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Annual Report for the Year 1943, 67th Evacuation Hospital, Semi-Mobile

Books and Documents > 67TH EVACUATION HOSPITAL (SEMI-MOBILE)

ANNUAL REPORT

FOR THE YEAR 1943

67th EVACUATION HOSPITAL, SEMI-MOBILE

For the 67th Evacuation Hospital, Semimobile, the year 1943 summarizes itself as the year of preparation. Anticipation of medical service to combat troops dominated the thoughts of officers and men alike from January, when the organization trained in a small post on the western shores of the Atlantic, to the close of the year when it was billeted in England.

Officially, the 67th Evacuation Hospital, Semimobile, began the year as a 400-bed motorized hospital (assigned 31 December 1942 to the XIIIth Corps) and ended the year as a 400-bed semimobile evacuation hospital assigned to the First United States Army.

Having been activated at Fort Rodman, Massachusetts, 16 March 1942 and having completed the first or basic period of training 5 December 1942, the organization began the new year at the same station and in the third week of technical training. During this period, which lasted from 7 December 1942 to 9 March l943, in addition to the standard training schedule and activities at the home station, groups of fifty and more enlisted men spent periods of one and two months as hospital orderlies and ward men at the Station Hospital, Camp Edwards, Massachusetts, and smaller groups


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of technicians from all sections of the hospital took courses at the Walter Reed General Hospital, Billings General Hospital, and the Army School of Roentgenology. Five officers were likewise sent in January to Medical Schools for specialized training in medical subjects. This training in medical specialities, in addition to medical field service, chemical warfare, and other military subjects, continued throughout the spring and into the summer.

Physical fitness tests on 19 January 1943 highlighted the period of technical training. An average score of 143 was made on the tests, with a score of 100 percent on the hike, which was finished in forty-eight minutes, two minutes less than the allowed time.

On February 15th and 16th the organization moved by motor convoy to Fort Devens, Massachusetts, both parties making the journey in subzero weather. Three weeks later another move was made--by train to A. P. Hill Military Reservation, Virginia. On arrival, the 67th Evacuation Hospital, Semimobile, established camp in pyramidal tents and remained tent dwellers for more than eight months.

The third period of combined training began on reaching A.P. Hill Military Reservation, and continued until 4 June 1943. A full training schedule was followed.


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From arrival at A. P. Hill Military Reservation until June the 67th Evacuation Hospital, Semimobile, furnished medical support to the 71st Field Artillery Brigade in tactical maneuvers, serving for the most part as a medical battalion. The unit also furnished and commendably operated the officers' mess for the 71st Field Artillery Brigade.

A variety of tactical maneuvers, with and without simulated casualties, were carried out under all sorts of conditions. The hospital as a whole and in sections practiced maneuvering both in blackout and by day and in pitching ward tents and loading and unloading equipment. Both the ward and operating sections were set up under cover, well dispersed, and with strict adherence to camouflage, and at other times in open fields, with the tents in close proximity. Many different arrangements of tents were tried out. Tactical moves in echelon were accomplished. With this purpose in mind, the tentage and equipment of the section were so arranged that they could be split into two identical halves, each able to function independently with four operating tables and teams.

During the principal problem and maneuver with the 71st Field Artillery Brigade from 25 April to 1 May, 1943, collecting and clearing stations as well as an evacuation hospital were set up and operated with simulated casualties. Special commendation was received for the work during this problem. Both the unit and


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individual officers were commended at other times during the maneuvers with the 71st Field Artillery Brigade.

Organizational equipment and medical supplies were received at the end of March. The operating section then began to function as an entity, and considerable time was spent in distributing the supplies to the various elements of the sections and in placing them into wooden boxes which the personnel of the sections constructed from salvage material. The other sections of the hospital likewise arranged and adjusted equipment and made loading plans.

The infiltration course under fire was completed 31 March 1943, while Mobilization Training Program tests were taken 31 March 1943 and again 12 May 1943. On May 27th, the unit witnessed a United States Army Air Force demonstration of dive bombing and strafing which had been arranged by the 71st Field Artillery Brigade.

Streams around the camp area were cleared, and oil drips were applied in places which could not be cleared. Daily check was made throughout the summer. As a result of the insect control program, the unit camp area remained almost entirely free from mosquitoes--a situation in marked contrast to that in other sections of the reservation.

