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Headquarters VIII Corps

Table of Contents

HEADQUARTERS VIII CORPS
Office of the Surgeon

 APO 308, U. S. Army,
1 January 1945

SUBJECT:  Annual Report of Medical Department Activities for 1944.

THROUGH:   Chief Surgeon, European Theater of Operations, APO 867, U. S. Army.

TO :    The Surgeon General, Washington, 25, D.C.

In accordance with AR 40-1005, Letter AG 319.1 (9/15/42) EG-M, War Department, 22 September 1942, Subject: "Annual Reports, Medical Depart­ment Activities," and Circular Letter No. 143, 319.1, Headquarters Euro­pean Theater of Operations United states Army, Office of the Chief Surgeon, 18 December 1944, Annual Reports of Medical Department Activities, the Annual Report of the Medical Section, Headquarters VIII Carps is submitted:

Activation and Early History:

Headquarters and Headquarters Company VIII Corps was activated 7 October 1940. In the fall of 1942 the XIV Carps was formed from personnel of the VIII Corps and departed for foreign service in January 1943. With the exception of the Commanding General, the Chief of Staff and certain key officers, the officer and enlisted personnel of all the sections was new. This new group took over from the old group as the VIII Carps in January 1943.

The Corps participated in Louisiana Maneuvers in the fall of 1443, was alerted during the maneuver period, returned to its home station at Brownwood , Texas , prepared for overseas movement and embarked from New York harbor 12 December 1943. Headquarters personnel disembarked at Grenock , Scotland 19 December 1943 and established a headquarters the next day in a general hospital plant near Kidderminster , England .  

Personnel:

The Medical Section consisted of the following personnel for the dates indicated:

 Officers:  

Name

Rank

Branch

From

To

Principal Duty

Richard H. Eckhardt (a)

Colonel

MC

1 Jan

31 Dec

Surgeon

Reed D. Shupe (b)

Lt Col

MC

1 Jan

31 Dec

Med Insp

John F. Marten (c)

Major

MAC

1 Jan

31 Dec

Ex Officer

Rodman D. Miller (d)

Major

MAC

23 Feb

31 Dec

Supply & Opr

Thurman A. Larson (f)

Captain

MC

10 Mar

18 May

Training


2

Name

Rank

Branch

From

To

Principal Duty

Charles McD. Meter (f)

Captain

DC

10 Mar

7 Apr

Dental Surg

Francis E. Temple (f)

Captain

MC

23 Mar

28 May

Asst Med Insp

Earl F. Grimes (e)

WOJG

NMB

1 Jan

31 Dec

Admin Officer


Enlisted Men:

Name

Rank

From

To

James V. Falzone

M/Sgt

1 Jan 

31 Dec

Charles L. Bird

Tech Sgt

1 Jan

24 May

Albert Bash

S/Sgt

2 Feb

31 Dec

Richard T. Wheeler

Tec 4

2 Feb

31 Dec

Willard D. Sleighter

Tec 5

2 Feb

31 Dec

Edward M. Connolly (f)

Tec 5

2 Feb

2 Jul

James J. Ameen (f)

Tec 5

2 Feb

2 Jul

Jesse C. King Jr. (f)

Tec 5

2 Feb

29 May

Arthur O. Dachman (f)

Tec 5

2 Feb

7 Jul

Robert E. Klusmeier (f)

Tec 5

2 Feb

7 Jul

Lewis W. Meacham (f)

Tec 5

2 Feb

2 Jul

John F. Adams (f)

Pvt

2 Feb

14 May


(a) Promoted to Colonel 1 March 1944.
(b) Promoted to Lt Colonel 1 February 1944.
(c) Promoted to Major 1 May 1944.
(d) Promoted to Major 1 July 1944.
(e) Appointed WOJG 9 March 1944.
(f) Augmentation.

Mission :  

VIII Corps Headquarters functioned directly under Europeen Theater of Operations during the period from 1 January 1944 to 13 March 1944.

During this period the mission of the Medical Section VIII Carps was the reception, billeting, supply and administration of assigned and attach­ed troops.

Units assigned or attached to VIII Corps totaled 416 separate groups, battalions or companies. Of this total there were four medical groups, six medical battalions, twenty five medical collecting, clearing or ambulance companies, six evacuation hospitals, two convalescent hospitals and one field hospital. All of the medical units were inspected by the Corps Surgeon or one of his assistants. In addition to the medical units inspected, forty four other units assigned or attached to the headquarters were inspected as to sanitation and availability and adequacy of medical service.

