|OFFICE OF MEDICAL HISTORY AMEDD REGIMENT AMEDD MUSEUM|
HISTORY OF THE OFFICE OF MEDICAL HISTORY
Headquarters, 240th Medical Battalion
31 December 1944
SUBJECT: Annual Reports of Medical Department Activities.
The Surgeon General, Headquarters European Theater of Operations, U. S.
Army, APO 887,
In compliance with AR 40-1005, Letter AG 319.1 (9.15.42) EG-M, War Department, 22 September 42, Subject: Annual Reports, Medical Department Activities; and Circular Letter No. 143, Headquarters, European Theater of Operations, U. S. Army, Office of the Chief Surgeon, file 319.1, dated 18 December 44, the following report is submitted for the Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 240th Medical Battalion:
1. Early history prior to arrival on continent:
Events concerned with activation and early history of this unit has been submitted in report of 1943. During the month of January 1944, Hq & Hq Det was undergoing preparations for an overseas movement. The unit left Camp Van Dorn , Mississippi by troop train on 30 Jan 44 at 2300 for Camp Kilmer , New Jersey . Minimum essential equipment only was taken with unit. Unit completed preparations, with considerable cooperation from staging area services, and embarked on H.M.S. Andes at Jersey City 082000 Feb 44, destination unknown. This Hq debarked at Liverpool , England 182200 Feb 44, and entrained for Hale , England 190200 Feb 44 being met by our advance detachment of S-1, 3-4 and 2 EM that had arrived from the United States in England on 1 Feb 44.
On 8 Feb 44 this unit was assigned to European Theater of Operations, U. S. Army and attached to VIII Corps. 428th Medical Collecting Company attached to this Hq. Hq moved by convoy on Mar 23 44 to Stockport, Cheshire . For the first time, both men and officers were billeted in private homes. This Hq and 428th Med Coll Co were relieved from assignment to European Theater of Operations and attachment VIII Corps, and assigned to Third Array effective 13 Mar 44. Effective 8 May 44 this Hq attached to 64th Medical Group, and 428th Med Coll Co attached to our Hq. The 598th Medical Ambulance Company, Motor, and 462nd Medical Collecting Company attached this organization effective 13 May 44. On 27 May 44, this Hq and 598th Med Amb Co relieved from attachment to 64th Med Cp and attached to XII Corps. Likewise, 428th and 462nd Med Coll Co's relieved from attachment this Hq and attached to 64th Med Gp as of 2 Jun 44. This Hq left Stockport on 29 Jul 44 for Southampton , England (motor) and embarked on LCT K-422 30 Jul 44, arriving at St Mere Eglise, France on 31 Jul 44 where the first continental overnight bivouac was made.
2. Specific details of operations and missions:
This Hq arrived by motor convoy at Periers , France at 011330 Aug 44 and received word that our unit was relieved from attachment to XII Corps and attached to 64th Med Gp effective 31 Jul 44. The following companies, 581st Medical Ambulance Company, 585th Medical Ambulance Company, 462nd Medical Collecting Company and 659th Medical. Clearing Comp any were attached to our Bn Hq. We were likewise notified that we were operational as of 011200 Aug. First assignment was to locate 2 Mechanized Cavalry Squadrons and provide evacuation for them. This was accomplished, providing initial baptism of fire for most of
the officers in unit and as later events were to show, proved to be one of the most hazardous of the initial campaign.
A portion of the 659th Med Clr Co was committed to operate a dispensary for a Prisoners of War Enclosure; 581st Med Amb Co was committed to 15th Cav Gp; 585th Med Amb, Co, reinforced by 5 ambulances of 590th Med Amb Co and 10 ambulances of 462nd Med Coll Co, was committed to the 4th Armored Division. All those commitments were made active by the 2nd of August. On 3 Aug 44 this Hq and attached units moved to new bivouac area in vicinity of Montviron, France, with advanced Cp at Pontaubault, in order to keep better contact with rapidly moving armor. It is to be noted that our Hq went into action soon after the break through at St. Lo and Periers. 581st Med Amb Co relieved of evacuation of 5th Armored Division. On 5 Aug 659th Med Clr Co established their company to assist 104th Evacuation Hospital in treatment of slightly wounded cases; on the 6th Aug 581st Med Amb Co units with 5th Armd Div were relieved by elements attached to 65th Medical Group, and 581st Med Amb Co elements were in turn committed to VIII Corps Clearing. No ambulances returned unless relieved by others first, so that all units were constantly serviced. One platoon of ambulances worked very satisfactorily in the evacuation of one Combat Command of an Armd Div.
589th Medical Ambulance Company was attached to this Hq as of 6 Aug 44. They were immediately used to service the 8th Infantry Division in a static defense position. On 6 August 44, all attached units with exception of 659th Med Clr Cs and 589th Med Amb Co arrived to new bivouac area at St. Ouen de la Rouen. All installations were in open fields and not under cover. 581st Med Amb Co assisted 170th Medical Battalion in evacuation of 83rd Infantry Division Clearing Station.
It was necessary for an ambulance regulating post to be set up by this Hq to insure a proportionate flow of patients to available Evacuation Hospitals. 462nd Med Coll Co set up a medical service for Prisoners of War Enclosure 2 in vicinity of Sens de Bretagne; thus actively committing all our units. First mortality occurred when section leader of 581st Med Amb Co was killed in jeep accident. Roads were heavily congested with tanks and other vehicular traffic and were especially hazardous at night under blackout driving. Enemy planes were constantly active at night, but not in force.
This Hq together with 581st Med Amb Co moved to new bivouac area in vicinity of Rennes on 10 Aug 44. 581st Med Amb Co and 585th Med Amb Co relieved from attachment to this Hq per VOCO 64th Med Gp and 573rd Medical Ambulance Company attached to this Hq effective as of 10 Aug 44. On 13 Aug 44, one platoon of 581st Med Amb Co relieved 589th Med Amb Co of its mission of evacuating 8th Inf Div Clr Sta. 580th Med Amb Co was attached and 573rd Med Amb Co relieved from attachment this unit effective 14 Aug 44. 580th Med Amb Co was completely committed to 4th Armd Div. Group of ambulances of 581st Med Amb Co had a temporary mission of aiding in the evacuation of casualties from an Evac Hosp to the beaches.
