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Chapter X



Europe: Combat Operations on the Continent


First Beach Operations

After months of planning and careful preparation, medical supply operations began on the continent of Europe with the landing on D-day (6 June 1944) of the second squad of the first section, 1st Medical Depot Company, in support of elements of the 1st and 29th Infantry Divisions on Omaha Beach. The remainder of the section was unable to land until D+1 because of intense enemy action.

Late on the afternoon of D+1, the first medical maintenance units were laid ashore; however, before these supplies could be relocated, significant portions were lost to the tide. Because of the strong enemy resistance, the first section, Advance Depot Platoon of the 1st Medical Depot Company, was compelled to set up issue points virtually at the high waterline and to use salvaged supplies and reserve stocks.

On the morning of D+2, an advance platoon of the 32d Medical Depot Company, commanded by Maj. (later Lt. Col.) Howard F. White, MSC, landed, and by the afternoon of D+3, the first Army medical supply dump in France was established at Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer, less than a mile from Omaha Beach (fig. 75).

Unlike the situation at Omaha Beach, bulk shipments of medical supplies did not arrive on Utah Beach until D+2, and the first section of the Advance Depot Platoon, 31st Medical Depot Company, arrived ashore on the night of D+2. By D+3, the second section of the Advance Depot Platoon, 1st Medical Depot Company, arrived and took over the beach issue; the remainder of the platoon of the 31st, meanwhile, was setting up the first medical supply dump in the Utah sector near Le Grand Chemin (map 13), 3 miles from Utah Beach in the vicinity of the landing areas for the 82d and 101st Airborne Divisions.1

Early Supply Problems

During the first few days, the unloading of medical cargo was irregular, delayed, and confused. One of the biggest problems was locating and gathering medical supply boxes, which were mingled with the mass of other supplies along the beach areas. Use of supplemental methods of resupply, such

1(1) Annual Report of Medical Activities, First U.S. Army, 1944. (2) Annual Report, 1st Medical Depot Company, 1944. (3) Annual Report, 32d Medical Depot Company, 1944. (4) Annual Report, 31st Medical Depot Company, 1944.


FIGURE 75.-Medical care on Omaha Beach, June 1944. Note the absence of a litter.

as mortar shell cases, assault vest, and two-man carry maintenance units, averted many emergencies and crises. Block shipments on LST's (landing ships, tank), discharged on the Continent by the Navy as planned, provided a sustaining stock of litters and blankets. In the first 14 days, more than 30,000 litters, 96,000 blankets, and other replenishment items were brought ashore by this means.

Packing lists, which were to be attached to the outside of skid-loaded medical maintenance units, were frequently lost, necessitating opening numerous boxes to locate sufficient quantities of one item to fill a single requisition. By doing this, the waterproofed packing was destroyed, leaving the supplies unprotected from the weather until they could be placed under tentage or other covered storage.

It was planned that hospital ships would deliver the bulk of whole blood during the first few days of the assault to augment LST deliveries and build up a comfortable reserve pending air shipments. It was necessary, however, to interrupt hospital ship schedules until mines could be cleared away. The delay caused concern, particularly on Utah Beach. The first C-47 planes carrying blood arrived at Omaha Beach on D+4; shipments to Utah Beach took place a


MAP 13.-Medical supply depots on the Normandy Beachhead and the Cotentin Peninsula, June-July 1944.

few days later. During late June, the delivery of penicillin also became a problem. Because stocks were waiting to be unloaded from ships immobilized in the English Channel, emergency air shipments had to be sent from the United States to ease the situation.

Transshipment of supplies, including blood and penicillin, between the beaches was virtually impossible.

Hospital assemblies.-One of the most serious problems during the early days was the inability of hospital units to locate and reassemble components of their equipment. To avoid this situation, Maj. (later Lt. Col.) Kenneth E. Richards, MAC, Medical Supply Officer, First U.S. Army, had attempted to arrange for complete hospital assemblies to be loaded on one vessel, each assembly to be accompanied by one officer and five enlisted men of the hospital unit. The decision was that only the initial shipments would receive this kind of protection during transit. As a consequence, hospital personnel spent many futile days going from dump to dump in search of a few more boxes of supplies and equipment that might extend the hospital's functional capability. Maximum functioning of several hospitals was seriously delayed because nearly every unescorted assembly became fragmented.

Emergency requirements.-Despite the confusion and inherent difficulties of war, essential supplies and equipment for medical treatment and evacuation


were delivered to the First U.S. Army. Items in short supply were requisitioned daily from the United Kingdom. The theater Medical Supply Division in Cheltenham maintained a 24-hour duty force, which provided instant action on priority air shipments and those on the Red Ball Coaster system. As early as D+1, emergency shipments of ether and penicillin were dropped by parachute to the medical troops on the beaches. After emergency landing strips became available on D+4, refrigerated whole blood, penicillin, and other critical items were delivered daily.

By the end of June, landing strips had been improved to such an extent that the Combined Air Transport Operations Room increased the load limit for a C-47 plane to 5,000 pounds. The Medical Department was allowed two planes daily, for a total lift of 10,000 pounds. Although this allocation was predicated primarily on transportation requirements for whole blood, the milk run, as it was called, was used extensively for other emergency needs as well.2

Visit of the Chief Surgeon.-The Chief Surgeon of the European theater, Maj. Gen. Paul R. Hawley, first visited the Continent on D+5 and returned on subsequent dates to observe the treatment and evacuation of casualties. He was impressed by the organization of the medical service in the First U.S. Army and by the morale of the units. In a communication to The Surgeon General, Maj. Gen. Norman T. Kirk, on 26 June 1944, General Hawley reported:

Supply has been superb! At every medical unit I visited, from the collecting station to the holding hospital at the evacuation point in France, I enquired specially as to the status of supply. I did not get a single answer that was not to the effect that they had everything they wanted (which is always more than they need) and in ample quantities.3

First U.S. Army Report on Supply Difficulties

On 25 June 1944, Major Richards reported substantially as follows to General Hawley on supply difficulties experienced to that date:

The use of inferior 2.5 Kilowatt generators which failed to stand around-the-clock operations hampered operation of field and evacuation hospitals until they were finally replaced by larger generators.

The use of leaded gasoline caused failure of gasoline burners, autoclaves, and two-burner stoves, but relief finally came when white gasoline became available.

Improper functioning of flow meters for anesthesia apparatus prompted five to six service calls a day.

X-ray grids and screens were smashed, sterilizer gages were broken, and considerable glassware and bottled items were lost. (The fault, according to Major Richards, rested with those responsible for unloading and handling the supplies.)

A greater necessity for spare parts for X-ray machines, autoclaves, anesthesia apparatus, and other machinery was evidenced.

