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HISTORY OF THE OFFICE OF MEDICAL HISTORY
The Philippine Islands Campaign
PLANNING AND OPERATION OF THE LEYTE CAMPAIGN
In October 1944, 2½ years after the loss of Leyte to the Japanese, U.S. troops landed on that island in the first engagement of the Philippine Islands Campaign. Leyte, which constituted the geographic center of the Philippines, was of strategic importance as an airbase and support center for operations in the Luzon-Formosa-China coast area.
In planning medical supply support for the operation, past experience in the Pacific was reviewed, and steps were taken to minimize such common weaknesses as pilferage and breakage, the breakdown of property exchange under conditions of air evacuation, and the loss of supplies and equipment because of excessive humidity.
Built around the X and XXIV Corps, the assault on Leyte was to be the largest amphibious operation of the Pacific war to date (fig. 123). The Surgeon, Sixth U.S. Army, directed that a typical field army type medical service would be used to serve all combat and service troops. Fixed medical support would be furnished by the Army Service Command which would stay in Leyte and be responsible for the buildup of bases for future operations.1
Medical Supply Planning
All units supporting the landings were advised to bring 30 days' medical supplies to the objective area, and the assault troops would carry a 5-day supply. All service units carried a 30-day supply at debarkation.
Resupply plans called for nine assault medical maintenance units, each consisting of 10 days' supply for 10,000 troops, to arrive from A (Assault Day) +15 to A+30. In addition to these, and scheduled to arrive at the same time, were 1,000 litters; 2,000 blankets; 10 million Atabrine (quinacrine hydrochloride) tablets; and 100 cylinders of oxygen. From A-day to A+30, 10 preloaded ships from the San Francisco Port of Embarkation were to arrive with 30 days' medical supplies for 20,000 troops on board. Twelve additional preloaded ships were scheduled to arrive from A+30 to A+60.
One hundred tons of selected nonexpendable medical supplies were to be phased into predetermined points after A+ 40. Thirteen preloaded ships con-
taining 30 days' supply for 60,000 troops were due to arrive from the Central Pacific Area during the period A-day to A+60.2
Medical Supply Support for the XXIV Corps
The XXIV Corps, which had trained in Hawaii in preparation for an assault on Yap Island, left Hawaii on 15 September 1944. When the ultimate destination of the convoy was changed to the Philippines, it became necessary to acquire large quantities of Atabrine, which were issued to troops on board ship. Support of the XXIV Corps was to come from the Central Pacific Area in a unique situation in which the corps was loaned to the Southwest Pacific Area.
Equipment for the corps was palletized to permit easy handling and loading into small craft and sledding on the runners to the initial location. The pallets were waterproofed to facilitate unloading through the surf. Planning and loading of medical supplies was under the supervision of the corps medical supply officer.
The first section of 10 days' supply landed on 10 pallets, each weighing 1,840 pounds, and was carried in by a battalion landing team and the division headquarters ship. The second section, 20 days' supply, was carried in three sections on three attack cargo ships.
In all the XXIV Corps Supply Detachment was divided to increase dispersion and to provide for an easy transition when the corps assumed control of the division dumps on the 6th day. Once established ashore, the small supply team supported a corps, which at times consisted of five divisions, and an unanticipated large-scale civilian medical care program during 5 months of combat. Under the direction of Lt. Clifford C. Long, MAC, and Lt. Harold A. Bates, MAC, a small field army type depot at Dulag, Leyte, and a port medical receiving yard for initial receipt of supplies unloaded over the beach were operated by the 2d Medical Supply Team.
Supply Problems of the XXIV Corps
Because of the large number of civilian casualties from aerial and naval bombardment, more surgical supplies and tetanus antitoxin were needed. Naval vessels, particularly hospital ships, became a ready source of scarce items, even whole field hospital assemblies. The occurrence of rabies and diphtheria required emergency delivery of special drugs.
During a time of "supply plenty," scheduled shipments were generally adequate except for a shortage of calamine lotion.
To support the 11th Airborne Division, which was for a time isolated in the middle of the island, a portable surgical hospital was airdropped. Later, a small airstrip was built which aided in supply.