At this time the following evacuation hospitals of Third Army were open and had been used by our units at one time or other: 32d, 34th, 35th, 39th, 100th, 101st, 102d, 103rd, 104th, l06th, 107th, and 108th, as were the 53rd Field Hospital and the 6th Convalescent Hospital.
The tactical situation at this time was as follows: we had passed
through the Avranches Gap the first week of our commitment and now had made considerable progress south and west across Brittany Peninsula , with movement being quite rapid. It was common during this period to have occasional ambulances servicing armored or cavalry units come into areas not completely under of control by our infantry. The armor would go through but it would be some time before the town itself was controlled. French patriots (FFI) were quite active in the western part of Brittany Peninsula and afforded some help. Towns such as St. Malo, Brest , and Lorient were being prepared for siege and were heavily defended.
On 14 Aug 44 another death occurred by jeep accident in the 581st Med Amb Co. This Hq was relieved of servicing 4th Armd Div which was taken over by 67th Medical Group. On 16 Aug 44 when 581st Med Amb Co was relieved of servicing 83rd Inf Div Clr Sta, one platoon was sent to Clr Sta of 169th Medical Battalion (Corps Bn) relieving 462nd Med Coll Co. 5 ambulances were to be used to evacuate Corps Clr Sta and 5 to be used for such purposes as evacuation of casualties from former German and civilian hospitals. On 18 Aug 44 462nd Med Coll Co was operating PWE #5 located at Arrau , France , as well as having a section of its company servicing PWE #3 at Mur de Bretagne, France.
This Hq set up an advanced CP in vicinity of Plouvern, Brest Peninsula , operated by Bn S-3 and Opns Sgt on 18 Aug 44. All ambulances of 580th Med Amb Co were in bivouac area so a complete inspection was held of personnel and equipment. On 20 Aug 44 this Hq together with 580th Med Amb Co and 581st Med Amb Co moved by infiltration to vicinity of Lanhouarneau, approximately 150 miles to the west of Rennes .
This Hq as of 21 Aug had the following new commitments: 2nd Infantry Division and 29th Infantry Division. One platoon 580th Med Amb Co serviced 2nd Inf Div Clr Sta, another platoon serviced 2nd Hospital Unit, 53rd Field Hospital in vic of St. Aubain. At this phase of the operation, evac hosps were extremely well located being only 2-12 miles from Div Clr Stas. When armored units were serviced, hauls of 60 miles or more were not uncommon.
CO of 462nd Med Coll Co and 1st Sgt were injured in jeep accident and had to be evacuated to United Kingdom . 659th Med Clr Co relieved of attachment to this Hq since it had accompanied its serviced Evac Hosp in an easterly direction and was 300 miles may from our CP. Also 462nd Med Coll Co relieved of its assignment at PWE#5 because it was 250-300 miles away. 666th Medical Clearing Company attached to this Hq and immediately alerted for use as holding unit at an Air Strip near Morlaix. An incident occurred this date, 24 Aug, in which 2 victims of a mine explosion were brought into our area because of medical installation signs. First aid given and evacuated at once to evac hosp; 2 officers and 8 men killed at this accident less than 6 miles away at a beach area.
Our primary mission at this time was to service the VIII Corps troops which were to attack Brest ; 2nd, 8th and 29th Inf Divs were to attack. 5 ambulances 581st Med Amb Co relieved from 169th Med Bn Clr Sta. During this phase of operations, 100th, 102nd,107th,and 120th Evac Hosps were available for evacuation purposes. On 26 Aug, 666the Med Clr Co established a holding unit on an air strip north of Morlaix. On 27 Aug first evacuation by C-47s returned 350 patients to United Kingdom . Subsequently the air evacuation totaled 2962 patients with an added 3162 patients, processed by this unit, evacuated by LCT on account of periodic bad weather for planes, (period 26 Aug - 26 Sep). The LCT beach strip was opened at St. Michele en Greves by an SOS unit to be used in
conjunction with air strip.
Tactical situation was such that Doulas Peninsula was taken and Crozon Peninsula patrolled; Isle of Cezembre captured and attacking units were closing in on Brest itself.
Effective 5 Sep 44, this Hq relieved from assignment to Third Army and assigned to Ninth Army and attached to VIII Corps. On 6 - 8 Sep 44, 581st Med Amb Co evacuated civilian hospital at Landerneau and Lesneven to civilian hospital at Morlaix. On 10 Sep 44, Ninth Army Surgeon visited our CP.
Effective 12 Sep 44, 419th Medical Collecting Company attached to this Hq and committed at once to supplement 102nd Evac Hosp. 8th Div Clr Sta in vicinity, Tregarnon on Crozon Peninsula together with 2nd platoon 581st Med Amb Co; also 2nd HU, 53rd Field Hosp together with 1st platoon 580th Med Amb Co were located in vicinity of Chateaulin in Crozon area. Brest fell 18 Sep 44 and this Hq was given the mission of evacuating all German casualties from the underground hospitals on the east side of the river. Two MC's from 462nd Med Coll Co and 2 MC's from 666th Med Clr Co used for triage purposes, with ambulance platoon of 462nd Med Coll Co and one platoon of 581st Med Amb Co used for evacuation. Injured were well entrenched in underground hospitals. Food, liquor and many luxuries were abundant; medical supplies not too adequate as there were many patients who had been injured 4-6 weeks prior. Bulk of the German casualties were in 4 main underground hospitals. Three were in tunnels hewn from rock and the main Marine hospital actually built underground. There was an abundancy of medical personnel. The musty odor was strong throughout, sanitation fair - latrines very poorly kept and many flies were present. Injuries included many amputations which on questioning of German medical officers in attendance were apparently done for several cases of gas gangrene infections but also for severely wounded extremities as a more satisfactory treatment under the circumstances. Sulfonamides were used sparingly. The wounds were mainly due to artillery fragments and grenades, and quite a few cases of white phosphorus burns were seen. Some penicillin and blood plasma was provided through Gp to the more seriously injured to allow for evacuation. Of series of 793 cases only 4% were medical cases and ranged as follows:
Towards the end of Sep 44, this Hq and attached units had evacuated 16,461 allied patients for total distance of 109,336 miles (loaded and empty) or a total patient miles of 241,581. This does not include 793 German casual-
ties evacuated from Brest . Also latest figures available to date show 37,888 PW's taken during the Brest operation, with 1318 of our troops killed, 7581 wounded and 983 missing for a total of 9,882 casualties.