Because of excessive losses experienced during the D-day landings, there was a continuous shortage of blank forms.

Many items, such as power saws, suction apparatus, anesthesia apparatus, oxygen therapy apparatus, and shock team sets, which were not previously authorized, were needed in a variety of medical units.

2(1) See footnote 1(1), p. 307. (2) Report of Operations, First U.S. Army, 6 June 1944-1 August 1944. [Official record.] (3) Annual Report, Supply Division, Chief Surgeon's Office, ETOUSA, 1944.
3Personal Letter, Maj. Gen. Paul R. Hawley, MC, Chief Surgeon, ETOUSA, to Maj. Gen. Norman T. Kirk, The Surgeon General, 26 June 1944.


Major Richards' opinion was that air shipments were more desirable than the Red Ball Express shipments because the supplies could be more readily located upon delivery. He also suggested that the one medical depot per Army should be supplemented with advance platoons as proved by the 31st and 32d Medical Depot Companies during the assault phase.4

Appearance of More Deficiencies

Despite steps taken in the United Kingdom to augment unit equipment, more deficiencies emerged. Lack of X-ray film-drying facilities in evacuation hospitals was serious. Also, there was a general insufficiency in all oxygen administering equipment. These and similar items were necessarily requisitioned from the United Kingdom.

Planning for resupply of litters, blankets, and splints-the property exchange items-seemed to be adequate, but suddenly it was found that large quantities of three additional items-pajamas, Levin tubes, and tracheotomy tubes-were being evacuated to the United Kingdom along with patients, without compensating replacements. Heavy air evacuation of casualties caused a serious problem in replacing litters and blankets at forward airfields. Attempts to rectify this condition by the inauguration of weekly replenishment, based on casualties evacuated during the previous week, did not prove entirely satisfactory. The problem at this point was solved largely by furnishing additional aircraft based on specified demands. The shipment of blankets, litters, and other essential items was as high as 550 tons in 1 day.

Constantly changing bed capacities during June 1944 caused some hospitals to turn in unneeded tentage and other equipment while other units were inflated to meet sudden, unanticipated needs.5


Entrance of Third U.S. Army Units

With the addition of elements of the Third U.S. Army in July 1944, Col. (later Brig. Gen.) John A. Rogers, MC, the First U.S. Army Surgeon, faced the problem of supporting an oversized command made more difficult by the changing tactical situation. To add to the drain upon First U.S. Army stocks, some Third U.S. Army units had lost much of their equipment in transit.

To complement the increased troop strength and support expanding medical operations, additional medical depot companies were arriving to assist those which had participated in the beach phase (map 13). The Advance Depot Platoon of the 32d Medical Depot Company, which had set up storage tents near Colleville shortly after D-day, was joined in setting up a depot at Bricquebec, France, by its base depot platoon which had landed on 20 July.

4Memorandum, Maj. Kenneth E. Richards, MAC, Medical Supply Officer, First U.S. Army, to Maj. Gen. Paul R. Hawley, 25 June 1944.
5See footnote 1(1), p. 307.


The depot was set up in a large open shed which proved adequate despite heavy rains.

On 23 June, the second advance section of the 33d Medical Depot Company landed on Utah Beach, proceeded to Le Grand Chemin, where it assisted the 1st Medical Depot Company until 12 July, then moved to Chef Du Pont to open the depot.

After working at Chef Du Pont, the section moved on 17 July to La Haye-du-Puits, where it set up a medical dump for supplies arriving from the beaches. A detachment of one officer and 20 enlisted men had been sent to Cherbourg on 3 July to inspect and sort 40 tons of captured German medical supplies.

The Advance Platoon of the 30th Medical Depot Company arrived on Omaha Beach on 30 June 1944; the second advance section established a dump at L'Etard while the first advance section went to Cherbourg. Approximately 50 skid loads of medical property and 100 tons of miscellaneous medical supplies were received in the first few days of operation. This dump, located in the vicinity of Omaha Beach, received supplies discharged from vessels in that area. The dump, taken over by the Advance Platoon of the 31st Medical Depot Company on 10 July and consolidated into Depot M-3 on 1 August, consisted of 300,000 square feet of storage space.

Opening of Supply Depots

Closed storage of medical supplies was first opened at Cherbourg by half of the advance section of the 30th Medical Depot Company in early July, and was designated Depot M-1. Lack of proper equipment to handle heavy property handicapped the operation of the depot, which had become partially operational after the port of Cherbourg was opened on 16 July. This depot was closed on 12 August as the tactical situation warranted a forward move.

Depot M-2 at Chef Du Pont, opened by the recently arrived balance of the 33d Medical Depot Company on 15 July, occupied approximately a half million square feet of open storage space, divided by hedgerows. Some 3,000 square feet of covered storage, however, was achieved by using ward tents. Operation of the dump was taken over by the 13th Medical Depot Company on 24 July, 5 days after its arrival (map 13). Approximately 2,500 tons of medical supplies, including assemblies for five general hospitals, had been handled by the 33d.6

Position of Advance Section

From D-day to the establishment of the Army rear boundaries on 1 August, the First U.S. Army controlled all supplies and dumps. On 18 July,

6(1) See footnotes 1(4), p. 307; and 2(2), p. 310. (2) Annual Report, 30th Medical Depot Company, 1944. (3) Annual Report, 33d Medical Depot Company, 1944. (4) Annual Report, 13th Medical Depot Company, 1944.


however, following a conference attended by the Surgeon, First U.S. Army, and his medical supply officer, and by Col. Charles H. Beasley, MC, Surgeon. ADSEC (Advance Section), Communications Zone, and his medical supply officer, Maj. (later Lt. Col.) Thomas A. Carilia, MSC, it was agreed that the ADSEC Surgeon would be responsible for receiving medical supplies discharged at the port of Cherbourg and over Utah and Omaha Beaches and for operating medical dumps. The three dumps (M-1, M-2, M-3) had a total of 2,875 tons of supplies, 25 percent of which were hospital assemblies.

The First U.S. Army's massive attack on Saint-L? and adjoining areas started on 11 July. Augmented by attached Third U.S. Army units, a steady pressure was maintained until the German lines collapsed at the end of the month. The Third U.S. Army became operational on 1 August, and the entire front became fluid, the First and Third U.S. Armies advancing rapidly. At that time, the Third U.S. Army medical units, the 32d and 33d Medical Depot Companies, which had been attached earlier to the First U.S. Army, reverted to Third U.S. Army control.7

Establishment of General Hospitals

The 5th and 298th General Hospitals arrived on the Continent on 6 and 17 July, respectively, but the unit assembly for the 5th General Hospital was delayed; so, the assembly for the 127th General Hospital, which had arrived, was used to establish the 5th General Hospital at Carentan (fig. 76). The 298th General Hospital was established at Cherbourg. Both units became operational and were receiving patients on 1 August.