Resupply of the XXIV Corps was in the form of medical maintenance units sent from west coast ports, supplemented by supplies from the South Pacific Area where a surplus existed. One ship from the South Pacific Area had 10,000 packages of medical material ranging from combat bandages to operating tables, suitable only for permanent or semipermanent installations. Many items, such as whirlpool baths, refrigerators, and Balkan frames, which were considered surplus to combat operations were turned over to the 34th Medical Depot Company which had arrived on 15 December 1944.
Because of the scarcity of firm ground on which to stack supplies and a general lack of dunnage, the bottom tier of supplies often sank out of sight in the deep mud. Despite every effort to recover, clean, and ship these damaged supplies, many of them were lost.
Refrigeration for blood and other medical items, such as penicillin, was scarce. Gas refrigerators had to be replaced with electric refrigerators because the concussion of nearby artillery blew out the gas flame. Since small refrigerators proved to be inadequate, each division medical supply was equipped with one walk-in model, moved on a 2½-ton truck. To offset the lack of power, 5-and 15-kilowatt generators were brought in from the South Pacific Area to meet the needs of various hospitals and clearing stations.
Shortages of such items as Merthiolate, foot powder, paregoric, bismuth, sulfaguanadine, cathartics, and laxatives as well as iodine, Fraser's Solution, and bandages occurred early in the fighting because many of these items were partially expended on ship even before landing due to the long period afloat. The inability of the Southwest Pacific Area depots to supply these drugs made it necessary to have them airshipped from the Pacific Ocean Areas. The combat medical maintenance units designed for smaller operations lacked some necessary items and had insufficient amounts of others.
With the progress of combat operations across Leyte, the XXIV Corps medical supply dump was moved in mid-December to Ormoc, where it was in direct support of action and later supported two divisions operating on the west coast. A section of the 34th Medical Depot Company had relieved the 2d Medical Supply Team to give better support for west coast operations.3
SUPPLY OPERATIONS WITH X CORPS ON LEYTE
The X Corps, composed of the 1st Cavalry and the 24th Infantry Divisions, landed on Leyte with 30 days' medical supplies. Resupply was to be handled by the 21st Medical Supply Platoon (Aviation). Because of light enemy opposition, unloading of supplies was uninterrupted.
By 22 October, however, enemy aircraft had damaged the Liberty ship Thomas, anchored off White Beach and, as a result, medical supplies in its
hold were never unloaded. The Alden, another Liberty ship containing emergency medical supplies, reached the area on 24 October, but was not unloaded until approximately 5 November. Supplies from the Alden even then proved to be valuable in those critical days.
The 21st Medical Supply Platoon (Aviation) moved up to Tacloban (fig. 124), where it set up its depot and operated until relieved on 1 December by an advance section of the 34th Medical Depot Company (map 43).4
Early Supply Problems of X Corps Units
During the latter part of October, the flow of supplies and equipment into Leyte was interrupted by increased Japanese naval activity which reached its peak at the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Transportation was handicapped by the distance from resupply bases, continuous enemy air attacks, and the occurrence of three typhoons, which, with accompanying heavy rainfall, turned the area into a quagmire.
The heavy rains also delayed construction of warehouses and, by making roads impassable, hindered supply support to frontline troops who were being pressed to defeat the recently reinforced Japanese forces. To add to the existing confusion, medical units were being unloaded without their equipment. One field hospital had to be left behind because its equipment was not loaded in the transport assigned to it. In some instances, as much as a month elapsed before the equipment reached the specific unit.
Through use of captured Japanese medical supplies, the problem of caring for large numbers of civilians was eased. It had become so acute that one clearing company had to be set up as a hospital to care exclusively for civilians (fig. 125).
Some units fared well. Lt. Col. John F. Wurz, MC, Surgeon, 32d Infantry Division, reported that efficient planning and supervision permitted superior routing and transporting of medical supplies. The medical supply dump was far enough forward so that all returning ambulances could carry supplies to the front as needed. Supplies were often carried to portable surgical hospitals and aid stations by native litter carriers. Emergency items were requested by radio or telephone and dropped from artillery and liaison planes. Very often, units on the frontlines received these emergency supplies in a matter of minutes.