Effective 23 Sep 44, 462nd Med Coll Co relieved from attachment this Hq and moved to vicinity of Rennes under Ninth Army control.
All attached units of this Hq with Hq and Gp left by serials for new location in Luxembourg beginning 27 Sep 44. Entire Ninth U. S. Army was making this trip across France . This trip was approximately 650 miles and was accomplished with no untoward events. Our Hq arrived on 1 Oct 44 at Wincrange , Luxembourg and was immediately committed to the evacuation of 2nd and 28th Infantry Div Clr Stas. On the last day of the trip we passed through France , Belgium and finally Luxembourg . It seemed apparent that the Ninth Array was being placed between the First and Third U. S. Armies.
580th Med Amb Co committed to service 2nd Div Clr Sta vicinity St. Vith and 8th Div Clr Sta at Wiltz. 623rd Medical Clearing Company, 439th Medical Collecting Company and elements of 590th and 595th Med Amb Co's were temporarily attached to this Hq from 170th Med Bn. 595th Med Amb Co was supplying 4th echelon evacuation to 1st HU, 48th Field Hospital vicinity Arlon. 581st Med Amb Co was evacuating 107th Evac Hosp vicinity Clervaux to 46th Field Hospital vicinity of Longuyon which was the holding unit for rail evacuation. 581st Med Amb Co was also providing 4th echelon evacuation from 3rd HU, 53rd Field Hospital vicinity St. Vith. 1st platoon of 623rd Med Clr Co established station vicinity Longuyon to provide 1st and 2nd echelon service for army troops in that area. 439th Med Coll Co station and litter platoons sent to assist 107th Evac Hosp. 419th Med Coll Co as of 4 Oct established prophylactic stations at Longuyon, Neuchateau, Bastogne , Arlon and Sedan . 580th Med Amb Co as of the 6 Oct evacuated 635th Med Clr Sta (VIII Corps) vicinity Hachiville to 107th Evac Hosp. 102nd Evac Hosp opened at Chateau Raumont, Belgium . One MC and 6 EM 419th Med Coll Co operated medical service for PW's at PWE located 3.1 miles west of Bastogne with one ambulance of 581st Med Amb Co attached for evacuation. 439th Med Coll Co ambulance platoon relieved 581st Med Amb Co ambulances in evacuation from 107th Evac Hosp. 8th Div Clr Sta broken down into 3 sections at Ettelbruck, Wiltz and Clervaux, all serviced by 580th Med Amb Co. Remaining ambulances of 590th and 595th Med Amb Co's available at 623rd Med Clr Sta.
Our mission in this area is to service the VIII Corps troops, which are making a holding action along the entire 50 mile sector opposed by approximately 300,000 enemy troops, and the main attacks by our troops being made in north by First Army and south by Third Army. Also, security measures by a1l attached units were emphasized in all aspects because of the closeness of hostile civilians, infiltration of enemy agents, etc.
On 9 Oct 419th and 439th Med Coll Co's ambulance platoons relieved of evacuation of Evac Hosps as their duties are to taken over by Advanced Section Communications Zone 53rd Field Hosp located at Wiltz, supporting 8th Div Clr, was being evacuated by 581st Med Amb Co. The 590th and 595th Med Amb Co's, 439th Med Coll Co and 623rd Med Clr Co reverted back to control of 170th Med Bn as of 11. Oct 44. 666th Med Clr Co moved on 15 Oct to vicinity Chateau Hainal, Belgium with the immediate objective of providing housekeeping for the anticipated arrival of 105th Evacuation Hospital . On 15 Oct, the 42nd Field Hospital relieved 53rd Field hospital at Wiltz (8th Div) and St. Vith (2nd Div), our
ambulances remained to evacuate these new units, which were attached to this Hq on 25 Oct 44.
Generally there has been comparatively little activity on our front - with enemy still blocking, mining, and booby-trapping roads, often using plastic mines. Considerable propaganda being directed against our troops via loud speakers. Also flying bombs were being used against our troops (several having been seen) in the localities serviced by our troops.
581st Med Amb Co committed to CC "B" 9th Armd Div on 21 Oct. Ambulance platoon of 419th Med Coll Co used as of 22 Oct to evacuate 102nd Evac Hosp. Effective 22 Oct this Hq and attached units relieved from assignment Ninth Army and assigned to First Army. 666th Med Clr Co relieved from attachment this Hq.
419th Med Coll Co relieved of its mission with PWE #2 and 580th and 581st Med Amb Co's moved from field into a building, a Cloister, in vicinity of Trois Vierges on 24 Oct. Two dental officers of 42nd Field Hosp and technicians placed on temporary duty with 110th Evac Hosp to operate Dental Lab and provide necessary clinical work for Army and Corps troops. 42nd Field Hosp now committed as follows - 1st HU operating with 8th Div Clr Sta vicinity Wiltz and caring for all non-transportables; 3rd HU performing similar mission with 2nd Div Clr Sta vicinity St. Vith; 2nd HU in bivouac vicinity St. Vith.
Pro stations at Lonwy and Neufchateau closed. Group Hq area acted as collecting point for cases released from 618th Med Clr Co (exhaustion cases) and from this area were evacuated to their respective Clr Stas by our attached ambulances. On 3 Nov a 2 chair dental clinic and lab was opened in Bastogne comprised of 1 DC and 1 EM from 42nd Field Hosp and 1 DC and 1 EM from 623rd Med Clr Co. On 5 Nov 580th Med Amb Co platoon relieved of mission with 2nd HU, 42nd Field Hosp, being relieved by 1st platoon of 581st Med Amb Co. 2nd HU, 42nd Field Hosp moved into 83rd Inf Div sector vic Walferdange and was under the tactical control of 170th Med Bn.
There was no increase in enemy activity but more reports of increased espionage, i.e., civilians agents, Germans disguised in American uniforms and even women and children being used for short range espionage purposes.
On 7 Nov 5 ambulances of 581st Med Amb Co relieved of mission of servicing 1st HU, 42nd Field Hosp at Wiltz and were replaced by 5 ambulances of 580th Med Amb Co. This change simplified contact and inspection of our attached units. CC"B", 9th Armd Div located at Asselborn and was serviced by 581st Med Amb Co.