By 31 August, 17 general hospital (1,000-bed) assemblies had reached the Continent, together with 151 medical maintenance units, type A; 49 division assault maintenance units, type D, for medical requirements; 211 division assault units, type D, for surgical requirements; and 35 supplemental D units, plus many tons of other supplies.8


With the extension of liberated territory in early August, an advance section of Headquarters, ETOUSA (European Theater of Operations, U.S. Army), moved to Le Mans, and the forward echelon of ETOUSA Headquarters assumed responsibility for the Normandy area on 14 August. The Chief Surgeon's Office, including the Supply Division, had moved in increments from the United Kingdom to Normandy during July and August. Because of its initial locations near Valognes on the Cherbourg Peninsula, the Supply Division was unable to supervise supply operations closely. The Armies could contact the rear headquarters in Cheltenham for emergency

7Annual Report, Medical Section, Third U.S. Army, 1944.
8(1) Annual Report, 5th General Hospital, 1944. (2) Annual Report, 298th General Hospital, 1944. (3) See footnote 2(3), p. 310.


FIGURE 76.-Unloading the more than 5,000 items that comprised the medical assembly of the 5th General Hospital at Carentan, France, 24 July 1944.

shipments more easily than they could relay messages through Valognes. The Supply Division maintained only rudimentary central stock control records, duplicating to a degree those maintained in the United Kingdom.


The division was organized into four branches: Administration and Finance, Depot Technical Control, Stock Control, and an Issue Branch that included Civil Affairs supplies and captured materiel. Division personnel included 25 officers, 60 enlisted men, 4 British civilians, and 3 French civilians, for a total of 92.

Immediately following the liberation of Paris by Allied Forces in early September, the Chief Surgeon's Office moved to that city as part of Headquarters, ETOUSA. With the establishment of General Hawley's office in Paris, the Supply Division was augmented by personnel from the United Kingdom and rapidly assumed close supervision of medical supply operations on the Continent in a manner similar to that instituted in the United Kingdom in March 1944.

Stock control.-Stabilization of the depot system after 1 September permitted the institution of the stock control system used in the United Kingdom.


Depots on the Continent (other than those assigned to armies) submitted stock status reports biweekly to the Supply Division.

Upon receipt, depot reports were rapidly consolidated by the Stock Control Branch on electric accounting machines obtained from the New York Port of Embarkation or from a French firm. From these reports, the theater-wide status of each medical item could be determined.

Use of civilian personnel-French civilians performed the key-punching operation and were able to convert the numerical data into machine language under the direction of an English-speaking French supervisor. By using couriers to collect depot reports and electric accounting machines to consolidate the data, the Supply Division could maintain a surprisingly current and accurate consolidated supply record. The records depended, however, upon depot inventories and reports of quantities on hand, due-in, and due-out, which were understandably inaccurate during the first few months on the Continent.

Stock Levels

Consolidated stock reports formed the basis for establishing theater levels for each item of supply. Before D-day, the need had been perceived for two separate stock levels to support 125,000 hospital beds and other medical units in the U.K. Base Section and to support the armies and hospitals in the Communications Zone on the Continent. While stock levels were computed on actual troop strength for continental operations, U.K. stock levels were based on bed strength data converted to an artificial troop strength to utilize War Department replacement factors. Moreover, separate levels were computed on those items peculiar to definitive treatment in general hospitals. Establishment of these overlapping stocks proved to be a wise decision. Because of the wide dispersion of medical installations between the United Kingdom and the Continent and the difficulties in discharging cargoes from ships arriving from the United States and the United Kingdom, timely support of the fast-moving armies as well as the hospitals on the Continent and those in the United Kingdom would have been highly improbable.

In mounting Operation OVERLORD, stock levels were computed for the buildup of a 7-day reserve stock on the Continent by D+41 (17 July 1944) and an increase to a 60-day reserve by D+208 (1 January 1945). The theater reorder point was established at 180 days' stock for each item: 15 days' operating stock, 60 days' reserve, and 105 days lagtime (defined as the number of days elapsing from the date a requisition was submitted to the United States until supplies were received in an ETOUSA depot).

Replenishment requisitions were computed and submitted to the New York Port of Embarkation every 2 weeks for each item which had an on-hand and an on-order position below the 180-day level. Theoretically, every item would indicate a stock level of 165 days at each computation and 15 days' stock would be requisitioned. Stock replenishment would be received 105 days later so that the actual stock on hand would fluctuate between 75 and 60 days. In practice,


consumption of individual items oscillated widely as did the actual time required to deliver the replenishment stock. The overall system proved exceptionally effective, and medical supply problems on the Continent would have been minimal had it not been for the transportation difficulties.

As in the United Kingdom before the invasion of France, the Supply Division established stock levels for each depot, depending upon its mission. Replenishment stocks were distributed to each depot directly from ships discharging cargoes at ports of debarkation or by interdepot transfers. Balancing of depot stocks on the Continent was instituted on D+90 (6 September) as the depot system reached a degree of stability.9

Local Procurement

Procurement on the Continent differed in policy and procedure from local purchase in the United Kingdom. Theater policy for continental operations provided for the maximum use of local resources when such local procurement would (1) supply items that were in short supply in the United States or in the theater, (2) conserve essential shipping space, (3) satisfy emergency requirements, (4) accrue to the benefit of the United States, or (5) aid in the rehabilitation of the economies of liberated areas.

Because of the scarcity of medical supplies and equipment in liberated countries, a ban was established by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower on the purchase by cash or the procurement through reciprocal aid arrangements, except where the indigenous government concurred with a specific request.

Procurement from the French was confined to a few items. Arrangements were made with L'Institut Pasteur for the supply of rabies vaccine as required. The only other items bought in quantity were small cloth bags to hold personal belongings of patients, self-retaining catheters, sacroiliac belts, and lipstick which proved most effective for marking casualties in the field. Because intravenous solutions shipped from the United States required much cargo space, an attempt was made to procure intravenous solutions from the French; lack of appropriate facilities to manufacture sterile products meeting U.S. standards precluded consummation of contract arrangements.

Early in 1945, arrangements were made to procure dental X-ray film and X-ray film sizes 8- by 10-inch and 10- by 12-inch from the Gaevert plant in Belgium. This enabled the theater to return considerable quantities of X-ray film to the United States for reshipment to other theaters where it was critically needed.

