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Operation Overlord

643RD MEDICAL CLEARING COMPANY
OFFICE OF THE COMPANY COMMANDER
COMMUNICATIONS ZONE, ETO
APO 562, U.S. Army


30 January 1945



Subject:      Annual Report of the 643rd Medical Clearing Company Activities for the calendar year ending 31 December 1944.

To:        THE SURGEON GENERAL, U. S. Army, Washington, 25, D. C. (Thru: Technical Channels).

1.    Under the provisions of AR 40-1005 and Letter, AG 319.1 (9.15.42) ECM, War Department, 22 September 1942, Subject: “Annual Report, Medical Department Activities” and Circular Letter #143, Hq, ETOUSA, Office of the Chief Surgeon, dated 18 December 1944, file AG 319.1, the following 643rd Medical Clearing Company activities for the calendar year 1944 is hereby submitted:

a.    Date of activation and early history (First annual report in ETO)

(1)    Original unit: Activated and organized as “CO D”, 61st Medical Battalion, XI Corps, Camp Breckinridge, Kentucky, 25 September 1942 and operating under Tables of Organization 8-15 dated 1 April 1942, under the command of Captain Walter F. Shepherd, MC.

(2)    Changes of Organization: In compliance With telephone instructions Army Ground Forces, Subject: “Table of Organization for Medical Battalion”, dated 29 February 1943, the company as part of the battalion was reorganized 2 March 1943 under T/O 8-65 (4.1.42) and C-1 (7.31.42) and C-2 (12.28.42), the company was redesignated “Co D”, 61st Medical Battalion, Mtz. As part of the battalion, the company was assigned to XI Corps and XIII Corps during 1943. It was attached to AFAF and to the 28th infantry Division for amphibious training. Assigned to 5th ESB 13 November 1943.

(3)    Personnel: Original cadre came from 56th Medical Battalion, IX Corps, Port Lewis, Washington. Original personnel came from the reception centers at Fort Hayes and Camp Perry, Ohio, Replacement fillers were received from the MRTC at Camp Grant, Illinois, Camp Pickett, Virginia, and Camp Robinson, Arkansas. Captain John V. Nash, MC (NOW Major) assumed command on 10 April 1943.

(4)    Training of personnel:

(a)    Mobilization training program tests were conducted by XI Corps during the period 4 January 1943 to 9 January 1943.
        
(b)    Unit training was conducted from 11 January 1943 to 4 April 1943 and between maneuvers throughout the year of 1943.


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(c)    Specialized training included:

1.      Amphibious training (Non-Aquatic Phase) 6 May 1943 to 11 June 1943 at Camp Gordon -Johnston, Florida.
    
2.      Combined, amphibious training 26 July 1943 to 15 August 1943 at and near Camp Bradford, Virginia and So1omons Island, Maryland under direction of AFAF.

3.      Special mountain training 21 August 1943 to 10 September 1943, West Virginia Maneuver Area.

(5)  Transportation and equipment at close of 1943:

(a)      One (1) 3/4 ton truck 4 X 4 (Weapons Carrier)
                           Twe1ve (12) 2 ½  ton trucks 6 x 6.

(b)      The company had approximately 90% of its equipment, The major shortages included heavy tentage, water trailers and command cars.

(6)      Conservation of materials of all types was continually stressed as regards  preventive maintenance end elimination of waste, A vigorous attempt was made to conserve manpower, those men not physically qualified for unlimited field duty were used for dental, kitchen and administrative positions whenever possible.

(7)      Problems and their solutions: None.

(8)      Housing: The company at the close of the year 1943 was housed in pyramidal tents. Nissan huts were used for administrative, recreation and mess halls. A dispensary and a 15 bed infirmary was also maintained in Nissan huts. Water supply, bathing facilities and laundry wna satisfactory, as part of the laundry was done by British Commercial Laundries under Reverse Lend-Lease.

(9)      Food and messing facilities were adequate; sewage end waste disposal was also adequate.

(10)      Insect control was adequate.

(11)      Venereal disease control was adequate,

(12)      Maneuver experience:

(a)      24 February 1943 to 20 March 1943: Winter Maneuver Area, Ottawa National Forest, Michigan. Rendered 2d and 3rd Echelon Medical Service to Maneuver Troops.

(b)      4 April 1943 to 29 April 1943: Tennessee Maneuver Area. Rendered dispensary services and maintained Clearing Station for advance troops.

(c)      10 August 1943 to 15 August 1943: Solomons Island, Maryland, Amphibious maneuvers with 1119 Engineer Group.


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(d)      23 August 1943 to 9 September 1943: West Virginia Maneuver Area, mountain maneuvers.

(e)      19 August 1943 to 26 August 1943: 1st Platoon, Solomons Island, Maryland, Amphibious maneuvers with 28th Infantry Division.
        
(f)        Motor movements:

1.     4 April 1943: Camp Breckinridge, Kentucky to Tennessee Maneuver Area near Shelbyville, Tennessee.

