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HEADQUARTERS, THIRD U.S. ARMY

Table of Contents

HEADQUARTERS, THIRD U.S. ARMY  

AFTER ACTION REPORT  

THIRD U. S. ARMY  

1 AUGUST 1944-9 MAY 1945  

VOLUME II  

STAFF SECTION REPORTS  

PART 17: MEDICAL


Med 36

CHAPTER 8

JANUARY OPERATIONS  

The month of January was characterized by relatively few major changes in the deployment of medical units. The gradual reduction of the bulge in the ARDENNES area eventually resulted in an eastward movement by Third U. S. Army, along a wide front, stretching roughly from ST VITH (P 98) on the north to the vicinity of SAARLAUTERN (Q 38) on the south. Changes in medical evacuation and hospital units were made to support the new direction.

Freezing weather, snow and ice, and extremely bitter fighting prevailed throughout the month. The combination of these factors resulted in the largest number of casualties yet suffered by this Army since the commencement of its operations. The large casualty figure, however, can be tempered by the fact that the Third U. S. Army was employing a larger number of divisions than during any previous month.

The problems of trench foot and frostbite, with which this Arm. had been so much concerned since early November, were further alleviated, from a medical standpoint, by the use of a provisional hospital in the Army area, which had as its goal the return to duty of these cases, on a fifteen day policy for that hospital. The problem, from a command standpoint, remained one of definite concern. An increase in frostbite cases counterbalanced a decrease in trench foot, an overall increase in cold type injuries accruing thereby.

Because of the cold and inclement weather, icy road surfaces and short daylight hours, this was a particularly difficult month for all elements of the medical service, as well as for all other arms and services. In spite of these handicaps the mortality rate among U. S. Army personnel in medical installations was one percent of all those admitted.

Section 1 - Organization of the Medical Section

With the accomplishment of the move of the Medical Section from NANCY (U 81) to ESCH (P 70) on 7 January 1945, the Medical Section was consolidated for the first time since 31 July 1944. The Surgical Consultant, as well as one captain, Medical Corps, and two enlisted men continued liaison duties with the forward echelon of this headquarters in LUXEMBOURG CITY (P 81).

Also during the first week of January, the Medical Corps officers previously placed on temporary duty for liaison purposes with Headquarters III Corps and Headquarters VIII Corps, respectively, rejoined the Medical Section at ESCH (P 70).

On 30 January 1945, the most notable change occurred in the organization of the Medical Section since the commencement of operations on 1 August 1944. As of this date, at the direction of the Chief of Staff, the following were returned from temporary duty with the Medical Section to duty with their own organizations:

1 Lt Colonel, Medical Corps (Heretofore performing liaison duties between this headquarters and Twelfth Army Group) 

1 1st Lieutenant, Medical Administrative Corps (Heretofore on temporary duty with the Finance and Supply Sub-section)

1 1st Lieutenant, Medical Administrative Corps (Heretofore on temporary duty with the Preventive Medicine Sub-section)

1 1st Lieutenant, Medical Administrative Corps (Heretofore on temporary duty with the Operations and Training Sub-section)

In addition, orders were initiated transferring one captain, Medical Corps, from the Operations and Training Sub-section and one captain, Veterinary Corps, from the Veterinary Sub-section to units of Third U. S. Army.

The above was in accordance with the Army Commander's desire that all sections of this headquarters conform to Staff Memorandum Number 73, this headquarters, dated 16 December 1944.

Section 2 - Operations

1. Training

The training program for Information-Education officers of medical units was continued. Four officers from Army medical units attended the Information-Education Course at the Staff School in PARIS (S 04). In addition, one officer attended the Educational Advisement Course, and one officer attended the course in Instructor Training offered at that location.