Although procurement of British items had been severely curtailed in early 1944, the British continued to furnish special items required on "spot" demands. Insulin, heparin, alkathene tubing, medicinal gases for the U.K. hospital system, dental burs, and some nonstandard items were thus procured.10

9See footnote 2(3), p. 310.
10Semiannual Report, Supply Division, Office of the Theater Chief Surgeon, ETOUSA, 1 January-30 June 1945.


Control of Depot Operations

Depots were operated on the Continent either by single medical depot companies, sections or elements of depot companies, or by more than one depot company simultaneously. Leapfrogging of depots was essential in maintaining support for the advancing front. Medical supply operations in the United Kingdom were conducted primarily in sections of general depots, whereas, on the Continent, virtually all were medical branch depots. To avoid traffic congestion, medical depot sites on the Continent were seldom located in close proximity to other supply service depots. Except in the early days in Normandy where a limited area was involved and a dearth of facilities made selection easy, choice of depot sites was a constant problem. Many more sites were selected than were ever used. Locating suitable plants paralleling the line of communication was a continuing task, and this was usually in competition with the other supply services. Furthermore, in France and Belgium, only sites which had been occupied by the Germans were available for use without long drawn-out requisitioning procedures.

Dual system of supervision-Chiefs of the supply services, including medical, were responsible for distributing stock among depots, and for issuing supplies under their cognizance.

This system generally prevailed without any difficulties, except for a short period immediately following the merger of SOLOC (Southern Line of Communications) with ETOUSA. During this interval, the Chief Surgeon was not authorized to contact Depot M-452 at Marseille to direct the shipment of stocks except through the base section surgeon. The exception was quickly eliminated by a directive from the theater G-4.11

Medical depot manual-Because medical depot operations in Normandy were necessarily unsophisticated, the Medical Depot Manual was revised to incorporate the lessons learned from operations in the United Kingdom and the early days on the Continent. While mandatory only for Communications Zone depots, the manual was furnished to the armies to encourage their depots to use such procedures as were considered feasible. With the absorption of SOLOC, the same procedures were instituted in the Southern Zone depots. This resulted in a uniform operation among medical depots, which facilitated shifting of personnel and depots from one point of operation to another and provided effective technical and operational control.12


Mobility of Supply Operations

With the entrance of the Third U.S. Army into the conflict, and the breakout of the Allied armies from the Normandy Beachhead at the beginning of August 1944, depots had to move rapidly to keep up with the combat troops.

11See footnote 10, p. 316.
12Medical Depot Manual, Chief Surgeon's Office, ETOUSA, 7 Dec. 1944.


MAP 14.-Medical supply depots operating in France and Belgium, August-November 1944.


FIGURE 77.-Advance Platoon, 32d Medical Depot Company, receiving supplies at a new location in France, September 1944.

Following a basic pattern, an advance section of a depot would support the army corps making the main combat effort. The second advance section was generally retained with the base depot until the corps medical units outdistanced their supply. The second section could then leapfrog the first, often serving at the same time as an advance party for movement of the base depot. A second depot company was generally strategically situated with one section supporting the most distant flank. Advance sections could move quickly, with trucks shuttling equipment and stocks sufficient for 5 to 10 days' requirements.13

Depot Advance to the Siegfried Line

As the medical depot attached to the First U.S. Army, the base depot platoon of the 1st Medical Supply Depot followed the movement of the combat situation from Le Molay near the Omaha Beachhead on 28 June 1944, stopping to set up a base dump at Saint-L? on 3 August, and advancing its center of operations to Eupen, Belgium, by 10 September (map 14).

Moving from Bricquebec, where its elements had been united on 20 July, the 32d Medical Depot Company (fig. 77), in keeping with the tactical situa-

13See footnote 7, p. 313.


tion, advanced to Foug?res on 8 August, and on 14 August, opened a depot at Le Mans in support of the XII, XV, and XX Corps. From there, the company sent out advance sections to Fontainebleau and Dreux before opening an advance medical depot at Verdun on 5 September. This became the Third U.S. Army medical distributing depot and the location of ETOUSA Blood Bank until 23 November.

Like the 32d, the 33d Medical Depot Company moved rapidly with the advance of the Third U.S. Army. After its arrival on Omaha Beach on 11 July, the base section helped its advance section in operating Depot M-2 at Chef Du Pont, the first Communications Zone medical depot set up on the Continent in support of the Normandy Campaign. By 29 July, the base section had advanced to Besneville, remaining there until 10 August, then moved rapidly across France to Toul, where it remained in operation until 17 December. The second advance section of the 33d, which had arrived earlier on the Continent and had operated at Le Grand Chemin, Chef Du Pont, and La Haye-du-Puits, moved to Coutances, where it remained until 15 August, then was transferred to Rostrenen, Brittany, and placed under the command of the Ninth U.S. Army to aid in the liberation of Brest.

The 30th and 31st Medical Depot Companies, unlike those previously mentioned, were assigned to ADSEC upon their arrival in France.

After the advance sections of the 30th Medical Depot Company had operated a medical dump at L'Etard and established Depot M-1 at Cherbourg on 9 July, the base section arrived and was assigned to Depot M-2 (later M-402) at Chef Du Pont to establish and operate that depot. Sending out advance platoons to Rennes, where Depot M-404 was established on 20 August and to Le Mans where Depot M-405 set up, the 30th began its move from the Cotentin Peninsula.

By 27 August, it became necessary to establish an advance dump at Chartres, where, for more than a month, Depot M-406T operated against difficult odds.

The 31st Medical Depot Company, similarly assigned to ADSEC, united at Tr?vi?res on 1 August after the advance section had operated dumps on Omaha Beach since D+3. First called Depot M-3 and later designated M-403, this depot remained under the control of the 31st until 15 September, shipping as much as 3,500 tons of medical supplies a week.

As the combat forces liberated Paris in early September 1944, the 31st sent an advance platoon into the city to set up Depot M-407. By 25 September, the depot was operational.

The 11th Medical Depot Company, which did not arrive on the Continent until 20 August, opened Depot M-404 at Rennes 4 days later. The depot company remained at this location until October. As part of its duties, a detachment of 15 enlisted men and 1 officer was sent to Brest on 21 September to salvage captured German medical supplies and equipment.

After the departure of the 33d Medical Depot Company from Chef Du Pont on 26 July, the 13th Medical Depot Company was made solely responsi-


ble for the operation of the depot, handling 34,000 tons of maintenance supplies and 800 tons of TOE (table of organization and equipment) equipment. When the 66th Medical Depot Company arrived on 12 September to assume command of Depot M-402T, the 13th moved to Reims, where it set up Depot M-408T.14

Early Supply Problems

Two outstanding problems severely handicapped medical supply operations during the first 90 days on the Continent: lack of available transportation and lack of adequate storage space in the depot areas.