On 16 Nov 581st Med Amb Co relieved 439th Med Coll Co in providing evacuation for 107th Evac Hosp. 28th Inf Div relieved 8th Inf Div in all its locations this date. Our commitments in these areas transferred to 28th Div. In the meantime, 580th Med Amb Co covered 8th Inf Div in its movement to new area and then returned. This Hq assisted 102nd Evac Hosp in movement to its new area at Ettelbruck by securing trucks from 107th Evac Hosp.
The important news was that all allied armies in the western front had begun what appeared to be an all out offensive this week; this Corps front still unchanged. The Seventh Army and First French armies have reached the Rhine River ( Strasbourg ). Metz ha fallen to Third Army. Resistance strong and determined at north in First U. S. Army and 2nd British Army sector. Ninth Army had made some progress. As of 3 Dec action on the Army fronts had slowed down but still on the offensive with action on our front relatively unchanged.
The 44th and 67th Evac Hosps at Malmedy had been used as transfer points for patients from our sector prior to their transfer to General Hospitals.
On 6 Dec 419th Med Coll Co organized a Medical Detachment consisting of 2 MC's and 15 EM to be available if called upon to treat Allied prisoners in overrun Prisoner of War camps. This Hq on 10 Dec committed to provide evacuation for 106th Inf Div Clr Sta; this Div was replacing 2nd Inf Div. This movement completed on 14 Dec 44.
On l2 Dec CC "C", 9th Armd Div relieved CC "B", 9th Armed Div. On same day 1st Army Surgeon visited our CP. Ambulance service to 28th Div at Clervaux and to 106th Div at St. Vith had to be reinforced on 16 Dec. Enemy had bombed areas and appeared to be going on the offensive. All members of this unit again warned to wear red cross brassards. All units located in our building had to make a quick retrograde move beginning at 0530 17 Dec. 9th Armd Div had warned that enemy was in immediate vicinity and when last vehicle left area, small arms fire was plainly audible. All units bivouaced in field 1 mile west of Bastogne on road to Neufchateau. 5 ambulances of 581st Med Amb Co relieved from 107th Evac Hosp and committed to 7th Armd Div on 17 Dec at 1045. Bn Hq, 580th and 581st Med Amb Co's left bivouac area and arrived at Martelange , Luxembourg at 1800. 7 ambulances of 595th Med Amb Co temporarily attached to this Hq and these in turn committed as follows: 2 ambulances to 28th Div at Wiltz and 5 ambs to CC "A", 9th Armd Div at Vielsalm. 635th Med Clr Sta moved to Bastogne . 7th Armd Div was located at Vielsalm. 107th Evac Hosp located at Chateau Raumont.
It was now apparent that the enemy had begun a violent counter attack along the entire Corps front and had initial successes. At end of this week, 17 Dec, we find Clervaux had to be evacuated by our ambulances because of the successes of the enemy. 106th Div sustaining heavy losses with reports of 2 regiments surrounded. The Div Clr Sta and supporting ambulances left St. Vith and moved to Vielsalm. Hq and 3rd HU, 42nd Field Hosp left St. Vith removing all personnel safely but abandoning equipment because of lack of transportation. 2 officers and 7 EM left behind, with non-transportable cases, but later recovered. Ettelbruck was being approached by enemy forces. 419th Med Coll Co still located at Ettelbruck in support of 102nd Evac Hosp. Situation at Wiltz was very uncertain.
On 18 Dec, 1st HU, 42nd Field Hosp at Wiltz evacuated personnel but had no transport for evacuation of equipment. Arrangements were made through this Hq and Gp resulting in removal of 4 truckloads of equipment from Wiltz into Bastogne to civilian hospital near the 28th Div Clr Sta. Wiltz was being shelled when these trucks left. Two MC's including CO of HU and 18 EM of 1st HU, 42nd Field Hosp remained behind to care for non-transportables. One surgical team including 4 officers and 3 EM also remained behind. Also 2 ambulances of 580th Med Amb Co left at Wiltz, one as part of Wiltz defense plan and one with the Field Hosp. Within one and a half hours the personnel moved to Bastogne had to he evacuated in view of enemy successes. Time and transport made removal of equipment impossible.
Bn Hq on 18 Dec together with attached units had again to make a sudden move from Martelange to temporary bivouac at Chateau Raumont. This movement began at 1930 under strict blackout security. Prior to this movement, by pooling use of all our available transportation as well as shuttling, 419th Med Coll Co arrived from Ettelbruck to Martelange and thence to new area at Chateau Raumont. While at 107th Evac Hosp area litter bearers were obtained from our Hq and Co's to assist in rapid influx of patients. On the 19 Dec personnel of Hq and part
of 1st HU and 3rd HU, 42nd Field Hosp arrived at 107th Evac Hosp area at 1330. Hq with 580th and 581st Med Amb Co's and 42nd Field Hosp moved to new area at Biourge , Belgium living in two old chateaus. 419th Med Coll Co remained at 107th Evac Hosp to give aid as litter bearers and make their ambulances available in what was functioning as a residual Gp pool for any purpose that arose. Pro station at Bastogne closed and personnel returned to unit. Ambulance, sent to recover dental officers and EM, had an accident and had to be abandoned. Word received later that officers and EM were removed to safety. It was becoming apparent that Bastogne was a key objective of the enemy. 28th Div Clr had portion of their station at Mersch, with 2 ambulances of 580th Med Amb Co. 5 ambulances 419th Med Coll Co and an officer committed to 101st Airborne Infantry Cir element 8 miles west of Bastogne . 4 ambulances that had been at 1st HU, 42nd Field Hosp were made a part of Gp pool. Nurses, medical officers and some EM of 42nd Field Hosp being used at 107th Evac Hosp.
On 20 Dec, an effort to retrieve abandoned ambulance (an ambulance of 956th Med Amb Co made available to Group) failed because enemy was in the area; driver returned to Bn Hq and made available as assistant driver. Report was received from 419th Med Coll Co that enemy had fired on 326th Airborne Medical Co of 101st Airborne Infantry and that three ambulances of 419th Med Colls Co were presumed hit or captured. It was reported that at 1400 20 Dec Ettelbruck was in enemy hands. PW stated that troops had orders to take no prisoners; red cross and other personnel were included (source: Capt 109th Inf). Remains of 101st A/B Clr Sta located new area Jodenville. 429th Med Coll Co (Corps) is being used for evacuation purposes. 2 ambulances of 419th Med Coll Co also used by this unit.