2.    26 July 1943: Camp Pickett, Virginia to Camp Bradford, Virginia.
        
3.    16 August 1943: Camp Bradford, Virginia to Camp Pickett, Virginia.

4.    20 August 1943 to 21 August 1943: Company Hq and 2d Platoon, Camp Pickett, Virginia to WVMA, Ellkins, W. Va.

(g)    Rail movements:

1.    24 February 1943 to 25 February 1943: Camp Breckinridge, Kentucky to Ottawa National Forest, Michigan.

2.    20 March 1943 to 21 March 1943: Ottawa National Forest, Michigan to Camp Breckinridge, Kentucky.
                    
3.    29 April 1943 to 1 May 1943: Tennessee Maneuver Area, Tullahoma, Tennessee to Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida.

4.    10 June 1943 to 12 June 1943: Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida to Camp Pickett, Virginia.

5.    9 September 1943 to 10 September 1943: WVMA, Elkins, West Virginia to Fort Dix, New Jersey.

6.    13 October 1943: Fort Dix, New Jersey to Camp Shanks, New York.

7.     20 October 1943: Camp Shanks, New York to NYPE.
                    
8.    3 November 1943: Liverpool, Eng1and to Swansea, Glamorgan, South Wales.

(h)    Ship movements:   20 October 1943 to 3 November 1943: NYPE to Liverpool, England.

(13)    Welfare, social service and recreation: Satisfactory.

(14)    Medical and Dental Service: Excellent.

(15)    Treatment of battle casualties: No report.


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(16)    Evacuation: None.

(17)    Other subjects of interest: None.

b.    Operations: “Normandy” 6 June 1944 to 24 June 1944 and “Northern France” 25 July 1944 to 14 September 1944.

(1)    Mission: To provide definitive surgical care to casualties and to provide holding facilities for casualties to be evacuated by sea and air to the UK.

(2)    Changes and adaptations: Pursuant to authority contained in Ltr, Hq, 5th Engineer Special Brigade, dated 6 January 1944, Subject: “Reorganization” and Ltr, Eq., First U S Army, reference 320/88 (c) dated 7 April 1944, Subject: “Redesiguation of Elements of 61st Medical Battalion, Mtz”, “Co D”, 61st Medical Battalion was reorganized and redesignated in accordance with T/O 8-28, dated 20 May 1943, per General Order No. 1, dated 10 April 1944. (See inclosure No. 1).

Early in January 1944, it was decided to form three provisional “Collecting-Clearing” companies from this company and the 391st, 392d and 393rd Medical Collecting Companies to provide Medical Support for each of three “Beach Groups” which were to be formed from the other elements of the 5th ESB. The mission of these provisional companies was to provide definitive surgical care and to evacuate casualties on that portion of the “far shore” beach controlled by each “Beach Group”.

(a)    “Provisional Company A” composed of the 391st Medical Collecting Company less Station Platoon and lst Platoon 643rd Medical Clearing Company and assigned to the 37 Beach Group”.

(b)    “Provisional Company B” composed of the 392d Medical Collecting Company less Station Platoon and 2d Platoon, 643rd Medical Clearing Company and assigned to the “336 Beach Group”.

(c)    “Provisional Company C” composed of the 393rd Medical Collecting Company plus the Station Platoons of the 391st end 392d Medical Collecting Companies and a small cadre from the 643rd Medical Clearing Company which formed “Provisional 3rd Clearing Platoon” and assigned to the “348 Beach Group”. Following the close of amphibious movements on the Bristol Channel in March 1944, the following changes were made:

1.     “Provisional Company A”: No Change.

2.    “Provisional Company B”; 2d Platoon 643rd Medical Clearing Company was dropped end the “Provisional 3rd Clearing Platoon” was added.

3.         “Provisional Company C”; “Provisional 3rd Clearing Platoon” was dropped and 2d Platoon, 643rd Medical Clearing Company was attached.


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In preparation for “Operation Neptune” the “37th Beach Group” was attached to the “16th Combat Team” of the 1st Infantry Division.  The “348th Beach Group” was attached to the “18th Combat Team” of the 1st Infantry Division, these combat teams were part of “Force O”.  These companies were to treat and evacuate casualties on the beach controlled by the First Division; anticipated casualties for the first 48 hours was 4200 of which approximately one third would be killed.

In preparation for the initial assault in “Operation Neptune” the company was staged near Dorchester, Dorset, in the south of England and sent to various camps in accordance with boat load groups. The lst Platoon with 4 attached Surgical Teams of the 3rd Auxiliary Surgical Group boarded HMS Empire Anvil in Weymouth Harbor 3 June 1944. The 2d Platoon less 7 Enlisted Men and 1 Officer and with 4 attached Surgical Teams of the 3rd Auxiliary Surgical Group boarded the USS Dorthea Dix in Weymouth harbor 2 June 1944. The 7 Enlisted Men and 1 Officers of the 2d Platoon boarded the USS Thurston 1 June 1944 at Weymouth harbor. All sailed from Weymouth harbor 1730 5 June 1944, and rendezvoused off Omaha Beach, France at 0200 6 June 1944. The equipment of each clearing platoon was loaded on 5 2 ½  ton trucks (6 X 6), two of which wore furnished by the “Beach Group” and the other three wore T/E property. Four (4) trucks of each platoon were to land on “D day” and the fifth one was to land on “D + 1.” At Weymouth, these trucks were loaded onto LSTs with their drivers.