Port facilities-Among the more difficult problems, the lack of ports was one of the most serious. Because deepwater ports did not become available as soon as planned, many ships from the United States which were destined for continental ports were diverted to the United Kingdom and unloaded; the supplies were then placed in depot stocks, from which they had to be ordered forward for movement to the Continent by small cross-Channel coasters. Conversely, some ships scheduled for U.K. discharge were moved, after considerable delay, to the Continent, where they discharged their cargoes over the beaches. The labor expended in these operations and the delay in arrival of badly needed supplies were overwhelming.

Availability of the port of Le Havre in late September provided some additional facilities. That port could handle, however, only a small percentage of the waterborne volume arriving from the United Kingdom and the United States. Although Allied troops captured Antwerp with its huge port installation intact early in September, the water approaches to Antwerp were not cleared until mid-November and it did not become operational until 28 November.

Delay in discharge of cargo was perhaps even more serious. With the lack of adequate port facilities on the Continent, priority was given to unloading ammunition, fuel, and lubricants. Unfortunately, ships carrying these cargoes rarely carried medical supplies. The 130th General Hospital, for example, was immobilized for 7 weeks because of difficulties in unloading its equipment on the Continent. The unit had disembarked in France on 5 September 1944. Its assembly had been shipped from the U.K. depot on 27 August, but only 94 tons arrived in France in September. The balance of 195 tons was not unloaded until 25 October.

Trucking problems-Difficulties in trucking medical supplies from the port to the medical depot were another drawback to the expansion of the depot system. As an example, an unusual incident occurred when one truck convoy from Cherbourg, carrying a 1,000-bed general hospital assembly, and a second convoy, originating at Le Havre and also carrying a 1,000-bed general hospital assembly, met each other during the middle of the night at a road junction in the interior of France. There the two convoys were mingled, with the result

14(1) See footnotes 1(2) and 1(4), p. 307; and 6(2), 6(3), and 6(4), p. 312. (2) Annual Report, 11th Medical Depot Company, 1944. (3) Annual Report, 66th Medical Depot Company, 1944.


that all the beds arrived at one operating site, while the other site received all the mattresses and pillows. The mixup was detected when the two commanding officers called the Supply Division, ETOUSA, within minutes of each other, to report the discrepancies.

Shipment of unit assemblies was only a part of transportation troubles. Bulk stock movements were not immune. Before the breakthrough at Avranches, distances were short and truck transportation presented no problem, but as armies began to race across France, the situation was reversed.

On 25 August 1944, the famous Red Ball Express began operation. Transportation Corps truck companies, using 2?-ton trucks and operating day and night, hauled supplies from the Normandy Beach areas forward to the armies. The armies submitted daily requisitions, based on tonnage allocations; these were approved and distributed each night to the various technical services for supply action. Trucking companies reported to the appropriate depots to transport the supplies to forward areas. If supplies were not received in a certain number of days, the armies submitted new requisitions. This soon led to serious duplications of requirements, and within 3 weeks, a back-order system had to be established to correct these difficulties.

Under this system, nearly all tonnage was allocated to the armies, and little transportation was available for the buildup of forward Communications Zone depots.

Although the Red Ball Express performed a herculean task in moving supplies, there were many difficulties. Truck drivers were not familiar with local geography and sometimes became lost. When vehicles broke down, they were separated from the convoy and the drivers were sometimes unable to find their destinations.

Transportation expedients-Difficulties encountered in water and truck transportation often taxed the ingenuity of medical supply personnel. For example, while ships were being loaded at ports in southern England during the assault, alert medical supply officers observed that ordnance replacement vehicles were being shipped empty from the United Kingdom. Arrangements were made with Ordnance Department representatives to load medical supplies on the trucks and jeeps. Arriving on the Continent, drivers proceeded to the First U.S. Army medical dumps, unloaded their supplies, then delivered the vehicles to an ordnance depot. The movement of medical supplies under this improvised arrangement was substantial enough to attract the attention of G-4 when reports of tonnage moved to the Continent exceeded that allocated to the Medical Department.

A similar arrangement was effected in Normandy when the Ordnance Department had difficulty in moving vehicles to forward depots. Maj. William B. Wagner, MAC, of the Supply Division, was expediting shipments of supplies from the beaches. He arranged to borrow drivers from hospitals and other units in staging areas when medical supplies could be loaded on the vehicles for movement to forward depots. During 3 weeks, in late September


FIGURE 78.-Tank retrievers, borrowed by the commanding officer of the medical depot at Chartres, France, were used to deliver 3,000 tons of medical supplies to Medical Depot M-407 at Paris when normal transportation means failed.

and early October, 564 vehicles were so used to haul 800 tons of supplies from the beaches to forward depots.

Individual arrangements were made with hospitals and other organizations in the Normandy area, which had trucks not being fully utilized, to haul medical supplies to Depot M-407 in Paris (fig. 78). Needless to say, there was no problem in recruiting drivers as they were permitted to remain in Paris for an overnight visit.

A great deal of reliance was placed on moving medical supplies by air. From the first airdrop on D+1, the volume of air shipment increased rapidly; on 17 September, 50 bombers were used to supplement the milk runs which had started on 14 June. With the liberation of Paris in early September 1944, a receiving point was established at Le Bourget Airfield, which then became the terminus of the milk run from the United Kingdom.


FIGURE 79.-Loading a roll of prepacked medical supplies into a 155-mm. shell that was to be fired to isolated American troops when weather conditions precluded airdrop, October 1944.

At Mortain, France, shortly after the Normandy invasion, the most sensational delivery method was successfully employed. A battalion of the 30th Infantry Division was temporarily cut off by a German counterthrust; medical supplies were running low, and enemy antiaircraft fire prevented an accurate airdrop. Urgent calls for medical supplies prompted the decision to fire replenishment supplies in shells. The explosive head was removed from 155-mm. shells and the hollow nose was loaded with essential supplies, including Pentothal sodium (thiopental sodium), ether, and cotton (fig. 79). Some losses were experienced through breakage, but sufficient quantities were delivered to meet the requirements for the period of isolation.15

Lack of storage facilities-Quite as serious as the transportation problem was lack of adequate outdoor storage space, a problem that was accentuated

15(1) Memorandum, Col. S. B. Hays, MC, to Maj. Gen. Paul R. Hawley, 24 Dec. 1944, subject: Difficulties in Moving Medical Supplies and Equipment. (2) See footnote 2(3), p. 310. (3) Annual Report, Medical Department Activities, 30th Infantry Division, 1944.


by heavy fall rains, which turned the dry fields of July and August into muddy quagmires. Particularly bad was the situation at Depot M-402T at Chef Du Pont and Carentan.

