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VIII Corps: Medical Support in the Battle of the Bulge

Table of Contents

VIII Corps:

Medical Support in the

Battle of the Bulge

In addition to the organic medical support provided in its infantry and armored divisions, the VIII Corps, First U.S. Army, in the opening days of the Battle of the Bulge possessed a well-organized and experienced medical support structure with the 64th Medical Group and its two separate medical battalions, the 169th Medical Battalion (Separate), acting as a corps medical battalion, three 400-bed semi-mobile evacuation hospitals (102d, 107th, and 110th), and one field hospital, the 42d.

After completing operations with Ninth U.S. Army on the Brittany Peninsula in late September 1944, the VIII Corps moved to the area of southeastern Belgium, Luxembourg, and northeastern France where it remained when Headquarters, Ninth U.S. Army, was transferred to the north of First U.S. Army, to which the VIII Corps was now once again assigned on 22 October 1944. 

Following the heavy fighting in the Hürtgen Forest under the V Corps, the 28th Infantry Division switched assignments with the VIII Corps' 8th Infantry Division and moved into the quiet Ardennes sector in Luxembourg to recuperate and refit. Another switch brought to the corps the equally exhausted 4th Infantry Division, which replaced the 83d Infantry Division to the south of the 28th. In early December 1944, the VIII Corps added the recently arrived and green 106th Infantry Division, replacing the 2d Infantry Division and anchoring the link to the V Corps to the north, with the 28th in the middle and the 4th in the south tying in with the III Corps of Lt. Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.'s Third U.S. Army. Armored support came from the 9th Armored Division, another untested division, which had one of its three combat commands (Combat Command B) temporarily on detached service with the V Corps as of early December. The 9th Armored Division's remaining Combat Commands A and R (also called C) were located for general support behind the frontline infantry divisions, CC A in the south in the vicinity of Meysembourg, east of Mersch, Luxembourg, and CC R in the north in the area of Troisvierges and Asselborn, Luxembourg.

Col. Richard H. Eckhardt, MC, was the Surgeon, VIII Corps. He was located at Bastogne, Belgium, with the Maj. Gen. Troy H. Middleton and the corps headquarters after October 1944. The topography and width of the corps' long front dictated that medical facilities were stretched out to provide the best possible coverage for the frontline combat units as well as the rear area service troops.

The 64th Medical Group under Col. H. E. Zittel, MC, provided general medical support and evacuation services to the VIII Corps, First U.S. Army, from the time that the corps arrived in the United Kingdom in February 1944. The 64th arrived in France in late July 1944 and entered active operations on 1 August supporting the 4th and 6th Armored Divisions and 8th and 79th Infantry Divisions.

The 64th operated with two separate medical battalions and a constantly changing assortment of medical clearing, collecting, and ambulance companies and field hospitals to carry out its assigned functions. The 64th had first occupied its command post in Luxembourg early in October 1944 when it located in the "Kloister" at Cinqfontaines, about two miles southeast of Troisvierges. This put it within easy driving distance of corps headquarters and the corps surgeon , Col. Eckhardt, at Bastogne. One of the 64th Medical Group's separate medical battalion, the 170th under Lt. Col. James K. Goldstene, MC, had headquarters at Mamer, Luxembourg and operated on the southern sector of the VIII Corps' front. As of 15 December, the 170th was organized as follows:  590th Ambulance Company at Capellen evacuating the 110th Evacuation Hospital at Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg; CCA, 9th Armored Division at Meysembourg; and the 4th Infantry Division clearing station at Walferdange, just north of Luxembourg City; the 595th Ambulance Company at Mamer evacuating the 623d Medical Clearing Company's platoons at Longuyon, France, and Schifflange, Luxembourg (supporting 110th Evacuation Hospital); and the 623d Medical Clearing Company at Schifflange with platoons at Longuyon and Schifflange.

The other battalion, the 240th Medical Battalion under Lt. Col. Melvin F. Eyerman, MC, operated on the northern and central sectors and was located with the 64th at the "Kloister" along with the headquarters of the 580th and 581st Ambulance Companies. The 580th Ambulance Company was charged with evacuating the 28th Infantry Division clearing sections at Wiltz, Clervaux, and Ettelbrück; Hospitalization Unit No. 1, 42d Field Hospital, at Wiltz; the 635th Medical Clearing Company (VIII Corps) at Troisvierges; and the 106th Infantry Division clearing station at St. Vith. The second ambulance company, the 581st, was charged with evacuating Hospitalization Unit No. 3 and 106th Infantry Division clearing station at St. Vith, Belgium; CC R, 9th Armored Division, at Asselborn; and the 107th Evcuation Hospital outside of Clervaux. The 419th Medical Collecting Company was attached to the 102d Evacuation Hospital at Ettelbrück providing ambulance and litter bearer support and operating prophylactic stations at Arlon and Bastogne, Belgum. The final element of the 240th Medical Battalion was the 42d Field Hospital whose headquarters was collocated with Hospitalization Unit No. 3 near St. Vith supporting the clearing station, Company D, 331st Medical Battalion, 106th Infantry Division. Hospitalization Unit No. 1 was at Wiltz supporting one of the 28th Infantry Division's clearing sections (Company D, 103d Medical Battalion), and Hospitalization Unit No. 2 was at Walferdange located with Company D, 4th Medical Battalion, 4th Infantry Division.