“D day”, the 1st Platoon began to debark from the APA to available LCTs and LCMs at 0930 6 June 1944, on approaching the shore however, it was found that the beaches were not clear for approach and under heavy enemy fire so a rendezvous was maintained, a few miles off shore until the situation cleared. One group aboard a British LCM found themselves approaching the British Beach far to our left, Captain Arthur Kleinmen, DC, failing to recognize any landmarks ordered the British Coxswain away to the proper beach. While enroute to Easy Red Beach, this craft began to ship water due to heavy seas and was in danger of swamping and sinking. The personnel aboard was transferred to an LCT, but this craft also began to sink and the personnel again transferred to another LCT which finally beached. At approximately 1300, a call for Medical personnel was made from the beach and the 1st Platoon began to land, mostly near Exit -E-3. Immediately began to treat casualties from the beach who were in danger of drowning from the rapidly rising tide, collecting points were established and casualties were evacuated by any available means to ships. The beach at this time was under constant artillery, mortar and sniper fire. One (1) Enlisted Man was killed, one (1) seriously wounded and died of wounds and two (2) were lightly wounded by shell fire while working on the beach. After the beach was cleared of casualties, the clearing station was established in a captured German pill-box on the hillside near Exit E-3. Clearing of casualties from surrounding areas including mine fields was carried on through darkness.
             


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Great difficulty was encountered in finding craft to haul casualties to ships in the harbor. Tec 4 William J. Bomford in charge of a squad loading patients near Exit E-l found that landing craft could not approach the beach because of the lack of signals from the beach; the “beachmaster” and all his assistants were casualties. He assumed control of this portion of the beach, clearing obstacles, directing landing craft and landing casualties. He continued this excellent work throughout the day and night and is to be commended.

The 2d Platoon began to debark to a LCT at 1030, being on the same craft with the clearing platoon and one collecting company of the 1st Infantry Division. An attempt was made to land on Dog White Beach, but the attempt was discontinued because the craft came under heavy artillery and machine gun fire as it approached the beach. The LCT rendezvoused about 3 miles from shore until approximately 1230 when it again approached the shore and beached at Dog White Beach. The craft again drew heavy artillery fire, four Enlisted Men were wounded and one Officer was knocked unconscious by shell blast as they left the LCT; one shell hit the craft as the platoon c1eared, injuring severa1 of the 1st Division Medical Battalion. The 7 Enlisted Men and 1 Officer, 2d Platoon, debarked the USS Thurston and landed per LCM on Easy Red Beach at approximately the same time. One (1) Enlisted Men was killed and two (2) were wounded by shell tire immediately after hitting the beach. All men and officers of this platoon also went to work clearing the beaches of casualties and evacuated than by landing craft or Dukws.  One Dukw was hit by an enemy artillery shell (88) and exploded immediately after being loaded by members of this platoon, the driver and casualties were blown to pieces and the loaders were hit by flying debris.

The tactical situation at the time the company came ashore was fluid. Enemy snipers were located in pill boxes, tunnels and cliffs just a hundred yards from the high tide mark. The fartherest advance by our infantry was 500 yards, men were dug in and firing from the beach. Heavy fighting was going on for the control of St Laurent. Artillery observation by the enemy on the beach was supberb. By 2000 the enemy had been cleared from St Laurent and a defense line established about 800 yards from the beach in our sector.

At about 1700, a clearing station was established by this 2d Platoon in an anti-tank ditch on Easy Red Beach near Exit E-1. Treatment of casualties continued throughout the night using whatever equipment and supplies that could be salvaged from the beach. One enemy plane strafed the area and dropped a light bomb at approximately 2400 but no casualties resulted.

The trucks containing the equipment of the platoons were debarked from the LSTs to Rhino Ferries but they could not be beached due to underwater obstacles and heavy shell fire. One truck and its equipment was hit and destroyed by shell fire while on a Rhino Ferry.


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“D + 1”: Both platoons continued to operate clearing stations in the same locations. The beaches wore still under artillery and mortar fire from enemy batteries located on the flanks and about 2000 yards to the rear. Those working near Fox Green Beach were subjected to sniper fire from the woods in that sector. Casualties were still being picked up in isolated places on the beach and brought to the stations. No equipment was available for definitive surgical care but ample supplies of Sulfa powder, battle dressings, splints and plasma were at hand and many casualties were made transportable and evacuated to ships. In addition, the platoons received casualties for evacuation from Divisional Medical units. During the day, the 1st Platoon received one truck with two ward tents which were immediately pitched to provide shelter for the casualties. The estimated number of casualties treated and evacuated by the two platoons during the first two days was 1000.

