. In evacuating it preparatory to removal, all wounded who were able to walk were started overland under guide and guard. Some 20 patients were carried on litters, and the remainder not able to walk were transported by means of ambulances and trucks brought up during the night. The triage then proceeded to operate at Bethincourt, but, owing to the proximity to artillery positions and to crossroads, it was ordered to retire again, this time to Fromereville, 30 km. to the south (18.6 miles). Thereafter, road conditions having been improved by this time, evacuations proceeded smoothly, without serious difficulty except that incident to the long distance which had to be traversed.14

As a result of experience, the following general plan was adopted and successfully applied in the removal of casualties:

1. Company aid.-Twoenlisted men, from the battalion medical detachment, were assigned to each company as dressers. First aid with the company consisted of the application of dressings by one of these men or by the wounded man himself, either at the place of receiving the wounded or at the company aid post. Patients able to walk were required to walk to the battalion station, others were assisted or carried by litter bearers, men detailed for that purpose from each company, or by enemy prisoners. When the number of wounded was too great to be evacuated promptly by battalion litter bearers, the battalion surgeon so reported to the regimental surgeon.14

2. Battalion aid station.-The personnel here was two battalion medical officers, a dental officer if available, and the enlisted men of the battalion medical department not already assigned with companies. One of these officers was especially charged with removal of wounded from the front to this station. The duties of the station were primary or supplementary treatment, return to duty of men needing no further care, and preparation of others for evacuation, including grouping of those able to walk to the dressing station or to the field hospital. Men unable to walk were removed according to practicability of means available, by motor ambulances, animal-drawn ambulances, or litter bearers belonging to the ambulance company.15

3. Regimental aid station.-While in a defensive action this station was ordinarily opened, sometimes to serve as a secondary collecting point from the battalion aid stations, sometimes solely as a dispensary, in open campaign it was seldom used, as it was replaced by the dressing station, and the regimental surgeon was thus released to supervise the care and removal of wounded along the entire front of the regiment. It was the duty of the battalion surgeons to keep the regimental surgeon informed concerning conditions at their stations, and of the latter to notify accordingly the commanding officer of the ambulance company who was evacuating them.15

Ambulance company bearer detachment - Litter bearers belonging to the ambulance company were charged with the duty of maintaining contact with the regimental and battalion stations and were immediately available in case


evacuation from those stations by ambulance was impracticable or later became so. A litter-bearer detachment consisting of 1 medical officer, 4 sergeants, 6 dressers, and approximately 60 litter bearers was a part of each ambulance company, and ordinarily worked in the rear of each regiment in action.15

Ambulance head - This was the station farthest forward to which ambulances could advance; sometimes a battalion aid station.15

Dressing station - Here were posted the commanding officer of the ambulance company conducting it, and the ambulance company dressing station detachment. It was the collecting, treatment, and evacuation point for all casualties from the battalion and regimental stations which it served. The services here performed were provision of shelter, in case of need administration of warm drinks, inspection and supplementary treatment of wounds, treatment of shocked and gassed cases, classification and grouping of cases to be evacuated, and return to the front of men not in need of further care. At this point reserve litter bearers and ambulances were stationed and here the ambulance service was regulated. On a narrow front, with a single route of evacuation when many casualties were expected, three dressing station detachments operated at one point, while the fourth was held in reserve. Wounded were removed by motor, or less satisfactorily (except in very unusual conditions) by animal-drawn ambulances or trucks, the less serious cases using the last mentioned vehicles.15

Ambulance posts - These were placed where one or more ambulances were held in readiness to answer calls from advance collecting points. These vehicles were moved according to evacuation requirements and the condition of roads. Ordinarily, one was at or on its way to each aid station, collecting point, or dressing station, as directed by ambulance regulation at the dressing station. It was a general principle that advance stations must be kept clear and that transportation should not be permitted to go so far to the rear as not to be available at the front in case of sudden need.15

Rest or relay stations - If the route of evacuation was long or the time en route protracted, relay stations were provided, where patients rested and received hot nourishment and any minor medical or surgical attention necessary. The longer the route, the more stations were established. Each acted as a regulating station, in several senses; i. e., it maintained a steady stream of evacuations, utilized transport to the best advantage, and assured continuous care of patients during evacuation. Signs reading "Wounded able to walk," were posted by the ambulance companies along the routes which these patients were directed to follow. The duties of stations for slightly wounded, prescribed in our regulations, were taken over by the triage.16

