U.S. Army Medical Department, Office of Medical History
Skip Navigation, go to content

HISTORY OF THE OFFICE OF MEDICAL HISTORY

AMEDD BIOGRAPHIES

AMEDD CORPS HISTORY

BOOKS AND DOCUMENTS

HISTORICAL ART WORK & IMAGES

MEDICAL MEMOIRS

AMEDD MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENTS External Link, Opens in New Window

ORGANIZATIONAL HISTORIES

THE SURGEONS GENERAL

ANNUAL REPORTS OF THE SURGEON GENERAL

AMEDD UNIT PATCHES AND LINEAGE

THE AMEDD HISTORIAN NEWSLETTER

Chapter IV

Contents

CHAPTER IV

Troop Medical Care Under Other Commands

Although The Surgeon General, under the Services of Supply, was responsible for all Army medical care, there were three areas in which a medical service developed more or less independently of the Surgeon General's Office. From March 1942 to the end of the war, a surgeon and a staff medical section existed at the headquarters of the Army Ground Forces and of the Army Air Forces. Within the Army Service Forces the Office of the Chief of Transportation was the only functional element, other than the Surgeon General's Office itself, which administered any extensive system of medical care for troops in the United States.1 In the early years of the war it had no medical officers assigned to it, but it controlled medical care afforded by hospitals at ports of embarkation, and on rail and water carriers.

MEDICAL RESPONSIBILITIES OUTSIDE THE SURGEON GENERAL'S OFFICE

The Army Ground Forces was created in March 1942, assuming the training functions of General Headquarters but without responsibility for oversea theaters or bases. Medical Department officers assigned to General Headquarters were reassigned to the new headquarters at the Army War College, where they formed a special staff medical section, originally headed by Col. (later Brig. Gen.) Frederick A. Blesse, MC. To the end of the war this medical office had top responsibility for the training, tactical as well as medical, of Medical Department units assigned to the Army Ground Forces.

The following commands were placed under Army Ground Forces at the outset: the field armies; the Antiaircraft Command, with headquarters originally at Richmond, Va., and later at Fort Bliss, Tex.; the Armored Command, with headquarters at Fort Knox, Ky.; the Replacement and School Command; and the Tank Destroyer Command. These and other subcommands, or training centers, of the Army Ground Forces created in the course of 1942 developed, trained, and equipped specialized fighting units or trained regular units for fighting in certain climatic conditions. Among the chief subcommands added to the Army Ground Forces in the course of the war were: The Airborne Command created in March 1942 with headquarters at Fort Bragg, N.C.; the Desert Training Center, which trained troops for desert fighting in a simulated theater of operations in southern California and Arizona; the Mountain Training Center in Colorado, which trained men to operate over steep terrain at high

    1The Office of the Chief of Engineers operated its own station hospitals in the earlier part of the war, but at bases outside continental United States.


126

altitudes; and the Amphibious Training Center, originally located at Camp Edwards, Mass., and later at Carrabelle, Fla. These subcommands developed and trained specialized types of tactical units-airborne, armored, and mountain divisions and their subordinate elements, and the antiaircraft battalions; the Amphibious Training Center trained several divisions in amphibious operations.

Hence the work of the Ground Medical Section at the Army War College in Washington, D.C., and of the small medical sections at the headquarters of its subordinate commands was chiefly that of developing the Medical Department detachments and mobile units which should render service overseas to the tactical elements mentioned above. These staff medical sections had the functions commonly entrusted to the headquarters medical section of any command in the United States: assigning Medical Department officers and enlisted men to subordinate elements, maintaining channels for distributing medical supplies and equipment throughout their respective commands, and taking the usual measures that fall into the category of preventive medicine. Their direct medical care of ground troops, however, was generally limited to that furnished by dispensaries at ground force installations. For most ground troops, hospitalization was supplied by station or general hospitals under control of the Services of Supply. Only for troops being trained in a simulated theater of operations did the Army Ground Forces operate fixed hospitals of a communications zone type.

After the reorganization of March 1942, responsibilities for training Medical Department units for use in an oversea theater of operations were divided among the Services of Supply, the Army Ground Forces, and the Army Air Forces. Previously, Medical Department units designed for use in oversea theaters of operations had been assigned to the field armies, and then to General Headquarters (predecessor of Army Ground Forces) for training. After the reorganization, those service units (Ordnance, Engineers, and so forth, as well as Medical Department) designed to support troops within the combat zone of a theater of operations were assigned to the Army Ground Forces for activation and training, while those intended to give sup-port within the advance, intermediate, and base sections of the communications zone became the responsibility of the Services of Supply. The third major command of the War Department, the Army Air Forces, was made responsible for certain service units which supported it. In October 1942 the War Department broadened the responsibilities of the Army Ground Forces for the build-up of tactical units by authorizing that command to prepare the tables of organization, tables of equipment, and tables of basic allowances for (as well as to activate and train) the units that served ground elements.2

    2(1) Memorandum, Commanding General, Army Ground Forces, for Commanding General, Services of Supply, 2 June 1942, subject: General and Station Hospitals. (2) Memorandum for Record, Deputy Chief of Staff, Army Ground Forces, 16 Oct. 1942, subject: Journal of Actions Taken. (3) Memorandum, Brig. Gen. Larry B. McAfee, Assistant to The Surgeon General, for Commanding General, Services of Supply, 28 Oct. 1942, subject : Recommendations in Regard to Activation, Control, and Training of Medical Units. (4) Interview, Col. William E. Shambora, MC, formerly Surgeon, Army Ground Forces, 22 Apr. 1949.