D+ 2: During the night of June 7th and 8th, the trucks containing the equipment of the company were loaded and it was decided to set up two clearing stations on the beach along main arteries of communication. The 1st Platoon station was to be on Easy Red Beach along road E-2 and the 2d Platoon station was to be on Easy Red Beach along road E-2 near an emergency air strip being built.

The 2d Platoon began to receive and operate on casualties at 1400 8 June 1944 and by midnight had admitted 104 casualties, 79 of which required definitive surgical care.

D + 3 to D + 10: The 1st Platoon began to receive casualties at 1600 9 June 1944 and admitted 66 casualties by 2400 44 of which required definitive surgical care, in the period from D+ 2 through D+10 the 1st Platoon treated 352 casualties approximately 75% of which required definitive surgical care. In the same period the 2d Platoon treated 1544 casualties approximately 65% of which required definitive surgical care.

The 2d Platoon on D + 4 was also given the mission of an “Air Holding Unit” for casualties which were to be evacuated by C-47 from the nearby air strip. On D+ 4 an impromptu evacuation of 13 casualties was made. Weather permitting, this air evacuation was carried on each day thereafter in gradually increasing numbers.

The work of the 2d Platoon was greatly facilitated by several volunteers, chiefly advance liaison officers from various hospitals. These officers worked long and herd hours preparing patients for surgery and in the post-operation care. Major Haynes, neurosurgeon for First Army, performed 21 major brain operations with the 2d Platoon 19 of which survived and were evacuated.

During this period nightly air raids by the enemy continued, the “flak” barrage was tremendous and although casualties on the beach resulted, none was suffered by this command due to falling “flak”.

D + 11 through D + 83: The elements of the 61st Medical Battalion were brought together on D + 11 to form a 750 bed holding unit for sea and air evacuation on the 2d Platoon site along road E-l, Easy Red Beach and approximately 100 yards from the “St Laurent Air Strip”. The 643rd Medical


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Clearing Company was the basic unit.

The primary mission was to provide space for casualties until they could be evacuated to the UK; included in this mission was the proper “triage” of casualties for sea and air evacuation. The policy involved in proper “triage” being laid down by Surgeon, First Army. Several problems arose and had to be dealt with, hospitals in front of us apparently had not been informed of this “triage”. Casualties with chest and abdominal wounds which could not be evacuated for 7 days were received within a few hours of their injury; 100 beds were finally reserved for these patients and special nursing teams of technicians organized to care for them. Many compound fractures of the femur were received with only a battle dressing and army leg splint, these patients were definitely not transportable. Eighteen (18) were received in one afternoon from one evacuation hospital. Since auxiliary surgical teams were no longer assigned us, surgical teams were formed from members of this command to deal with cases requiring further definitive surgical care. During most of this period, our surgery was in operation 24 hours a day. Approximately five percent (5%) of all cases received required further definitive care.

On 17 July 1944 the Holding Station was moved to a new site near the Colleville air strip end enlarged to a capacity of 1000 beds. Due to several days of inclement weather, this capacity was often increased to 2300 beds. The problem of treating and feeding these patients was great and taxed our limited personnel to the utmost. The kitchen especially carried a great burden, often preparing a second meal because of great influxes of casualties at or shortly after meal time. The Holding Station was discontinued 29 August 1944. The total number of casualties evacuated 31,041 of which 25,615 went by air and 5,426 by sea. All were litter cases. The task involved in keeping proper and correct records of the patients who passed through this station was tremendous. Approximate1y 30 men were assigned to this task alone under the guidance of a few key men, that the task was performed well on ref1ects great credit on these key men, Sgt Casimir Krakowski, Cpl. Robert Duchon and Cpl Samuel Ruefly.

Enemy air activity at night continued throughout this period, there was a terrific anti-aircraft artillery barrage and many of the patients became very apprehensive because of it. Combat exhaustion cases were special problems during the barrages.

On 1 September 1944 the company along with the other elements of the 61st Medical Battalion moved to 4 miles east of Cherbourg, France where a 400 bed station hospital was established with this company as the basic unit to provide hospitalization facilities for the “Valognes Staging Area”. Besides the hospital, this unit also aided in maintaining six dispensaries in the staging area. This hospital was discontinued on 18 November 1944. Total out-patients treated 22,370. Total patients admitted to hospital 2163.


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On 19 November 1944 this unit along with headquarters, 61st Medical Battalion and 392d Medical Collecting Company moved to near Valognes, France where a 250 bed station hospital was taken over from the 68th Station hospital. This hospital provides surgical and medical care for static troops in the area. Continued to operate station hospital at the end of the year.

c.    Military Personnel: The company was reduced to T/O strength on 29 November 1944 when authorized overstrength was sent to Ground Forces Reinforcement System.
    
Civilian Personnel:    None.

d.     Training of Personnel:

(1)    Unit training was conducted throughout the year in between maneuvers and between missions.

