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Chapter XXXIII

Field Operations, Table of Contents

CHAPTER XXXIII

 THIRD PHASE—Continued

ACTIVITIES OF THE AMERICAN DIVISIONS ATTACHED TO FRENCH CORPS EAST OF THE MEUSE

Only those of our divisions which were attached to the French Corps east of the Meuse will be considered here.

THE 79TH DIVISION

After it was relieved, on September 30, by the 3d Division, the 79th Division was then transferred to the Third Army Corps and acted as corps reserve until the night of October 3-4, when it marched to the zone of the French Second Colonial Army Corps and was attached to that corps.a On the night of October 7-8 it relieved the 26th Division in the Troyon sector, holding an outpost position on the plane of the Woevre. No offensive action was taken, although the troops were subjected to constant shelling by the enemy. Beginning October 23, the division was relieved by the 33d Division and proceeded by marching to the Grande-Montagne sector, where it relieved the 29th Division on the nights of October 28-29, 29-30, and a part of the 26th Division on the nights of October 31-November 1, and November 1-2. In this sector the 79th Division was placed under the command of the French Seventeenth Army Corps, and later under the French Second Colonial Army Corps. On November 3 the division opened the final offensive by an attack to the north, with its left flank, and on November 6, after severe fighting, troops had advanced as far as the crest of Hill 378 (La Borne de Cornouiller). The attack changed on November 8 to an easterly direction, and the heights from Ecurey to Crepion were captured; that night the division sector elements were changed to extend from Etraye to Moirey. This required elements of the division at Ecurey to execute a flank march of about 4.5 km. (2.7 miles) at night, through thick underbrush and woods, in order to be in position for the attack at 6 a. m. the following morning. On November 9 the towns of Crepion, Wavrille, and Gibercy were taken, and also Etraye and Moirey, in conjunction with elements of the divisions on the right and left; before night of November 10, Chaumont-devant-Damvillers and Hill 319, northeast of the town, had been taken.1

aDuring the period October 12-23 the 79th Division, as a part of the French Second Colonial Corps, was a part of the Second Army. However, the description of its activities is given at this time for convenience, especially because during the time it was in the Second Army it took no offensive action.


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FIG. 86.-Field Hospitals No. 314 and No. 315, 79th Division, at Ferme Notre Dame de Palemeix, Meuse 


PLATE XLIX


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MEDICAL DEPARTMENT ACTIVITIES

On the arrival in the Troyon sector the sanitary train relieved corresponding units of the 26th Division on October 8, 1918. The disposition of the units being as follows: Field Hospitals, Nos. 313, 314, 315, and transportation section of Ambulance Company No. 316 at Ferme Notre Dame de Palameix; Ambulance Companies No. 313 and No. 314, and United States Army Ambulance Service Section No. 506 at Dommartin-la-Montagne; Ambulance Companies No. 315, No. 316, and United States Army Ambulance Service Section No. 502 at Les Eparges, and Field Hospital No. 316 at Ambly-sur-Meuse. Dressing stations were established at Dommartin and Les Eparges. Field hospitals functioned as follows: Field Hospital No. 313 for skin and venereal; No. 314 for gassed; No. 315 triage; No. 316 for sick.2

FIG. 87.-Dressing station, operated by Ambulance Company No. 316, 79th Division, Les Eparges, Meuse

As this sector was relatively inactive, the number of wounded was not large. Roads were good, and the evacuation of casualties proceeded without any delay. On the night of October 14 Les Eparges was subjected to a violent bombardment of gas, causing the withdrawal of the medical units there. Ambulance Company No. 315 located in some barracks northwest of Vaux-les-Palameix, Ambulance Company No. 316 moved to Notre Dame de Palameix, and United States Army Ambulance Service Section No. 502


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to Dommartin-la-Montagne. Casualties in this bombardment were 1 killed and 17 moderately gassed. On October 13 Field Hospital No. 313 established a hospital for influenza cases at Troyon-sur-Meuse. On the 18th the United States Army Ambulance Service Section No. 502 was relieved by Section No. 511.2

The units of the train remained in these locations until October 23, when they were relieved by similar units of the 33d Division, and proceeded to Troyon-sur-Meuse, with the exception of Field Hospital No. 316, which remained in operation at Ambly until 25th. Field Hospital No. 313 evacuated its patients to No. 316 and proceeded to Genicourt-sur-Meuse.