Field hospitals - One hospital was located as far forward as possible, to receive, classify, and distribute all patients from the front. Near it were located a field hospital for nontransportable wounded, another for primary treatment of the gassed, and still another which received the slightly gassed and doubtful cases, and the divisional sick. The hospital for nontransportables was supplemented by a mobile surgical unit, as required, and the gas


hospital by a mobile degassing unit. Seriously sick were sent to evacuation or other army hospitals. From the divisional hospitals patients were sent by corps ambulances, trucks, and busses to corps and army hospitals.15

Medical supplies - Medical supplies for the battalion aid stations were taken forward to the farthest point practicable by the medical carts; but as these frequently failed of this purpose, it was directed that each enlisted member of the regimental sanitary detachment carry as many supplies as possible, including an extra gas mask. Battalion aid stations were replenished from the nearest source available-a regimental aid station or infirmary, or the dressing station. The advance medical supply depot was located usually at the triage. Medical officers were required to inspect medical combat equipment daily and promptly to submit informal requests in order that as complete equipment as possible might be maintained.16


The 80th Division was assigned to the center of the Third Corps, with the 33d Division on its right, and the 4th on its left. The division line on the morning of September 26, 1918, ran east and west, directly south of the town of Bethincourt.17

On the morning of September 26, the 80th Division moved to the attack, and immediately captured Bethincourt; by noon, it had overcome resistance in the Bois Jure. The enemy’s resistance stiffened in the afternoon, and the division was subjected to severe artillery fire from east of the Meuse River. By midnight, the right of the army objective near Dannevoux (Meuse) was reached, and the right of the division rested on the Meuse, and on the left a position was organized along the northern edge of the Bois Den Dela and the eastern edge of the Bois de Septsarges.17

On September 27, the 318th Infantry and one battalion of the 315th Field Artillery were placed at the disposal of the commanding general, 4th Division, on the left of the 80th Division, for the purpose of supporting his advance. On September 28, the 80th Division (less its artillery and the 318th Infantry), was relieved by the reserve brigade of the 33d Division. On September 29, all the artillery of the 80th Division was placed at the disposal of the commanding general, 4th Division.17

On October 3, the fronts of the 3d Division, Fifth Corps, and of the 4th Division, Third Corps, were reduced, and the 80th Division was assigned a sector between these two divisions, with the Bois des Ogons in its front. On the same date, the 318th Infantry (less one battalion) and the Artillery organizations were returned to the 80th Division.17


Before arrival in this sector, Ambulance Company No. 317 had been detached and did not rejoin the division until October 16, at Waly. Ambulance Company No. 318 had been detached on August 24 and did not rejoin until October 8, at Bethincourt.18


The sanitary train moved from Souilly on September 19 and reached Fromereville on the 21st. At this time, as stated, it had but two of its ambulance companies, but those detached (No. 317 and No. 318) had been replaced by United States Army Ambulance Service Sections No. 590 and No. 599, with 40 light ambulances.19

Ambulance Company No. 319 opened a dressing station at Chattancourt on September 24, where it received about 35 wounded on the 26th. It then followed the infantry advance, establishing a station at Bethincourt and another farther forward in a German dugout. Approximately 150 wounded passed through these two stations. In the interval September 27-30 dressing stations were established at Gercourt, between Gercourt and Dannevoux, between the last-mentioned town and Cuisy, and at Dannevoux, from all of which, taken together, approximately 650 patients were evacuated by the vehicles of this company and those of United States Army Ambulance Service sections attached to the division. These were supplemented by a German ambulance captured at Gercourt. On the evening of September 30 the company was relieved and returned to Bethincourt.19

Unfortunately no history of the activities of Ambulance Company No. 320 in this engagement is available other than a statement that it participated.