(2)    Equipment for training:  T/E equipment was used chiefly. However, advantage was taken of amphibious training equipment such as ‘Mockup” when available.

(3)    Literature: Adequate.

(4)    Training aids: Adequate.

(5)    Special courses:

(a)    4 Officers attended Orthopedic Plaster Course at General Hospitals in England. Duration – 1 week.
    
(b)    3 Officers attended courses on Combat Exhaustion at Neuro-Psychiatric Center in England. Duration –  1 week.

(c)    2 Officers and 4 Enlisted Man attended conference on Medical Reports at 128th Evacuation Hospital in England. Duration –  3 days.

(d)    1 Officer attended course in “Combat Swimming” in London, England. Duration – 2 weeks.
        
(e)    4 surgical technicians attended refresher course in Surgical Technique at Station Hospitals in England. Duration – 3 weeks.
    
(f)    1 Officer and 4 Enlisted Men attended laboratory course at 280th Station Hospital, France. Duration – 2 weeks,
    
(g)    1 Officer and 4 Enlisted. Men attended course in X-ray Technique at 280th Station Hospital, Prance. Duration – 2 weeks.

(h)    2 Enlisted Men attended course in Physiotherapy at 280th Station Hospital, France. Duration –  2 weeks.

(i)    1 Officer attended course in EENT at 165th General Hospital, France.  Duration – 2 weeks.


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(j)    1 Officer attended course in Anesthesia 165th General Hospital, France.  Duration – 2 weeks,

(6)    Maneuvers:

(a)    11 January 1944 to 7 February 1944: 1st Platoon combined amphibious maneuvers, 5th ESB, Bristol Channel, Oxwich Bay and Port Eymon, Glamorgan, South Wales.

(b)    8 February 1944 to 2 March 1944: 2d Platoon, combined amphibious maneuvers, 5th ESB, Bristol Channel, Oxwich Bay and Port Eynon, Glamorgan, South Wales.
    
(c)     11 March 1944 to 14 March 1944; 1st Platoon, combined amphibious maneuvers, V Corps, English Channel, Slapton Sands Maneuver Area, England.

(d)     5 April 1944 to 6 April 1944: Combined amphibious maneuvers, 5th ESB, Bristol Channel, Oxwich Bay and Port Eymon, Glamorgan, South Wales.

(e)    4 May 1944 to 8 May 1944; Combined amphibious maneuvers First U S Army, “Fabius”, English Channel, Slapton Sands Maneuver Area, England.

(7)    Foot Marches:

(a)    7 February 1944; 1st Platoon, 16 miles from Camp Scurlage Castle to Camp Mynydd Lliw, Glamorgen, South Wales.
    
 (b)    7 February 1944: 2d Platoon, 16 miles front Camp Mynydd Lliw     to Camp Scurlage Castle, Glamorgan, South Wales.

(c)    2 March 1944: 2d Platoon, 16 miles from Camp Scurlage Castle to Camp Mynydd Lliw, Glamorgan, South Wales.

(d)    28 May 1944: 1st Platoon, 3 miles frau Dorset, England, Camp D - 12 to Camp D - 10.

(e)     28 May 1944: 2d Platoon, 2 miles from Dorset, England, Camp D-l1 to Camp D - 12.

(8)    Motor:

(a)    10 January 1944: 1st Platoon, 23 miles from Camp Mynydd Lliw to Camp Scarlage Castle, Glamorgan, South Wales.

(b)     5 April 1944: 19 miles from Camp Mynydd Lliw to Oxwich Bay, Glamorgan, South Wales.

(c)    6 April 1944: 19 miles from Oiwich Bay to Camp Mynydd Lliw, Glamorgan, South Wales.

(d)    23 April 1944: 8 miles from Camp Mynydd Lliw to Swansea, Glemorgan, South Wales.


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(e)    30 April 1944: 1st Platoon 10 miles from Dorset, D-10 to Weymouth Harbor, England.

(f)    1 May 1944: 2d Platoon 12 miles from Dorset, D-12 to Weymouth Harbor, England.

(g)    7 May 1944: 2d Platoon 14 miles from Slapton Sands to Dartmouth, England.

(h)    8 May 1944: 1st Platoon 14 miles from Slapton Sands to Dartmouth, England.
    
(i)    1 June 1944: 1st Platoon 10 miles from Dorset, Camp D-10 to Weymouth Harbor, England,

(j)    2 June 1944: 2d Platoon 10 miles from Dorset, England, Camp D-12 to Weymouth Harbor.
    
(k)    1 September 1944: 60 miles from Colleville, France to 4 miles East of Cherbourg, France.

 (l)    19 November 1944: 17 miles from East of Cherbourg to near Valognes, France.

(9)     Rail:

(a)    2 March 1944 to 3 March 1944: 1st Platoon 188 miles from Pontardulais, Glamorgan, South Wales to Dorchester, Dorset, England.

(b)    13 March 1944 to 15 March 1944: 1st Platoon, approximately 250 miles from Slapton Sands, England to Swansea, South Wales.