Property exchange in air evacuation was nonexistent and, to alleviate the resultant shortages, weekly radio requisitions were sent to rear bases, requesting that stock of items lost through air evacuation be sent forward by any available air or water transportation. During this period of an insufficient number of beds, the Army was given much assistance by medical personnel of the U.S. Seventh Fleet which, in addition to providing the facilities of its floating hospital-type LST's (landing ships, tank), also furnished bed space in other types of ships.
During November and December, a total of 33 cases of poliomyelitis were reported. Three respirators were brought in to assist in the treatment of these cases, but because of the almost continuous operation of the respirators, repair part replacement became a major problem. In one instance, a complete respirator was received in lieu of repair parts requisitioned.
In the early stages of combat on Leyte, equipment was often transferred from one hospital to another. A typical example was the 58th Evacuation Hospital which, when moving out of an area and being replaced by the 18th Station Hospital, left all standing tentage, cots, blankets, and certain electrical equipment and, in turn, received replacements either from the 18th Station Hospital or from the Base K (Leyte) supply agencies. Some X-ray and surgical equipment was loaned to the 18th until it could unpack its equipment.5
CHANGES IN THE COMBAT SITUATION
During November 1944, the combat situation on Leyte was at a standstill, and it was felt necessary to commit more troops, which meant more medical supplies. To supply three additional infantry divisions, it was contemplated that eight medical maintenance units would be needed. Supplies of this amount were not available on Leyte, but it was believed that the necessary equipment could be obtained from New Guinea and from the San Francisco Port of Embarkation which supposedly had four ships in the area that could be diverted to Leyte.6
Support of the 77th Infantry Division
The 77th Infantry Division, veterans of the Guam campaign, had sailed from Guam early in November 1944 with a 30-day medical maintenance unit made up from items available in standard resupply blocks and from items drawn from local naval supply facilities. Tongue depressors, applicator sticks, atropine sulfate, and other similar items were not available in sufficient quantity to keep up with the daily demand.
After bivouacing near Dulag, the bulk of the division prepared for the invasion of the west coast of Leyte at Ormoc. Seven tons of the 30 days' medical maintenance unit, loaded at New Guinea, were loaded in the assault convoy in the initial landings. After gathering the components of the maintenance unit from the beaches, a medical dump was established near the division clearing station for resupply of frontline troops. This dump was moved forward with the clearing station, and facilities for resupply by ambulance
to frontline aid stations were always available. Piper Cub aircraft were frequently used to bring penicillin and other needed medical supplies to troops fighting in remote areas.
The offensive of the 77th Division as well as the push of the other four divisions brought an end to the operations of the Sixth U.S. Army on Leyte. On 26 December 1944, the responsibility for all future operations on Leyte passed to the Eighth U.S. Army (fig. 126).7
Operations of the 34th Medical Depot Company
On 1 December 1944, the 34th Medical Depot Company arrived at Leyte, relieving the 21st Medical Supply Platoon and the 2d Supply Team. With the action inreasing in western Leyte during early 1945, a medical supply subdepot was established at Ormoc (map 43).
Meanwhile, construction of warehouses began in December 1944 (fig. 127). Rain and mud made both construction and the storage of supplies before
the completion of the warehouses nearly impossible. Materials-handling equipment was virtually useless. By the middle of March, however, the depot had completed two warehouses and had received forklifts and tractors which greatly reduced the labor involved in handling bulk supplies. Because of the establishment of air and water priorities, outgoing shipments tripled over the shipments of January.
The maintenance section of the 34th Medical Depot Company, by March 1945, was maintaining a 3-day deadline in returning repaired items. To offset a lack of spare parts, the ingenuity of the men in manufacturing needed items was invaluable.
Despite inadequate equipment on hand, the optical section of the depot managed to repair and replace more than 1,350 pairs of spectacles during January. By March, the section had eliminated a serious backlog of prescriptions. Many liberated prisoners, both officers and enlisted men, were issued new spectacles. During March, 4,024 prescriptions were processed.