Augmentation:

Due to the mission of the corps and the large number of units being assigned and attached, an augmentation of five medical officers, one dental officer, one medical administrative corps officer and ten enlisted


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men was authorized during January by European Theater of Operations. Enlisted personnel so authorized were promptly received 2 February. One medical corps officer was received as augmentation 23 March.  Another medical corps officer and one dental corps officer were assigned to the corps headquarters when a corps engineer unit was deactivated. The balance personnel augmentation was never received.

Assignment to Third United States Army.

13 March 1944 VIII Corps was assigned to Third United States Army and began the planning phase for the forthcoming continental operations. In order to be closer to Third United States Army Headquarters and to corps troops, the corps headquarters was moved 12 April 1944 to Marbury Hall, three miles North of Northwich, England.

Medical units attached to VIII Corps during this period were:

34, 35, 100 and 104 Evacuation Hospitals
16 Field Hospital
64 Medical Group
54 and 174 Medical Battalions
610, 635 and 664 Medical Clearing Companies
429, 436 and 462 Medical Collecting Companies
581, 587 and 594 Medical Ambulance Companies

These attachments remained substantially the same until departure of the corps for the continent.

 79 Infantry Division and 33 Infantry Division were attached to VIII Corps 1 May 1944. Both of these Divisions had just previously arrived in England and as a consequence had but a limited time is which to obtain all equipment authorized by T/O & E. Difficulties were encountered, but by two days before departure for their concentration area all equipment except a few minor items had been obtained.

VIII Corps, although assigned to Third United States Amy, was scheduled to become operational on the continent shortly after "D Day" under First United States Army and then to revert to Third United States Army when it became operational. The same applied to the divisions and most of the corps troops. This entailed difficulties in medical administration in that the plan to operate under First United States Army was classified top secret and could not be divulged to troops. Thus all units were proceeding with their planning under Third United States Army directives and yet were going to have to operate under First United States Army. As a consequence all First United States Any directives applicable to medical units were obtained by the medical section, transported to the continent, and distributed to units at first contact after arrival on the continent.

The principal function of the Medical Section VIII Corps during this period was to assist all units in obtaining medical supply shortages and shortages in personnel in anticipation of continental operations. VIII Corps units obtaining supplies had to travel over most of England , due mainly to the centralization of the corps units in the Northern Midlands and most of the depots being located in Southern England . There was a


4

last minute rush before departure to obtain existing shortages, but all units were fully equipped before departure for the continent.

Medical department personnel from nearly all attached units had the opportunity of attending many and varied schools up to the time of departure of units for their concentration areas. Schools attended were:

(a)  Medical Field Service School
(b)  Plaster Technique
(c)  Treatment of Gas Casualties
(d)  Combat Exhaustion
(e)  Surgical Technicians (EM)
(f)  Medical Technicians (EM)
(g)  Nurses Field Training
(h) D.S. in General Hospitals for Medical Corps and Army Nurse Corps Personnel

Quotas were obtained for these schools in generous quantities while the corps was working directly under European Theater of Operations, and quotas continued to be alloted to the corps regularly while under Third United States Army.

VIII Corps Headquarters and corps troops were alerted on 26 April 1944 for movement to the continent. From this date forward all units were mainly concerned with preparations for movement that involved ob­taining supply shortages and preparing for waterproofing of vehicles.

I June 1944 the Corps Commending General, the Deputy Chief of Staff and representatives from all forward echelon staff sections departed Marbury Hall for their concentration area at Blandford. Colonel Eckhardt, Major Miller, Master Sergeant Falzone and Tec 5 Meacham were the representatives from the Medical Section. Transportation utilized was a truck, 3/4 ton, weapons carrier and a trailer, one ton. Minimum equipment for basic and early operations was all that was taken by the tactical echelon. 8 June the tactical echelon moved from Blandford to staging area number 5 and after a three day stay for waterproofing and final equipping, departed for the docks at Southampton .  Being out of contact with all troops, there was little to be done and as a consequence this was a good rest period for all concerned. A quiet convoy crossing of the channel was made aboard Motor Transport Number 47, arriving off the French coast in the early morning of 12 June. Personnel were transferred to an LCT and the nerve­wracking delay until beaching on the morning of 14 June was underway. The heaviest German air attack was on the night of 13 June when everyone had reason to be nervous, but no one was hit.

The VIII Corps tactical echelon became operational on the continent 141200 June, but having an echelon at Marbury Hall in England we shall move them to France before beginning the battle.

