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53 MEDICAL BATTALION

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HEADQUARTERS
53 MEDICAL BATTALION
APO 305
         

7 January 1945
         
SUBJECT: Action Against the Enemy, Reports After/After Action Report.

TO: The Adjutant General, Washington, D.C., U.S.A.
       (Thru: Commanding General, V Corps, APO 305, U.S. Army)
         
1.  In compliance with Par 2, Letter Hq, First United States Army dated 13 July 1944, subject as above, and Par 3, 1st Indorsement, Hq V Corps, dated 17 July 1944, the following report is hereby submitted:
         
2.  The following is the strength of the commands and the commanding officers as of 31 December 1944:

                                            Officers         EM             Commanding Officers

382Med Coll Co                     5                 95           Capt Victor J. Margotta, M.C.
383Med Coll Co                     4                 86           Capt Charles E. Koepp, M.C.
684Med Clr Co                      13                99           Major James J. Redmond, M.C.
Hq & Hq Det, 53 Med Bn        7                 21           1st Lt. Frank E. Ebert, M.A.C.
53 Med Bn; Total:                 29               301           Lt. Col. Joseph B. Gordon, M.C.
        
3.  Records of Events:

1 Dec 1944:     The forward echelon of Hq & Hq Detachment, 53 Medical Battalion and the 382 Medical Collecting Company were stationed in a building in Eupen, Belgium. Evacuation of Corps troops, occasional Army and Divisional troops stationed within the Eupen area, was being accomplished by the ambulances and personne1 of the 382 Medical Collecting Company.

        The rear echelon of this Headquarters, the 383 Medical Collecting Company and the 684 Medical Clearing Company were operating from barracks located one (1) mile north of Heppenbach, Belgium. The evacuation troops within the Heppenbach sector of the Corps area was accomplished by the 383 Medical Collecting Company. The 684 Medical Clearing Company operated a Clearing Station, receiving and treating minor wounded and ordinary sick patients, and  evacuating those cases requiring further hospitalization. Sick call was also held for those units not having medical personnel.

2 Dec1944:     All available doctors and ambulances from the rear echelon were sent to treat casualties from a P.A.C. [Pilotless Aircraft, German V-1], when it burst in the 508 Engineer Battalion area. Eight (8) enlisted men of the 382 Medical Collecting Company returned to duty from Detached Service with the 383 Medical Collecting Company.

3 Dec1944:     Lt. Lusk, M.A.C., and thirty-six (36) litter bearers from the 382 Medical Collecting Company relieved Lt. McKay, M.A.C., and the Litter Platoon from the 383 Medical Collecting Company, on duty with the 8 Infantry Division.
         


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4 Dec1944
to
10Dec 1944:     Scheduled ambulance runs to Corps troops continued by the 382 Medical Collecting Company in the Eupen area and hr the 383 Medical Collecting Company in the Heppenhach area. The Clearing Company continued to receive patients from Army, Corps and Divisional units within Corps area. During this period Cpl Carlucci, Tec 5 Porter, Pfcs Bracci and Hanchar, and Pvts Sams, Longinetti and Hodowsky of the 382 Medical Collecting Company were awarded Bronze Star Medals for heroic achievement while acting as litter bearers with the 28 Infantry Division, operating in the Hurtgen Forest. Captain Handel awarded the Purple Heart Medal for wounds received as a result of a P.A.C. bursting in the vicinity of the 461 AAA Battalion, where he was on Detached Service. Sergeant Lyle V. Jackson, 382 Medical Collecting Company, was returned to the United States on Temporary Duty.

11 Dec 1944:     Captain Catullo, B.C., 684 Medical Clearing Company, sent on Detached Service with the 2 Ranger Battalion, to replace a Medical Officer Killed in Action. Lt. Lusk, M.A,C., and the Litter Platoon, 382 Medical Collecting Company, returned to duty from Detached Service with the 8 Infantry Division.

12 Dec 1944
        to
13 Dec 1944:     During this period the Battalion and attached units continued their normal functions of evacuations and treatment. Captain Childs, M.C., 684 Medical Clearing Company sent on Detached Service with the 1121 Engineer (C) Group per Par 3, Special Order 123, Hq V Corps, dated 9 December 1944.

14 Dec 1944:     Lt. McKay, M.A.C., and the Litter platoon, 383 Medical Collecting Company sent on Detached Service with the 2 Infantry Division, per VOCG, V Corps.

15 Dec 1944:     Lt. McKay, M.A.C., and the Litter Platoon from the 383 Medical Collecting Company, returned to duty from the 2 Infantry Division where they were on duty as litter bearers. Captain Karansky, M.C., 383 Medical Collecting Company, relieved Captain Goldsmith, M.C., 684 Medical Clearing Company, on Detached Service with the Provisional Military Government Police Battalion.