On 17 May 1945, the 34th and the 78th Medical Base Depot Company, which had arrived from the United States on 31 January, were combined
to form the Base K Medical Depot under the command of Maj. (later Lt. Col.) Eli E. Daman, PhC. The depot supplied approximately 271,000 combat and service troops located in the Visayan Islands as well as a large number of Philippine Civil Affairs Units.8
Recommendations of the Voorhees Survey Team
When Col. Tracy S. Voorhees, JAGD, visited Base K in early December 1944 as a part of his survey of Pacific supply facilities, he noted several serious deficiencies. At that time, no depot construction was going on; therefore, stocks were deteriorating because of the damp weather conditions. Certain items of medical supply were out of stock, and it was impossible to fill some requisitions. Some of the shortage seemed to be caused by delay in unloading ships, and Colonel Voorhees recommended that hospital ships be used to bring in supplies. It was also suggested by Voorhees that the medical supplies be "top loaded" in the San Francisco Port of Embarkation. According to Colonel Voorhees, unbalanced stocks and shortages were caused by delays in interdepot shipments and the lack of aggressive action by the medical section of the Distribution Division. As a solution to these problems of distribution, it was suggested that emergency requisitions by air shipments be initiated for badly needed items.9
Clearing the Way for the Invasion of Luzon
To provide adequate air cover for convoys proceeding to Lingayen Gulf for the invasion of Luzon, it was necessary to clear the island of Mindoro of enemy troops and develop airbases. This task fell to the Western Visayan Task Force which was composed of elements of the 24th and 21st Infantry Divisions and the 503d Regimental Combat Team. The assault began on 15 December 1944, and the island was secure by 31 January 1945.
Initial medical supplies, five medical maintenance units, were stored at San Jose under the control of the 13th Station Hospital. After the initial phase of the operation, the dump was moved to Gil Airdrome. Resupply for Mindoro came from four preloaded ships, each with a 30-day supply, which came from the San Francisco Port of Embarkation (map 44).10
MEDICAL SUPPLY SUPPORT OF THE LUZON OPERATION
The Luzon Campaign, the largest operation in the war against Japan, was highly significant in that it completed the reconquest of the Philippines.
The confusion and slow development at Leyte had caused a postponement of this operation from 20 December 1944 to 9 January 1945.
During the planning phases, many complexities were encountered. Because the Japanese were known to utilize the terrain to the maximum, it was expected that the enemy would make several strong stands in the mountainous areas, and at Bataan and Corregidor. To support the U.S. operations, equipment and supplies were brought in from widely scattered areas of the Pacific as well as from the United States. Very little difficulty was experienced
in procuring supplies, medical units, and shipping space for this operation. Supplies were available in noticeably increased quantities.
Early Supply Support
The initial landing at Lingayen Gulfon 9 January 1945 involved the I and XIV Corps, each with two divisions and supporting troops. The 21st Medical Supply Platoon (Aviation) was designated to operate the Sixth U.S. Army medical supply point in support of the I Corps. While staging on Leyte, the 21st was augmented by the addition of 20 men and 4 trucks which would speed the delivery of medical supplies to corps supply points. Again, as in Leyte, the medical supply plan called for large quantities of resupplies, including blankets, litters, splints, plasma, whole blood, and biologicals, to be brought in during the assault phase and left on the beach where they would be accessible to initial medical aid personnel; and, when the beaches became secure, the supply platoons were to collect the remaining supplies.
As a result of the continuous flow of casualties over the beaches, blankets became a critical item. To alleviate this situation, blankets which had been set aside for the burial program were utilized, and shelter halves were substituted for blankets in the burying of the dead.
Initially, a detachment of the 21st Medical Supply Platoon (Aviation) established a medical supply point at Lingayen in a marketplace which provided a good concrete floor, but no overhead protection. To overcome this, tarpaulins and palm leaves were used as a roof. When the supplies were moved to Dagupan, open storage was all that was available. As a result, loss of supplies from deterioration was high (map 45). This detachment had four mobile refrigerator units filled with whole blood, penicillin, sera, vaccines, and various other biologicals to be used by the troops during the early stages of the operation.