FIG. 88.-Aid station, 315th Infantry, 79th Division, Bois de Consenvoye, France, November 8, 1918.

On the 24th the train moved to Faubourg-du-Pave, where it was billeted until October 29. Here Field Hospital No. 316, on October 25, opened a hospital for the division sick. On October 27 the sanitary train proceeded to the Grande-Montagne section.2 Here the advance stations were well located and fairly safe, with the result that wounded were promptly given first aid and evacuated. An ambulance pool was organized at a point where cover was available close to two regimental aid stations, whereby their evacuation was greatly expedited. Wheeled litters, used by this division for the first time, were employed with very satisfactory results. The units of the sanitary train, on October 30 and November 1, relieved like units in the 29th


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Division and were disposed as follows: Ambulance Company No. 313 took over the dressing station near Samogneux. Its evacuation service assisted by wheel litters via the Ormont-Ferme—Samogneux road, though this was constantly subject to shell fire; Ambulance Company No. 315, with United States Army Ambulance Service Section No. 511, operated a dressing station at a rock quarry on the Samogneux—Brabant road, and Ambulance Company No. 314 an advance dressing station north of Brabant on the Molleville Ferme road, the remainder of this company serving as litter bearers. Ambulances could not reach regimental and battalion stations because of shell fire, for the enemy at this time gave unusual attention to shelling the roads, and this actually caused a disproportionate number of casualties in the supply and evacuation services. Two animal-drawn ambulances were assigned to each Infantry battalion in support. On the outskirts of Charny a station for slightly wounded was established by one officer and six men from Field Hospital No. 316.2

Although casualties were heavy, evacuations were prompt, the average time elapsing between receipt of wounded and arrival at hospital being about three hours. Roads were very rough but not crowded. On November 4, 41 Ford ambulances were assigned to the division, replacing United States Army Ambulance Service Sections No. 511 and No. 506, but throughout the action returning trucks transported slightly wounded, and in emergencies the trucks of the sanitary train were also used for that purpose.3 On November 7 Ambulance Company No. 316, less animal-drawn vehicles, relieved Ambulance Company No. 314 at its advance dressing station, and the latter relieved Ambulance Company No. 315, which moved to Glorieux for a rest. Meanwhile evacuation was carried on by Ambulance Company No. 313, in reserve.4

Field Hospital No. 313 had been established at Genicourt-sur-Meuse, where it received the sick, but the other field hospitals, with United States Army Ambulance Service Section No. 506, were congregated at Glorieux. There Field Hospital No. 315 operated the triage, Field Hospital No. 314 cared for the gassed, and Field Hospital No. 316 was in reserve. Both field hospitals functioning were located with Evacuation Hospital No. 15 in an old French hospital building—an arrangement which facilitated transfer of the seriously wounded to an institution where they could receive immediate and thorough care.2

By November 9 the lines of evacuation had been lengthened by the rapid advance of the troops, and the two roads Molleville Ferme—Brabant and Ormont Ferme—Samogneux had become so rough that night driving was both difficult and dangerous. Therefore, Field Hospital No. 316 was moved from Glorieux to a point near Neuville, where it established a triage. Ambulance Company No. 314 advanced its dressing station to west of Molleville Ferme, accompanied by Ambulance Company No. 313, which furnished litter bearers to clear the aid stations. The other units remained as before except that six ambulances of Ambulance Company No. 315 were moved to the triage. Evacuations from the front were now less difficult, though the route to the rear was longer.4