On 21 Dec with 580th and 581st Med Amb Co's and Hq and part of 1st and 3rd HU, 42nd Field Hosp departed from Biourge, Belgium at 1150 and arrived at new area, Carlsbourg, Belgium at 1250. 107th Evac Hosp made a move likewise to Carlsbourg, into a school building. 130th General Hospital at Ciney, has been used during the past two days as the one of the remaining available hospital locations in relative close proximity, 107th Evac Hosp being the other available. 5 ambulances of 419th Med Coll Co available have been used to evacuate the 107th Evac Hosp to the 130th General Hospital to together with many units assembled by Group from other units for same purpose. Bastogne surrounded except for a narrow corridor on the south. Efforts were being made to evacuate casualties from Bastogne .
On 22 Dec an effort was made to reach St. Vith to check on status of equipment of 3rd HU, 42nd Field Hosp. Unable to reach city; equipment presumed captured. Bn towed two disabled ambulances of 581st Med Amb Co to Chatelet , France . Hq and various units as above mentioned moved from Carlsbourg to Textile School at Sedan , France , arriving at 1530. This Hq relieved of mission of evacuating 106th Div Clr and the 7th Armd Div.
On 23 Dec, one bomb dropped during night near area in which units were located apparently intended for bridge, no damage done. Further contacts and liaison being insured constantly between all serviced units. Ambulances at 106th Div Clr being rounded up for return to company areas.
On 24 Dec, one ambulance of 581st Med Amb Co dispatched to scene of allied bomber seen crashing, was not permitted into area and returned. A holding unit opened at Attert by 635th Med Clr Co to be used for casualties expected to be removed from Bastogne . This Hq sent 1 ambulance of 580th Med Amb Co, 17 ambulances of 581st Mead Amb Co, 5 ambulances of 419th Med Coll Co, 4 ambulances of
42nd Field Hosp, 3 ambulances of 445th Med Coll Co and 1 ambulance of 956th Med Amb Co, (latter two loaned for this mission), all under the control of CO 580th Med Amb Co. This mission never materialized and ambulances returned to Sedan as casualties could not be brought out of Bastogne , despite efforts of armor to open cut roads.
Enemy still strongly attacking with reports being heard from many sources that enemy armored patrols had reached almost to Dinant (about 3-4 miles from it). Towns of La Roche, St. Hubert and Houffalize were presumed lost. Attack seemed to be held at Bastogne with the bulge being present more in northerly direction. Area around Malmedy and Stavelot was in doubt. Reports seemed to show that enemy was using small forces of tanks and infantry and in infiltrating in all areas. Questioning of stragglers revealed that enemy had "plenty of stuff'", and had created early heavy losses both in personnel and equipment. However, at end of this week, 24 Dec, it was evident that both our northern and southern flanks were holding firm and substantiated somewhat the earlier rumors held that this may well have been a trap to bring out the German forces.
At the end of this week, 24 Dec, 28th Div Clr was located at Mersch and St. Cecile and 635th Med Clr Sta at Attert , Belgium . Hq, part of 1st and 3rd HU, 42nd Field Hosp were in bivouac at Balan, less than 2 miles from Sedan , France . 2nd HU, 42nd Field Hosp operating hospital with 4th Div at Walferdange.
On 25 Dec this Hq committed to service the 11th Armd Div. 3 ambs 3rd platoon 581st Med Amb Co sent to CC "A", 11th Armd Div in vicinity of Fumay. Hq, with 580th and 581st Med Amb Co's plus 9 ambulances of 450th Med Coll Co departed from area at Sedan , France , enroute to new area at Gerouville , Belgium , arriving at 1845. Civilian billets were utilized.
635th Med Clr Co now had a station located at Villers devant Orval. This Hq to supervise the triage of patients definitely expected to be evacuated from Bastogne to the 635th Clr Sta this date (25 Dec). There was a report that a truce would be held with the aid of a captured German medical officer for the purpose. The following ambulances were dispatched to 635th Sir 3ta to aid in its evacuation to 39th and 107th Evac Hosps for seriously wounded and to the 103rd Evac Hosp for slightly wounded: 581st Med Amb Co - 18, 580th Med Amb Co - 8, 956th Med Amb Co - 1, 419th Med Coll Co - 5, 450th Med Coll Co - 6. However, this evacuation never materialized although ambulances were retained at area in case necessary during the night. Four ambulances were sent to vicinity of Libramont to assist in evacuation of bombing casualties.
On 27 Dec message received from Group that supply columns had reached Bastogne and that it was anticipated they would come out same day loaded with patients, time and place unknown - either to Villers or to Attert. All ambulances now returned from CC "A", 7th Armd Div. 19 EM of 42nd Field Hosp located temporarily at Attert for use as litter bearers. Casualties arrived at 635thClr Sta, Villers, 12 truckloads of walking wounded and 22 ambulances of litter patients. They were emptied, patients triaged and then sent to Evac Hosps in the vicinity. Ambulances and trucks returned to Bastogne together with one platoon of our ambulances and returned again, at approximately 2200, when same procedure of triage was repeated - approximately 652 patients cleared in this fashion. Effective as of 26 Dec all units and Gp assigned to Third Army - 2 HU, 42nd Field Hosp also attached to III Corps.
On 28 Dec further casualties brought in from Bastogne totaling 242, 23
whom were Germans. All other commitments the same. 606th Medical Clearing Company attached to this Hq effective as of 26 Dec.
Prophylactic station closed at Arlon. 3 ambulances of 580th Med Amb Co used to evacuate CC '"A", 9th Armd Div vicinity Neufchateau. All ambulances on temporary mission now returned from 635th Med Clr Sta. This Hq to service 87th infantry Division. This Hq relieved of servicing of 28th Inf Div and with these ambulances (580th Med Amb Co) augmented their service to 11th Armd Div. 580th Med Amb Co relieved of its mission with CC "A", 9th Armd Div.