2. Evacuation

January was marked by a gradual, steady reduction of the enemy salient into BELGIUM and LUXEMBOURG. There were no sudden or spectacular changes in the tactical situation, and no radical changes in evacuation policies were required. However, as the month progressed, a num­ber of medical units were transferred from Third U. S. Army with a consequent reduction in the number of evacuation agencies available. The 64th Medical Group, 170th Medical Battalion, and the 240th Medical Battalion were assigned to First U. S. Army on 10 January. Their missions were assumed by elements of the 65th Medical Group. On 21 January, the 573d Ambulance Company, Motor, was assigned to Sixth Army Group. In addition, on 28 January, a temporary attachment to Sixth Army Group of the following unite was effected:

416th Medical Collecting Company
460th Medical Collecting Company
587th Ambulance Company, Motor
606th Clearing Company 

Some of the units previously assigned or attached to Third U. S. Army by order of higher headquarters had not arrived by 15 January. On that date the 475th Medical Collecting Company, the 476th Medical Collecting Company, and the 661st Clearing Company were assigned to Fifteenth U. S. Army. On 23 January the 64th Field Hospital, which had not yet arrived, was relieved of its attachment to Third U. S. Army.

Exclusive of Corps medical battalions, there were assigned and in operation with Third U. S. Army, eleven medical collecting companies, twelve ambulance companies, and six clearing companies when the month ended. The medical collecting companies continued to perform a number of vital functions, furnishing litter bearer platoons for evacuation hospitals, providing holding units for field hospital platoons and augmenting ambulance facilities. Platoons of the clearing companies were augmenting evacuation hospitals as in previous months. Ambulance companies were employed in the orthodox manner with one exception. The 101st Airborne Division and 17th Airborne Division had inadequate fa­cilities organically for evacuation, and Army ambulance platoons were attached for purposes of second echelon evacuation in these divisions, during the latters' deployment as infantry divisions.

The 64th Medical Group supported the VIII Corps until 10 January. The 65th Medical Group supported VIII and XII Corps until 10 January, and thereafter supported VIII and III Corps. The 66th Medical Group supported XX Corps until 10 January and the XII and XX Corps thereafter.

Improvised Litter-Sled in Folded Position

Litter-Sled in Opened Position

Simplicity of Runner Mounting on Litter

Demonstrating Method of using Litter-Sled


Med 37

At the beginning of the month, the 69th Medical Group was evacuating seven evacuation hospitals and the 65th Field Hospital. Advance Section, Communications Zone units were evacuating five evacuation hospi­tals and the provisional hospital being operated by the 92d Medical Gas Treatment Battalion. During the month, Advance Section, Communications Zone units gradually took over the evacuation of all but three evacuation hospitals. Third U. S. Army was responsible for supply and evacuation of a maximum of eighteen divisions during January.

The air/rail medical evacuation holding unit operated by the 94th Medical Gas Treatment Battalion and attached units remained at THIONVILLE (U 88) during the entire month. The limitation imposed on air operations by poor weather, restricted the number of patients evacuated by this medium during the month to 2,650, which, however, constituted an increase over the previous month. Using hospital trains, rail evacuation evacuated 18,873 patients. Ambulance evacuation, including the utilization of Advance Section, Communications Zone ambulances, was responsible for 7,330 patients being moved to the rear of the Army Zone. The total number evacuated during the month of January thus totaled 28,853 patients. An air/rail medical evacuation holding unit was also operated by the 7th Field Hospital (Advance Section, Communications Zone) at SPAIN (U 47) in support of Third U. S. Army.

Reproduction of a sketch showing the locations of evacuation facilities in Third U. S. Army during the month of January will be found in Annex XXIII to the Medical Section report.

3. Hospitalization

The use of field hospitals continued along lines previously instituted in Third U. S. Army. Although some effort had been made toward placing all three platoons of a field hospital in one corps (or, failing that, with units that were geographically adjacent), some platoons were still widely separated from their parent organization. This was permitted in order to preserve the harmonious arrangement between a field hospital platoon and the division which it supported. The use of the field hospital was generally in accordance with previously established Third U. S. Army policy. Occasionally, exception was made in order to meet the exigency of some special requirement.

The 65th Field Hospital, reinforced with surgical teams, continued to function as an evacuation hospital in ARLON (P 62), providing 200 beds during a period when they were urgently needed for support of units eradicating the bulge.

The first and third platoons of the 42d Field Hospital were refitted while attached to the 64th Medical Group. Ten trucks were used to transport equipment of this unit from BASTOGNE (P 55), where it had been abandoned due to lack of vehicles when the unit made a retrograde movement to avoid capture during the counteroffensive. The remainder of necessary equipment was requisitioned and supplied through normal supply channels.