127

By January 1943, responsibility for developing tables of organization, equipment, and basic allowances for the following medical units and for training them had devolved upon the Army Ground Forces: Medical battalions, including those for such specialized divisions as the motorized, armored, and mountain divisions; medical squadrons for cavalry divisions; medical regiments; medical companies to serve the airborne divisions; ambulance battalions; animal-drawn companies; veterinary companies; evacuation hospitals, including the motorized type; and medical supply depots. Medical Department units for whose training the Services of Supply was then responsible consisted of general, station, and convalescent hospitals (including veterinary types); veterinary evacuation hospitals; field hospitals; hospital centers; headquarters of Medical Department concentration centers; general dispensaries; general laboratories and laboratories of the army or communications zone; surgical hospitals; sanitary companies; medical gas treatment battalions; hospital trains; three types of units concerned with evacuation by sea-hospital ship platoons, hospital ship companies, and ambulance ship companies; auxiliary surgical groups; detachments for the museum and medical arts service; and medical sections for the headquarters of a communications zone.3

This division of responsibilities that prevailed early in 1943 was by no means final. Many of these units were altered in name, size, or organization; some types were abolished or superseded by others; some new types were developed to meet special oversea needs. A few units, such as the field hospital, were to be used in both the combat and the communications zone, and a few others, such as those used for evacuation of patients by sea from the theater of operations to the United States, did not serve in either zone. Hence many readjustments took place in the list above. Nevertheless, the allocation of responsibilities between the two commands for developing, activating, and training Medical Department units continued to rest, until the end of the war, upon the basis of the zone of the oversea theater within which they were to be employed. The Army Air Forces trained less than half a dozen types of medical units designed to fit the special needs of air troops-chiefly a medical supply, an evacuation, and a dispensary unit.

MEDICAL WORK OF THE ARMY GROUND FORCES

The position of the Ground Medical Section, the office which guided medical activities within the Army Ground Forces and its subordinate commands, within its own headquarters was similar to that which the Surgeon General's Office had had in the War Department before the March reorganization, for Army Ground Forces headquarters had a general staff similar to that of the War Department. The Ground Medical Section had to obtain

    3Tabulation, Responsibility for Tables of Organization of Service Units, 8 Jan. 1943, and amendments, 27 Jan. 1943, Headquarters, Army Ground Forces.


128

concurrence from the elements of this general staff, especially from G-3, which had responsibility for operations and training, and G-4, charged with matters of supply, evacuation, transportation, and construction. Colonel Blesse continued as head of the medical section until December 1942, when he was promoted to brigadier general and sent to North Africa. From the close of 1942 to May 1944, Col. William E. Shambora, MC (fig. 32), served as Ground Surgeon, and from mid-1944 to the close of the war, General Blesse once more. This medical section remained small throughout the war, containing only about a half dozen officers, assigned chiefly to plans and operations, supply, personnel, and preventive medicine. Army Ground Forces headquarters imposed strict limits on the size of its staff sections, and it Was therefore necessary for the Ground Surgeon to get along with a minimum number of officers. Technical information was supplied in the circular letters coming out of the Surgeon General's Office, and specialist personnel were available in the Services of Supply hospitals which served ground troops.4

    4(1) General Order No. 22, Army Ground Forces, 13 July 1942. (2) Ground Medical Section, Chronological file, 1944. (3) Greenfield, Kent Roberts, Palmer, Robert R., and Wiley, Bell I.: Organization of Ground Combat Troops. United States Army in World War II. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1947, p. 359.


129

The Ground Surgeon's Office

However, over the long run the Ground Surgeon, as well as the Surgeon General's Office, noted that a representative of each of the major fields of medical work handled in the Surgeon General's Office was needed in the Ground Medical Section. Many matters-for example, the question of whether a neuropsychiatrist should be added to the staff of the division-called for coordination and conferences between the Surgeon General's Office and the Ground Medical Section. In such cases, General Blesse's office needed an officer with training in the special field concerned to discuss the matter with the Surgeon General's Office. By March 1945, General Blesse (who had returned to Army Ground Forces in May 1944 after a tour of duty as Chief Surgeon of the North African Theater) was pressing for the assignment of additional Medical Department officers to his medical section-particularly to fill the posts of chief of professional services, dental officer, and veterinary officer. Pointing out that the commanding general of each of the three major commands was responsible for the medical service of his component, he noted that the Surgeon General's Office then had 336 officers, the office of the Air Surgeon 63, while the Ground Medical Section contained only 6. However, the office underwent no appreciable increase to the end of the war.5