This Hq was to service the 17th Airborne Division. 7 ambulances and platoon leader of 419th Med Coll Co to service 87th Inf Div Clr Sta located at Bouillon , Belgium . At present time (28 Dec), this Hq is therefore responsible for the evacuation of the following units: 11th Armd Div, 87th Inf Div, 17th A/B Div, 635th Med Clr Co, reinforcement of 107th Evac Hosp and the operation of a Pro Station in Gerouville, with personnel of 419th Med Coll. Co. All units advised of need of proper association with civilians, safeguarding of military information and military courtesy. Field Hospital platoons have been reequipped and were in process of servicing and preparing equipment. Report received that some equipment of 1st HU, 42nd Field Hosp at Bastogne had been retrieved and some of it was being used at 101st Airborne Div Clr Sta at Belgian Barracks at Bastogne . Previous attempts to trace this equipment had failed. 3 ambulances of 42nd Field Hosp being used to evacuate 635th Clr Sta relieving 3 ambulances of 580th Med Amb Co which in turn were used for 11th Armd Div. There was now a regulating station at 39th Evac Hosp to assist in sending of casualties either to 39th, 109th or 103rd Evac Hosps.
The following are evacuation totals for our entire period of commitment:
At the end of the year 1944, our commitments were as follows:
580th Med Amb Co, Mtr.
581st Med Amb Co, Mtr.
419th Med Coll Co.
606th Med Clr Co.
42nd Field Hospital
3. Military personnel:
This Hq is composed of 6 Officers, 1 Warrant Officer and 21 EM. On arrival in the United Kingdom , there were 22 EM; one man developed a psychosis (tentatively diagnosed as Schizophrenia) and was lost to organization. Because of reduction in the number of basic privates, this made our unit full strength, and no replacement was necessary. These men have proved themselves competent under varied conditions and able to perform their duties well.
The units attached to this Hq have been able to perform their missions assigned to them without exception. Tie ambulance drivers in particular, are deserving of special commendation of a job superbly done, often working day and night under adverse conditions when the tactical situation made it necessary. It was particularly interesting to note that morale reached its highest pitch at such times. All units were highly recommended by their serviced units. Two officers of 581st Med Amb Co received battle field promotions from 2nd Lt to 1st Lt, as did one officer of 580th Med Amb Co. The CO of 581st Med Amb Co transferred to Gp Hq as S-2; GO of 462nd Med Coll Co injured and transferred to United Kingdom , otherwise there were no changes in command.
Some faults as found during our active commitments are as follows:
a. A report received that ambulance drivers were seen taking personal property from German and allied wounded during evacuation; and condition investigated by Inspector General. Nothing definite found. All units of this command were warned of the consequences of this act and no alleged repetitions occurred. It seemed, during the course of our own investigations, that most PW's had lost their belongings prior to evacuation via ambulances.
b. The following are number of offenses charged against EM of our attached units during active months of commitment:
4 Summary Courts-Martials
Of the 7 Special Courts-Martials, 4 of the offenses were committed
prior to attachment to this Hq. All cases were tried by officers of this Hq and attached unite. This 4 Summary and 3 Special Courts-Martials (1 for drunkenness and 2 for unauthorized leaving of area (AW 61) occurred in our attached units. No cases occurred in Hq itself.
c. One officer of 580th Med Amb Co, whose resignation for the good of the service was accepted, was transferred out of the unit.
d. No other charges occurred during our active period of commitment. All told the morale of this Hq and attached units during the past year has been most satisfactory; this HQ has been in active combat commitment continuously since Aug 44.
4. Training of personnel:
During the first month of this year this Hq as undergoing preparation for overseas service. They underwent their AGF Physical Fitness Tests with scores of 96.1%. On 14 Jan, Inspector General (XXI Corps) inspection held of this unit with satisfactory results. On 17 Jan, Hq went through their familiarization course with the carbine; and received security instructions and inspections of personal and organizational equipment as necessary. Demonstration given at Camp Kilmer , New Jersey , with a model ship's side, as to methods of abandoning ship. A formal training program was instituted on our arrival in the United Kingdom, including a review of such basic subjects as physical training (calisthenics and marches, organized athletics with scheduled games with other organizations); medical aid - mainly demonstrations and applications, using moulages for a more realistic effect.
Field problems were held at least once a week with a night problem once a week. It was during these problems that application of such basic subjects as map reading (British grid system) and use of compass both day and night was performed. Camouflage demonstrations and critique given during these same problems. Demonstrations in CWS held in field with special emphasis on first-aid and decontamination procedures. Field sanitation and personal hygiene were restressed. Night convoys were likewise practiced.
Aircraft recognition training was emphasized and repeated, using such training aids as charts, pictorial manuals, wooden models, and identification of planes seen flying overhead as well as organized lectures. Armored recognition courses also given ( no models ). Another course of familiarization with the firing of the carbine was given.
Special instructions were given in such subjects as proper British-American relationships while still board ship and a small booklet was issued to each officer and enlisted man. Soon after arrival a lecture was given to all by an official long present in the United Kingdom associated with British Ministry of War, and at intervals thereafter our own CO, following theater directives, reemphasized this subject to our Hq and attached units. Another special problem discussed with the troops was the racial problem. This was given as a discussion group, led always by an officer in charge, bringing out salient points to eliminate any friction on this point. None ever occurred. Also on our arrival in the United Kingdom , arrangements were made for a lecture by the local police as to traffic regulations, etc., in the United Kingdom . Demonstrations given on fire-fighting by local fire wardens particularly against incendiaries and then practiced by our troops, using hand stirrups and buckets.
Soon after our arrival in the United Kingdom , a 3 day course on bomb-disposal was given by a Bomb Disposal officer with samples of bombs and of explosives. This proved quite interesting and instructive. Furthermore, it was repeated
another time enabling our attached units to receive the same type of instruction.
Another course that was emphasized over and over again was mines and booby traps. Lectures and demonstrations were then given in our field problems utilizing booby trap igniters and fuses with fire crackers giving the effect of explosives.
A PAD (Passive Air Defense) program was instituted and rescue squads and first-aid squads dedicated. This was modified in the various locations we were in on continent but basically adhering to our original SOP.
Likewise, through efforts of S-2, a special lecture on security was given by XII Corps CIC team to all our men and officers.
Since our arrival on the continent, training consisted mainly in pointing out any errors seen during the course of activities of our units.
A system of inspections has been devised by this Hq for units actively committed which is as follows:
At least once a week or more often, a member of one of the sections as S-1, S-2, S-3 or S-4 would inspect an entire attached unit as pertaining to his section, so that each attached unit was completely inspected by all members of the staff once a month. A Command and Executive inspection was made of all units once a month. Informal visits were constantly made to serviced units as necessary.
Initial contacts made to serviced units were by Bn Hq and were made prior to commitment of our attached units. This included visits to Division Surgeons, Bn commanders and Clearing Station Commanders. Likewise, initial contacts were made with G-4 of Division in an effort to ascertain whether any anticipated movements of Division were to be made.
