|HOME FAQ CONTACTS LINKS MEDCOM SITEMAP ARMY.MIL AKO SEARCH|
ACCESS TO CARE
In January 1945, I reached New Delhi, India, to begin my duties as the medical historian for the India-Burma Theater. For the next 18 months, I ransacked files, corresponded with officers in the field, wrote annual reports on the Theater medical service, edited a medical journal, collected photographs, and nagged specialists until they wrote final accounts of wartime experience in surgery, neuropsychiatry, internal medicine, preventive medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, and nursing. My own writing concerned the operational aspects of military medicine: planning and administration, supply, the deployment of medical forces, and the ways in which the Medical Department in India and Burma failed and succeeded in its mission of keeping the fighting forces in action. Subsequently, the results of these studies were turned over to the Historical Unit of the U.S. Army Medical Department.
The thousands of documents in the Headquarters files served me as factual fragments of the recent past. The periodic reports of medical unit commanders and of administrative headquarters provided general outlines of the way the fragments once fitted together. By sorting and analyzing the fragments with the help of the outlines, I could construct one species of historical narrative, the kind in which events are described as the interaction of various organized groups, or of individuals playing official, rather than personal, roles--"D Company," the "Supply Depot," the "Base Surgeon." By accepting a familiar and useful convention, one imagined that each of these stood for from one to several thousands of men and women. Insofar as these people existed, it was as their individual experiences were represented in the ultimate achievements of the organization with which they served.
Of course, the more immersed in the subject one became the more he humanized it. He drew inferences about the probable living conditions, duties, and capacities of the participants. His face-to-face encounters with a few of them produced a sense of reality which critical techniques might subdue or correct, but which they could not eradicate. And occasionally he would discover a document which not only filled out a factual mosaic, but glowed with the vitality of a personal encounter with experience.
Sometimes a phrase, a sentence, or a page in an official report would be sufficiently concrete and vivid to arrest the reader's eye. Sometimes a letter or a sequence of exchanges, written in hot blood, would burn through the official mold. In the rarest of instances, there would appear an extended, thoroughly composed, and personalized document. Even when these materials added little to the formal, institutional view of events, they remedied the defect of that view: abstractness. They told the reader what men were like--how they thought, felt, saw, and heard in the world of war into which chance had thrust them.
The documents which are here presented are of this kind. They do not provide a comprehensive view of the medical service in India and Burma, nor is their clinical significance very great. Each one, however, puts ordinary men before us, in the situations and scenes typical of war in general and of service in the Orient in particular. Two--originating during the Second Campaign in Burma--go well behind the defense lines of official writing and show how catastrophic that eventually successful engagement might have been. All are records of trial and tedium, tolerance and anger: records humanistic.
North Tirap Log was originally recovered by Dr. (then Captain) Floyd T. Romberger, Jr., in 1945. He had it typed, wrote an introduction, revised the style in numerous minor instances, and added explanatory notes before sending it to the Theater Surgeon. The text presented here, however, follows the manuscript possessed by its principal author, Mr. (then Sergeant) Robert M. Fromant, of Rocky River, Ohio. While using Dr. Romberger's notes extensively, I have written a new introduction, divided the Log into chapters, and inserted subtitles. Dr. Romberger, who is presently in practice in Indianapolis, Ind., not only rescued North Tirap Log from probable oblivion, but he also composed an outstanding report on the amazing air evacuation system in Burma for which he was operationally responsible during the Second Burma Campaign. It was the prototype of the system of medical support in the South Vietnamese forests and paddies, without which American forces could not long survive.
Dr. (then Major) Walter S. Jones, of Providence, R.I., wrote Chinese Liaison Detail in 1945 as a memorial not only of his experience but of the early struggle to build the Ledo Road. He sent it to the Theater Surgeon in virtually the form in which it now appears. I have taken the liberty of making some modifications in mechanical organization, chiefly to present his numerous short chapters as subdivisions of larger units (for which I have supplied titles). Occasionally, I have added to or rearranged his footnotes. It has not been possible to reprint his many photographic illustrations and map-sketches, and certain of his appendixes have been deleted when their substance appears in the text itself.