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On November 10 the station for slightly wounded at Charny was closed. The dressing station of Ambulance Company No. 314 was advanced to a German barrack on the Brabant-sur-Meuse—Etraye road, and the dressing station of Ambulance Company No. 316 to the vicinity of Etraye.5

On November 11 it was decided to move Field Hospital No. 314 to the German barracks occupied by the dressing station of Ambulance Company No. 314, and the order directing this movement was issued the next day. Roads were now much better, traffic control was excellent, and evacuations were very satisfactory. Because of the roughness and narrowness of the roads the Ford ambulances were especially serviceable in this sector.5

THE 26TH DIVISIONb

From November 1 to 7, no advance by the 26th Division was made. During this period a number of reliefs from the front line were made, and troops improved their positions and organized strong points. Reconnoitering patrols were sent out, raids made, and gas concentrations and harassing artillery fire delivered, but there was relatively small movement of the line until November 8. Such advance as was made on and after that date was in a generally easterly direction, the southern end of the line being pivoted, at first, north of Beaumont, and later, when the division front was extended, south of it, near Les Fosses. Information was received, on November 8, that the enemy was withdrawing. He was closely pursued, in the face of stubborn machine-gun resistance and scattered artillery fire. The advance continued until the armistice, with progressive general increase in speed, despite opposition from certain strongly organized positions such as Ville-devant-Chaumont, Herbebois, Le Chaume, and Le Cap de Bonne Esperance. When hostilities were suspended by the armistice, the division front, facing eastward, extended between 5 and 6 km. (3.1 to 3.7 miles) in a general north and south direction, from just east of Ville-devant-Chaumont, to a point near Le Chaume.6, 7

MEDICAL DEPARTMENT ACTIVITIES

As the 26th Division formed the pivot on which the entire army to the westward of it moved, its advance was relatively slight, especially on its right, and it was unnecessary to move the organizations of the sanitary train, except that ambulance heads were gradually advanced. The location of the Medical Department units remained as given in the history of the division during the second phase of this operation.

THE 81ST DIVISIONb

On the night of November 6-7, the 81st Division relieved the 35th Division in the Sommedieue sector, which at that time was under the command of the French Seventeenth Corps. On November 7, however, the division passed from the French Seventeenth to the French Second Colonial Corps.

bFor map of activities of this division for this period, see Plate XLIX.


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At 8 a. m., on the 9th, after a short artillery preparation, with two regiments in line and two in support, positions in the marshy plain of the Woevre which the Germans had fortified during their prolonged occupancy by numerous concrete machine-gun nests and elaborate wire systems were attacked. Ville-en-Woevre was a particularly strong, heavily fortified position, which had resisted capture during the St. Mihiel operation. The Artillery brigade gave the infantry all possible support during this action, but the enemy was able to oppose the advance by guns which outranged those of our troops. During these operations the division captured the fortified villages of Moranville, Grimaucourt, and Abaucourt, and occupied the woods Les Clairs Chenes and La Noire Haie and Le Grand and Le Petit Cognon. When hostilities ceased the troops had advanced over the Hindenberg line and had reached the main defense of Hautecourt, having pushed back the enemy from 2 to 5.5 km. (3.4 miles).8

MEDICAL DEPARTMENT ACTIVITIES

When the 81st Division relieved the 35th, dressing stations were established by Motor Ambulance Company No. 321 at Escargot and Derame and by No. 323 at La Chevretterie and Bernatant. Field Hospital No. 322, the triage and gas hospital, occupied Adrain barracks at Fontaine Brillante. Field Hospitals No. 323 and No. 324 were at Les Petits Monthairons in the château and in Adrain barracks. Field Hospital No. 321, with Ambulance Companies No. 322 and No. 324, was held in reserve at Les Petits Monthairons.9