The Ground Force surgeon's staff traveled throughout the United States inspecting hundreds of medical units activated by Army Ground Forces, as well as health conditions among tactical ground units being readied for oversea duty at maneuver areas and camps of the Army Ground Forces and at the ports of embarkation controlled by the Services of Supply. A good many of their problems, as well as those of the staff surgeons of subordinate commands had to do with establishing measures for protecting the health of, and keeping up standards of physical fitness for, men undergoing rigorous training on maneuvers. The fitness of men being trained for mountain duty, for example, aroused concern among commanding officers at the Mountain Train-ing Center in Colorado, and in 1943 a board of medical officers determined that it would be desirable to establish special physical standards for mountain troops. The Mountain Training Center approved the board's recommendations for special standards, but Army Ground Forces and the Surgeon Gen-eral's Office were alike averse to the establishment of special qualifications for particular types of duties, maintaining that the, two broad categories of general and limited service were adequate. The discussion of physical standards for mountain troops continued until mid-1943, when the commanding general of the Mountain Training Center was given permission to administer

    5(1) Annual Report, Personnel Service, Office of The Surgeon General, 1942. (2), Memorandum, Brig. Gen. Frederick S. Blesse for Brig. Gen. William L. Mitchell, 16 Mar. 1945. (3) Letter, Brig, Gen. Frederick A Blesse to Chief, Historical Division, Office of The Surgeon General, 6 Sept. 1951. (4) Army Ground Forces Memorandum No. 14, 19 May 1945, subject: Allotment of Officers. (5) Medical Department, United States Army. Dental Service in World War II. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1955, p. 33.


130

special tests to units of the center and to have those physically unfit for moun-tain duty reassigned by Army Ground Forces headquarters.6

Through the assignment of some members of the Ground Medical Section to oversea service during periods of combat, the Ground Surgeon and his staff were able to keep in touch with the workings of the field medical service. The experience gained in the early months of 1944 by the Deputy Ground Surgeon, Col. Robert B. Skinner, MC (fig. 33), as surgeon of several task forces in the Southwest Pacific Area and as a member of the Army Ground Forces Board in New Guinea, for example, furnished a basis for the changes which he succeeded in bringing about in the tables of organization and equipment of portable surgical and evacuation hospitals, as well as ideas for incorporation in a training bulletin for the treatment of malaria through suppressive drugs. General Blesse had extensive experience as theater surgeon in the Mediterranean theater of operations before returning to the post of Ground Surgeon in 1944. Oversea experience of these men and of others who returned to serve with the Ground Medical Section enabled them to determine what changes were needed in the tables of organization to be issued by the War Department for Army-wide use. Theater surgeons frequently proposed that sporadic changes and provisional units which they found effective under

    6Study No. 24, Historical Section, Army Ground Forces, 1948, History of the Mountain Training Center. [Official record.]


131

combat or environmental conditions in their theaters be incorporated in tables of organization. It was the Ground Medical Section's task to sift the experience with Medical Department units operating in various areas and under a variety of conditions in order to determine what proposed changes were worthy of incorporation in tables of organization.7

The Armored Force

Of the subcommands concerned with the training of troops for specialized types of combat, the Armored Force, under the command of Maj. Gen. (later Gen.) Jacob L. Devers, was the most nearly independent. From its inception in May 1941 through 1942, the year of its greatest expansion, it trained at Fort Knox many armored units for assignment to corps or armies. Its original headquarters medical section, created in May 1941, consisted of only two officers, both of whom had previously been in charge of medical work in the I Armored Corps. During 1942 the office of the Armored Force surgeon, Col. Albert W. Kenner, MC (fig. 34) (made brigadier general in December, after he had served as Western Task Force surgeon in the North African invasion), bad as its chief task the development of tables of organization and equipment

    7See footnote 4 (2), p. 128.


132

for the medical detachments organic to the armored division and the specialized armored medical battalions equipped with surgical trucks and ambulances-units soon to be tested in the North African campaign. It also prepared instructions for training these units. The office increased during 1942 to 6 officers, 1 warrant officer, and 17 enlisted men, the numbers allotted the medical section by the table of organization for Armored Force headquarters.

During 1942, Colonel Kenner undertook the development of a special laboratory, which the headquarters medical section had proposed in the Summer: of 1941. War Department sanction for this Armored Medical Research Laboratory was obtained in February 1942; it opened when the building to house it was completed in September. Its staff worked in close cooperation with the Surgeon General's Office and with the Office of Scientific Research and Development in Washington. Their task was to do research and experimentation on special industrial and combat hazards to armored force troops. They produced studies on acclimatization of the human body to heat, problems of night vision, the effects of toxic gases, and so forth. The work of the laboratory broadened into an examination of the mental and physical capacities of Armored Force combat troops, together with the planning of their assignments, and the adjustment of the design of tanks and their equipment to accord with these capacities. The Medical Corps officer who commanded the laboratory under the direction of the Armored Force surgeon was an ex: officio, member of the Armored Force Board which conducted tests to determine the combat efficiency of Armored Force vehicles and equipment.8

THE ARMY AIR FORCES AND SUBORDINATE COMMANDS

The medical organization of the Army Air Forces expanded rapidly in 1942, the four continental air forces continuing a rapid buildup in the United States. Large air commands, such as the Flying Training Command and the Air Service Command, each with its own geographic districts or areas for administrative purposes, were set up in 1941 and early 1942. These had direct control of hospitals at their installations. The Office of the Air Surgeon and the medical offices of the continental air commands grew with the general expansion.

