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Headquarters 47th Field Hospital, APO 230 U.S. Army, 15 January 1945

Table of Contents

HEADQUARTERS
47TH FIELD HOSPITAL
APO 230 - U S ARMY
15 January 1945

ANNEX NO. 8 TO ANNUAL REPORT 1944:

REPORT OF MAJOR INCIDENTS - THIRD HOSP UNIT, 47th FLD HOSP

    1.    Submitted herewith supplement to Chronological Report for month ending 31 December 1944.

    2a.    I was awakened about 0630, 17 December 1944 by the sound of small arms fire. This sound was not unusual, but it excited my interest so that I got up and dressed. The personnel on duty during the night reported that such fire had been heard intermittently since 0430, and that there had not been much change in its intensity. They further reported that a treatment station of the 9th Armored Division had moved out during the night, but because this move had been anticipated it caused no alarm even though the move had. not been planned for so early an hour. Shortly thereafter a truck was set on fire in front of our hospital by personnel who stated that the vehicle was disabled, and they did not want it to fall into enemy hands. They suggested that the Germans were approaching. Accordingly, I went to the clearing station of the Second  Division which had been established in our immediate  vicinity and was told by them that the Second Division was attacking and that everything was going according to plan. Therefore. breakfast was served and care of patients proceeded in the routine manner.

    b.    After breakfast the small arms fire seemed closer and there was considerable vehicular traffic on the road. The traffic consisted of overloaded jeeps and personnel carriers going to the rear and half-tracks and anti-tank guns moving forward.  It was then apparent to me that some sort of battle was developing in our immediate vicinity, so I sent Lt Bacon and all the nurses to the main Second Division Clearing Station at Elsenborn, Belgium. The nurses were to be left there for greater safety, and Lt Bacon was to return with information on the tactical situation. All secret papers were gathered together and essential hospital records were collected. Shortly after this a Captain of a combat engineer battalion stopped by and gave me the first definite information on the tactical situation. He stated that the Germans had broken through and were approaching our area from the southwest, that two companies of his battalion were defending the area between us and Billengen [Büllingen], Belgium, that the enemy was exerting such pressure on his right company that they were forced to withdraw and that the two companies might be split between Billigen [Büllingen] and Dom Butgenbach [Dom Bütgenbach], Belgium. Shortly thereafter Lt Col Cook, Second Division Surgeon, arrived and told us that the Germans  were breaking through and that we should leave at once.


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    c..    On the basis of this information, I ordered that all patients be transferred to the First Hospital Unit, 47th Field Hospital at Waimes, Belgium and that the hospital personnel should go to Waimes using all available transportation, abandoning their personal equipment and hospital equipment. I personally supervised the burning of the secret papers of the unit. After the hospital was evacuated I checked the entire building and found that no personnel had been left behind. Transportation had been insufficient to carry all individuals so with eighteen others I  walked toward Butgenbach [Bütgenbach], Belgium. Presently we picked up a ride in a jeeps and an empty ambulance and arrived at Waimes. Meanwhile Lt Bacon and the nurses had gone to Malmedy, Belgium at the suggestion of Lt Col Cook. At Waimes the roll was called and all personnel were present or accounted for. I. then went back to the main second division clearing station to ascertain the tactical situation in order to make plans for the future. I found that fighting was already going on in the vicinity of our hospital, and that any attempt to remove the equipment must be delayed. Upon returning to Waimes I found that the platoon had gone to the 134th Medical Group at Malmedy, Belgium by order of the 180th Medical Battalion.

    d.    At Malmedy, Belgium I found that the nurses both assigned and Auxiliary Surgical Group nurses had been detached from the platoon by order of Col Wilhite and had been sent to evacuation hospitals. All Officers and Enlisted Men were present or accounted for. I then went to Spa, Belgium to see Lt Col Segal who told me the platoon should. come to Spa for billets and that they could eat with the Second Hospital Unit. I accompanied Lt Col Segal while we looked for billets and even before billets were found a few members of the platoon began to arrive in Spa. They reported that they had been looking for paratrooper  in Malmedy and then had been told to leave for Spa by some member of the 134th Medical Group. The men were taken to their billets at the Catholic school. Four blankets per man were obtained form the Quartermaster and litters were borrowed from the Second Hospital Unit. Six enlisted men were unable to join us that night. Four of these six rejoined the next day.

    e.    On Monday Dec 18th by order of Lt Col Segal the unit left Spa, Belgium and established itself in the Ecole Commune at Beaufays, Belgium. All personnel were present except two who remained with the Second Hospital Unit. One officer and 21 enlisted men of the First Hospital Unit joined us at Beaufays.


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    f.    At 0010 Tuesday, 19 Dec 44 the unit left Beaufays, Belgium by order of Capt Doyle, 180th Medical Battalion and at 0400 arrived at St Louis Ecole at Huy, Belgium. For this move transportation was provided by the 180th Medical Battalion. Cots were provided at this school. They were there when we arrived and it is not known who provided them. The group from the First Hospital Unit went with us to Huy. On 20 Dec 44 one three cabinet field Range was obtained for us by the 134th Medical Group. This range was incomplete in that there were no tools or spare parts with them and some utensils were missing.  However they served very satisfactorily when motor vehicle tools were used. This unit remained in bivouac in Huy until 30 Dec 44 when it moved to the Hospice St Marie at Geer, Belgium. The two men of this unit left with the Second Hospital Unit rejoined on 22 Dec 44 and the group from the First Hospital Unit left this unit on 24 Dec 44.

    g.    In Geer, Belgium this unit joined headquarters and the First Hospital Unit.

    h.    This unit left Dom Butgenbach [Dom Bütgenbach], Belgium with no personal or organizational equipment except that which was worn. On 17 Dec 44 four blankets per individual were obtained. On 20 Dec 44 one field range was obtained.

    3a.    On 28 Dec 44 I returned to Dom Butgenbach [Dom Bütgenbach], Belgium with a detail of men and found that the hospital equipment was badly damaged, but that a considerable amount could be sorted out and salvaged. Personal property and equipment had disappeared or had been damaged beyond any possibility of salvage. The hospital safe, some files, blank forms and a field desk were brought out. I was informed by Lt Col Daniel, whose battalion was occupying the site, that a truck had been in the day before and removed certain articles. On 30 Dec 44 we found that those articles consisted of two autoclaves, neither serviceable, part of the X-ray equipment and a broken refrigerator. We now have those articles.

[signed]
JOHN W. HENDERSON
Major, MC
Hosp Unit Commander.