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

Preface

Contents

Preface

In the spring of 1945, while serving as senior consultant in orthopedic surgery in the European Theater of Operations, I received a letter from Brig. Gen. Fred W. Rankin, chief consultant in surgery, Office of The Surgeon General, asking me to serve as editor of the volumes on orthopedic surgery in the history of the United States Army Medical Department in World War II. To carry out that objective, all junior consultants in orthopedic surgery in the European theater, as well as many chiefs of section, were requested to supply information concerning their experiences in the care of wounds and injuries involving the bones and joints. Some 25 of these officers furnished reports and clinical studies, and these data, together with my own observations and comments as senior consultant in orthopedic surgery, made up the report from which the story of orthopedic surgery in the European Theater of Operations has been written. This theater had the largest number of troops deployed of any of the theaters of operations and also had the largest number of hospitals and the greatest number of medical personnel.

Although these reports were written early in 1946, various delays in publication occurred. In November 1953, an advisory editorial board for the history of surgery, World War II, Medical Department, United States Army, was constituted. Dr. Alfred Shands (formerly colonel, MC, assigned to the Army Air Force) and I were asked to survey the orthopedic material available. We read, and wrote critiques upon, more than a hundred manuscripts, chiefly from the Zone of Interior. These manuscripts have been utilized to prepare the story of orthopedic surgery in the Zone of Interior and to supplement the history of this specialty in the European theater and the Pacific theaters.

Perhaps we should not be unduly discouraged by the length of time it has taken to prepare this history. The last of the 6 volumes which make up the Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion did not appear until 1888, 23 years after General Lee's surrender at Appomattox Courthouse. Similarly, some of the volumes of the Medical Department of the United States Army in the World War did not appear until 1928, 10 years after the so-called armistice of 1918.

A special debt of gratitude is owed to Miss Elizabeth M. McFetridge for her patient and untiring efforts throughout these years in correlating the material and providing the authors with invaluable assistance and encouragement. I would also like to express appreciation to Mr. Herman Van Cott, chief, Medical Illustration Service, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, and to his staff for their valuable contribution in preparing for publication all illustrations in this volume.

We who were privileged to serve as medical and surgical consultants in the European theater owe a great deal to our Chief Surgeon, Maj. Gen. Paul R. Hawley, MC, United States Army.


We also owe a great deal to the late Dr. Elliott C. Cutler, onetime colonel, then brigadier general, Medical Corps, Army of the United States, chief surgical consultant in the European theater. In 1946, Dr. Cutler read the report from the European theater from which this history of orthopedic surgery in the theater has been prepared and wrote a foreword for it, as follows:

This volume contains material which will be of value and interest not only to the military surgeon but to those interested in bone and joint surgery in civil life. All surgeons know that wars have given great impetus to their art, and that many of the forward steps in our work have been the result of battlefield experiences. The recent war is no exception to preceding history. The matter of the proper handling of the combined major nerve injury and the compound fracture was varied and unsatisfactory until the experience of the recent war. Now, as can be learned by those who turn the pages of this volume, this difficult problem is settled and can be taught to the growing generation of doctors as a final, useful part of their education. Similarly, there are many other problems of equal importance which this war, with the benefits permitted by modern antibiotics, has given to our profession. That the orthopedic surgeon was sufficiently wide awake, well educated and alert to utilize all of the data available to him, and make such great strides forward, is a tribute to his education and the great experience afforded him by the war.

Having seen at first hand much that is written of in this volume, I can recommend it to all surgeons as a compendium of military experience now ready for use in the broad field of surgery and particularly in the surgery of bones and joints, as an excellent summary of where we stand today in this important field. The former senior consultant in orthopedic surgery for the European Theater of Operations writes with the voice of authority. Of the 16,000 civilian doctors serving as medical officers in the Army of the United States in the European Theater of War, those working in the field of orthopedic surgery shared mightily in the occasion, for injury to bone was a most frequent happening and the direct responsibility for the guiding of these orthopedic surgeons was that of the senior consultant. His directives, when sent out after careful evaluation, brought a standard form of surgery to those in his special field. This experience is now available to all.

These remarks, prepared by Dr. Cutler in 1946, are still valid almost 10 years later. They summarize excellently the orthopedic experience in World War II and the lessons to be learned from that experience, not only for a future war but for orthopedic surgery in a world at peace.

MATHER CLEVELAND, M. D.,
Colonel, MC, AUS,
Formerly Senior Consultant in Orthopedic Surgery,
European Theater of Operations.

RETURN TO TABLE OF CONTENTS