Office of the Air Surgeon

The increased powers over its medical service granted to the Army Air Forces by War Department Circular No. 59 of March 1942 and the interpretive memorandum of May have been pointed out. After March the Air Surgeon, Col. David N. W. Grant, MC, made brigadier general in June, reported directly to the Chief of Staff, Army Air Forces. By June his office contained, in addi-

    8(1) Study No. 27, Historical Section, Army Ground Forces, The Armored Force Command and Center, 1946. [Official record.] (2) Historical Report, Armored Medical Research Laboratory, 10 Jan. 1946. [Official record.]


133

tion to an Administrative Section, the following six divisions: Personnel, Plans and Training, Professional Service, Psychological, Research, and Statistical. The first named, the Personnel Division, expanded primarily as the result of the enlarged command control by the Army Air Forces over all personnel assigned to it and the permission which the Air Surgeon obtained in June 1942 to recruit Medical Corps officers directly for the air forces.

Plans and Training Division.-The Plans and Training Division determined requirements for medical personnel, supplies, and facilities and developed training policies for the Army Air Forces. In 1942 its work in the following fields grew rapidly: The development and revision of tables of organization and basic allowances and of equipment lists for the few special medical units of the Army Air Forces; the calculation of hospital beds, types and amounts of hospital construction, and medical supplies needed at posts of the Army Air Forces in the United States; decision as to numbers and specialties of trained Medical Department men needed by the command; the designing of training courses in medical matters peculiar to the Air Forces.

Professional Service Division.-The Professional Service Division in early 1942 had six sections, as follows: Professional Care, Aviation Medicine, Aviation Cadet, Dental, Venereal Disease Control, and Preventive Medicine. The last three of these duplicated certain units within the Office of the Surgeon General, but apparently the Air Surgeon's Office took the position that the special problems of flying personnel justified the existence of parallel units. Although the Air Surgeon had opposed the representation of dental service in his office when the Dental Division, Surgeon General's Office, noted a need for it in September 1941, a Dental Section of the Air Surgeon's Office was established in late January 1942. The program for venereal disease control in the Army Air Forces was largely autonomous, for the Air Surgeon's Office issued many directives establishing policy. (It may be noted that the office of the Army Ground Forces surgeon possessed no venereal disease control officer.) The Air Surgeon never had a Veterinary Corps officer on his staff.

Psychological Division.-The Psychological Division had supervision of the pilot-selection program, which, as pointed out previously, was in large measure decentralized to the Air Corps Replacement Training Centers. Broadly speaking, the latter were charged with administering tests for pilot candidates, whereas the Psychological Division undertook to develop the tests, partly on the basis of psychological research by the School of Aviation Medicine.

Research and Statistical Division.-Until June 1942, when the Research and Statistical Divisions of the Office of the Air Surgeon were separately established, their functions were performed by a combined Research and Statistical Division. Functions in research were: examination of any reported new findings in the field of aviation medicine; the initiation of research studies, especially in the School of Aviation Medicine and the Aero-Medical Laboratory, to inquire into special problems of human adaptation to aircraft performance; the development of special equipment, such as oxygen equipment, to enable the


134

flier to adjust to the special conditions of combat aloft; and supplying information to the aircraft industry on the latest physiologic data developed. The division correlated the statistical results of examinations and tests given Army Air Forces personnel with subsequent performance and made appropriate recommendations.

Supply Division.-In September 1942, a Supply Division was formally created in the Office of the Air Surgeon. Before that date a complete system for handling medical supply throughout the Army Air Forces had not been worked out. Since August 1941, plans for establishing medical supply sections in Air Forces depots had been underway. Five of these opened in 1942: Ogden (Utah) Air Depot; Mobile Air Depot; Warner Robins (Ga.) Air Depot; Rome (N.Y.) Air Depot; and Spokane Air Depot. But throughout the first half of 1942, top responsibility for medical supply in the Air Forces setup had fluctuated between the Office of the Air Surgeon and the Office of the Surgeon, Air Service Command, with the latter handling most of the work. The War Department reorganization of March 1942 made it desirable to clarify the relations of the Air Surgeon's Office with the Office of the Surgeon General in this field. By mutual agreement between The Surgeon General and the Air Surgeon it was decided that the Air Surgeon would prepare estimates of the quantities of medical items needed by the tactical units of the Air Forces and give them to The Surgeon General. The only items to be handled by the medical supply sections of Air Forces depots would be maintenance and field items for the Air Forces tactical units; they would not maintain any medical supplies and equipment for station hospitals or dispensaries in the United States. The Hospital Construction Division, Surgeon General's Office, would calculate requirements for Air Forces medical installations in the United States and give its figures to the Supply Service, Surgeon General's Office, which would arrange for the sending of medical supplies automatically to the Army Air Forces.9