At the end of the month, the attachments of field hospitals were as follows:

III Corps

    2d Plat, 16th Fld Hosp
    3d Plat, 16th Fld Hosp

VIII Corps

    2d Plat, 42d Fld Hosp
    3d Plat, 42d Fld Hosp
    1st Plat, 59th Fld Hosp
    3d Plat, 60th Fld Hosp 

XII Corps

    1st Plat, 16th Fld Hosp
    1st Plat, 30th Fld Hosp
    1st Plat, 60th Fld Hosp
    2d Plat, 60th Fld Hosp 

XX Corps

    2d Plat, 30th Fld Hosp
    3d Plat, 30th Fld Hosp
    3d Plat, 59th Fld Hosp

65th Med Gp

    1st Plat, 42d Fld Hosp
    65th Fld Hosp

The month of January saw the efforts of Third U. S. Army directed toward the reduction of the bulge and restoration of the lines in effect before the German counteroffensive. At the start of the month, all Third U. S. Army evacuation was in a southerly direction. The 12thEvacuation Hospital closed at its site in NANCY (U 81) and moved to the Casernes Volontaires in LUXEMBOURG CITY (P 81). With the arrival of this unit, three evacuation hospitals were located in LUXEMBOURG CITY (P 81) - the 104th, 35th, and 12th. As the reduction of the bulge progressed, the drive of the combat troops was in a north-northeast direction. It was apparent that the previously favorable positions of the evacuation hospitals on the southern flank were rapidly lengthening ambulance hauls over roads that became almost impassable due to the damage by armored vehicles, snow and ice. With this in mind, several of the hospitals were moved to new sites. The 107th Evacuation Hospital moved from SEDAN (P 25) to HACHY (P 52).

In January the First U. S. Army reverted to the command of Twelfth Army Group. When this was accomplished, the boundary line between the First and Third U. S. Armies was also reestablished. The VIII Corps was on the northern flank of Third U. S. Army. In order to minimize the problems of evacuation previously mentioned, it was necessary to move two evacuation hospitals to support the units in VIII Corps. The 39thEvacuation Hospital closed at VIRTON (P 41) and moved to ST HUBERT (P 36). Likewise, the 109th Evacuation Hospital closed at MONTMEDY (P 20) and opened in the vicinity of LAVACHERIE (P 46).

An evacuation hospital was requested by Sixth Army Group for temporary attachment to the Seventh U. S. Army. The 103d Evacuation Hospital closed at LONGUYON (U 49) and was moved to a bivouac site in NANCY (U 81) by Third U. S. Army transportation for this purpose.

During January the enemy succeeded in projecting rocket shells into the city of LUXEMBOURG (P 81). These shells evidently were designed for anti-personnel use. Although the overall dispersion was erratic and the arrival was sporadic, the 104th Evacuation Hospital was hit by several of these during the night of 13 January. The blast effect and flying fragments broke many windows. There were no casualties among the hospital personnel, but several members of the quartermaster laundry platoon attached to the hospital sustained injuries from the flying fragments and one soldier was maimed to an extent requiring amputation of his right arm. The 12th Evacuation Hospital also suffered some damage, but no personnel casualties resulted.

The 6th Convalescent Hospital opened at its new site in MOULINS-LES-METZ (U 85, west of METZ U 85) and remained there during the entire month. Despite the fact that a maximum capacity of about 2,800 beds was utilized, there still were more patients ready for evacuation to the convalescent hospital each day than could be accommodated. This necessitated a revival of the daily quota system for each evacuation hospital, which had been used previously and had proved satisfactory. The allocation of daily quotas to various Third U. S. Army hospitals was made by telephone by the Operations and Training Sub-section of the Medical Section.

For locations of wounded hospitals during the month of January, see Annex XXIV to the Medical Section report.

An analysis of wounded hospitalized in Third U.S. Army hospitals during the month of January is shown below:

a. Number of wounded admitted "direct" (i. e., not by transfer).

(1) U. S. Army Troops

16035

(2)  British Army Troops  

5

(3) French Army Troops  

48

(4) U. S. Navy and Marine Corps

0

(5) British and French Navy 

0

(6) Enemy forces personnel  

 

1483

(7) Civilians  

185

(8) Others

3


Note:  All of the following in b through f pertains to U. S. Army troops only.

b. General classification of wounds: 

Serious    4140

Slight 11895

c. Anatomical classification of wounds:
(Patients with multiple wounds are classified according to most extensive wounds).  