(c)    23 April 1944 to 24 April 1944: 188 miles from Swansea, South Wales to Dorchester, England.

(d)    7 May 1944 to a May 1944; 100 miles from Kingswear to Dorchester, England.
    
(10)     Ship Movements:

(a)    10 March 1944 to 11 March 1944: 1st Platoon, LCI(L) from Weymouth Harbor to Slapton Sands, England.
 
(b)    1 May 1944 to 4 May 1944: APA from Weymouth Harbor to Slapton Sands, England.
        
(c)    1 June 1944 to 6 June 1944: APA from Weymouth Harbor, England to Omaha Beach, France.


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e.    Equipment, Supplies and Transportation:

(1)    Equipment: At the close of the year, this company has approximately 98 percent of its equipment. No major shortages exist. For “Operation Neptune” this company was authorized certain additions to its T/E equipment in order to facilitate its mission and they proved very valuable. They included:

(a)    Anesthesia apparatus, field.
(b)    X-ray, portable, field.
(c)    Washing machine, electric.       
(d)    Refrigerator, electric.
(e)    5 tents, ward, in excess of TIE.
(f)    Aspirator, electric.
(g)    60 chests, medical, waterproof.

(2)    Supplies: Adequate. During “Operation Neptune”, adequate supplies of blankets and litters were extremely hard to maintain. Supplies of dressings, splints, plaster, penicillin, sulfa drugs plasma and whole blood were always excellent while whole blood was administered to patients on the beach early on D + 1 and was always plentiful hereafter. The diet for patients was seriously lacking in the ingredients for a liquid diet. Many of the seriously wounded could take nothing but liquids and the amount furnished in the hospital supplement was inadequate. This deficiency was entirely overcome by the personal efforts of the Mess Sergeant, S/Sgt George O. McGhee who contacted naval vessels on the beach and was given ample supplies from the Navy Stores on these vessels.

(3)    Transportation:

                    6   2 ½  ton trucks 6 X 6.
                    2   1 ½   ton trucks 6 X 6. (Personnel Carriers)
                    1   3/4  ton truck 4 X 4. (Weapons Carrier)
                    3   ½ ton trucks 4 X 4.
                    2   250 gallon water trailers.
                    6   1 ton  trailers. (Cargo)
                    1   1/4 ton trailer. (Cargo)

f.    Improvisations of technique, procedures and equipment:

(1)    Procedures:  It was discovered early in the operation of the “Holding Unit” that the maintenance of penicillin therapy was difficult and impracticable when the responsibility was placed on the ward men. Consequently, a team of three technicians was organized to give the penicillin to all patients in the station who required the drug and to properly chart the dosages on the FMR.   Each patients record was checked by the ward officer when he was admitted to the ward and if he still required penicillin, he was tagged for it.


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During the time the 2d Platoon was operating a separate station during “Operation Neptune” it was found impractical with the shortage of instruments and great number Of surgical cases to prepare beforehand the different sets of instruments required. Therefore, a corner of the tent was roped off, a table was covered with sterile sheets and all instruments as they came from the autoclave and sterilizer were put on this table and kept sterile.  A surgical technician properly attired in gown, cap, mask and gloves was constantly on duty in the enclosure to provide the surgeon with only the proper sterile instruments as needed. It required constant vigil and great care for these technicians to remain sterile and are to be commended for doing so, they were Tec 4 Joseph B. Hottois, Tec 4 Manuel Nunoz, Jr, and Tec 5 Alexander Bonvechio, Jr.

(2)     Techniques: None

(3)    Equipment:  In order to fulfill the mission of definitive surgical care, certain improvisations of equipment had to be made to provide cleanliness, sterility, maximum light and operating tables in surgery. Two problems bad to be overcome, one the improvised equipment must be light weight and secondly, it be constructed so that it could be broken down and packed into a small space and, then assembled quickly. The surgery was to be a ward tent and this tent needed a lining of sheeting or muslin for cleanliness from the duet, which was bound to cling to the canvas during pitching; three cross bars fitted with U bolts to attach to each tent polo were constructed, those bars supported the wires over which was draped the lining of the surgery. Overhead lights, constructed from scrap lumber and #10 cans end mounting a 100 watt bulb in each can were hung from wires attached to the cross beams, these “gadgets” would be moved to any spot over the table and provided a maximum of light for the email amount of power used. Surgeons working under those lights proclaimed them a complete success. (See enclosure #2). To provide operating tables “saw horses” were constructed to support litters, each horse was fitted with a Mayo table constructed from a bake pan and same maleable steel rods, and a steel arm from which could be hung either a plasma bottle or whole blood bottle. (See enclosure #2). A wash rack to provide running water for scrubbing was constructed from a 5 gallon water can, a faucet from a salvaged water trailer and a few pieces of wood. (See enclosure #2). Anticipating the use of large quantities of  Sodium Pentathol, arm boards to fit the litter were constructed and a clamp to hold a 30cc syringe was also improvised.  Later the arm board was enlarged to provide for surgery of the arm or hand. (See enclosure #2). Another field expedient was a pelvic rest for body casts constructed from a few pieces of pipe and scrap iron. All those field expedients were original plans by members of this command and was all constructed by them from salvaged materials.