July 1944 reorganization.-The Office of the Air Surgeon continued with seven or eight divisions during 1943 and the first half of 1944. Although its structure was never so elaborate as the Office of the Surgeon General, many of the organizational elements into which it was divided resembled those of the latter, both as to name and as to function. A reorganization of July 1944 decreased the number of officers reporting directly to the Air Surgeon and brought about an organization in his office of the type favored by the Army Air Forces in the latter part of the war. This was the "directorate" system. By November all the divisions of the Air Surgeon's Office were placed under three directors of Administration, Professional Services, and Research (chart 8.) This organization existed with little significant change to the close of the war.

    9(1) Annual Report, Office of the Air Surgeon, 1942. (2) Medical History of the Second Air Force, January 1941-December 1943. [Official record.] (3) Coleman, Hubert A.: Organization and Administration, Army Air Force Medical Service in the Zone of Interior (1948), pp. 138-142. [Official record.]


135

Chart 8.-Office of the Air Surgeon, 21 November 1944

Major Air Commands

At the time of the March reorganization of the War Department, four major air commands were in existence: The Air Service Command, the Ferrying Command, the Technical Training Command, and the Flying Training Command. The medical offices at their headquarters had certain organizational elements necessary to take care of special problems of aviation medical service,10 as well as certain others which duplicated the medical organization in the Services of Supply. No great homogeneity of medical organization existed in these commands. As in the medical sections at the headquarters of most commands, such functions as personnel administration, training, and preventive medicine automatically called for the assignment of Medical Corps officers, or Medical Administrative Corps officers as substitutes.

Air Service Command.-The Air Service Command, established in late 1941, was the major command of the Army Air Forces concerned with supplies, including medical supplies, for air force troops and with the maintenance of aircraft. It was the service arm of the Army Air Forces. The most distinctive feature of its medical service was an extensive health program for the thou-sands of civilians working at its huge industrial facilities. In February 1942, Lt. Col. Lowyd Ballantyne, MC, became the first staff surgeon of the command. The air depots and subdepots operated under the jurisdiction of four air service area commands, each of which had a headquarters near the one of the four continental air forces which it served. By the spring of 1942 each area command had a surgeon assigned. Hospitals for the growing depots were then largely in the blueprint stage. Besides providing the usual medical care for

    10This discussion omits reference to a number of subordinate Army Air Forces commands-some of them shortlived-whose medical work was limited to the normal responsibilities of any command.


136

troops and employees of the command, its medical officers trained personnel as members of the medical sections of two types of tactical units, air depot groups and service groups, then being developed by the Air Service Command.

In July Col. John M. Hargreaves, MC (fig. 35), became surgeon. Taking cognizance of the growing problem of industrial hazards to the rapidly mounting civilian population of the Air Service Command, he placed a Medical Corps officer in charge of Industrial Hygiene Service in the Personnel and Training Branch of his office. By the fall of 1942 the command employed from 130,000 to 140,000 civilians in the United States, largely in the air depots, and about 6,000 overseas. Late in the year a new commanding general, realizing that the command, with its large depot system and heavy preponderance of civilian personnel, was essentially an industrial organization, abolished the staff organization and reorganized the command into divisions. The surgeon became the chief of the medical section. About the end of the year his office in the command's headquarters at Patterson Field at Fairfield, Ohio, consisted of a Medical Personnel and Training Branch and a Medical Supply Branch. A surgeon was stationed at the following headquarters of each of the four air service area commands: Hempstead, N.Y., Fort Worth, Tex., Atlanta, Ga., and Sacramento, Calif.11

Before July 1942, the industrial health problems of civilian workers employed by the Air Corps had been handled along with those of employees of

    11Medical History, Air Technical Service Command, 1 January 1945. [Official record.]


137

the Quartermaster Corps, Ordnance Department, and other services, by officers assigned to the task in the Surgeon General's Office. Industrial medical problems of the Air Service Command depots and facilities presumably closely resembled those of Ordnance, Quartermaster, and Chemical Warfare Service facilities. By mid-1942, however, no special argument of medical problems "peculiar to the Army Air Forces" was needed to justify this duplication of the work of the Surgeon General's Office, for air force commands were now operating their medical service largely independently of the Surgeon General's Office. The latter could do no more than make recommendations on industrial hygiene matters to the medical officers of the Army Air Forces.12

In the spring of 1942, the new medical detachment at Warner Robins Air Depot in Georgia, an Air Service Command installation, was called on to furnish Medical Department officers for tactical units of the command. The station surgeon, Maj. (later Lt. Col.) Richard R. Cameron, MC (fig. 36), aware of the unpreparedness of doctors and dentists from civilian life for field duty, began to give instruction in field medical supply and asked for the support of the Air Surgeon and the Surgeon, Air Service Command (Colonel Hargreaves), in establishing a school for this type of training. In

    12Cook, W. L., Jr.: Preventive Medicine, Occupational Health Division (1946). [Official record.]