The remainder of the Medical Section continued to function at Marbury Hall until 16 June. Due to the movement of the tactical echelon being classified top secret, all telephone calls and inquiries for any of the departed personnel had to be passed off with a simple statement that they "were away for a few days". This was effective and satisfied inquirers until towards the end of the waiting period some of the more persevering


5

individuals became a bit suspicious. During this period close liaison was maintained with the office of the Surgeon, Third United States Army, and in particular with Major Brown, the Army Medical Supply Officer, who worked tirelessly and effectively to complete the medical supply of all VIII Corps units.

The VIII Corps main echelon moved on 16 June to its concentration area in Dorchester , England . The move started at 0800 and was completed 170300. Each unit received its warning order and movement order directly from European Theater of Operations United States Army during a two week period beginning 14 June. As a consequence there was no contact with corps troops, their not knowing where we were nor vita versa. There was therefore, little to be done other than the carrying on of routine administration so that all personnel bad a good rest for the seven day period in Dorchester . 23 June the move was made to staging area number 6 where waterproofing of vehicles was accomplished. 26 June the move was made directly to the Southampton docks and on to an LST. The port was cleared before sundown, then the convoy was formed and a quiet crossing was completed by noon 27 June. The tide receded and at 1900, in a blinding rain storm, our wheels were spinning on Utah Beach .

Continental Operations

VIII Corps became operational 141200 June under First United States Army at Blosville , France , north of Carentan, with the 82 and 101 Air­borne Divisions attached. The mission of the corps was defensive.

The command post locations and the divisions attached to the corps are indicated in detail on annex "A", "B" and "C" attached hereto.

All medical units attached to VIII Corps were detached upon arrival on the continent except for the Corps Medical Battalion composed of Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 169 Medical Battalion, Separate; 429 Medical Collecting Company, Separate; 465 Medical Collecting Company, Separate and 635 Medical Clearing Company, Separate.  

The corps clearing company routinely established station in the vicinity of the corps command post with one platoon operating and one platoon in reserve. The reserve platoon was used for leapfrogging or occa­sionally to function in support of a division attached to corps when a

division had an extended front or was involved in displacing. The collecting companies were disposed through the corps sector as indicated by concentrations of troops. They rendered dispensary service for units in the corps sector that did not have organic medical personnel, and acted as an emergency reserve for divisions attached to corps by litter, ambulance or station platoons or as complete companies. As a complete company the 429 Medical Collecting company followed a special task force consisting of about three thousand troops, mostly cavalry and tank destroyers, for 150 miles across the Brittany Peninsula rendering complete medical service during this period. The collecting company ambulances were also utilized by attaching one to each artillery and engineer group to give ambulance service to all artillery and engineer battalions attached to their respective groups. This usually accounted for about six ambulances. Medical department officers and enlisted men from the clearing


6

and collecting companies were also used as temporary replacements in the event of personnel losses in separate corps unit medical detachments until reinforcements could be obtained through regular channels.

The medical battalion headquarters sent a representative daily to the corps command post for briefing and during any period when telephone connections were unavailable had a representative stay with the medical section.

The continental operations of the medical section may well be divided into three phases, namely the Normandy campaign, the Brittany Peninsula and Brest campaign, and operations on the Siegfried line.

Throughout the activity in Normandy the fighting was close in on well established lines, very fierce and with resultant heavy casualties, The VIII Corps was an exterior corps throughout this period and in all actions so far in the war. As such in the Normandy campaign, the west coast of the Normandy Peninsula was the right corps boundary. The outstanding observation in this action was the large proportion of combat exhaustion cases in relation to all other disease reported. Maximum pa­tients through any division clearing station in one day were 776. Days with 400 to 500 patients were not uncommon. These figures were not approached however in subsequent campaigns.

The medical section functioned in toto with the forward echelon of the corps in all locations on the continent. For a three week period previous to the 26 July Normandy breakthrough the command post was with­in four miles of the front line. This distance ranged up to twenty two miles when the corps had a defensive mission in Belgium and was even greater when lines were fluid during movement toward Brest on the Brit­tany Peninsula .

The Brittany Peninsula campaign was so fast moving from the time of the 26 July breakthrough that there was not even radio contact with the 4 and 6 Armored Divisions for a week. Evacuation hospitals could not be kept abreast of the action, necessitating in some instances a 125 mile evacuation route. The armored divisions utilized field hospital platoons to the utmost but found that they could not move either when once filled with nontransportable patients. Due to distance, lack of communication, lack of close up medical support and need for an unavailable, number of ambulances to cover the long evacuation route, even civilian hospitals were used in some instances.