(1) Wounds other than burns

Admissions

Deaths

 

a.  Abdominal

745

103

 

b.  Thoracic

1276

108

 

c.  Maxillo-facial

763

8

 

d.  Neurologic:

 

 

  

Head

977

80

  

Spine

292

35

  

Nerve

20

5

  

e. Extremities

 

 

  

Upper

3681

9

  

Lower

6461

43

  

f.  Buttocks

897

20

  

g. Others

813

22

  

Sub-total

15925

433

(2) Burns - all locations

110

3

Total

16035

436


d. Number of patients with multiple wounds:  [Admissions]  4691   [Deaths]  104

e.  Classification of wounds by causative agent:

 

Admissions

Deaths

(1) Gunshot wounds (rifle, pistol, or machine gun

3199

88

(2) Shell wounds (HE, flak, mortar, or cannon)

9793

317

(3) Bomb wounds (aerial, grenade, booby trap, or mine)

578

14

(4) Blast injuries (bomb, shell, or mine)

441

1

(5) Wounds from secondary missiles

154

0

(6) Burns (petrol, flash, flamethrower, phosphorus, etc.)

116

3

(7) Others

1754

13

Total

16035

436

 

Adjustment of Drainage Tube in Battle Casualty Recovering from Abdominal Wounds 

f.  Number of deaths by primary and secondary causes:

g.  Number of transfusions of:

(1) Fresh Whole Blood

432

(2) Stored Blood

7541

(3) Dry Plasma

9406

(4) Other Blood Substitutes (specify) 
    (do not include crystalloids

0


h.  Number of units of Penicillin Administered:    5,562,446,000

i.  Number of Amputations:

(1) Upper Extremity

165

(2) Lower Extremity

277


j. Number of cases showing clinical evidence of Gas Gangrene: 

(1) U.S. Army

40

(2) Others

15


k.  Number of wounded evacuated to other hospitals:

(1) U.S. Army

13133

(2) Others

1050


4. Additional Temporary Medical Service

In an attempt to salvage some of the valuable trained personnel of the Army who were afflicted with trench foot, the 92d Medical Gas Treatment Battalion established a provisional hospital for the treat­ment of this condition in THIONVILLE (U 88). This hospital, which previously had been established to care for minor medical and surgical cases, now devoted its entire facilities to caring for cases of trench foot. The policy was to treat them for fifteen days. Those who could return to duty at the expiration of an additional fifteen days were sent to the 6th Convalescent Hospital. The remainder were evacuated to the Communications Zone. The original capacity of 200 was found to be inadequate and was increased to 440 patients.

Company "A", 92d Medical Gas Treatment Battalion, remained attached to the 101st Airborne Division to replace the medical company of that unit which was captured by the enemy when the Proud Eagle Division was encircled at BASTOGNE (P 55). It was relieved from this attachment when the 101st Airborne Division was relieved from Third U. S. Army on 19 January, and the company reverted to its battalion at that time.

Section 3 - Professional Services

1.  General

A combination of bitter fighting, very rough terrain, and sub­freezing temperature, which kept snow on the ground throughout the period, produced the highest number of battle casualties in a single month since the commencement of operations of Third U. S. Army.

There were 16,035 battle casualties (wounds and/or burns) treated in Third U. S. Army hospitals in January. Of these patients, 436 died.

Based on total dispositions from all causes in Third U. S. Army medical installations, there was a mortality rate of one percent among U. S. Army personnel.

2.  Surgery

It is interesting to note that 332 of the 436 deaths among battle casualties, were due to high explosive shelling, and only eighty-eight were caused by small arms fire. It is obvious from these figures that close-in fighting was not the rule, as the majority of deaths from long range fire constituted a ratio of almost four to one.

Cold injuries caused much concern, and it was necessary for all medical installations to be on the alert for combinations such as frostbitten feet or hands occurring in patients brought in for battle wounds. When the wounded could not, for tactical reasons, be almost immediately evacuated from the battlefield, frostbitten feet or hands were likely combinations.