138

the fall a Medical Training Section at Warner Robins Air Depot began training men for a newly created type of unit, the medical supply platoon (aviation), which consisted of 2 Medical Administrative Corps officers and 19 enlisted men. (The First Medical Supply Platoon (Aviation) had been created early in the year within the First Air Force.) Field tests made of this unit and experience with it overseas demonstrated its value for supplying medical equipment to rapidly moving combat air squadrons independently of the Services of Supply in forward areas where the latter had no depots. In such areas Army Air Forces general depots were furnished with the medical supply platoons (aviation) necessary to supply the combat units.

The Medical Training Section at Warner Robins Air Depot eventually developed into the Medical Service Training School of the Air Service Command. The school was formally established late in 1943 with Colonel Cameron as Commandant, and was sometimes termed, in reference to the long-established field service school of the Medical Department, "the Carlisle Barracks of the Army Air Forces."13

Air Training Commands.-The training commands of the Army Air Forces faced throughout the war the special medical problems concerned with testing the fitness of personnel for flying and air combat. In January 1942, an Air Corps Flying Training Command was established for the, training of pilots, flying specialists, and combat crews. The three Air Corps replacement training centers, including their psychological research units which had been developed in late 1941 and early 1942, were soon put under the new command, which now had top responsibility for the psychological testing program of Air Corps candidates. The psychological research unit at Maxwell Field, Ala., developed tests of emotion, temperament, and personality, while the one at Kelly Field worked out, in cooperation with the School of Aviation Medicine (that is, the Research Section of the Department of Psychology) at nearby Randolph Field, psychomotor tests and learning measures. In the early months of 1942, these two training centers were swamped with aviation cadets. The third unit, opening in March 1942 at the newly constructed West Coast Replacement Training Center at Santa Ana Army Air Base, Calif., developed tests in the field of intellectual functions and scholastic achievements.

In March 1942, Lt. Col. (later Brig. Gen.) Charles R. Glenn, MC, who had been Surgeon of the West Coast Training Center, became surgeon on the special staff of the Commanding General, Air Corps Flying Training Command, at the latter's headquarters in Washington (later at Fort Worth, Tex.). A fourth psychological research unit, designed to develop tests of observation and attention at another replacement training center (which never came into being), was transformed into a psychological section in Colonel Glenn's office in the spring of 1942 aircrew classification centers took the place of the replace-

    13(1) History, Army Air Forces Medical Service Training School, Robins Field. [Official record.] (2) See footnote 11, p. 136. (3) History of the First Air Force Medical Department, January 1941-December 1944. [Official record.]


139

ment training centers. Aviation cadets went from basic training centers to these classification centers, whence those classified for pilot training went to preflight schools. The surgeon of the aircrew classification center became responsible for the selection of aviation cadets, with the assistance of the director of the psychological research unit and his staff of psychologists. At each classification center a faculty board, including the senior flight surgeon and the director of the psychological research unit, was established to do the actual classification.14

The Army Air Forces Technical Training Command, first established in March 1941 (with headquarters at Chanute Field, Ill., later at Tulsa, Okla., and finally Knollwood, N.C.), had the job of training mechanics and various specialists for ground crews to support combat teams in the air. Doctors assigned to this command rendered the usual medical service to the troops of the command. Since the psychological research units of the Army Air Forces Flying Training Command had the proper personnel and equipment for administering tests of psychomotor skills, they were given responsibility for testing personnel of the Technical Training Command, as well as the combat crews of the Flying Training Command.

In July 1943 the two training commands, flying and technical, were amalgamated into the Army Air Forces Training Command with headquarters at Fort Worth, Tex. This, the largest of the continental air force commands, had a staff surgeon's office; surgeons and medical sections existed at the headquarters of some half-dozen subcommands and surgeons at the posts of each.15

Air Transport Command.-The Air Transport Command, which even-tually had major responsibilities for air evacuation of ill and wounded troops, was established in June 1942. Its predecessor, the Air Corps Ferrying Command, had been created in June 1941 (with headquarters in Washington) to ferry lend-lease planes to the British. Its chief route was then the South Atlantic air route, which ran from Florida through the Caribbean and Brazil and across northern Africa to Cairo. By November the President had authorized the extension of ferrying activities to whatever regions were deemed necessary in order to fulfill lend-lease obligations. In January of the following year, the first medical officer had been assigned to Air Transport Command headquarters, and shortly afterward the Air Surgeon had begun sending medical officers to domestic and foreign stations of the command. By March the command bad acquired a chief surgeon, and a few medical officers and some Medical Department enlisted personnel were stationed at its bases at the following sites: Accra in British West Africa; Kano in Nigeria; Karachi in India; Morrison Field,

    14(1) History of the Army Air Forces Flying Training Command and Its Predecessors, 1 January 1939-7 July 1943 (1 March 1945), vol. II. [Official record.] (2) History of the Army Air Forces Training Command, 1 January 1939--V-J Day (15 June 1946), vol. II [Official record.] (3) See footnote 9 (1), p. 134.
    15(1) See footnote 14 (1). (2) See footnote 14 (2). (3) History of the Army Air Forces Technical Training Command and Its Predecessors, 1 January 1939-7 July 1943 (1 March 1945), vol. I. [Official record.]