On November 9, Field Hospital No. 321 was ordered to take over the triage, and Field Hospital No. 322 functioned as a gas hospital, while Field Hospital No. 323 was held in readiness to "leapfrog" the triage and establish a hospital in case of advance.10 The dressing station of Ambulance Company No. 321, at Escargot, moved to Moulainville and Ambulance Company No. 322 marched to Fontaine Brillante, where it assisted in evacuation from the front lines. On November 10 Ambulance Company No. 324 established a dressing station at Moranville.10

One motor ambulance company and a section of the animal-drawn ambulance company was attached to each Infantry regiment in the front line, with orders to keep constantly in touch with the respective regimental surgeons. The animal-drawn vehicles were used only over routes that could not be traversed by motors. Because of the wet condition of the ground, there was a constant mist, which permitted ambulances to go to the battalion aid stations. In some portions of the sector information concerning the proper roads to use could be obtained only by driving over the road and mapping out the proper course for vehicles. Regimental and ambulance company dressing stations were combined and located in the most advantageous positions and ambulances were stationed along the front.10

Because ambulances could remove patients direct from battalion stations, evacuation was prompt, and the forward shipment of supplies was facilitated. Ambulances were also in direct touch with the divisional reserve and visited artillery areas at regular intervals.10


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Immediately following the cessation of hostilities searching parties from the ambulance companies were sent over the field to bring in wounded. By 10 p. m. of November 11, all had been recovered and cleared from the triage.11

The triage report, November 9 to 11, gave the following figures: Total number admitted to triage, 1,040; wounded in action, 537; wounded accidentally, 30; gassed, 242; war neurosis, 38; sick, 193. All gas casualties were caused by arsine, but none was of such severity that the patient required more than two days’ hospitalization.11

THE 33D DIVISION

Upon being relieved in the Verdun sector, by the French 15th Colonial Division, on the nights of October 20, 21, and 22, the 33d Division proceeded to the Troyon-sur-Meuse sector, where it relieved the 79th Division, the relief being completed on the night of October 25-26. The line now held extended approximately from Fresnes-en-Woevre, southeastwardly, to Doncourt-aux-Templiers. On the night of October 27-28, this line was extended southeastwardly to the edge of Bois de Rebois. southeast of Woel. Operations of the 33d Division, in this sector, beginning with daily and nightly patrols, developed a number of important raids, among them the raid of November 7, on Chateau et Ferme d’Aulnois, and the two raids against St. Hilaire, on November 8 and November 9. On November 10, the German stronghold of Marcheville was captured; however, a counterattack of the enemy drove our troops back to the trenches southeast of the village. The enemy was driven out of Bois des Hautes Epines, Bois de Warville. The southern portion of the formidable Bois d’Harville was taken and the Kriemhilde Stellung crossed.12

On November 11, Chateau et Ferme d'Aulnois had been taken, and Marcheville recaptured, when an order to cease hostilities put an end to the advance. The line now extended approximately from the crossroads northwest of Chateau et Ferme d’Aulnois—Riaville—Marcheville—St. Hilaire—north edge of Bois de Warville and Bois des Hautes Epines to Ferme des Hauts Journaux. The southern portion of Bois de Warville, which had been wrested from the enemy on the preceding day, was given up.12, 7

MEDICAL DEPARTMENT ACTIVITIES

When the 33d Division took over the line in the Troyon sector, the disposition of its sanitary train was prescribed by Field Order No. 18, Headquarters 108 Sanitary Train, published October 24, as follows:

Pursuant to instructions from the division surgeon, the following movements of units of the sanitary train will be accomplished in connection with the relief of the 79th Division, U. S., in the Troyon sector:

1. Field Hospital Hq. will move from Faubourg-Pauve to the vicinity of the triage near Ferme de N. D. de Palameix.

2. A. C. 129, company Hq., and remaining personnel will move from Faubourg-Pauve to the location of the dressing station at Dommartin la Montagne early October 25, 1918.