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g.    Conservation of material and manpower:

(1)    Conservation of material of all types has been continually stressed as regards preventive maintenance and elimination of waste. It is gratifying to note that all members of this command realize the importance of this conservation in the war effort and each individual does his share willingly.

(2)    Manpower: A vigorous attempt has been made to conserve manpower. Men not physically qualified for unlimited field duty have been used in clerical and administrative positions whenever possible.

During the operation of the “Holding Station” it was found that a big saving in manpower could we made if the Admission personnel was brought to the patient rather than the patient being brought to the Admission Tent. Consequently, each ward tent was in actuality an A and D tent, patients were admitted to the tent and evacuated from that same tent, those that required further surgical care went to the preoperative wards and then to postoperative wards. This resulted in great reduction in the work of the litter bearers and ward men and the patients rendered more comfortable due to less handling.

h.    Housing, water supply, bathing facilities and laundry:

(1)    Housing: Prior to embarkation for “Operation Neptune”, the company was housed in pyramidal tents with Nissen huts for administrative buildings. During June, July, August, and September, the company was housed in “pup tents”. At the close of the year, the company was housed in squad and pyramidal tents.

(2)     Water supply: Water for bathing and laundry is piped into the station. Water for personal consumption is hauled from a water point. The water is satisfactory,

(3)    Bathing facilities: Excellent.   Improvised showers from salvaged German material have bean erected in a ward tent. Hot running water is always available. Prior to this, a field shower was constructed and used.

(4)    Laundry: Some is done by French Civilians but the majority is done by the personnel individually.
    
i.    Food and messing, sewage and disposal (waste) and insect control:

(1)    Food and messing: Food has been adequate. The serving of hot and attractive meals has boon continually stressed. The kitchen and mess is housed in tents.

(2)    Sewage and waste disposal: Adequate. Soakage pits were used until rendered unfit by heavy rains. At present, garbage and latrine spoil is disposed of to French Civilians.

(3)    Insect control: Adequate. No special problem has arisen during the entire year.
    


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j.    Venereal disease control:  Satisfactory, Monthly physical inspections were conducted. Lectures on sex morality and venereal disease were given biannually.
    
k.    Professional medical and surgical service:

(1)     New methods of diagnosis and treatment: None.

(2)    Treatment of  battle casualties:

In the period from D + 2 to D + 10 during the “Normandy Campaign” this company admitted to its clearing stations 1896 casualties of which approximately 65% required definitive surgical care before becoming transportable:  any required surgery was done ranging from brain surgery to minor debridements. The largest percentage of operative cases were those of the lower extremities, followed by those of the upper extremities, then in order chest wounds, abdominal wounds, head injuries and burns    Although the number of burn cases treated by the company was never great, the percentage did increase as the campaign became more mechanized.

All patients with wounds received penicillin, sulfadiazine by mouth or intravenously if necessary and a booster dose of tetanus toxoid. The majority of the patients required plasma and whole blood before surgery.
                
There was only six deaths among the patients admitted to the clearing stations.

During this period, approximately one hundred (100) patients were admitted with diagnosis of recurrent malaria suffering chills, malaise and often running high temperatures. All of these men were from the 1st Infantry Division and had originally contracted the disease in North Africa or Sicily. It was felt among the medical officers here that the sudden exposure to cold and dampness plus the extreme exertion required of those men had reactivated the disease, These men were immediately placed on quinine and evacuated promptly.

In the period up to D + 89, the “Holding Station” of  which the 643rd Medical Clearing Company was the basic unit admitted 31,041 patients for evacuation to the UK, an estimated 5% of  those required further definitive surgical care. All of these casualties were supposed to be “transportable” before release from forward installations but many went into shock or hemorrhaged badly due to long ambulance rides; others such as compound fractures of the leg were received with a simple battle dressing and army leg splint. Very few “Tobruck Splints” were soon among these patients.

Patients with the mandible shot away were a special problem because of the respiratory distress. One such patient who was deemed transportable when examined in the station died enroute to the air strip from “acute respiratory failure”. After this incident, all these patients received a tracheotomy routinely and easily survived evacuation by sea and air.


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For a time there was much confusion in regard to the proper time to evacuate perforating chest and abdominal wounds. Early directives prohibited evacuation before seven (7) days amid also prohibited evacuation of abdominal wounds by air. Later all were evacuated by air as soon as deemed transportable and were reported to have arrived in good condition. Abdominal eases actually deemed to do better when transported by air than by sea, The writer personally accompanied twenty-four (24) abdominal, chest and head casualties in a two hour plane trip to the UK and their condition was excellent on arrival.