140

Fla., and Presque Isle, Maine, jumping-off places for the South Atlantic and North Atlantic air routes, respectively; and a few other domestic bases of the Ferrying Command. In May Lt. Col. (later Col.) Fletcher E. Ammons, MC, had become Surgeon, Ferrying Command, and remained in the post until February 1943. After June 1942 when the Ferrying Command was renamed the Air Transport Command, its task assumed global proportions. During the latter half of 1942 the following "wings," with headquarters as indicated, were established to take care of the job of ferrying planes to many quarters of the globe: North Atlantic Wing, Presque Isle; South Pacific (later Pacific) Wing, Hamilton Field, Calif.; Caribbean Wing, Morrison Field; Africa-Middle East Wing, Accra; South Atlantic Wing, Georgetown, British Guiana, later Natal, Brazil Alaska Wing, Edmonton, Alberta; and India-China Wing, Chabua, India Each wing had a wing surgeon stationed at or near its headquarters and flight surgeons assigned to various airbases along the routes of the wings. The wing surgeon was responsible, through the wing commander, to the Washington headquarters of the Air Transport Command.

The general structure of the Air Transport Command may be likened to the shape of a wheel, with the air routes stretching out like spokes from the United States as a hub. Its wings thus overlapped the Zone of the Interior, Oversea bases and defense commands, and the theaters of operations. The medical service of the separate wings became somewhat independent of Army organization in the theaters in which they were located. Because of its highly mobile operations the Air Transport Command held that subjection of the activities of its wings to theater control was artificial and unfeasible. From its point of view the entire world was one vast theater for its own ferrying activities. In 1942 and 1943 it obtained various statements from the War Department tending to make its wings independent of theater control. Its bids for exemption resulted in conflicting claims of jurisdiction between the staff surgeon at a few oversea theater headquarters and the staff surgeon of the Air Transport Command wing in the locality, especially in areas in which the Air Transport Command wing's task of transferring men and equipment was the major Army activity in the area. Struggles of this kind developed in both Brazil-between the staff surgeons of the U.S. Army Forces in the South Atlantic and of the South Atlantic Wing, Air Transport Command-and in the Gold Coast-between staff surgeons of the U.S. Army Forces in Central Africa and of the Central African Wing, Air Transport Command.16

I Troop Carrier Command, established in June 1942 with headquarters at Stout Field, Indianapolis, Ind., had the task of organizing and training troop carrier units, together with personnel for replacements, and furnishing

    16(1) Medical History, World War II, United States Army Forces, South Atlantic. [Official record.] (2) Annual Report, Surgeon, United States Forces South Atlantic, 1943. (3) Letter, Col. Don G. Hilldrup, to Col. J. H. McNinch, MC, Chief, Historical Division, Office of the Surgeon General, 8 Feb. 1950.


141

them to the oversea theaters.17 These units were designed to transport troops, including gliderborne troops and parachuteborne troops together with their equipment, by air into combat. The medical section began operations in June, when Col. Wood S. Woolford, MC, was made special staff surgeon. The main task of his small office in 1942 was the recruitment of enough medical officers to supply its units. By the end of 1942, 4 wings, comprising 12 groups and 48 squadrons, had been activated; wing, group, and squadron surgeons were procured accordingly. Other major functions of the medical section were to provide medical personnel and service for the bases of I Troop Carrier Command in the United States, to handle medical supplies for tactical units and base installations of the command, and to supervise medical training of the command.

These responsibilities differed little, of course, from. those of the medical section at the headquarters of any large command. The special medical function of I Troop Carrier Command came to be the development of units for evacuating casualties by air. In 1942 the Air Surgeon and Colonel Woolford developed plans f or a standard unit. The training of air evacuation units undertaken in the latter half of 1942 at Bowman Field, Louisville, Ky. (near the command headquarters at Stout Field), was the genesis of the Army Air Forces School of Air Evacuation, which was established at Bowman Field in June 1943. It trained the standard medical air evacuation transport squadrons which the Air Transport Command used; these units attended patients being evacuated by air within theaters and from theaters to the United States. The medical air evacuation transport squadron, the medical supply platoon (aviation) mentioned above, and the medical dispensary detachment (aviation)- designed to provide about a dozen beds at airfields where no hospital facilities were available-and the veterinary detachment, aviation (for food inspection), were the principal medical units developed for oversea use by the Army Air Forces during the war.18

THE TRANSPORTATION CORPS

Within the Transportation Corps, created in July 1942 as a new service under the Services of Supply, developed certain special medical activities which operated under the command of the Services of Supply, but through the Office of the Chief of Transportation rather than the Office of The Surgeon

    17This command was originally established in April 1942 as the Air Transport Command, but is not to be confused with the long-lived Air Transport Command discussed in this section. At the same date that this older Air Transport Command became I Troop Carrier Command, the Air Corps Ferrying Command was renamed Air Transport Command. The older Air Transport Command is not discussed here, as it had no medical section at headquarters.
    18(1) Medical History, I Troop Carrier Command, 30 April 1942-31 December 1944. [Official record.] (2) History of the Medical Department, Air Transport Command, May 1941-December 1944. [Official record.] (3) Flight Surgeon's Handbook, Randolph Field, 30 April 1943. (4) Smith, Clarence McKittrick: The Medical Department: Hospitalization and Evacuation, Zone of Interior. United States Army in World War II. The Technical Services. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1956, pp. 438ff.