On 11 January 1945, the first group of the Medical Section, Base M, landed on the beach of Lingayen Gulf near San Fabian, 2 days after the main landing force. To take full advantage of his experience in establishing base sections, Col. (later Brig. Gen.) Edgar King, MC, was designated surgeon. Accordingly, he had personnel from his group accompanying each load of supplies to assure segregation and to secure a location of the medical dump. In this instance, the Medical Section had acquired a few buildings in the public market on the outskirts of town, and supplies were moving to storage before the day was over.11
Movement Toward Manila
By 13 January, the 21st Medical Supply Platoon had set up a supply point at San Fabian; but on 23 January, this point was turned over to the 49th Medical Depot Company and the platoon proceeded to Tarlac, which was ideal-
ly located to support a large number of medical treatment facilities. Medical supplies reached Tarlac from Lingayen Gulf by truck and rail and were received and distributed by the 21st, assisted by the 55th Medical Supply Platoon (Aviation) which was in support of the XXIV Corps.
The 49th Medical Depot Company, with its three storage and issue platoons operating separately, had the task of receiving and storing supplies which had come into San Fabian by water and transshipping them to Tarlac and Urdaneta, where the 15th Medical Supply Platoon (Aviation) was operating in support of the I Corps (map 45). The 49th was handicapped somewhat by failure of equipment to arrive. It became necessary to leave behind, in the depot, mobile refrigerators which were part of the Army Blood Bank so that whole blood and biologicals could be stored. The lack of maintenance
equipment and an optical repair unit resulted in much unserviceable equipment remaining in poor condition.
On 30 January, a medical supply point was established at Subic Bay by the XI Corps. Operated by the medical supply officer, XI Corps, and a detachment of enlisted men from the 113th Medical Battalion of the 38th Infantry Division, this supply point was the source of medical supplies for the Corregidor and Bataan operations. Six medical maintenance units arrived on the first medical supply echelon to that area, and 19 airdrops and shipments of medical supplies occurred early in the operation (map 46).
By 6 February, the 55th Medical Supply Platoon, which had previously been supporting the 21st Medical Supply Platoon in the operation of the depot at Tarlac, entered Manila and unloaded its equipment and five truckloads of medical supplies on the grounds of Santo Tomas University before moving to the George Washington School on the next day. For the next 2 weeks, the 55th supplied all troops in the Manila area (map 46). Relieved by the 15th Medical Supply Platoon on 18 February, the 55th proceeded to Urdaneta to support the I Corps Army Air Forces, and Army Service Command troops in that area.
The medical supply depot in Manila was more permanently set up under the stands of the Manila baseball stadium, and medical supplies were trucked in from the depot at Tarlac. By 29 February, when the city of Manila was secure, the 49th Medical Depot Company, relieved at San Fabian by the 58th Medical Base Depot Company, moved to Manila and set up in warehouses in the vicinity of Manila Harbor (fig. 128). After the harbor had been cleared of mines, boobytraps, logs, stumps, and other debris, the area was ready to receive supplies from preloaded ships, which were unloaded at the repaired docks and carefully stored according to type of item.
On 12 March 1945, the 21st Medical Supply Platoon was replaced at Tarlac by the 58th Medical Base Depot Company and the 55th Medical Supply Platoon (Aviation) which had been at Urdaneta since mid-February. Between 12 and 21 March, 350 requisitions were filled. The 21st moved to Urdaneta where it maintained a reserve stock of supplies. After closing the depot at Urdaneta on 24 March, the unit moved to San Jose with a 15-day supply level to support I Corps troops in that area.12
Problems of Resupply
From D-day, 9 January, to 31 March 1945, 28 block-loaded ships, carrying 56 medical maintenance units, arrived in the Luzon area from the San Francisco Port of Embarkation. This represented a 30-day supply for 560,000 troops. As experienced in other operations and in other theaters, many blocks of supplies were unbalanced with overages in some nonessential items, such as boric acid, oxygen, dextrose in normal saline solution, prophylactics, sheet wadding, and plaster of paris bandages. Ironically, an oxygen shortage developed because of the failure to refill empty cylinders. Radio requests to rear bases for mechanical prophylactics were evidently ignored until 25 February when 4,000 gross of mechanical prophylactics were received and followed up by 1,123 gross received by air. Five percent dextrose in normal saline solution was short because of the increased use of this item in the treatment of hepatitis.
