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110th Evacuation Hospital & the Mission to Wiltz, 19 December 1944

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110th Evacuation Hospital & the Mission to Wiltz, 19 December 1944

When the German offensive in the Ardennes began on 16 December 1944, the 110th Evacuation Hospital, VIII Corps, was located in Esch-sur-Alzette on the French border in southern Luxembourg. Far away from most of the heavy German attacks that struck the VIII Corps, the 110th would remain in place during the Battle of the Bulge and would provide critical care for many sick and wounded American soldiers. Little known to most historians of the Bulge fighting, one section of the 110th Evacuation Hospital actual played a small but courageous and important role in the battle's opening days. Hidden in a single paragraph of the 110th Evac's historical report covering its activities in 1944-45 is the story of the hospital's transportation section. Called upon to retrieve equipment abandoned by the 42d Field Hospital's Hospitalization Unit No. 1 in Wiltz, Luxembourg, the truck drivers of the 110th drove into Wiltz from the west late on the afternoon of 19 December at the very time that German spearheads were pushing into the town from the northeast, east, and southeast. Loading as much of the 42d's equipment as possible, the trucks headed west to Bastogne where they dropped it off before moving on to their next assignment and later returning to Esch. The historical report makes no great claims for what the 110th's drivers accomplished in this daring feat. While some other reports and histories note the movement of the 42d's equipment to Bastogne, none acknowledge who actually braved the German attackers to complete this mission. The 42d's medical equipment was of critical importance to the defenders of Bastogne after the 101st Airborne Division's 326th Airborne Medical Company was captured on night of 19-20 December and the German siege began.  


EXTRACT FROM

HEADQUARTERS

110TH EVACUATION HOSPITAL

APO 403, US ARMY


SEMI-ANNUAL HISTORICAL NARRATIVE REPORT

OF THE 110TH EVACUATION HOSPITAL (SM) FOR THE PERIOD

ENDING 30 JUN 1945

5 JULY 1945


12

PART II CONTD

SECTION IV - TRANSPORTATION

The Transportation Section of this hospital while in the performance of normal routine operations and while moving other medical units has en­countered a wide variety of unusual and often dangerous experiences. For purposes of clarity this report is sectionalized, each section covering a calendar month.

DECEMBER 1944

During this period of service the unit was stationed rear the city of Esch/Alzette, Luxembourg. The facilities that were available for the maintenance of motor equipment were not so good as could have been wished, but with a few improvisations it was possible to make a very acceptable instal­lation in a civilian garage where work could be done in the bitter cold wea­ther that prevailed through this period of time. We were fortunate then in not having even one vehicle off the road because of repairs occasioned by the severe weather. It was a great help to know that all the drivers had been trained properly to operate their vehicles under adverse weather and driving conditions.

The first few days of December were uneventful. Maintenance work was kept current, and the vehicles altogether were in very good shape. On 19 December at 1430 hours, a message was received that we were to proceed to Martelange, Luxembourg, where an officer would be met from the 66th [probably 64th] Medical Group, who would show us the location of a platoon of the 42d Field Hospital that were in imminent need of transportation. Arriving there after a long drive through heavy traffic making for positions in the Battle of the Bulge, our drivers were told that the 42d Field Hospital was in constant danger of being surrounded, and that we would not be ordered to evacuate them except on our own initiative. We left the town of Martelange bound for Bastogne and then into the village of Wiltz, where the 42d Field hospital was supposed to be located. The driving was very difficult, entirely in blackout. Arriv­ing at Wiltz, the drivers were informed by an MP that contact with the 42d had been lost. Against his advice, the trucks proceeded through road blocks to the hospital site, an old castle between the two lines of fire. As much equipment as possible was taken to Bastogne, Belgium, where further orders were received to proceed to the 33d Medical Depot and haul equipment to the 106th Evacuation Hospital. The Depot was under constant German fire, and when our trucks arrived there, it was too late to get any of the material. After 36 hours without sleep or food, our transportation section made its way back to Esch. No casualties had been suffered, although one ambulance was lost with its equipment.

Total miles travelled during this month were 25,000 for our own transportation, and 27,625 for our attached units. We used 11,386 gallons of gasoline; the number of vehicle hours lost for other than normal maintenance were 263. This time had been accumulated through loss of time in Ordnance shops.

SOURCE:  National Archives and Records Administration, Record Group 112, Records of the U.S. Army Surgeon General, Entry 1014, World Wart II Records, 110th Evacuation Hospital, Box 35.