Each of the 42d Field Hospital's units was augmented with special trauma surgical teams from the 3d Auxiliary Surgical Group (Third Aux). The auxiliary surgical group was composed of 64 hand-picked surgical teams, usually consisting of 2-3 surgeons, 1 anesthesiologist/anesthetist, 1-2 nurses, and 2-3 surgical technicians, which were dispatched to field hospitals to augment them during major combat operations to handle non-transportable casualties. Each field army in Europe had one auxiliary surgical group attached, and the 3d was attached to the First U.S. Army and located with the First Army surgeon at Spa, Belgium. Team 5 was with the Hospitalization Unit No. 2 at Walferdange, Team 11 was at Wiltz, and Teams 19 and 21 were at St. Vith.

The Troisvierges area was a medical support concentration point of sorts with the 64th Medical Group and its units at Cinqfontaines and the 169th Medical Battalion of Lt. Col. Steele and its 635th Medical Clearing Company in the town proper. Both of the 169th's organizations occupied the Hotel Zum Bahnhof and nearby buildings at the railroad station on the western edge of the town after 9 October 1944.  The 169th was mainly in the business of operating dispensary, litter-bearer, and ambulance services for rear-echelon service troops located throughout the corps sector. The 635th was a corps clearing station. Two other collecting companies attached to the 169th Medical Battalion provided similar services after October-the 465th at Nieder Emmels, Belgium, near St. Vith, and the 429th at Niederwampach, Luxembourg, near the Belgian border east of Bastogne.

The VIII Corps's extended frontline force Col. Eckhardt to disperse his resources along the front. Ambulance support and the 3d Hospitalization Unit, 42d Field Hospital, were at St. Vith in support of the clearing station of the 106th's 331st Medical Battalion. Due to the 28th Infantry Division's long frontage, its 103d Medical Battalion was split into an unusual configuration of three clearing station sections at Clervaux, Ettelbrück, and Wiltz, Luxembourg. The 1st Hospitalization Unit, 42d Field Hospital, was located in the girl's boarding school in the Chateau in Wiltz, and the 581st Ambulance Company provided evacuation support to both the 103d Medical Battalion clearing section and the Hospitalization Unit No. 1. The 2d Hospitalization Unit, 42d Field Hospital, was located at Walferdange, Luxembourg, and supported the 4th Infantry Division.

Early in December, the VIII Corps had three evacuation hospitals-the 102d, 107th, and 110th. The 102d Evacuation Hospital had been at the Chateau Roumont at Libin, Belgium, from 6 October until 20 November when it relocated with the attached 419th Medical Collecting Company to the Agricultural College in Ettelbrück to shorten the ambulance haul from the frontline units. The 107th Evacuation Hospital had been set up in German prefabricated buildings in fields just to the west of Clervaux and about 12 miles northeast of Bastogne since October, but at the beginning of December it had closed in preparation for movement. The 110th Evacuation Hospital was at Esch-sur-Alzette on the French border to the south of Luxembourg City.

Medical Order of Battle, VIII Corps, as of 15 December 1944

Corps Surgeon - Bastogne, BE

4th Infantry Division -

           Surgeon & 4th Medical Battalion -  Walferdange, Luxembourg

9th Armored Division

           Surgeon - Meysembourg, Luxembourg

           2d Armored Medical Battalion

                       Headquarters - Tuntange, LU

                       Company A, Combat Command A - Chateau Meysembourg, LU

                       Company B, Combat Command B - detached service with V Corps

                       Company C. Combat Command R - Asselborn, LU

28th Infantry Division

           Surgeon - Wiltz, LU

           103d Medical Battalion

                       Headquarters - Wiltz

                       Company A, 109th Infantry Regiment - Ettelbrück,LU

                       Company B, 110th Infantry Regiment - Kautenbach, LU

                       Company C, 112th Infantry Regiment - Weiswampach, LU

                       Company D, Clearing Station

                                   1st Platoon - Wiltz, LU

                                   1 section, 2d Platoon - Clervaux, LU

                                   1 section, 2d Platoon - Ettelbrück, LU

106th Infantry Division

           Surgeon - St. Vith, BE

           331st Medical Battalion

                        Headquarters - St. Vith, BE

                        Company A, 422d Infantry Regiment - Andler, BE

                        Company B, 423d Infantry Regiment - Buchet, GE

                        Company C, 424th Infantry Regiment - Steinebrück, BE

                        Company D, Clearing Station - St. Vith, BE

64th Medical Group - Cinqfontaines, LU

       170th Medical Battalion - Mamer, LU

                        590th Ambulance Company - Capellen, LU

                        595th Ambulance Company - Mamer, LU

                        623d Medical Clearing Company - Schifflange, LU

       240th Medical Battalion - Cinqfontaines, LU

                    580th Ambulance Company - Cinqfontaines, LU

                      581st Ambulance Company - Cinqfontaines, LU

                        419th Medical Collecting Company - Ettelbrück, LU

          42d Field Hospital

                                   Headquarters - St. Vith, BE

                                   Hospitalization Unit No. 1 - Wiltz, LU

                                   Hospitalization Unit No. 2 - Walferdange, LU

                                   Hospitalization Unit No. 3 - St. Vith, BE

169th Medical Battalion (Separate) - Troisvierges, LU

       429th Medical Collecting Company - Nieder Emmels, BE

       465th Medical Collecting Company - Niederwampach, LU

       635th Medical Clearing Company - Troisvierges, LU

102d Evacuation Hospital - Ettelbrück, LU

107th Evacuation Hospital - Clervaux, LU

110th Evacuation Hospital - Esch-sur-Alzette, LU

John T. Greenwood, Ph.D.
Office of Medical History
Office of The Surgeon General, U. S. Army