VIII Corps was reassigned from First United States Army to Third United States Army when Third Army became operational 1 August. The VIII Corps sector at this time and throughout the seige of Brest consisted roughly of the entire Brittany Peninsula and all of that territory north of the Loire River and west of Angers . There were no front lines, pockets of Germans being at Brest , Lorient , Vannes, St Nazaire and in smaller groups in scattered wooded areas along the entire peninsula. Fortunately this action was completed rapidly and positions were consolidated in the port areas with the scattered pockets being cleaned out by American task forces with the assistance of a well organized FFI [French Forces of the Interior]. Fortunately, because medical service, through the fault of no one, was not and could not be


7

adequate with distances and communications being what they were.

After an eleven day stay at Plerguen, southeast of St Malo, while the capture of the fortress of St Malo was accomplished, the corps moved to Lesneven, northeast of Brest , for the five week period required to re­duce the fortress of Brest . Due to Third United States Army moving east

toward Paris , and a distance of 250 miles between command posts that was being increased at a rapid pace, Third Army attached medical units to corps in order that the corps medical service might function independently. Medical units attached for this operation were:

(a) One medical group headquarters
(b) Three medical battalion headquarters
(c) Three medical clearing companies
(d) Five medical collecting companies
(e) Four medical ambulance companies
(f) Four evacuation hospitals
(g) One field hospital headquarters
(h) Four field hospital units, or platoons
(i)  One medical depot, advance section

Daily briefings were held at 0900 daily for representatives from each of the evacuation hospitals, the medical group and any of the field hospital units that cared to attend.

Ninth United States Army became operational 5 September 1944 with a sector the same as that previously assigned to VIII Corps.

During the Brest operation the 2, 8 and 29 Infantry Divisions were attacking Brest , the 83 Division was patrolling along the Loire River and the 5 Armored Division was containing Lorient . In addition Task Force "A" contained the Crozon Peninsula, a combat team of the 83 Division had the mission of reducing the fortified island offshore from St Malo that blocked the harbor, and Task Force "B" plus other smaller combat units had missions of cleaning out small pockets of Germans in scattered areas of the peninsula. In addition to the normal corps functions and the supervision of medical service for the above listed scattered units, the

additional responsibilities of evacuation hospital administration, evacuation of evacuation hospitals to an air strip at Morlaix and to a beach holding unit near Morlaix, plus the obtaining of unusual quantities of medical supplies consisting mainly of litters and blankets, also became corps functions. The letter activities were in conjunction with and with the cooperation of Brittany Base Section and Twelfth Army Group.

The highlight of the operation from the medical point of view occurred when Brest finally fell on 18 September and 4735 prisoners of war casualties and 928 prisoner of war medical personnel were overrun in the damp, dark dungeons of Brest and on the Crozon Peninsula . These casualties had been accumulating for a month and due to the crowded un­sanitary conditions, immediate evacuation was indicated. All types of available transportation were used and the complete evacuation, except for a few nontransportables, was accomplished in five days. The com­plete breakdown of these cases is contained in Annex "D" attached.


8  

Almost immediately after the fall of Brest the trek across France and Belgium to the eastern front was begun. The corps headquarters started moving 25 September and arrives at its command post location four miles south of Bastogne four days later after an interesting but long and tiring trip. Seven days later, due to extremely cold and wet weather the command post was moved into the Belgian Barracks in Bastogne .

The corps was reassigned from Ninth United States Army to First United States Army 22 October, becoming the southern corps of the army and with an eighty three mile front, defensive mission and three infantry divisions and one armored division attached. At first the infantry divisions were 2, 8 and 83 from north to south. During the next two and a half months these divisions were gradually replaced by the 28 and 4 infantry divisions, both having experienced heavy fighting in the Hurtgen Forest to the north, and by the 106 Infantry Division, newly arrived on the continent. The Ninth Armored Division was mainly utilized in a reserve capacity.

While in Bastogne Colonel Eckhardt was awarded the bronze star for meritorious service rendered from 14 June to 20 September. (See Annex "E" attached)

All was very calm and peaceful along the front and in the headquarters until 16 December when the now famous battle of the bulge and defense of Bastogne had its beginning.

The previously unexperienced confusion of retrograde action ensued. Disrupted communications, and extreme distances between units with Germans infiltrating through the center and north portions of the sector left the medical section out of contact with its flank divisions. The 64 Medical Group, furnishing evacuation for the corps, had to move from its location early in the action and in order to have telephone connections and to maintain close contact with corps, the group commander functioned from the corps surgeon's office for the three days that Bastogne remained tenable for the corps headquarters.  