Late in August, news was received at headquarters of the impending arrival of approximately 9,000 tons of medical supplies on six separate ships. It was decided that Depot M-402T, which was set up in an open field, would be the receiving installation for shipments discharged in the Normandy Base area, but that acquisition of additional space would be necessary. After an extensive search for a suitable storage site, an abandoned airstrip, surfaced with steel matting, approximately ? of a mile in length and located on the main highway 2 miles east of Carentan, was chosen. Along with it, a few small buildings in the town were acquired for loose issue. Plans were made to warehouse the materiel by medical class on either side of the airstrip; the Corps of Engineers promised crushed stone for entrance and exit approaches, but only meager quantities were delivered. A detachment from the 30th Medical Depot Company was retained and approximately 900 prisoners of war were acquired to augment the 11th Medical Depot Company since materials-handling equipment was not available. Once a vehicle left the road leading into the depot area, it could no longer operate under its own power and two captured German caterpillar tractors had to tow immobilized vehicles (fig. 80).

The six ships arrived with the anticipated cargo, and the next 3 weeks became the most hectic in the history of the 11th Medical Depot Company. The Transportation Corps pressured the port to unload the ships, the port pressured the truck companies to keep the quays clear, and the truck companies pressured the depot to unload and return their vehicles. Soon, the approaches to the airstrip would not sustain anything larger than a 2?-ton truck, and the steel matting eventually would not accommodate even these. For nearly 3 weeks, both sides of the highway were lined with 10-ton trailers for approximately 1 mile, with all interested agencies clamoring for release and movement of the vehicles.

As the stacks of boxes lining the airstrip began to sink deeper into the mud, the strip was abandoned in favor of the fields paralleling the road. A roller conveyor, manned by many prisoners of war, moved the boxes from the stacks on the airfield to vehicles on the sides of the highway. One such conveyor stretched nearly ? of a mile to the most distant stacks. In some instances, prisoners of war formed bucket brigades to move the boxes. To supplement the roller conveyors, the depot built heavy-duty skids to be towed by the German tractors. The volume of stock that arrived during this period precluded an orderly tally, and inventory records suffered for several months.

Despite these handicaps, approximately 700 tons of supplies were handled daily during the 3 weeks. Shipments averaged 60 requisitions daily for the 25 local hospitals, various hospital trains, Communications Zone depots, and hospitals in forward areas.16

16See footnote 14(5), p. 321.


FIGURE 80.-Captured German tractor and heavy-duty skids built by depot personnel from ships' salvage lumber comprised the standard materials-handling equipment for intradepot movements at Medical Depot M-402T, at Carentan, France, after the rains came in the fall of 1944.


The last 3 months of 1944 saw the opening of additional ports, the closing of Utah and Omaha Beaches, the arrival of shipments on the Continent directly from the Zone of Interior, the rehabilitation of rail facilities, and the increasing emphasis on moving stocks to forward depots. These factors, plus a stabilized front bordering on Germany, permitted a buildup of hospitals in the Communications Zone. Depots M-407, M-408T, and M-409, though preceding some of the events, were products of those developments (map 14).

Depots in France

Having established Depot M-407 in Paris in early September, the 31st Medical Depot Company effectively used its 257,000 square feet of storage space despite a lack of materials-handling equipment.

Early in October, the 31st was joined by the 15th Medical Depot Company, which was responsible for handling medical supplies arriving by plane


FIGURE 81.-Bargeloads of medical supplies on the dockside of Medical Depot M-407 being discharged, sorted, and tallied.

from England and for shipping emergency medical supplies to the frontlines. By the end of October, medical supplies were arriving by every conceivable means (fig. 81), and issue operations were mounting proportionately. The second advance section was sent to Rouen on 2 November to operate a distribution point. With the Battle of the Bulge, which started on 16 December, the depot was overwhelmed with work; however, by the end of January 1945, normal operations had resumed.

Depot M-408T, under the command of Maj. (later Lt. Col.) Harry S. Green, MAC, was opened at Reims in mid-September by the 13th Medical Depot Company, and was augmented by a detachment of the 15th Medical Depot Company.

The depot occupied five one-story, platform-height buildings, totaling 129,805 square feet of storage space and approximately 63,000 square feet of open space. Its initial mission was to provide an immediate backup for the 1st Medical Depot Company of the First U.S. Army, the 32d and 33d Medical Depot Companies supporting the Third U.S. Army, and the 28th Medical Depot Company of the Ninth U.S. Army, as well as to open and operate Depot


FIGURE 82.-Medical Depot M-409, Li?ge, Belgium, showing railroad spurs with track sidings adjacent to main warehouse.

M-412 in Reims as a Civil Affairs supply depot. The initial receipts at M-408T were slow, the first rail shipment arriving on 25 September.

By mid-December, the depot was supplying the needs of the Third U.S. Army, of 30 general hospitals, 3 station hospitals, 166 miscellaneous units, and 2 airborne divisions. The Battle of the Bulge increased the tempo of activities significantly, and two provisional supply points were set up on the Meuse River line. As the tactical situation became extremely critical, emergency plans were prepared for evacuation of Depot M-408T. In addition to operating Depot M-412, Depot M-408T was stocked with 2,400 separate items comprising 2,215 tons of supplies; hence, it was fortunate that evacuation did not become a necessity.

Depots in Belgium

After performing a special task of classifying, cataloging, and processing five warehouses of captured German medical materiel at Ciney, Belgium, the 66th Medical Depot Company, commanded by Maj. (later Lt. Col.) Charles L. Gilbert, MAC, was assigned to ADSEC to open Depot M-409 at Li?ge, on 27 October 1944 (fig. 82). The first issues were made on 7 November and, with help from the 165th Medical Battalion, the depot supported the First and


Ninth U.S. Armies and medical installations of ADSEC and Channel Base Section. From 20 November to 31 December, the operational area of Depot M-409 was constantly harassed by V-1 and V-2 bombs launched from Germany.

During this period, it was imperative that supplies be cleared swiftly from the Antwerp docks, prime target of the German bombardment. Depot M-411 was also established at Li?ge to serve as a sorting point for medical supplies received from Antwerp. While under the operation of the 66th and a section of the 15th Medical Depot Company which had arrived in November from Paris, the depot lost about 100 tons of medical supplies when V-1 bombs twice made direct hits on the sorting points.