3. A. A. S. 600 will move from Faubourg-Pauve to Troyon and take over the evacuation of the triage.


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4. F. H. 130 will move from Genicourt to Troyon early on October 25 and will continue in operation as the divisional sick collecting station. A holding party will be sent out not later than 7 a. m. to secure the location. An advance section will proceed at once to the new location and go into operation in order that there will be no cessation of function as the divisional sick collecting station. A guide will be left at Genicourt to inform ambulances as to the new location.

5. The mobile laboratory will move with F. H. 130.

6. Train Hq. and ambulance section Hq. will move from Faubourg-Pauve to Troyon early on October 25th.

7. F. H. 132, A. C. 130, A. C. 132, and camp infirmaries will remain at Faubourg-Pauve until further orders.

On October 30, the sanitary train was disposed as follows: Headquarters of the train and of its ambulance company section, Troyon; Ambulance Company No. 129, Dommartin; Ambulance Companies No. 130 and No. 132, Troyon; Ambulance Company No. 131, dressing station near St. Maurice, serving the right sector.

Headquarters of the field hospital section, with three units of its command, was located at Ferme de Notre Dame de Palameix, where Field Hospital No. 131 operated the triage, Field Hospital No. 130 the gas hospital, and Field Hospital No. 129 was in reserve. Field Hospital No. 132 at Ambly conducted a division sick collecting station with triage function. On November 8, Field Hospital No. 130 moved to Creue, where it continued the care of gassed patients, and the next day Field Hospital No. 129 moved to Creue to prepare to assume triage duties.13 On November 8, Field Order No. 23 of Sanitary Train No. 108 was issued, reading as follows:

1. F. H. 129, at Creue, will go into operation as a triage at 6 a. m. Nov. 9, 1918.

2. F. H. 131 will close as a triage and go into reserve in its present location as soon as the redirection of the evacuation of the forward area has been accomplished.

3. F. H. 130 will open a gas hospital at Creue at 6 a. m. Nov. 9, 1918, with the equipment and personnel now at that point. This personnel and equipment will be supplemented from the larger detachment at Ferme de Notre Dame de Palameix, as fast as the conditions permit, leaving, if possible, a working gas section to go into reserve with F. H. 131. No special evacuation of the gassed patients need be made.

4. Triage reports will be made for 12-hour periods, such reports to reach the division surgeon's office not later than 7 a. m. and 7 p. m. daily.

5. The forward area will be evacuated to the triage (F. H. 129) at Creue after 6 a. m. November 9, 1918.

6. The division sick and back area casualties will be evacuated as before to F. H. 132 at Ambly.

7. Evacuation points for the division are as follows:

Seriously wounded (nontransportable): To Mobile Hospital # 39, between Heudicourt and Chaillon.

Slightly wounded: To Evacuation Hospital 13, at Commercy. (NOTE.—Evacuation Hospital 18 at St. Mihiel will soon be available.)

Neurological: To Neurological Hospital # 1, at Varvinay.

Gassed cases: To Evacuation Hospital 13.

Sick: To Evacuation Hospital 13.

ALTERNATIVES

All classes of cases: To Evacuation Hospital 12, at Royaumeix, or Evacuation Hospital # 1, at Sebastopol, 5 kilos north of Toul.


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8. A. C. 132 will gradually take over the dressing station and the evacuation of the left sector, relieving A. C. 129. A. C. 130 will evacuate the triage at Creue in accordance with par. 7. Hq., A. C. 131, will move to Creue as soon as the C. O. has arranged for billets.

9. The D. A. C. (director of ambulances) will arrange for the evacuation of F. H. 132, at Ambly.

10. The D. F. H. (director of field hospitals) will arrange all details concerning the field hospital section.

11. The division specialists will function with the triage at Creue unless otherwise ordered.

The other orders issued controlling the sanitary train during the operation of the Second Army were the following, promulgated by the commanding officer, Sanitary Train, November 9 and 10:

Field Order No. 24:

1. F. H. 132 will evacuate its sick on the afternoon of Nov. 9, in accordance with par. 7, F. O. 23, and will continue to function on a smaller scale, but will not hold its patients longer than necessary to properly conserve evacuation facilities.