During this period the 67th Evacuation Hospital,


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Semimobile, received a large number of enlisted men from units which had gone overseas so that the enlisted personnel reached a peak of 361 on April 50. The overstrength was reduced as a result of the release from active service of thirty-two men over thirty-eight years of age for work in agriculture and defense industries and the sending out of four cadres. In May one cadre went to the 106th Evacuation Hospital, Fort Dix, New Jersey, and in June a second cadre traveled by motor convoy to the 108th Evacuation Hospital, Fort George G. Meade, Maryland. Small cadres of three men each were sent in July to the 179th and 188th Engineer Combat Battalions, Fort Devens, Massachusetts.

The 20th of June marked the arrival of a full, complement of nurses who adjusted themselves to the inconveniences of tent life so admirably that the news release about them and the news reels and publicity arranged in the autumn by the Nursing Division of the Office of The Surgeon General, and the Bureau of Public Relations, War Department, were well merited.

The next period--intensive or combined training--lasted from 7 June to 4 September. In late June the 67th Evacuation Hospital, Seminobi1e, was attached to the 76th Division, and on July 4th began to function as a station hospital. In the next two months, 796 patients were admitted, treated for medical and surgical conditions, and disposed of.


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During this time the officers of the operating section were assigned to the ward section to act as ward officers, with the exception of the chief of the section and several specialists. The latter administered the operating theatre and the surgical out-patient clinic, besides acting as consultants to the ward sections. About 100 surgical procedures were performed, consisting of emergency operations and those elective procedures allowed by higher authority. Despite the fact that this work was done in hot weather, under field conditions, and without screening, the incidence of poet-operative complications was almost nil, and there were only two deaths. Both of these were patients who had been involved in a serious truck accident which caused fifteen casualties. One of these patients had an immediate traumatic amputation of his left arm at the shoulder and a fracture of the right femur and multiple fractures of the left thoracic cage, while the other had an extensive wound of the perineum with lacerations of the penis, bladder, rectum, and complete fracture and displacement of the pelvis. Both died within a short time after admittance to the hospital despite heroic shock therapy.

The medical service of the hospital was composed of the [something missing, page doesn't transition to next page]


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Since the laboratory and X-ray ward tents are adjacent, the personnel of both sections functioned in close association during the operation of the hospital as they had done in loading and unloading equipment during maneuvers. The general schematic layout of the pharmacy and laboratory tent is shown in Annex 1. While, the hospital was in operation, the quantity of blood pipettes was found to be insufficient. In the X-Ray department some improvisations have been made, such as a stand for a still (see Annex 2), folding tables, and a top for the X-ray table. A hood has been fashioned out of black material to fit over the fluoroscopy screen so as to facilitate fluoroscopy for foreign bodies. The efficiency of this device, however, is still to be proved.

On 15 July 1943, the command passed from Colonel Harry B. Gantt to Colonel John L. Crawford.

Physical fitness tests were taken on August 20th and 21st, high scores being achieved in all events. The unit was now pronounced physically qualified for overseas service.

Amphibious training, including swimming classes and demonstrations of various techniques of saving one's own life and the lives of others at sea, was experienced at Westmoreland State Park in August. Four barracks bags tied together were found to support a litter with a patient.

A field problem consisting of a convoy journey of 100


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miles and setting up and moving in darkness brought this period to a close.

With the receipt of warning orders in August, overseas service was drawing nearer. September therefore became a month of intensive preparations in all departments of the hospital. In the first two weeks of the month, nonetheless, two field problems were undertaken--one a series of tactical moves by "leap-frogging" and by setting up in woods and under blackout conditions, and the other an experimental setting up in the shape of a cross--a plan suggested by the Surgeon, Army Ground Forces. It was felt that the hospital could function at least as efficiently with this setup as with the more conventional layouts. A photograph of this cross-shaped installation and a diagram of the tent arrangement are attached as Annex 3 and Annex 4, respectively.

A two-day visit from Colonel Raymond D. Scott, who had commanded the 11th Evacuation Hospital in Tunisia and Sicily, brought much valuable information concerning all phases of medical service in an evacuation hospital overseas.

October passed quickly in final preparations, which were relieved by two motor convoys and bivouacs of two-days duration to Williamsburg, Virginia.

November was the eventful month of rail movements of


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the 67th Evacuation Hospital, Semimobile, from A. P. Hill Military Reservation, Virginia, to a staging area near New York, and from the latter place to a port of embarkation, whence an "uneventful" ocean voyage was made to Scotland. Three officers and twelve enlisted men constituted a detail which operated two dispensaries on the transport. A rail journey brought the unit to a new location in England on the last day of the month.

The unit was soon busy adjusting itself to the English climate and living conditions. The ETO "indoctrination" course was completed, and training programs instituted.

A Christmas dinner at a local hall brought the personnel of the 67th Evacuation Hospital together as a unit for the last time in 1943.