16 Dec 1944:     Pvt Alan D. Jones, 684 Medical Clearing Company, on Detached Service with the Provisional Military Government Police Battalion, reported as being found dead, circumstances unknown. Lt. McEvoy, M.A.C., and Pfc Snyder, Hq Dat, 53 Medical Battalion, sent on Detached Service to the Regimental Information and Education Officer’s School, Cité Universitaire, Paris, France. During the early morning the city of Eupen, Belgium was subjected to en enemy artillery barrage. No damage was done to personnel or equipment of the forward echelon, 53 Medical Battalion, or the 382 Medical Collecting Company.

17 Dec 1944:     This day is a memorable date in the history of the 53 Medical Battalion and subordinate units. At 0315 hours the personnel of the forward echelon and the 382 Medical Collecting Company were awakened by an enemy air-raid. Although the city was bombed and strafed by enemy aircraft no damage was done to personnel and/or equipment of the Battalion. A message was received from the Corps Surgeon, at 0530 hours, to the effect that enemy airborne troops had dropped within the Eupen area, and that all personnel were to be kept in the Companies’ areas. It was further directed that only emergency calls for ambulance service were to be answered. An attempt was made to call the rear echelon


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at Heppenbach, but all lines of telephonic communication had been cut. At 0830 hours the buildings housing the troops in the Heppenbach area were subjected to enemy machine gun fire. At 0845 hours an ambulance driver, who had previously been dispatched on a scheduled ambulance run, reported that he had been turned back by American troops and warned that there were enemy troops and armor in the area. This was the first notification the rear echelon received of their impending danger. An infantryman brought a casualty into the Clearing Station at 0850 hours, stating that his convoy had been ambushed by a German patrol and requested ambulances to service the wounded. Lt. Martin, M.A.C., with three (3) ambulances and driver personnel from the 383 Medical Collecting Company were dispatched to the scene of the ambush. It later developed that these men never returned and were reported as Missing in Action. An enemy armored patrol was later seen passing along a main road three hundred (300) yards from the rear echelon’s area. At 0900 hours the personnel of the Battalion’s rear echelon, and attached units, attempted to obtain information from surrounding units, not having officially been notified of the enemy break-though. Preparations were then made to evacuate patients, of which there were one hundred and eighty (180) in the Clearing Station and later the personnel and equipment of the Battalion and attached units. The patients were loaded into Army ambulances, 383 Medical Collecting Company’s ambulances and all the available trucks, and evacuated to Medical Installations at Waimes and Malmedy. As the ambulances and other vehicles returned to the rear area, after evacuating the patients, personnel and equipment were loaded and dispatched to the 47 Field Hospital at Waimes, Belgium, and from there went to Malmedy, Belgium, where the units were ordered to assemble. Captain Koepp, M.C., and twenty-four (24) enlisted men of the 383 Medical Collecting Company were transported to Waimes, Belgium by ambulances from the 546 Medical Collecting Company (Amb) where they were to await further transportation. Lt. Col. Gordon, M.C., Battalion Commander, left the forward echelon, Eupen, Belgium, at 1030 hours to contact the rear echelon at Heppenbach. Lt. Col. Gordon met the Clearing Company Commander, Major Redmond, M.C., and learned that all the patients had been evacuated. Moving on to the rear echelon one (1) mile north of Heppenbach, Lt. Col. Gordon was informed that rest of the equipment had been loaded. All personnel, all transportation and approximately ninety to ninety-five (90-95) percent of organizational equipment were finally evacuated from the area. Due to the lack of transportation a small amount of gasoline was poured out and the decision made to abandon the remainder of the equipment. The route taken from the Heppenbach area was thru Ambleve, Waimes to Malmedy. Upon assembling in Malmedy the remaining elements of the rear echelon, Hq & Hq Detachment, 53 Medical Battalion, the 383 Medical Collecting Company and the 684 Medical Clearing Company were ordered to infiltrate to an area one (1) mile southwest of Eupen, Belgium, by way of Spa and Verviers. An attempt was made, at 1430 hours, to get a message to Captain Koepp at Waimes, Belgium; however, the road was blocked by German forces one-half (1/2) mile east of Malmedy. Although the route was used to evacuate the organization was under constant German observation, no attempt was made to interfere with the movement except on one occasion when an ambulance was fired upon. It was the opinion of the occupants of the vehicle that the intent was not to hit the vehicle, but to cause it to stop if possible.
         