There were eight deaths during January from anuria. These patients had responded well after surgery, but the kidney complications caused death in three to five days. All of these cases had serious wounds which were multiple in type, and were associated with rather severe shock. They all received multiple blood transfusions. Alkalinization was attempted in all instances to no avail. A team from the Army medical laboratory was given the problem of investigating the possible causes of such complications, and initiated rather extensive studies in this connection, including laboratory work and post-mortem on all deaths in which anuria was associated.

3.  Neuropsychiatry

The previous five months of varying types of combat had demonstrated that good leadership is a prime factor in the prevention of neuropsychiatric casualties. The incidence of such casualties in also influenced by such factors as operational conditions, including the type of operation, terrain, climatic conditions, and the ability from a tactical standpoint to rotate combat troops. Morale is particularly important. The type of leadership and type of operation have a great bearing on morale.

During the month of January, the bulge produced by the German breakthrough in the ARDENNES area was reduced to the German border. This battle resulted in the greatest number of total non-fatal casu­alties yet sustained by Third U. S. Army. During this period, there were 47,409 admissions to hospitals of Third U. S. Army from all causes. Five and five-tenths percent of these were neuropsychiatric casualties. There were 3,672 actual neuropsychiatric cases admitted to division clearing stations and/or hospitals in January. Of these, 2,836 or seventy-seven percent were returned to duty, 929 being effected at clearing station level and the remainder at hospital level.

Although Third U. S. Army had consistently had the lowest incidence of neuropsychiatrie casualties of any Allied Army, the incidence in January was the lowest of any of its six months of combat. Outstanding leadership, plus the fact that Third U. S. Army was again "on the move", and the awareness of every soldier that Germans were losing this battle and being forced back into Germany contributed to the exceptionally high level of morale throughout the Army.

4.  Dental

The amount of dental work accomplished continued to increase over that of previous months. Following is a chart showing the breakdown of dental treatments for the month of January:

Strength (reported)

298280

Admissions (routine)

20772

Admissions (emergency)

4584

Sittings

35569

Officer Personnel

417

Enlisted Personnel

433

Restorations

25641

Dent urea

2342

Gingivitis

1436

Gingivitis Treatment

2413

Stomatitis, Vincent's

548

Stomatitis, Vincent's (Treatment)

1138


By this time, it had been proved that the anti-concussion devices being constructed from dental acrylic had definite merit, and the Artillery Section of this headquarters was anxious to obtain devices for the gun crews of all field artillery battalions using the 155 millimeter gun. Through slight revision in methods and provision of additional equipment, it was possible to process 200 pairs of these devices in approximately a week.

The dental clinic established at the 6th Convalescent Hospital now included six assigned officers and ten dental technicians. In addition, two dental officers and four enlisted technicians were on detached service with the clinic during the month of January. Each patient of the hospital was examined by a dental officer upon his transfer from the clinical section of the hospital to a convalescent company. During the month of January, 6,740 patients were examined, of which 702 received dental treatment. All patients were placed in dental Class IV before they were discharged from a convalescent company to duty. During the month, 927 restorations were accomplished, together with 122 new prosthetic cases and eighty-one dentures repaired.

During the same period, the 32d Medical Depot Company dental clinic processed 180 denture cases. Of these, seventy were new cases, and the others were repairs, rebases, and reconstructions. In the same dental laboratory, the processing of 485 pairs of acrylic anti-concussion devices was completed. This laboratory was instrumental in caring for the prosthetic cases of one division which was in a rest area near the depot company location. In addition to this work, the clinic furnished dental treatment necessary for the smaller units in the same area.

The number of maxillo-facial cases reported for the month decreased slightly from those admitted during the previous month. Third U. S. Army medical installations had 763 admissions with maxillo-facial injuries, with eight deaths resulting from these wounds. The percentage of admissions with maxillo-facial injuries was four and seventy-five one-hundredths percent of the total battle casualties admitted during January. Of these, one and four-tenths percent died.

5.  Veterinary

Nineteen inspections of Class I supply points were made during the month. Owing to the prevailing freezing weather, many problems usually encountered were eliminated. The need for dunnage was not acute, and the danger of spoilage in fresh meat products by defrosting was at a minimum. The greatest difficulty encountered was the freezing of vegetables. The problem was finally solved by erecting ward tents where buildings were not available, and by covering the products with straw. In some instances, stoves were used. In spite of all precautions, considerable loss through freezing of these products occurred.