5. Equipment, supplies and transportation:
Equipment and supplies of all units have been satisfactory for their missions. Occasions have arisen where some difficulty has occurred, namely: the 666th Med Clr Co, when servicing the air strip at Morlaix, had to expand considerably beyond their normal capacity. Extra ward tents were secured through Communications Zone facilities. The question of litters and blankets was soon settled by the arrival of several laden C-47's with such equipment from the United Kingdom . This was necessary since there was no property exchange practiced between air strip holding unit and the planes. Otherwise all units maintained their supplies by proper property exchange.
Personal equipment was satisfactory. Clothing was adequate at all time with one exception - overshoes. These were critical items and were issued to front line troops; our ambulance drivers had instructions not to take overshoes with patients leaving Div Clr Stas. Another critical item was field Jackets; sweaters were eventually issued in lieu thereof and proved most satisfactory.
With the present T/O & E, it was found that staff sections were sorely in need of tentage. One command post tent is the allowance and it is crowded with the CO, the Executive Officer, the Sgt Major and the stenographer. Initially the tent fly from the Bn motor section was appropriated for the staff sections, but offered no protection during rains and heavy dews. An excess squad tent was received from a division unit and has subsequently proven excellent for all sections operations.
Transportation is sufficient for minimum personal equipment, but with operational adjuncts becomes quite limited. After the capture of Brest, Ninth U. S. Army permitted this Hq two captured vehicles one of which was a water trailer (greatly facilitating the Amb Co kitchen to which both Gp and Bn Hqs have been attached) and the other a 1½ ton cargo truck.
As to attached units, the equipment of two hospital platoons was lost when they were immobile because of lack of organic transportation, and the divisions with whom they were committed failed to provide tracks for them.
6. Improvisation of equipment:
No improvisations of equipment in attached units other than in 42nd Field Hosp where bedside stand for post-operative wards, designed and constructed in Aug 44, received recognition in October Medical News 16, First U. S. Army.
7. Conservation of material and manpower:
The only occasion where assistance to personnel was necessary to an installation occurred at 666th Med Clr Co while operating their holding unit at air Strip at Morlaix. Approximately 40 German PW's under Engineer guard were utilized as KP's, keeping area clean and as litter bearers.
8. Housing; water supply; bathing facilities and laundry:
The housing situation throughout the year was satisfactory. In United Kingdom , men and officers were billeted in private homes and this arrangement proved most satisfactory. From 31 Jul 44 to 24 Oct 44, this Hq lived in bivouac areas in pup tents. On the continent it was necessary to obtain a squad tent for the offices of the staff members as rains and dampness made operation in the open impracticable. The T/O & E allows for just one stove; so an improvised stove was made using an old can with a drip waste oil for the heating agency. This worked satisfactorily.
The water supply at all times was adequate. In United Kingdom , all water used had to have a monthly bacteriological examination, as well as daily chlorination tests. On the continent, only water obtained from authorized Army water depots was used, no bacteriological examinations necessary.
Bathing facilities in the United Kingdom were accomplished either by baths in homes or by use of public bath houses. On the continent, Quartermaster showers were the mainstay. Water could be heated for shaving purposes and washing purposes by improvised means.
Laundry was accomplished by use of Quartermaster laundries, but in many cases had to be dome by the individuals because of the necessity of rapid movement on the continent. At all times, personal appearance of all members of this command was kept at a high level.
9. Food and messing; sewage and waste disposal; insect control:
No unusual problems occurred in food and messing, sewage or water disposal or insect control. There were periods of course, when the use of such rations as K or C rations seemed prolonged but this was a tactical necessity and was remedied by the use of "B" rations as soon as practicable or available. Only insects of any importance were the large number of bees encountered during the first 2-3 months of our stay on the continent. The only method that would be of value would be the screening of the food in the mess; this could not always be accomplished.
10. Venereal Disease Control:
The incidence of venereal disease in this HQ is still zero. Units while attached to this Hq had 2 cases of gonorrhea. In England , opportunities for sexual intercourse were many. To overcome the acquiring of venereal disease, lectures were given each pay day, proper use of prophylactic kits was demonstrated and an explanation given for its limitations and pro stations locations were posted. On the continent, one case of gonorrhea occurred originating from a prostitute in near vicinity of bivouac area. She was a refugee from Brest and through assistance of Brittany Base section she was examined by a local physician and smears were negative. No formal VD investigating unit of Base section was in operation at that time. Later, during the comparative lull in the activity in month of Oct and of Nov, prophylactic stations were set up, 5 by one of our attached units in the various cities. The second case of gonorrhea occurred in December.
11. Professional Medical and Surgical Service:
New methods of diagnosis and treatment of battle casualties: only attached units concerned with the above are the 42nd Field Hosp and Clr Stas. They are submitting an annual report that will cover this phase.
12. Dental service:
In the United Kingdom , Station Hosps clinics were used to service our troops. On the continent, a dental survey was held in Sep by a dental officer of 666th Med Clr Co who made a tour of all of our units committed and made appointments for whatever men needed work. At the end of Oct, two Army dental clinics were established by the 64th Med Gp, using 2 dental officers of 42nd Field Hosp and 2 dental of officers of the 623rd Med Clr Co. All men and officers in need of work were taken care of at these installations.
This Hq and attached units during their active commitment have evacuated:
27,346 - patients
Some noteworthy points ascertained were as follows:
a. Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadrons and armored units when actively engaged required the closest possible liaison and contact. Under ideal conditions, weather and terrain, one platoon of ambulances proved adequate in evacuation of an armored combat command. This proved inadequate under blackout on snow covered highways. Some armored divisions using jeep racks for forward evacuation, required aluminum or steel litters and often in property exchange with Army ambulances, wooden litters were received which were unsatisfactory. Furthermore, in rapid forward movements, our ambulances often passed through areas not completely under the control of our infantry. In France , assistance was often given, in isolated areas, to the drivers, and platoon leaders by the civilians or FFI. In hostile populations this would prove disastrous in such cases.
b. For infantry divisions, one platoon to serve a Div Clr Sta has proven adequate in average conditions, with good roads and weather conditions. In both (a) and (b) trucks would occasionally have to be used for ambulatory cases when casualties became heavy.
c. During exceptionally active commitments, drivers were forced to drive extremely long hours under trying conditions as at times like these all ambulances were usually committed with no reserve, despite all efforts to maintain such a reserve.
d. The remarkable flexibility of these organizations under the present
T/O made temporary attachment from other Bns or even groups an easy matter overcoming a temporary local increase in casualties.
e. Our attached units have evacuated following arms and services: cavalry squadrons, armored divisions, infantry divisions, airborne divisions, evacuation hospitals, field hospitals, holding units, civilian hospitals, POW installations and captured enemy hospitals.
f. Platoon leaders of ambulance platoons provided chief source of intelligence reports, receiving G-2 reports of divisions. Also platoons acted as couriers between serviced units to Bn, then to Gp and Army.
g. As far as other of our installations are concerned they have performed the following types of functions to meet varied problems encountered:
(1) Holding units - our battalion clearing company employed for this mission. This was to maintain an installation at an air strip which processed 6,124 casualties in one month.
