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Headquarters, 4th Medical Battalion, APO 4 U.S. Army, 2 July 1944

Operation Overlord

HEADQUARTERS 4TH MEDICAL BATTALION*
APO 4 US Army

2 July 1944

REPORT OF OPERATIONS, 6 June 1944 to 30 June 1944, INCLUSIVE


    Embarkation of the 4th Medical Battalion for operations on the Cotentin Peninsula, France was completed by midnight 2 June 1944. The collecting companies of the battalion were attached in direct support of their respective. regimental combat teams and each company broken down into its component elements. Portions of the litter platoons were to be landed shortly after the assault troops of the combat teams to be followed later by the ambulance platoons, the remainder of the litter platoons, and the headquarters sections of the companies. To effect this arrangement, personnel of the collecting companies was of necessity loaded on several different vessels sailing from varying ports. All of the collecting companies were embarked in the first tide.

    The clearing company and the headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, exclusive of the Personnel Section, were split into two equal and self sufficient groups; one commanded by the Battalion Commander and including the Battalion S-3 and S-4; and the other commanded by the Battalion Executive Officer with whom were the Battalion Adjutant (S-1) and the Battalion S-2. The two groups were loaded on separate LST’s along with portions of other units which were to land in the second tide. These two groups sailed from Brixham, Devon, England, at 050945B Jun 1944.

    Prior to the time of departure from England, the Battalion as a whole had been divided into three groups; the assault, the overstrength, and the residue. The assault group was the main body of the battalion and was detailed to accompany the assault combat troops landing in the first two tides.

*SOURCE:  National Archives and Records Administration, Record Group 407, The Adjutant General's Office, US Army, 4th Medical Battalion,
                     After-Action Reports, January-December 1944, Box 6727


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It contained 36 officers, and 416 enlisted men. The overstrength group contained 1 warrant officer and 52 enlisted men. This group contained personnel who were to be left behind upon the departure of the main body of troops and was intended to act as an automatic personnel resupply at a later date. The residue group consisted of 1 warrant officer and 22 enlisted men which included the Battalion Personnel Section. This group was also to be left behind and like the overstrength, was intended to provide an additional personnel resupply. It contained 7 of the battalion’s 3/4 ton weapons carriers as transportation. The total Battalion strength at the time of embarkation of the assault group was 36 officers, 2 warrant officers, and 490 enlisted men.

    The collecting companies landed on the beach of the Cotentin Peninsula, France on 6 June 1944, “D” Day, with their respective combat teams; Company “A” with the 8th infantry; Company “B” with the 12th Infantry;, and Company “C” with the 22d infantry. The LST’s bearing the 2 sections of the Headquarters and Clearing Company arrived off the coast of France on the morning of “D” Day and moved into the transportation area at about 1430.

    The original plan provided for landing the two groups of Headquarters and Clearing Company at approximately H plus 12 hours. However, it became necessary for combat troops with a higher priority rating to be landed first. At about 2230 6 June 1944, the Battalion Executive and the S-2 left their LST and were beached the following morning. On the night of D plus 1, 7 June 1944, the remainder of Headquarters and Clearing Company began debarkation and by 1000 8 June 1944, “D” plus 2, the entire Battalion assault group was successfully landed. One platoon of the Clearing Company had set up a clearing station which began the evacuation of casualties by 0630 8 June 1944 in the vicinity of Hebert, France (T-421939)(GSGS 4250, scale 1/50,000) and by 1300 8 June 1944, the entire Headquarters and Clearing group was operating at this site.


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    On 10 June 1744, the Headquarters and the Clearing Company moved to a new location in the vicinity of Bandienville (0-364986, GSGS 4250, scale 1/50,000) in order to be in closer support of the division combat elements which were moving on a line of 3 combat teams abreast in preparation for an assault on Montebourg and Quineville. This phase of the operation continued for nearly 10 days during the first half of which casualties were moderately heavy since our troops were continually on the offensive. The largest number of casualties handled by the Clearing Station in a single 24 hour period during the campaign was on 13 June when 727 patients were received, treated, and evacuated.

    About 15 June, the division elected to pass from the offensive to the defensive in order to give the troops a much needed rest; to clear up a few strong points of enemy resistance; and to allow the 9th and 79th Divisions to move into position on the left flank of the 4th Division. As a result of this lull in the assault, the casualty rate in the division dropped appreciably.

    On 19 June, a full scale offensive was launched and. as a result the cities of Montebourg and Valognes fell to our troops soon thereafter. As might be expected, the casualty rate increased somewhat. The combat troops had now advanced to the vicinity of the outer Cherbourg defenses and it became obvious that the Clearing and Headquarters units of the medical battalion were now too far to the rear. Therefore, on 21 June, a new site for the Clearing Station and the Headquarters was selected in the vicinity of Tamerville (O-249112, GSGS 4250, scale 1/50,000) and the Clearing Station began operations at this point at about 1300. Shortly thereafter, enemy artillery fire began falling nearby from the fortresses comprising the Cherbourg defenses and it became necessary to displace the Clearing and Headquarters installations to the rear. Another site was selected on the highway from Montebourg to Valognes in the vicinity of the village of St. Cyr (0-275064, GSGS 4250, scale 1/50,000) where


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operation was resumed by 1915 21 June. The Headquarters and Clearing Company remained at this location throughout the remainder of the Cherbourg Campaign which was concluded on 27 June 1944.

    Casualties continued to be received as a result of the Cherbourg action and by 2400 30 June 1944 after 25 days of operation under combat conditions, the clearing station had received, treated, and evacuated a total of 6,130 patients of which 4,363 were from the 4th Infantry Division. Also included were 419 prisoner of war casualties and 79 civilians.

    During the first few days of the operation, the Battalion was faced with the necessity of evacuating not only its own division but also collecting and caring for a large percentage of the entire task force consisting of approximately 3 ½  divisions and their attached units. The 3 collecting companies remained attached. to their respective combat teams throughout the campaign where, on many occasions, officer as well as enlisted personnel from the collecting companies were assisted to the Battalion Aid Sections to assist directly in the collection, treatment, and ultimate removal of casualties from the front lines. The evacuation of battalion and regimental aid stations by the collecting companies and the further evacuation by them of casualties from the collecting stations to the clearing station was consistently rapid, efficient, and highly satisfactory in every respect.

    The battalion suffered 27 battle casualties in the campaign including one enlisted man killed by an enemy sniper and one enlisted man missing in action. Four officers of the battalion were slightly wounded in action but returned to duty immediately. All battle casualties occurred in the collecting companies. On a number of occasions ambulances and other vehicles belonging to the collecting companies were damaged by enemy artillery and machine gun fire, but it is the consensus of opinion that little of this damage was deliberate and that for the most part the enemy respects the Rules of Land


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Warfare in regard to the protection afforded medical installations, personnel, and equipment displaying the Geneva Red Cross. The clearing station was not molested during the campaign although enemy planes flew over quite often at night and occasionally during daylight hours and the station was frequently within range of enemy artillery.

    At the conclusion of the campaign, all equipment lost or damaged during operations was speedily replaced or repaired and at this date, the battalion is in excellent condition. Its morale and level of training are high and it is entirely ready for additional extended operations.

                                                                                                   For the Commanding Officer:

                                                                                                        [signed]
                    
                                                                                                    Paul V. Jones, Jr.
                            
                                                                                                    1st Lt, MAC
                                                                                                    Adjutant.