Eight bakeries were inspected during the month, which provided bread for the supply points mentioned above. Six civilian establishments processing food, such as bakeries and ice cream manufacturing plants, were also inspected.

6.  Personnel

The names of nineteen additional Medical Corps officers were submitted to the Chief Surgeon, European Theater of Operations, U. S. Army, for permanent rotation to general hospitals in the Communications Zone. Daring January, permanent rotation was actually effected on four Medical Corps officers to Communications Zone units. This was the first permanent rotation effected between Army and Communications Zone.

During the month, thirty-five Medical Corps officers were received as reinforcements. It helped to absorb an original shortage of fifty Medical Corps officers existing on 31 December 1944. Additional casualties and the arrival in Third U. S. Army area of new divisions which were short Medical Corps officers, resulted in a continuing shortage of 'approximately twenty-five Medical Corps officers.

The shortage of twenty-five Medical Administrative Corps officers was not rectified during January. Twelve of these officers were received from the Reinforcement System during the month, but only six second lieutenants, Medical Administrative Corps, were appointed out of approximately sixty applications sent to the Office of the Chief Surgeon with recommendations for their appointment. Every effort was made to have these appointments made immediately, in order to absorb the serious shortage in Medical Administrative Corps officers in Third U. S. Army.

Approximately 1,000 Medical Department enlisted men were received from the Reinforcement System during the month. The shortage at the conclusion of the month, however, remained well over 500, and constant efforts were made to expedite the reception of additional Medical Department enlisted men through the Reinforcement System.

Approximately fifty nurses were on detached service with Third U. S. Army hospitals during the month, on loan from general hospitals which were not in operation. Similarly, a number of surgical and shock teams were also on detached service with Army hospitals during the month. These teams rendered invaluable assistance in handling the high flow of casualties which took place during the month.

Section 4 - Medical Supply

At the beginning of the month, the 32d Medical Depot Company (minus one advance section) continued in its location at METZ (U.85). The Advance Section, 32d Medical Depot Company was at AUMETZ (U 79). The 33d Medical Depot Company was also continuing in its location at LONGUYON (U 49).

No movement of the medical depots occurred during the month, with the exception of the setting up on 29 January of an advance section of the 33d Medical Depot Company at BASTOGNE (P 55).

At the beginning of the new year, the overall medical supply situ­ation was satisfactory. Medical depot stocks were balanced, and approximately a sixteen-day supply of medical supplies was on hand. During the first two weeks, the supply picture continued to improve, and shipments were received regularly. A constant and vigorous follow-up policy was maintained on items which were on requisition and not yet received. The reequipping of units whose equipment had been lost due to enemy action during the ARDENNES breakthrough in December was completely completed by the middle of the month.

Where shipments of medical supplies were received by rail, considerable difficulty had previously been experienced in identifying particular shipments in subsequent dealings with Communications Zone which might pertain to them. During this month, therefore, the Medical Section initiated a report to be submitted to this section by the Army medical depot companies subsequent to the receipt of each shipment. This report contained the following information:

1.  Rail car or truck number.
2.  Consignor.
3.  Waybill number.
4.  Requisition number, against which it was shipped.
5.  Time and date received.
6.  Date unloaded.
7.  Tonnage.
8.  Discrepancies in markings and documentation.

These reports proved invaluable in proper identification in the case of any contingency which might arise with reference to a particular shipment.

Approximately 635 long tons of medical supplies were received from the Communications Zone in Third U. S. Army medical depots during this month. Shipments were being received in a more satisfactory manner than at any time during the previous months. In an effort to expedite the shipment of medical supplies, a new system was initiated in the middle of the month. Under this plan, carload shipments were to be attached to hospital trains at PARIS (S 04) and destined for THIONVILLE (U 88) for the 32d Medical Depot Company, and PETANGE (P 60) for the 33d Medical Depot Company. Less than carload shipments were to be placed in hospital train litter cars and delivered to the above places.