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        On arriving at the bivouac area one (1) mile southwest of Eupen the rear echelon of Hq & Hq Detachment, 53 Medical Battalion, the 383 Medical Collecting Company and the 684 Medical Clearing Company were ordered to return equipment to the proper Companies concerned, to make an inventory of property immediately and to submit an emergency requisition for shortages. The 382 and 383 Medical Collecting Companies were then ordered to load their equipment and to be prepared to move on short notice. During the morning an ambulance from the 383 Medical Collecting Company was attacked by German halftracks while on a scheduled ambulance run. The driver was ordered by Major Edelstein, of the 1121 Engineer Group (C), to report to the 382 Medical Collecting Company at Eupen, Belgium, rather than return to his parent organization. with the exception of Captain Koepp, M.C., Lt. Martin, M.A.C., thirty (30) enlisted men and three (3) ambulances of the 383 Medical Collecting Company, the Battalion and attached units were intact and in the Eupen area by 1735 hours.

18 Dec1944:     The Battalion and attached units were alerted by an enemy air attack during the early morning. No casualties were sustained or damage done to the equipment of the Battalion and attached units. Calls were received during the day for ambulance service. Orders were received from the Corps Surgeon not to dispatch any ambulances toward the Monsheau area. Corps units within Division areas were also instructed to evacuate their casualties to the nearest Division Collecting or Clearing Station. Captain Koepp, M.C., and twenty-four (24) enlisted men from the 383 Medical Collecting Company returned to their parent unit after having been freed from the hands of the Germans by an American patrol in the vicinity of Waimes, Belgium. The 684 Medical Clearing Company spent the day checking and reloading equipment. Patients were received and treated by the 382 Medical Collecting Company, with the assistance of Clearing Company personnel.

19 Dec1944
           to
24 Dec 1944:     Ambulances were continued on Detached Service with the 102 Cavalry Group and the 38 Reconnuissance Squadron. Patients were received and treated by the 382 Medical Collecting Company, acting in the capacity of a Clearing Station, reinforced with personnel of the 684 Medical Clearing Company. Only the most minor cases were held over night; complete evacuation followed. The 383 Medical Collecting Company and the remaining personnel of the Clearing Company continued to put their equipment in order. The city of Eupen was shelled each night and subjected to air attacks during the day. No casualties or damage was sustained by the personnel and equipment of the Battalion. The  Litter Platoon of the 383 Medical Collecting Company was alerted for duty by the Surgeon’s Office but later was taken off the alert. Captain Limauro, M.C., 684 Medical Clearing Company sent on Detached Service with the 1340 Engineer (C) Battalion to relieve Captain Timney, M.C.

25 Dec 1944:     The 383 Medical Collecting Company and the 2nd Platoon of the Clearing Company moved into buildings within the city of Eupen. The Clearing Company     prepared to receive and treat patients. The ambulances of the 382 Medical Collecting Company made scheduled calls to units within the Corps area. Ambulances from 383 Medical Collecting Company were assigned to evacuate patients from the Clearing Company to Evacuation Hospitals.


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26 Dec 1944:     The 1st Platoon of the 684 Medical Clearing Company joined the 383 Medical Collecting Company in their buildings. Sick call for units without medical personnel was held by the 1st Platoon of the Clearing Company. The city was shelled by enemy artillery. Slight damage was sustained by the 382 Medical Collecting Company’s Motor Pool. Lt McEvoy, M.A.C., and Pfc Snyder returned to duty from Detached Service in Paris.

27 Dec 1944
          to
31 Dec 1944:     Patients were received and treated by the 2nd Platoon of the Clearing Company located in a former school building. The 1st Platoon of the Clearing Company held sickcall for units without medical personnel. The 382 Medical Collecting Company ambulances serviced Army, Corps and Divisional troops within the Corps area. The city was subjected to sporadic shelling by enemy artillery and occasional air attacks. No damage was done to personnel or equipment of the Battalion and attached units.
         
        A total of one thousand, eight hundred and twenty (1820) patients were received by the Clearing Stations during the month and an average of ninety-nine (99) remained in the stations at the end of each day. The 382 and 383 Medical Collecting Companies serviced fifty-five (55) separate units within Corps area, evacuating two thousand, two hundred and ninety-nine (2299) patients during the month of December. In spite of the somewhat trying experiences of 17 December 1944 the morale was very high; if anything these experiences increased it.
         
         
         
JOSEPH B. GORDON,
Lt. Col., Medical Corps,
Commanding.
        

Source:  National Archives and Records Administration, Record Group 112, Entry 54A, 53d Medical Battalion, History, 1941-45, Box 240