Despite the nightly bombardment of V-1 and V-2 bombs, depot personnel at Li?ge continued operations directly supporting First U.S. Army units during the Battle of the Bulge. To safeguard shipments during the battle, Depot M-411 was moved on 24 December to Noirhat, 20 miles southeast of Brussels, and redesignated M-413 (fig. 83). Under the control of the 15th Medical Depot Company, Depot M-413 operated as a sorting and reconsignment point, with 50,500 square feet of covered storage space and 87,000 square feet of open storage.17

Combat Operations of Forward Depots

First U.S. Army depots.-While the large medical depots were being established at Paris, Reims, and Li?ge, sections of the Advance Depot Platoon, 1st Medical Depot Company, by 6 October, had established advance dumps at Malm?dy, Belgium, and Valkenburg, Netherlands, and the base platoon had moved to Dolhain, Belgium, where it opened the base medical dump in a warehouse (map 15).

On 31 October, the advance section at Valkenburg moved forward and established a dump at Bastogne while the section at Malm?dy joined the main body at Dolhain.

During the Battle of the Bulge, a detachment of the advance section at Bastogne was moved to Libin, Belgium, leaving three noncommissioned officers and one private at Bastogne to issue supplies to the 101st Airborne Division and attached units during the siege of the city. By 19 December, seven trucks were secured and medical supplies were removed from Bastogne. On 26 December, the first section of the Advance Depot Platoon rejoined the Base Depot Platoon at Dolhain, and the second section established an advance medical dump at Huy, Belgium.

Third U.S. Army depots-In support of the Third U.S. Army, the 32d Medical Depot Company, which had operated a large depot at Verdun since 8 September, sent an advance section to Aumetz on 7 November to serve XX

17(1) See footnotes 1(4), p. 307; 6(4), p. 312; and 14(3), p. 321. (2) Annual Report, 15th Medical Depot Company, 1944.


FIGURE 83.-Materials-handling equipment at Medical Depot M-413, Charleroi, Belgium, January 1945.

Corps. On 24 November, the medical depot at Verdun was closed and a new depot was opened at Metz (fig. 84) in support of the III, VIII, XII, and XX Corps. By 3 December, the advance section joined the main group at Metz, but, on 20 December, reopened the depot at Aumetz to support Third U.S. Army units thrown in to stop the German counteroffensive in the Ardennes (map 16).

The 33d Medical Depot Company, which had advanced its main body to Toul by 20 September, remained there until 15 December, but in early October, the second advance section had established a forward dump at Bastogne after leaving Rostrenen. By 20 October, this section advanced to Valkenburg, replacing the 1st Medical Depot Company and operating the only dump avail-


MAP 15.-First U.S. Army medical supply depots in France and Belgium, October-December 1944.

able to the Ninth U.S. Army until late in November. This dump was turned over to an advance section of the 35th Medical Depot Company attached to the Ninth U.S. Army on 22 December, and the advance section of the 33d moved first to Esch, Luxembourg, and then to Longuyon, France, by 26 December.

Meanwhile, the base section of the 33d had left Toul on 15 December and set up a dump at Ch?teau-Salins 2 days later. The unit moved on to Longuyon, where it united with the advance section on 30 December.18

Seventh U.S. Army depots-The 7th Medical Depot Company, commanded by Lt. Col. A. J. D. Guenther, MSC, was responsible for supplying the

18See footnotes l(2) and l(3), p. 307; and 6(3), p. 312.


FIGURE 84.-In December 1944, the 32d Medical Depot Company mobile optical shop moved its operation to more efficient quarters in a building at Metz, France.

Seventh U.S. Army. After landing in southern France on 16 August, this company advanced rapidly up the Rh?ne River Valley, and reached ?pinal by mid-October. There the base section remained until 7 December, when it moved to Sarrebourg, France (maps 8, 9, and 17). On 18 December, the Lun?ville depot, no longer in a forward position, was closed and a new depot was opened the following day at Haguenau, France. The tactical situation compelled withdrawal of the section on 27 December. The next day, the ?pinal base was reopened.

Supply functions of SOLOC-In early November 1944, the Communications Zone of the Mediterranean theater passed on to ETOUSA its functions in southern France. On 20 November, SOLOC became responsible for the standard medical services of the Communications Zone and assumed a primary function, the distribution of medical supplies to the Seventh U.S. Army and the First French Army. Lt. Col. Allen Pappas, MAC, was the medical supply officer.

Throughout December 1944, SOLOC and Headquarters, Mediterranean theater, worked closely together to level stocks, to build up a 45-day reserve, and to transfer complete responsibility to SOLOC.

Because of a sudden influx of German POW's (prisoners of war), the need for POW hospitals increased greatly. By 31 December, a total of 3,000 beds in four separate units had been set up and adequately equipped.19

19(1) Annual Report, 7th Medical Depot Company, 1944. For more detail on the activities of the 7th Medical Depot Company in southern France, see chapter VIII. (2) History of the Medical Section, Headquarters, SOLOC, ETOUSA, 20 November 1944-1 January 1945.


MAP 16.-Third U.S. Army medical supply depots, October-December 1944.


MAP 17.-Seventh U.S. Army medical supply depots in northern France, 17 October-December 1944.

Ninth U.S. Army depots.-When the Ninth U.S. Army became operational on the Continent on 5 September 1944, it was initially assigned the mission of clearing enemy troops from the Brest Peninsula. The medical supply support for this operation remained based at Rostrenen, with the second advance section of the 33d Medical Depot Company, temporarily detached from the Third U.S. Army. Deliveries of medical supplies were extremely slow because of the emphasis on movements to the east. As a consequence, the buildup to a 14-day level was never attained during the Brest mission. Brest Peninsula was cleared of enemy forces by 20 September, after which Headquarters, Ninth U.S. Army, moved first to Arlon, Belgium, and then to Maastricht, Netherlands. Pending arrival of its own depots, with their hard-to-come-by balanced depot stocks, the Ninth U.S. Army was supported by the second advance section of the 33d Medical Depot Company at Bastogne. Be-


MAP 18.-Ninth U.S. Army depot operations, September-December 1944.

cause of the delay in delivering stocks during the last part of 1944, the advance section of the 33d continued to support Ninth U.S. Army combat operations from its position at Bastogne and later at Valkenburg.

The 28th Medical Depot Company, commanded by Lt. Col. (later Col.) Lyman J. Clark, MAC, and the 35th Medical Depot Company, under Maj. Stanley Darling, MAC, were assigned to the Ninth U.S. Army in October 1944. While the 35th did not join the Ninth U.S. Army until December, the 28th began to issue supplies at Maastricht in mid-November. In preparation for the next phase of the army's operation, the 35th was sited at Heerlen, Netherlands, but was moved to Melveren, Belgium, with the advent of the Battle of the Bulge. At this point, the 35th collected and stored equipment not required by evacuation hospitals to expedite their withdrawal to more strategic positions.