(2) Servicing of POW installations - this Hq employed collecting companies for this mission.
(3) Assistance to evacuation hospitals - clearing companies or collecting companies were used depending on circumstances. A clearing station can be established to care for all slightly wounded or to augment work of hospital in any other way. If a collecting company was used, the litter platoon was used as litter bearers, technicians and medical officers used to augment hospital staff. If possible, ambulance platoon of collecting company would be used for evacuating hospital or would be placed directly under Bn control for use elsewhere if Communications Zone was evacuating the hospital.
(4) Establishment of Army prophylactic stations - technicians of collecting company employed, preferably 2 or 3 enlisted men.
14. Welfare, social service and recreation:
The most striking events in these fields are as follows:
In the United Kingdom , organized Army talks proved an excellent source of discussion and enlightenment. Also the facilities of United States Armed Forces Institute were offered to all men interested. The scope of it facilities was fully explained and posters were constantly on Bulletin Board. Movies, dances, organized athletics, etc., were plentiful and this stay in the United Kingdom was enjoyed by most everyone.
On arrival on the continent, the Army's concern over the men's welfare was manifested in many ways. Gratuitous PX issues were received fairly regularly; the men were supplied with cigarettes, tobacco, blades, soap, etc. On 19 Oct, this Hq under supervision of S-1, established PX in which candy and accessories as shaving lotion, mirrors, etc., could be purchased. This unit traveled to all attached units. Cigarettes were still issued gratuitously.
Early after our arrival on the continent, all cities were off-limits and it was not until Oct that passes were issued to enlisted men to visit nearby cities for purchases, etc. Likewise, 2% of our command were allowed to visit Paris beginning at end of Nov and occurring about once a week. All passes ceased after the German counter attack began.
On 20 Nov to show the interest displayed by the Army in the welfare of the men an Inspector General of Twelfth Army Group, on a routine inspection visited our units to determine whether EM had proper quarters, PX rations, overshoes, etc., and to determine if there was any discrimination. This Hq and attached units had satisfactory results (as situation of overshoes could not be alleviated).
A discussion on 13 Nov was held on the new Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944 (educational provisions), with much interest displayed by all.
All men eligible had an opportunity to vote in this year's presidential election. Close supervision made to see that no political arguments were preferentially given to candidate All directives were followed on this subject and charts were kept constantly posted. Voting officer of this Hq made inspections of attached units to detect any discrepancies.
On the continent recreation facilities were limited. However, movies were given by special service officer frequently, usually once a week and occasionally more often depending on tactical situations. On two occasions, beer parties were given for the enlisted men. One was given by officers and beer obtained through the efforts of our PX officer; entertainment supplied by the troops (accordion, songs, etc.).
15. Other subjects of interest:
a. On 5 Nov 44 two enlisted .men while less than 450-500 yards from the Cloister, building in which we were then located, were shot at by a patrol of Germans dressed in what appeared to be American uniforms. These two EM were wearing red cross brassards. This occurred while some 9th Armored Div patrols were hunting for individuals who had mined railroad tunnel as described in next paragraph.
b. On 5 Nov 44, early in the AM, a train passing through a tunnel located approximately 3-400 yards from this same Cloister was mined causing slight damage to train passing through. Later this same afternoon, a mine explored less than 150 yards from the Cloister while being inspected by Engineers. 4 Engineers were killed including commanding officer of company and 15 others injured among whom were 64th Med Gp S-2 and detachment commander and one enlisted man. Group S-2 later died.
c. On 9 Nov 44 a robot bomb fell about 800 yards from the Cloister, shattering some windows but causing no casualties.
d. On 16 Nov 44 a fire broke out in mess kit laundry room. Several immersion heaters exploded. Due to concrete and steel construction of the room, fire was brought under control with no casualties. Two EM were given Certificate of Merit for heroic action in this event.
e. On 19 Nov 44 one case of mild diphtheria found in 581st Med Amb Co. Two further cases sent to hospital, one on 20th and one on the 21st Nov. Examination was held daily on all contacts as well as kitchen personnel for a period of seven days after the last suspicious case was sent to the hospital. Spot checks held thereafter. Measures, such as head to foot sleeping, adequate ventilation were enforced. No further cases occurred. The three men were back to duty within two weeks. Due to the unavailability of Shick Test material, Shick Test was not done on all contacts; however, any suspicious throat found on examination was sent to hospital for smear and culture.
f. The following is a list of battle casualties of this Hq and attached units since commitment:
18 EM and 2 officers of 1st EU, 42nd Field Hosp missing at Wiltz , Luxembourg . These were a detachment left to operate a hospital holding unit for patients remaining in 1st HU, when unit departed 18 Dec 44.
6 EM of 419th Med Coll Co missing since clearing station of 101st Div they were servicing was shelled.
4 EM of 580th Med Amb Co left behind at Wiltz, one as part of the
Wiltz defense plan and one with 1st HU, 42nd Field Hosp.
2 EM of 581st Med Amb Co never returned while on evacuation mission.
3 EM a of 580th Med Amb Co injured by rifle fire in violation of the Geneva Convention.
Two deaths occurred in Jeep accident - non-battle casualties. Several other injuries occurred through vehicle accidents.
All told at the end of the year 6 ambulances were either captured or destroyed by direct enemy action.
SOURCE: National Archives and Records Administration, Record Group 112, Records of the US Army Surgeon General, Entry 54, World War II Records, 240th Medical Battalion, European Theater of Operations, Box 357.