It appeared advisable to leave Bastogne during the afternoon of 18 December and that evening the headquarters moved to Neufchateau, estab­lishing a command post in a school building in the center of town. As the headquarters was moving out of Bastogne the 101 Airborne Division was moving in to establish its memorable defense. 19 December VIII

Corps was placed under operational control of Third United States Army and 25 December the corps was assigned to Third United States Army.

With the exception of a very few officers and enlisted man, the entire medical company of 101 Airborne Division was captured 19 December. One of the corps collecting companies was immediately dispatched to render medical evacuation for the division to the corps clearing station which they did until the division was isolated.

21 December, as the Germans were approaching Neufchateau, the corps headquarters again displaced, this time to Florenville, where a very unmerry Christmas was faintly observed and a not very joyous New Year was welcomed.


9

General Comments

1. The corps command post was located away from cities, towns and buildings and only under tentage until winter became very evident in early October. Apple orchards, grain fields and small forests were utilized in order. All personnel slept in pup tents. The first buildings utilized were those of the Belgian Barracks in Bastogne .

2. Equipment carried by the medical section was kept to a minimum at all times. It consisted of:

2 command host tents folding tables

4 folding chairs

1 field desk

3 fiber packing boxes

1 map board 5' x 3'

2 typewriters

incidental office supplies

Upon moving into buildings, blackout curtains, a stove, and additional tables and chairs were found to be essentials

3. German hospitals were overrun on six occasions other then at Brest during the fast moving breakthrough period. Patients in these hospitals would have all types of wounds and injuries in widely varied degrees of severity. The number of patients ranged up to two hundred.  In each such case the medical battalion commander would immediately send medical officers and technicians in quantities as indicated to establish who was transportable and who was not. Personnel from the medical battalion would stay with those that were nontransportable and the balance would be immediately evacuated is corps collecting company ambulances.

4. During the Normandy campaign about one half of the metical section personnel were away from the command post each day. Lt Col Shupe concerned himself mainly with sanitary inspections of corps troops and was out almost daily. Colonel Eckhardt and Major Miller concerned themselves mainly with divisional operations. At Brest there were too many medical installations to be concerned with to make frequent visits possible. Also the continuous telephone and personal calls at the command post necessitated all personnel being present at the command post at nearly all times. The static, defensive situation within the corps on the Siegfried Line did not require frequent visits to units. Enlisted personnel routinely accompanied officers on field trips. One Jeep was assigned to the medical section at all times with a second one available from the motor pool on call.

5. Venereal disease rates over the entire period on the continent showed a direct ratio of incidence in proportion to how busy the troops were. Throughout Normandy when all troops were extremely busy there were no new cases incurred on the continent. The other extreme was on the western front when there was no fighting and the troops were being issued passes to Paris and local rest camps. At this time a maximum corps rate of 15 cases per thousand per annum was reported. One divi­sion, during a month in which it was not engaging the enemy, had a rate


10

of 38 cases per thousand per annum.  A decrease in the rate of new cases was evident immediately following the German breakthrough in Belgium .

6. Medical supply was adequate throughout the operational period, in fact the general reaction of using units was all complimentary as to ready availability and quantity of medical equipment and supplies.

7. Insects and rodents were no problem, being very conspicuous by their absence except for the tern day period southeast of St Malo. Here mosquitoes were very prevalent. By using quartermaster insect repellant the disturbing effect of the mosquitoes was nullified.  

Recommendation  

This headquarters has functioned under three armies and has had many units attached that had changed army headquarters even more times, Difficulties were encountered with each change in orienting separate units as to the special requirements of each army in Medical Department reporting procedures. This applied particularly to the submission of the Medical Department Form 86ab Statistical Report and the monthly Sanitary Report and in a lesser degree to all Medical Department reports. It is recommended that reporting procedures be made uniform throughout the field army.

For the Surgeon:

 

[signed]

JOHN F. MARTEN,

Major, M.A.C.

Executive Officer


HEADQUARTERS VIII CORPS
Office of the Surgeon

Annual Report of Medical Department Activities for 1944.

Annex "A":    Command post locations.

Annex "B":    Map indicating command post locations. [withdrawn]

Annex "C":    Graph indicating divisions attached to VIII Corps and dates of attachment.

Annex "D":    Casualty figures for the Brest operation.

Annex "E":    Headquarters VIII Corps, General Order Number 38, 23 September 1944.

Annex "F":    G-1 estimated casualty figures for VIII Corps.