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261st Medical Battalion, APO 230, U.S. Army, 2 July 1944

Operation Overlord

HEADQUARTERS

261st MEDICAL BATTALION

APO 230, U.S. ARMY

 2 July 1944

SUBJECT:  Operation Report and Critique

TO:  Commanding General, 1st Engineer Special Brigade, APO230, U.S. Army 

1. Resume of Operations, Utah Beach, Cherbourg Peninsula, France:

Company "A" and Company "C" of this battalion landed on "D" day at about H plus 300 minutes. Almost upon arrival, patients were received by these companies and given emergency treatment until the clearing stations were set up. Although Company "A" had only a portion of their organizational equipment ashore, the surgical teams attached to these companies were performing major surgical operations by 1800 hours on "D" day. Company "B" arrived in the afternoon of "D" plus 1 and set up adjacent to Company "C". Headquarters Detachment arrived late on "D" plus 1 and established a temporary CP adjacent to Company "C". Headquarters Detachment later moved forward into the Dump maintenance area to supervise and operate the Medical Dump in conjunction with a detachment of the 1st Medical Depot. A Field Hospital failed to start operating on "D" plus 2 as scheduled, which left this battalion as the only medical installation on Utah Beach with surgical facilities for the first four days of the invasion of the continent. Following is a summary of the patients handled by our clearing station on the beach for the first 25 of the invasion:  

DATE

NUMBER ADMITTED

NUMBER EVACUATED

TOTAL OTHER DISP

REMAINING

6 Jun 44

249

18

20

211

7 Jun 44

795

787

50

169

8 Jun 44

1314

1075

11

397

9 Jun 44

1032

933

17

479

10 Jun 44

975

1040

11

403

11 Jun 44

1139

1051

25

466

12 Jun 44

729

765

23

407

13 Jun 44

1012

864

71

484

SUB-TOTAL

7245

6533

228

3016

14 Jun 44

982

1065

53

348

15 Jun 44

710

611

29

418

16 Jun 44

536

558

13

383

17 Jun 44

633

568

22

426

18 Jun 44

385

339

41

431

19 Jun 44

687

787

27

304

20 Jun 44

343

0

18

629

SUB-TOTAL

11521

10461

431

5955

21 Jun 44

146

0

84

691

22 Jun 44

42

515

118

100

23 Jun 44

188

183

22

83

24 Jun 44

199

116

18

148

25 Jun 44

535

272

31

232


2

28 Jun 44

581

495

42

330

29 Jun 44

1263

1363

58

172

30 Jun 44

554

542

38

146

1 Jul 44

175

141

24

156

GRAND TOTAL

15806

14716

934

7661


The reasons for the large number of casualties handled by this unit's clearing stations are three fold.

a. Practically no air evacuation in Utah Beach section.

b. There was not an sufficient number of medical units provided to hold slightly wounded personnel.

c. The fact that this unit was the only clearing station evacuating across Utah Beach.

2. Critique: a. General: (1) The operating of our clearing companies in combat brought forth the fact that the training carried on previous to the invasion was 90% effective. One glaring example of failure in the training is the fact that personnel cannot be trained to care for patients medically by lecture and simulated patients. The training must be performed on actual patients. All attached personnel should be assigned to the battalion sufficiently in advance to an operation for indoctrination and training.

(2) The landing schedules for the various companies in the battalion worked as planned, with one reserve company arriving in time to relieve the overload on the other companies. However, the delay in establishing a field hospital for nontransportable cases from D plus 2 until D plus 4 greatly increased the work performed by our clearing stations.

(3) Organizational equipment, as augmented by additional tentage and surgical apparatus, proved adequate for our needs. This additional equipment was absolutely essential. However, with additional equipment, there was a marked shortage of trained personnel.

(4) The transportation assigned us in the initial lift proved adequate only by gums over loading of all vehicles. The jeep ambulance did not prove as efficient as was expected. They are valueless for carrying essential medical items ashore, as a majority of the jeeps drowned out. The DUKW proved invaluable in the evacuation of patients across the beach. With these DUKW's, evacuation could be carried on regardless of the tide.

(5) The operation of the medical supply dump was handled without incident, due to the fact that medical supplies did not arrive on the beach as scheduled. If the total tonnage of medical supplies had arrived on D plus 1 and D plus 2, there would not have been sufficient personnel to handle the supplies. A critical shortage of litters and blankets developed on D plus 2 and D plus 3 due to the fact that the litter and blanket sets placed aboard each LST were not unloaded on the beach.


3

(6) The medical records which were required to be kept on this operation were far too complicated and repetitious. The name and history of every man clearing through our stations was written six times, thus creating a burden on personnel who could have been used for the medical treatment of patients.

3. Recommendations: a. That a program be devised whereby all personnel of our unit can be trained by actually caring for     patients.

b. That all attached personnel be assigned to this unit far enough in advance of an actual operation so as to become indoctrinated in our operation procedure.

c. That in any operation of similar magnitude, this unit have three (3) surgical teams assigned to each company.

d. That six (6) jeep ambulances be replaced by 3/4 Ton Field Ambulances.

e. That the present policy regarding the use of DUMP s for patient evacuation be used in any future operation.

f. That attached personnel for medical dump operation be given a 2nd tide priority in the landing schedule.

g. That sufficient number of litter bearers be attached to the 2nd Beach Battalion for enough in advance of an operation so they can be trained in the loading of landing craft.

h. That the system of Medical Records be simplified in the following manner:

(1) By discontinuing the use of ETOUSA MD Form 321.

(2) By revamping form 323 so that MD Form 86ab can be prepared by consolidating the information contained in the revised Form 323.

(3) By discontinuing the preparation of Form 324a at the clearing stations and setting up a system which would provide for the preparation of this form 324a in a higher echelon from forms 53 which would be forwarded 2400 hours daily from the clearing companies.

(4) That reports called for by command cover a period of 0001 hours to 2400 hours to coincide with period covered by medical reports.

i. That the responsibility for unloading litters and blankets from LSTs onto the beach be definitely allocated to a definite organization.

DANIEL I DANN

Major, MC

Commanding

SOURCE: National Archives and Records Administration, Record Group 407, Records of the U.S. Army Adjutant General, World War II Unit Records, 261st Medical Battalion History 1944, Box 21377.