2. F. H. 130 will evacuate its gas hospital at Ferme de N. D. de Palameix early Nov. 10 and will prepare this section to go forward with F. H. 131.

3. The D. A. C. will arrange transportation for the evacuation proposed in pars. 1 and 2.

4. F. H. 131 will be prepared for a contemplated move to Thillot at an early date.

5. The division tuberculosis specialist will function with the division sick collecting station until otherwise ordered.

Field Order No. 26:

1. A. C. 129 will move with the northern pursuit column (65th Brigade). The company will be divided for action. One half, with light dressing station equipment and four or five ambulances, to move behind the advance guard. The other half, with full dressing station equipment, rations, etc., will follow the main body. These combat elements will join the pursuit column along the St. Remy—Herbeuville road before the H hour. The mission of A. C. 129 will be to serve the 65th Brigade, particularly after it has passed the sphere of action of A. C. 132. It is contemplated that a dressing station will eventually be established in the vicinity of St. Hilaire—Butgneville or Harville. The axis of march of the north column will be St. Remy—Herbeuville—Hannonville-sous-les Cotes—Wadonville [-en-Woevre]—St. Hilaire—Maulotte—Allamont.

2. A. C. 130 will move with the southern pursuit column (66th Brigade). The company will be divided for action. One half, with light dressing station equipment and four or five ambulances, to move behind the advance guard. The other half, with full dressing station equipment, rations, etc., will follow the main body. These two elements will join the pursuit column near St. Maurice along the Deuxnouds—St. Maurice road. The mission of A. C. 130 will be to serve the 66th Brigade, particularly after it has passed the sphere of action of A. C. 131. It is contemplated that a dressing station will eventually be established at or between Woel and Jonville. The axis of march of the south column will be St. Maurice—Woel—Jonville—Hannonville-au-Passage.

3. A. C. 132 will serve the left sector as long as practicable using its horse ambulances in the region of impassable roads for relaying to the motor ambulances. It may become advisable, as the pursuit lengthens, to evacuate in part or whole to the dressing station of A. C. 131 in the rear of St Maurice.

4. A. C. 131 will serve the right sector as before and as far forward as is practicable.

5. The establishment of a triage and gas hospital at Thillot is contemplated for F. H. 131 and a gas section of F. H. 130. These units will hold themselves in readiness for immediate action and will send forward a holding, cleaning, and billeting party.


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Plans outlined in these orders were carried out as intended except those which were to be applied later, including the establishment of dressing stations after objectives were secured. Battle activities ceased, of course, with the armistice.

REFERENCES

(1) 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 (79th Division).

(2) Report of Medical Department activities, 79th Division, A. E. F., prepared under the direction of the division surgeon, 79th Division, undated, 20. On file, Historical Division, S. G. O.

(3) Ibid., 14.

(4) Ibid., 22.

(5) Ibid., 23.

(6) Report of operations, 26th Division, Meuse-Argonne operation, undated.

(7) Front-line maps, American battle monuments commission.

(8) Operations report, 81st Division, Meuse-Argonne operation, January 17, 1919.

(9) Report of Medical Department activities, 81st Division, A. E. F., prepared under the direction of the division surgeon, 81st Division, undated, 5. On file, Historical Division, S. G. O.

(10) Ibid., 21.

(11) Ibid., 11.

(12) Report of operations, 33d Division, Meuse-Argonne operation, March 17, 1919.

(13) Report of Medical Department activities, 33d Division, A. E. F., prepared under the direction of the division surgeon, 33d Division, undated, Part III. On file, Historical Division, S. G. O.