In his general discussion of the ambulance company service of the 80th Division the commanding officer of its sanitary train reports as follows: Litter bearers from advanced dressing stations collected some wounded from this vicinity, but most casualties were taken to the dressing stations from the battalions by litter squads of four men, furnished by the battalion aid stations or by the ambulance companies. Little or no dressing was done by litter bearers because of the incessant fire to which they were subjected. Dressing stations were placed as far forward as 0.8 km. (0.5 mile) from the line, and were never more than 1.6 km. (1 mile) behind it. During an advance 1 or 2 officers and 8 enlisted men, with the necessary equipment, would proceed to the new station as soon as it was ascertained from litter bearers that battalion aid stations were sufficiently advanced. The practice was to advance stations by the "leapfrog" method, the rear one closing after the one in advance had opened. These stations were located in barns, dugouts, or cellars. There were always two or three officers on duty at each of these formations, and relays of these and of other personnel were provided for except during periods of stress, when everyone available was on duty. The condition of patients received at dressing stations and field hospitals was uniformly good. Splinting was performed at battalion aid or ambulance company dressing stations and, if necessary, was rectified at the field hospitals. Ambulances frequently penetrated to the battalion aid stations, and always reached a point sufficiently near them to allow easy carriage by litter. At one time two companies ran parallel stations and evacuation routes. Habitually, two companies were held in reserve, but, with fresh personnel, their vehicles assisted companies on duty.20

Liaison was poor at first; but after two runners had been assigned from the ambulance companies to each battalion aid station, it usually was fairly



satisfactory. These runners were charged with the duty of returning to the ambulance station and notifying it of any move made by the formation to which they were attached. In a rapid advance, contact by this means left much to be desired. Then litter bearers were questioned, for information from the regimental surgeon was often received too late or it was too indefinite to be of value. The most common defects in liaison service were the transmission of indefinite messages or their garbling in delivery, with the result that a battalion surgeon often did not know when a dressing station had recently been advanded, or the latter was in ignorance of the point to which a battalion aid post had moved.20

Supplies to dressing stations and to aid stations were sent forward by ambulance on requisition, or if an aid station was not accessible by ambulance they were carried to it by bearers from the ambulance head.20

FIG. 74.-Field Hospital No. 319, 80th Division, at Bethincourt, Meuse, September 27, 1918

During the period September 22-25 Field Hospital No. 317 was set up as a gas hospital at Fromereville and Field Hospital No. 318 as a triage. The other field hospitals were held in reserve until the night of September 27-28, when they were moved forward and set up at Bethincourt to operate together as a collecting hospital. These hospitals retained these sites until October 12; statistics furnished by them in the divisional medical report were to that date. The organizations at Fromereville were located in buildings on the outskirts of the ruined town, while those at Bethincourt occupied tentage. The latter place was shelled daily, but, though one tent was destroyed, no casualties occurred, as its occupants had been removed when the bombardment commenced.21


Field hospitals of this division were operated throughout their service in a manner that was quite unusual, their use being determined by evacuating facilities. If these were ample, the hospital or group of hospitals farthest forward operated as a triage and distributed its patients direct to appropriate evacuation hospitals; but if transportation facilities were inadequate, the hospital nearest the front acted as a collecting station in which regular hospital work was done in departments for wounded, gassed, and sick. This hospital, which was in the shelled area, had receiving and evacuating departments, but performed only sufficient paper work to keep a record of the cases that passed through it or died. Dressings were applied here and food administered, but operations were reduced to a minimum.22

It was the practice to utilize the triage and collecting hospitals in the following manner: The triage was the unit first established and, accommodating, as it did, all kinds of cases, continued to act as a triage after hospitals were needed nearer the front. One or, if need be, two of these were sent forward when necessary to act as a collecting station. When a still farther advance was necessary, the former collecting station became the triage and the former triage moved in advance of them to become a collecting station.23 Normally the triage consisted of 2 hospitals, usually combined. While 2 of the 4 divisional hospitals were furnished with British equipment and 2 with American, their organization and administration were uniform.24 Usually their tents for patients were pitched in two rows of three tents each, with an open space between them. The middle tent of the front row was the receiving ward, and all patients passed through it for antitetanic serum, examination, and classification. At this point a medical officer examined and assigned the patients, a dental surgeon administered serum, 2 clerks made records, and litter squads of 8 to 16 men were in readiness. This tent had a surplus of litters stacked in front of it and a pile of blankets to replenish ambulance supplies. On one side of the receiving tent was the evacuating ward for slightly wounded, receiving patients from its rear and discharging them to the front, while on the other side of the receiving ward was a tent used as the evacuation ward for litter cases. In the rear of this line was a gas ward with a small bath tent attached, a ward for seriously wounded and shock cases, with operating facilities, and a ward for the sick and for overflow from the other tents. Ample supplies were kept on hand. Kitchens furnished not only diets but also some 2,000 or 3,000 meals a day to exhausted troops.23

The dead were buried under the supervision of the chaplain.