The Tamraz Diary is the office journal which the late Dr. (then Colonel) John M. Tamraz kept while he was the Services of Supply Surgeon of the China-Burma-India Theater. He wrote almost every day in a large ledger, and he left his journal in the Theater Surgeon's office when he returned to the United States. I have reduced its length by editorial excisions, but I have otherwise followed the original manuscript. From my own studies in 1945-46 of the India-Burma medical service I have derived the content of explanatory notes and connecting passages.
The document entitled With Wingate's Chindits is the only one not of American origin. Maj. Gen. W. J. Officer, former Director of Medical Services, Headquarters Far East Land Forces, Singapore, now retired, wrote it in 1945 as his final report on the medical arrangements for the British Special Force which fought behind enemy lines in North Burma in 1944. A copy of it went to the India-Burma Surgeon as a military intelligence report. There seems to be no indication that it has been utilized in published accounts of the Chindits. General Officer has stated that it was kept out of normal administrative channels for a year after he sub-
mitted it. In presenting it here, I have followed the original in all the quoted passages, but I have deleted or summarized certain portions which now seem to have lost most of their technical significance, and I have modified slightly the arrangement of the original text.
Finally, the reports on Merrill's Marauders by two of its medical officers, James E. T. Hopkins and Henry G. Stelling, illuminate one of the most controversial episodes of World War II. Unfortunately, there is no single, comprehensive medical report on the Marauders, such as General Officer wrote about the Chindits. Hence, I have drawn upon my own research as India-Burma Medical Historian to annotate the Hopkins and Stelling papers. My notes also indicate the minor editorial adjustments which seemed desirable for the presentation.
Except for Dr. Tamraz, who is no longer living, each of the authors has encouraged me in the preparation of this collection of documents. In the case of the Tamraz journal, I have consulted the executors and heirs of the Tamraz estate, including his nephew, Dr. H. H. Serunian, of Worcester, Mass. Copies of the documents were made available by the Historical Unit, U.S. Army Medical Department, except for the Stelling Report, which I was permitted to copy from the Stilwell papers, Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace, at Stanford University. Permission to use the report of General Officer came from him and from the Director-General, Army Medical Services, The War Office, London. Quotations from published works are included with the permission of the publishers cited in my notes. Three U.S. Army offices reviewed the completed manuscript: The Detailed Morbidity and Prevalence Studies Section, Office of The Surgeon General (which called attention to several minor statistical errors); the Historical Unit, U.S. Army Medical Department; and the Office for the Freedom of Information, Office of the Secretary of the Army.
It is pleasant to acknowledge the encouragement and assistance of Lt. Col. Charles J. Simpson, Lt. Col. Frederick Bell, Jr., and Mr. Roderick M. Engert, of the Historical Unit; Col. Grainger Reid, O.B.E., formerly of the British Embassy, Washington, D.C.; Capt. L. C. W. Baker, RAMC, of the Ministry of Defence (AMD 2), The War Office, London; and a number of military and governmental agencies, including the Technical Liaison Office, Office of The Surgeon General; the Office of The Adjutant General, Department of the Army; the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Department of the Army; the Veterans' Administration central and branch offices; Sixth U.S. Army Headquarters and the Sixth U.S. Army Reference Library, Presidio of San Francisco; the Military Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, Mo.; and the staff of the documents branch of the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace. Financial assistance for typing the manuscript came from faculty research and student employment funds of San Francisco State College. Mrs. Martha R. Stephens, Editor, of the Editorial Branch of the Historical Unit, performed the final publications editing of the volume, and Miss Jean A. Saffran, Cartographic Technician, Special Projects Branch of the same unit, prepared the map.
JAMES H. STONE
Palo Alto, Calif.,