The increased use of sheet wadding and plaster of paris bandages in the treatment of soft tissue wounds and fractures had caused shortages of these items.
During January through March 1945, 66 airdrops totaling 27,000 pounds of supplies were made by the 11th Cargo Supply Group. Forty-six of the airdrops were made for guerrillas (fig. 129).13
Continued Supply Support
Fighting in the southern part of Luzon and in the mountainous regions was going on while cleanup of Manila was in progress. On 30 March, the 15th
Medical Supply Platoon (Aviation) was relieved in Manila and proceeded to Batangas (Batangas Province) to establish an Army medical supply depot in that area in support of XIV Corps, Army, and Services of Supply units. The initial supply of four medical maintenance units was received. The Batangas supply point closed on 22 May and the unit moved to Lipa where it continued to support the XIV Corps (map 47).
The responsibility of mopping up on Luzon passed from the Sixth U.S. Army to the Eighth U.S. Army in June 1945, when the Sixth U.S. Army was assigned the responsibility of training and reequipping units for the invasion of Japan.
The 61st Medical Base Depot Company, which had been operating at Base X (Manila) after arriving on Luzon on 19 March, sent a detachment of one officer and nine enlisted men on 29 June to San Jose, where it assisted the 55th Medical Supply Platoon (Aviation) in the operation of a transshipment point. Another detachment of 2 officers and 20 enlisted men was sent ahead to Bayombong, where it set up the distribution point for troops operating in the Cagayan Valley. Supplies were received by rail from San Jose and shipped out to units by truck (map 45). A third detachment of the 61st, consisting of one officer and six enlisted men, set up a point at Aparri on the north coast of Luzon. One medical maintenance unit was used to supply troops in the immediate area and as far south as Tuguegarao.14
MEDICAL SUPPLY IN THE SOUTHERN PHILIPPINES
While the fighting on Luzon was well underway, operations against the Japanese in the southern Philippines had begun with invasions of Palawan, the western-most island in the archipelago, and the Zamboanga Peninsula of southwestern Mindanao. These areas were of vital importance as potential sites for airfields.
Supplies for the Palawan Operation
In the Palawan operation, which began on 28 February, the task force, composed principally of the 186th Regimental Combat Team backed up by certain nondivisional units, carried in a 15-day level of supplies and set up a supply point in the 168th Evacuation Hospital near Puerto Princesa city.
A 60-day resupply was further augmented by two block-loaded ships which arrived in the area on 6 March and 1 April, respectively. All emergency
radio requisitions were made to Base K and delivery was made in a matter of hours either by evacuation planes or by an Eighth U.S. Army courier plane.
Support of the Zamboanga Operation
The Zamboanga operation, launched on 10 March 1945, was designed to push the Japanese from southwestern Mindanao and thus provide additional airstrips. Troops of the 41st Infantry Division carried 15 days' initial supply. Requisitions prepared for the operation consisted of 30 days' resupply, and further resupply was provided by two block-loaded vessels arriving in Zamboanga on 18 and 30 March.
A divisional medical supply point was established in prefabricated warehouses at Zamboanga (fig. 130) by the division medical battalion (map 48).
Supply Support for Central Visayan Operations
Even before the Zamboanga-Sulu region had been secured, the Eighth U.S. Army initiated operations to secure the central Visayan Islands of Panay and Negros. The reinforced 40th Infantry Division and the 503d Parachute Regiment were prepared for this assault.