142

General. The Chief of Transportation was responsible for directing the movements of Army troops and materiel by rail, highway, and water carriers (not by air) and for operating the necessary field installations and facilities. His jurisdiction embraced both the Army's carriers in the Zone of Interior and the oceangoing vessels which transported men and supplies to and from oversea theaters of operations. Army ports of embarkation were developed at Los Angeles, Seattle, New Orleans, Charleston, Boston, and other coastal cities in addition to the ones which had existed at New York and San Francisco in 1939. The port establishment included staging areas for troops going overseas, storage space, piers, and ships. The port commander directed operations in all these as well as on ships en route from his port to oversea bases.

The port surgeons at Army ports of embarkation, directly responsible to port commanders, operated within this command channel which led back, through the Office of the Chief of Transportation, to Services of Supply head- quarters in Washington. The port surgeon was in charge of medical care furnished at port dispensaries and the station hospital at the port, as well as on transports carrying troops to and from oversea areas. His office had special tasks in connection with the movement of troops overseas; it gave any necessary physical examinations to departing troops and any immunizations which they lacked. It was also responsible for preventive health measures at ports and on transports; it inspected the sanitary conditions at port installations and on ships, supervised the work of disinfecting transports, and recommended the necessary fumigation.

A Veterinary Corps officer in the port surgeon's medical section directed the port veterinary detachment in the inspection of animals and foods of animal origin intended for consumption at port installations and on transports, as well as those being shipped overseas. A Medical Corps officer instructed transport surgeons in the administration of ships' hospitals; a Dental Corps officer advised on the installation of dental facilities on transports and supervised the dental service afforded troops on transports; the Veterinary Corps officer exercised a similar technical supervision over the care of animals being transported overseas. The nursing service at port installations was supervised by a chief nurse in the port surgeon's office. A personnel officer made recommendations relative to the assignment of Medical Department personnel within ports and to transports. As ports of embarkation employed large numbers of civilian employees, some of whom were engaged in hazardous occupations, an officer in charge of industrial medicine supervised a program which embraced a dispensary service for civilian employees, surveys to determine occupational hazards, and the installation of protective devices. Some port surgeons' offices contained a medical supply officer, but at other ports the handling of medical supply was vested in a so-called "port medical supply officer" on the staff of the commanding officer of the port. This arrangement relieved the port surgeon of some of his manifold duties; it resulted in the presence of two Medical Department officers on the port commander's


143

staff-the port surgeon who was responsible for the health of the command, and the port medical supply officer responsible for all medical supplies.

Although the duties of the port surgeon resembled those of a post surgeon, medical administration at a large port was more complex than at most posts, and medical work more varied. At New Orleans in the latter part of 1942, for example, the port surgeon gave technical direction to the work of a camp surgeon for the New Orleans Staging Area (who supervised in his turn eight dispensaries within the staging area), as well as to the activities of the commanding officer of the station hospital located at the port. In size, organization, and functions the port surgeon's office frequently resembled that of a corps area, rather than a post surgeon. Several port surgeons had about 25 officers, representing all Medical Department corps, on their staffs. Both the preventive medicine program and the program of medical care which the port surgeon's office conducted extended over an area which, though much smaller than the corps area, was larger than that for which a post surgeon was usually responsible; in some instances it embraced subports. Like the corps area (or service command) surgeon, the port surgeon worked in close liaison with other officials engaged in public health programs. The port surgeon at the San Francisco Port of Embarkation, for example, was a member of a so-called "Joint Public Health Committee," which handled a rodent control program. Other members were the quarantine officer and other local U.S. Public Health Service officials, the naval district medical officer, and the heads of the local county and city health offices.19

The port surgeon was always under the technical guidance of the Office of The Surgeon General despite the fact that he was within the command channel of the Transportation Corps. In the early part of the war no medical office existed in the Office of the Chief of Transportation in Washington. That office exercised somewhat more centralized control over the medical service at ports after the spring of 1943, however, when The Surgeon General assigned a Medical Department officer to it as liaison officer.

    19(1) Annual reports of the various port surgeons, 1942-1945. (2) Wardlow, Chester: The Transportation Corps : Responsibilities, Organization, and Operations. United States Army in World War II. The Technical Services. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1951, pp. 55-58, 95-110. (3) Medical Department, United States Army. Veterinary Service in World War II. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1962, ch. XV.

Return to the Table of Contents