Initially, during the month, whiskey was authorized for medicinal purposes on the following basis:  

Divisions

24 quarts per week

Medical Detachments

4 quarts per week

Army and Corps Clr Cos (non-divisional)

4 quarts per week


Later in the month, and after a survey had been made among the divisions, it was decided that the above allowance of twenty-four quarts per week was not sufficient. The allowance was therefore increased to a maximum of forty-eight quarts per week.

The Medical Section was notified by the Office of the Chief Surgeon European Theater of Operations, U. S. Army, that stocks of Medical Department blankets and litters were becoming exceptionally low and were rapidly disappearing from continental reserves. Conservatory measures were therefore undertaken by this Army, and the fact that these items were in critical shortage was emphasized to all medical units under this command. A letter was prepared directing that all Medical Department blankets and litters not actually required be returned to the nearest Army medical depot, and that necessary action be taken to prevent loss and wastage of these items.

A total of 2,000 vials of diphtheria antitoxin and 1,000 vials of smallpox vaccine, on which the expiration date had passed, were turned over to Civil Affairs personnel for their use.

In the middle of the month, the problem of deadlined ambulances first arose. It was found that, as of 16 January, thirty-seven ambulances were in Ordnance for repair, and eleven others had been captured or destroyed and required replacement. The Ordnance Section of this headquarters was contacted, and arrangements were made to give first priority to ambulances in the shop for repair. In addition, information was received that approximately forty ambulances could be expected by the end of the month, or shortly thereafter.

Approximately 16,000 packets, first aid, parachute, modified by the addition of one tube of boric acid ointment, were received from the Communications Zone during this month. These packets were issued to all armored divisions on a basis of 2,000 per division. This item had been issued to troops of armored units prior to D-Day, and had been used successfully in early invasion days. The tubes of boric acid ointment were included in place of tourniquets.

Around the middle of the month two maintenance teams were formed, each consisting of one Medical Administrative Corps officer and two enlisted men, for the purpose of checking the maintenance of equipment and status of medical supply in Army medical laboratories, in Army hospital units, and Army medical gas treatment battalions. One of these teams was attached to each of the two medical depot companies, and operated from those locations. These teams, in addition to inspecting equipment, were responsible for making repairs of a minor nature and instructing unit maintenance men in proper methods of maintenance and repair. Reports on each unit inspected were submitted to the Medical Section of this headquarters.

Toward the close of the month, the Army Quartermaster informed the Army Surgeon that stoves, tent, M-1941 were now available, and that a limited quantity of burner, oil, stove, tent, M-1941 would be available in the near future. All Army medical units were therefore requested to submit a report to the Medical Section, showing the amounts authorized. On hand, and required of these items.

As of 31 January, it was determined by a survey that there were approximately 160,200 Medical Department blankets and 20,000 litters on hand in units and medical depots of Third U. S. Army. This information was forwarded to Headquarters European Theater of Operations.

Section 5 - Preventive Medicine

1.  General

Preventive Medicine problems consisted of the production of potable water, the prevention of cold type injuries to the feet and an increase in upper respiratory diseases.

2.  Venereal Disease Control

Army prophylactic stations were established in LONGWY (P 50), FRANCE, VIRTON (P 41) BELGIUM, and ESCH (P 70) and LUXEMBOURG CITY (P 81), LUXEMBOURG.  Army prophylactic stations gave 11,072 prophylactic treatments during the month.

Individual venereal disease contact reports were received in 374 instances. Of these, thirty-six and eight-tenths percent were contacts made outside the Army area.

The supply of individual chemical and mechanical prophylactics remained adequate throughout the month.

The fact that most divisions were in the line, favorably affected the venereal disease rate for the month of January. Weekly statistics on venereal disease during this month may be found in Annex XXV to the Medical Section report.

3.  Communicable Diseases

These diseases shored a slight increase over the previous monthly period. A marked increase was experienced in upper respiratory diseases, with the rate of diarrheal diseases remaining approximately the same as during the previous month.

The incidence of epidemic hepatitis increased from approximately four cases per week during December to sixteen cases per week in January.

No outbreaks of significant proportions were encountered.

A detailed breakdown of statistics on communicable diseases occurring during the month of January will be found in Annex XXV to the Medical Section report.

4.  Medical Records

A new high for these reports was reached in January. A total of 55,483 were processed, representing an increase of approximately 10,000 over those processed in December. The quality continued to be good.