21 patients with acute alcohol poisoning resulting from a mixture of fruit juice and cleaning fluid. (“Ditto Fluid”) obviously denatured were admitted to the station.  11 of those patients died within a short time after admission failing to respond to any therapy. All followed approximately the same course - early visual symptoms, nausea and vomiting which progressed into respiratory distress, convulsion and death. Gross autopsy findings revealed no significant pathology.

In the treatment of these battle casualties too much credit and commendation cannot be given to the surgical and medical technicians of this company who work long and hard hours in a skillful manner; their work reflects credit and respect to the Medical Department.

l.    Dental Service: Excellent.  The Dental Officers with this command examined all fractures of the mandible and maxillae among the battle casualties to make certain they wore transportable and render them transportable if necessary. Many of these casualties when admitted had the teeth “wired together” for splinting; all had to be changed to “rubber band splints” for evacuation by sea and air. In addition this command operated the only dental clinic on Omaha Beach for the treatment of emergency dental cases; members of allied forces including naval forces and French Civilians were among these treated. During the operation of the station hospitals by this command, a great amount of emergency dental work was done by members of this command among the troops in the “Valognes Staging Area”.

m.    Evacuation: As the basic unit in the “Holding Station” this company participated in the evacuation of 31,041 casualties to the UK by sea and air transport.

n.    Welfare, Social Service and Recreation:

(1)    A strenuous effort has been made to keep the morale of the En1isted Men of this company on a high plane. Movies were shown by special arrangements with the U S Navy as early as D + 20. At present movies are shown six nights a week amid a strenuous effort is made to see that all members can attend it they wish,

(2)    Athletics has been stressed. Leagues in volley ball, baseball, horseshoe, and basketball have been organized and an effort has been made to get all members to participate. Response and


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competition has been keen.


(3)    Liaison for the benefit of the Enlisted Men has been maintained with the American Red Cross.
    
(4)    Church services are held regularly and all members have the opportunity to attend.
    
(5)    Approximately fifty percent of the members of this commend have received “Combat Leaves” to Paris for their participation in the early campaigns in France.

o.    Other subjects of interest:

(1)    Commanding Officers in important engagements:

(a)    Engagement: Amphibious Assault Landing, Easy Red Beach, Omaha Sector, Normandy, France, 6 June 1944.

(b)    Name: Company Commander, 643rd Medical Clearing Company, Captain John V. Nash, (Now Major), 0416829, MC.

1.    1st Platoon Commander; Captain Walter F, Shepherd, MC, 0-464184.

2.    2d Platoon Commander: Captain Destiny E. Storey, MC, 0-419583.

(2)    Losses in action: Officers and Enlisted Men:

(a)    Amphibious Assault Landing, Easy Red Beach, Omaha Sector, Normandy, France, 6 June 1944.

(b)    Killed: 6 June 1944:

                                Francis, William A. 33757598, Pvt, 643rd Med Clr Co.

                                Manning, Charles H. 35395978, Pvt, 643rd Med Clr Co.
    
Died of Wounds: 7 June 1944:

                                Kaurich, John NMI.  33421790, Pfc, 643rd Med Clr Co.

(c)    Wounded: 6 June 1944:

                                Florganic, Edward J.    35511367, Tee 4 (now Sgt, LWA.
                                Martello, Joseph NMI.  32894681, Pvt, LWA.
                                Frank, Joseph J.  20319163, Pvt, SWA.
                                Ryan, Edward A.  35340250, Tec 4, LWA.
                                Taylor, Francis R.  31353887, Pfc, LWA.
                                Lockwood, Irving C.  32857979, Pvt, LWA.
                                Cayne, Harvey S.  35511945, Tec 5, LWA..
                                Zanotti, Joseph E.  39556836, Tec 5, LWA.
                                Petrobavage, George P. 31343357, Pvt, LWA.

Injured:    6 June 1944:

                                Joseph C. Zumpano, Capt, MC, LIA, 0-1690582.
                        


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 Wounded:  10 June 1944:

                                Harrison, John W.  35418502, Tec 5, LWA.

 Wounded:    2 July 1944:

                                Haga, Ralph L. 0520016, Capt, ChC, LWA.

(d)    Missing: None.

(c)    Taken Prisoner: None.

(3)    Former and present members who have distinguished themselves in action:
    
(a)    Assault Landing, Easy Red Beach, Omaha Sector, Normandy, France, 6 June 1944.
    
(b)     Names:

1.    Technician Fourth Grade Robert D. Molinari, 19049233, 643rd Med Clr Co recommended for Bronze Star Medal.

2.    Technician Fourth Grade William Z. Bomford, 32335954, 643rd Med Clr Co recommended for Silver Star Modal.

3.    Several other members are under consideration for commendations and awards.

(4)    Photographs of personnel, important scenes or events: None,

                                                                                                        For the Commanding Officer:


2- Incls
     1-General Order #1 Hq, 61st Med Bn, 10 Apr 44 (Dup)                D. E. STOREY
     2-Improvisations of Equipment  (Plans and drawings) (Dup)           Captain, MC
  


[Incls withdrawn - editor]