The interior service of the hospital was so organized as to maintain personnel in groups whose members were accustomed to one another’s methods. Day and night details were on duty at receiving and forwarding departments, and an operating team of 2 officers and 24 men was always available. Ward tents were so arranged that at one end patients were placed on litters, resting on trestles, near a supply of easily accessible dressings. After being dressed, they were then placed along the sides of the ward tent. Patients were not usually held longer than from one to three hours, and none longer than nine hours, the latter being the cases received during the night and evacuated at 5 or 6 o’clock the next morning. About 200 cases could be cared for at one


time in two field hospitals combined, and in emergencies probably 2,000 daily, though the number actually received never exceeded 900 in one day.25

Evacuation by intradivisional transport ended at the field hospitals, but, as corps ambulances were not always sufficient for the removal thence of even the more seriously wounded, returning trucks were used to transport to the evacuation hospital all slightly wounded and slightly gassed cases. Large trucks could remove 7 litter cases or 20 sitting; smaller ones, 3 litter cases. All wounded sent to the field hospitals were evacuated.26


On September 5, the 33d Division began its movement, from the vicinity of Tronville-en-Barrois, where it had been concentrated, to the Verdun sector, where it relieved the French 120th Division and the right regiment of the French 157th Division, on the nights of September 7, 8, and 9.27

At the opening of the Meuse-Argonne operation, the 33d Division, supported by the 52d Field Artillery Brigade, formed the right of the Third Corps. Here, its line ran from a point east of Bethincourt, east to the Meuse River, to a point just north of Regneville, 10 km. (6.2 miles) north of Verdun.27

The division attacked on the morning of September 26, at 5.30. One regiment (132d Infantry) gained the objective by 10 a. m.; and some other units reached their objectives before noon. In its advance, the division captured Forges and the formidable Bois de Forges.27, 28

From September 27 to October 7, 1918, both inclusive, the operations of the 33d Division on the west bank of the Meuse were characterized by no engagements of major importance. During this period, however, the troops were subjected to incessant artillery fire and gas from both banks of the Meuse.27


In the early part of September, the sanitary train was located at Fromereville and at Sivry-la-Perche, with the supply unit at the latter point.29 On September 16, the train moved to Thierville and Glorieux, in the vicinity of Verdun, and the triage was established in French barracks at Glorieux.30 Medical Department formations were then located as follows, in preparation for the operation:

Dressing station, Alexandre.
Relay and car post, Cumieres.
Dressing station and car post, Chattancourt station.
Collecting post for walking wounded, Marre.
Field Hospital No. 131, triage, Glorieux.
Field Hospital No. 132, nontransportable cases, Glorieux.
Field Hospital No. 130, gas hospital, Glorieux.
Field Hospital No. 129, in reserve, at Thierville.
Division surgeon’s office, Thierville.
Headquarters, sanitary train, Thierville.31


The following method of evacuation was used: Carry to battalion aid post, by battalion litter bearers; thence by hand carry to nearest car post, by ambulance company bearers; by motor ambulances to triages.

Battalion aid posts throughout were close to or in advance of battalion headquarters; never farther to the rear.32 Wounded usually were received at these posts in good condition, the most serious cases, generally speaking, being those that had been gassed. As a rule, seriously wounded were not held here longer than 30 minutes, but a few were so gravely wounded that death supervened very shortly. Antitetanic serum was administered at these stations, and all fractures were splinted except those with such extensive wounds of the buttocks that splinting was impossible. Casualties from gas were caused more frequently by vesicating than by asphyxiating gases. Psychiatric cases were few. Liaison would have been better but for the fact that two of the ambulance companies belonging to the division had not rejoined it and those which remained had been depleted of their commissioned personnel in order to meet needs in regiments.32

During this attack it was clearly demonstrated that the medical detachments of Infantry regiments could not function in the dressing of patients and at the same time carry litters. In order to insure prompt evacuation, it was found necessary to have the required number of bearers furnished by battalion commanders.31

Walking wounded sent to Marre went thence by trucks to the triage. Evacuation from the triage to evacuation hospitals was carried on under corps arrangements by evacuation ambulance companies.