5.  Non-Battle Injuries

The rate of these injuries increased from 165 to 194 per thousand per annum. The increase was mainly attributable to the icy, dangerous condition of roads, and poor visibility throughout the Army area.

Non-battle injuries represented fifteen percent of the total direct admissions as compared with twelve percent for December.

Cold type injuries, especially of the feet, increased from 128 to 264 per thousand per annum. A number of factors contributed to this tremendous increase, especially of frostbite (128 per thousand per annum). These factors included constant exposure to bitter cold, heavy snow, the emergency of the tactical situation, and the fact that practically all combat troops were committed continuously during the period.

6.  Army Medical Laboratory Service

In January, the two base sections of the 7th Medical Laboratory operated throughout the month in the following locations:

Section I - METZ (U 85)

Section II - LUXEMBOURG CITY (P 81)

The combined sections performed 9,535 tests, an increase of approximately 2,000 tests over those performed during December. This was the heaviest month of operations, in so far as the 7th Medical Labora­tory was concerned.

The total work for the month of January is broken down as follows:  

BASE LABORATORY SECTIONS

NO OF TESTS

PERCENTAGE OF TOTAL

Serology

5678

59.5

Bacteriology

1532

16.1

Chemistry

485

5.1

Pathology

246

2.6

Hematology

87

0.9

Parasitology

96

1.0

Sub-total

8124

85.2

MOBILE LABORATORY SECTIONS

NO OF TESTS

PERCENTAGE OF TOTAL

Venereal Disease Section

1411

14.8

(6th Conv Hosp)

 

 

Sub-total

1411

14.8

GRAND TOTAL

9535

100.0


A breakdown of the above tests by type of unit requesting them during January is shown below: 

TYPE OF UNIT

NO OF UNITS

NO OF TESTS 

PERCENTAGE OF ALL TESTS

Evacuation Hospitals

12

2907

30.5

Convalescent Hospital

1

3165

33.2

Field Hospitals

9

334

3.5

Miscellaneous Medical Installations

 

443

4.6

Miscellaneous Tactical Installations

 

2686

28.2

Totals

22

9535

100.0


The increase in total work is reflected primarily in an increase of requests from the 6th Convalescent Hospital (plus 1,100), the evacuation hospitals (plus 454), and the Venereal Disease Section (plus 588). Roughly, one-third of the work continued to come from the tactical unite, which used the laboratory consultations and diagnoses of the 7th Medical Laboratory.

7.  Sanitation

With continued cold and a snow-covered terrain throughout the month, environmental sanitary conditions remained satisfactory. The health of the command was generally satisfactory during the month.

Sanitary problems due to insects, rodents, garbage and refuse disposal were practically non-existent during the period.

Difficulties in operation of water units continued during the extreme cold weather. As indicated in the December report, many improvisations were necessary to combat freezing of the tanks, filters, pumps, valves and hose lines. Treatment results were, however, better than in any previous month.

Requests for approval of modified and simplified operating procedure for water treatment units because of the cold weather conditions were approved in only three instances after determination that the water supply was being obtained from protected ground water sources.

The summary of the results of 164 bacteriological analyses of treated water from engineer water points showed an all time high for potable water samples. Less than two percent (1.83%) of the samples were non-potable as compared with forty-nine percent questionable or unsafe for human consumption during August, 1944.

Following is the summary of improvement during the past six-month period, expressed in percentage of samples:

 

Aug

Sep 

Oct

Nov 

Dec

Jan

Potable

51%

72%

85%

89%

95%

98%

Non-potable

49%

28%

15%

15%

5%

2%


Change to the recommended new method of operation of water treatment units was effected during the latter part of October and the month of November throughout the Third U. S. Army.

During the month a new directive was issued from the Office of the Chief Engineer, European Theater of Operations, U. S. Army, embodying the Third U. S. Army method of water treatment for adoption throughout the Theater.

SOURCE: Headquarters, Third U.S. Army, After Action Report, Third U.S. Army, 1 August 1944-9 May 1945, Volume II: Staff Section Reports, Part 17: Medical, in the Research Collections, Office of The Surgeon General, Office of Medical History, Falls Church, Virginia.