After launching its assault on Panay on 19 March 1945, the 40th Division established a medical supply point in an existing building in Iloilo (map 48). When they arrived in the operational area, the division had 15 days of initial supplies. Requisitions for 30 days' resupply were prepared and sent to Base K. Further resupply was furnished by block-loaded ships, one arriving at Iloilo on 25 March. Emergency radio requisitions for items such as whole blood, penicillin, biologicals, and other critical items were forwarded by the division to Base K. Delivery was usually accomplished within a matter of hours by the use of evacuation planes bound for the operational area or by use of the Eighth U.S. Army courier plane.
The assault troops of the 40th Division carried 160 pints of whole blood into the operation. Flown to the division were 1,424 pints, making a total of 1,584 pints of whole blood used.
During the latter phase of the operation, the 52d and 53d Infantry Regiments (Philippine Army) were activated on Panay and Negros Islands. Requisitions for medical supplies and equipment for these units and their attached service units were prepared by the 40th Division, edited by the Eighth Unit.
Army, and filled by Base K. Shipment of the same was made to supply officers of the regiments concerned.
On 26 March 1945, the Americal Division launched a three-part operation to clear Cebu Island, Bohol Island, and the southern section of Negros Island.
The initial supply and resupply for the operation was the same as in the Panay-Negros operation. In the initial landing, Americal Division troops carried in 192 pints of whole blood. Additional amounts required were ordered from Base K and were delivered by evacuation plane or courier plane. A total
of 2,648 pints of blood were received by the Americal Division during the operation. On 15 June 1945, all supply responsibility for Cebu was assumed by Base S, established on that island.
Supply Support for the Conquest of Eastern Mindanao
Eastern Mindanao, the remaining Japanese-held area of the southern Philippines, was the target of the 24th and 31st Infantry Divisions of the X Corps which landed on 17 April at Illana Bay. Troops of the X Corps carried in a 30-day initial supply of medical items. Requisitions for automatic resupply were initiated by the X Corps and delivered by four double-block loaded ships from the San Francisco Port of Embarkation.
The Commanding General, X Corps, was responsible for the maintenance of a 30-day level of medical supplies and for the storage and distribution of medical supplies and whole blood in the objective area.
The only major supply problem was the procurement of sufficient refrigeration for medical units. Temporarily, an Australian-made mobile refrigeration unit was used in the 656th Clearing Company.
By 21 April, the 74th Medical Base Depot Company was operating a medical supply point at Parang in squad tents (fig. 131). Prefabricated buildings allotted to house the depot were never erected at Parang because of plans to move to Agusan by 11 June (map 48).
Emergency requisitions, mainly for oxygen and biologicals, were sent directly to Base K, and shipments were expedited by use of the 403d Troop Carrier Group evacuation planes which were bound for the particular area where the supplies were needed.
Units carried 1,064 pints of whole blood into the operation. Automatic resupply of whole blood to X Corps at Malabang was established at 240 pints every 3 days. Shipments commenced on 27 April and continued until 19 June when automatic resupply was diverted to Valencia and Libby airfields.
Following a field inspection held on 7 June, it was recommended that the 99th Evacuation Hospital, which was supporting the advancing 31st Infantry Division, be supplied with the equipment needed to expand an additional 250 beds. The requisition was initiated by Headquarters, Eighth U.S. Army, and the necessary equipment was flown in immediately by evacuation planes.15
Lessons Learned in the Philippine Islands Campaign
In the Philippine Islands Campaign, medical supplies were generally plentiful. However, it became evident, particularly in Mindanao, that it was a necessity to have adequate refrigeration for blood, penicillin, and other biologicals made available to all units before embarkation to avoid resulting shortages caused by reallocation.
In this campaign, more than in any previous operation, the use of evacuation and courier planes for swift delivery of emergency items of requisition proved invaluable in the saving of human life. Close coordination between Base K and troop carrier air groups made this possible.
In the Leyte operation, especially, it was learned that the normal medical maintenance unit could not be relied on, as there were excessive amounts of little-used items like X-ray supplies, acetone, Mapharsen, and absorbent cotton in 1-pound rolls while items, such as foot powder, tincture Merthiolate, aspirin, and hydrogen peroxide, were in scarce supply.16