In spite of the fact that the 33d Division did not have its full quota of ambulances, evacuation was conducted successfully, through the untiring efforts of all ranks of the sanitary train. In addition to the wounded of this division, disabled from other divisions were received at its triage, together with many German prisoners.31

Medical detachments of Infantry regiments worked for several days and nights without cessation. Following closely in the wake of advancing troops, they established aid stations and dressed wounded under heavy shell fire from three sides, sustaining numerous casualties.31


On September 28, Field Hospital No. 128 was sent hurriedly, with one ambulance to be used for emergency service, to a point northeast of Bethincourt, where it was ordered to establish a collecting and dressing station. It was to receive patients direct and also from the dressing station of Ambulance Company No. 130, at Cote 281, and was to evacuate either to the triage direct, or, if necessary, via the dressing station at Cumieres. Ambulance Company No. 130 was notified to evacuate to this hospital (Field Hospital No. 129) if unable to evacuate direct to the triage. Field Hospital No. 132 took over the triage on September 30, and Field Hospital No. 131 went into reserve. The director of field hospitals was ordered to supplement, if necessary, the personnel of Field Hospital No. 132 from that of No. 130 or from No. 131.33



During the advance from September 26 to 30, Field Hospital No. 131 had cared for several thousand patients and had promptly evacuated them.31

After the advance, the following medical arrangements were made by the division surgeon to supersede those of September 26, the latter no longer being applicable:




Bearer post locationsb













Car posts




Chattancourt station.



Dressing stations



Cote 281


Holding parties were left at Esnes, La Claire, Alexandre, and Montzeville.31


(1) Operations of the Third Corps, Meuse-Argonne operation, November 25, 1918.

(2) Map showing daily positions of front line, Meuse-Argonne operation, G-3, G. H. Q., May 24, 1919.

(3) Operation report, 4th Division, Meuse-Argonne operation, December 10, 1918.

(4) Report of Medical Department activities, Third Army Corps, by Col. James L. Bevans, M. C., corps surgeon (undated), 29. On file, Historical Division, S. G. O.

(5) Ibid., 30.

(6) Ibid., 26.

(7) Ibid., 27.

(8) Ibid., 28.

(9) Ibid., 31.

(10) Ibid., 32.

(11) Ibid., 33.

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

(13) Report of Medical Department activities, 4th Division, A. E. F., prepared under the direction of the division surgeon (undated), Part I, 7. On file, Historical Division, S. G. O.

(14) Ibid., Part I, 8.

(15) Ibid., Part I, 9.

(16) Ibid., Part I, 10.

(17) Outlines of Histories of Divisions, U. S. Army, 1917-1919, prepared by the Historical Section, the Army War College. On file, Historical Section, the Army War College (1700, 80th Division).

(18) Report of Medical Department activities, 20th Division, A. E. F., prepared under the direction of the division surgeon (undated), Part I, 10. On file, Historical Division, S. G. O.

(19) Ibid., Part I, 14.

(20) Ibid., Part I, 20, 21.

bFigures represent coordinates on reference maps. Numbers on the left of the dash represent lines running north and south; numbers on the right of the dash, lines running east and west. Intersection of lines gives position.


(21) Ibid., Part I, 11, 12.

(22) Ibid., Part I, 24.

(23) Ibid., Part I, 25.

(24) Ibid., Part I, 20.

(25) Ibid., Part I, 25, 26.

(26) Ibid., Part I, 21.

(27) Outlines of Histories of Divisions, U. S. Army, 1917-1919, prepared by the Historical Section, the Army War College. On file, Historical Section, the Army War College 1700 (33d Division).

(28) Operations of the 33d Division, Meuse-Argonne operation, March 17, 1919.

(29) Report of Medical Department activities, 33d Division, prepared under the direction of the division surgeon (undated), Part I, 4. On file, Historical Division, S. G. O.

(30) Ibid., Part I, 5.

(31) Ibid., Part I, 6.

(32) Ibid., Part II, 20.

(33) F. O. No. 10, Hdqrs., 108th Sanitary Train, September 28, 1918.