The newly positioned Ninth U.S. Army on the Belgium-Netherlands front was served by a detachment of the 33d Medical Depot Company (Third U.S. Army) at Valkenburg, until 22 December 1944 (map 18). At that time, the first advance section of the 35th Medical Depot Company took over the operation.20

20(1) See footnote 6(3), p. 312. (2) Annual Report, Medical Section, Ninth U.S. Army, 1944. (3) Annual Report, 35th Medical Depot Company, 1944.


FIGURE 85.-Besieged soldiers collect sorely needed medical supplies which had been airdropped near Bastogne, Belgium, December 1944.

Impact of the Battle of the Bulge.-The German counteroffensive in December 1944 caused two major supply problems: rapid depletion of stocks through equipment losses and accelerated issues, and removal of depot stocks from threatened areas and their relocation in strategic sites at a time when they were most needed.

When the enemy offensive began, the base depot of the 1st Medical Depot Company was located at Dolhain. The first advance section at Bastogne, and the second advance section at Malm?dy, were threatened immediately and movement was imperative. The entire stock of the second advance section at Malm?dy was evacuated to Huy by trucks infiltrating the area. Movement of the first advance section from Bastogne was not quite so simple. One small contingent necessarily stayed on with a residue of supplies to support combat troops in Bastogne through the siege (fig. 85). The remainder of the advance section commandeered empty ambulances returning to the rear to evacuate as many items of critical supply as possible to Libin. However, even that position was threatened and the section was forced to withdraw to Carlsbourg,


Belgium. Shortly thereafter, First U.S. Army G-4 directed that all major supply installations withdraw to the army rear area. The base section was moved by rail to Basse-Wavre, Belgium, taking with it the optical and maintenance sections, but leaving the blood bank detachment and the first advance section to operate the heavily stocked Dolhain site (map 19).

The early German successes in the Battle of the Bulge caused great concern for the vast quantities of U.S. Army supplies in the forward areas. Not only had advance depots in France, Belgium, and the Netherlands been stocked by transporting supplies from Normandy, Le Havre, and Rouen, but the port of Antwerp, for a few weeks, had been the funnel through which immense quantities of materiel had been poured.

Certain parts of the Geneva Convention agreements were the basis of the recommendations of the Chief Surgeon, ETOUSA, on 22 December 1944, that most medical supplies be destroyed in the event of imminent capture by the enemy. Items such as instruments, penicillin, morphine, microscopes, needles, and dental gold were to be saved if time permitted. Fortunately, the tide of battle changed and the German drive collapsed before higher headquarters had to decide irrevocably to destroy any medical depots.

During the Battle of the Bulge, the need for combat replacements was critical, and physically fit enlisted personnel were reassigned from Communications Zone depot companies as replacements for losses in the line, with reclassified ex-infantrymen assigned to the depots. Some depots lost almost 80 percent of their personnel. The impact, though serious, affected depot operations only temporarily.21


During the period from mid-September to 31 December 1944, problems that had earlier plagued the supply program in the European theater recurred, but, for the most part, were solved.

Split Shipments

During the spring and summer of 1944, split shipments were rare because special efforts were made to load each unit assembly on a single ship, but in October this problem reappeared. Ships with portions of assemblies unloaded at different ports, some in the United Kingdom and others on the Continent. Even when all the ships discharged in the United Kingdom, they generally were unloaded at different ports, making it necessary to ship the segments to a depot for reconstitution of the assembly. During October and

21(1) See footnote 1(2), p. 307. (2) Memorandum, Maj. Gen. Paul R. Hawley, Chief Surgeon, ETOUSA, for Chief of Staff, ETOUSA, 22 Dec. 1944, subject: Destruction of Medical Supplies to Prevent Capture by the Enemy. (3) Larkey, Sanford V.: Administrative and Logistical History of the Medical Service, Communications Zone, ETOUSA, chapter X. [Official record.] (4) Solinger, Lt. Col. Leo P., MSC, Maj. Gen Silas B. Hays (Ret.), and Col. R. L. Parker, MSC: Combat Support on Continent. A manuscript prepared for a preliminary draft of this volume.


MAP 19.-Supply depot movement in the Battle of the Bulge, December 1944.


November, assemblies for 13 general hospitals were involved in split shipments to the United Kingdom. By year-end, none of these had arrived on the Continent.

General Hawley, on 15 December, in a personal letter to General Kirk, reported that hospital assemblies in November were badly split, with one assembly coming in on as many as seven ships. The various parts were supposed to be reunited in a U.K. depot under existing procedure, but this apparently was not being done. General Hawley also protested to the New York and Boston Ports of Embarkation, asking vigorous action to assure loading of each hospital assembly on one ship only. This problem was successfully resolved by corrective action at the ports of embarkation.

The equipment for 44 general hospitals (thirty-eight 1,000-bed, three 1,500-bed, and three 2,000-bed units) and 14 station hospitals (one 750-bed, seven 500-bed, five 250-bed, and one 150-bed units) had been delivered to the hospital sites and the units were in operation by year-end. Continental depots had also assembled and issued thirty-five 500-bed expansion units.

At the close of 1944, assemblies for an additional seven 1,000-bed general hospitals were at the sites, awaiting clearance or completion of plant construction. Of 22 assemblies en route to the Continent from the United States, 11 were in the United Kingdom awaiting shipment across the Channel and 3 were being discharged at continental ports.

Movement of the Unit Assembly

In addition to split shipments, the difficulties experienced in discharging and moving the larger unit assemblies on the Continent were persistent and tormenting, notwithstanding adherence to an exacting operating procedure, which was modified repeatedly to prevent recurrence of the latest mishap. A specific instance is a 500-bed hospital assembly which was aboard ship in the English Channel for several weeks until perseverance by the Supply Division produced a priority for unloading. Around-the-clock off-loading over the Cherbourg area beaches had discharged approximately 60 percent of the assembly when a neighboring vessel hit a mine. The vessel discharging the medical assembly ceased unloading operations and sailed for the safety of English ports. Days later, the residue of the assembly was transferred to another ship which docked for discharge at Le Havre instead of Cherbourg. Following several weeks' delay, the two parts of the unit assembly were merged at the hospital site in northern France.22

Rail Shipments

By 16 November 1944, the French and Belgian railroads had been rehabilitated, and the Red Ball Express was discontinued. The theater G-4

22(1) See footnotes 2(3), p. 310; and 15(1), p. 324. (2) Personal Letter, Maj. Gen. Paul R. Hawley to Maj. Gen. Norman T. Kirk, The Surgeon General, 15 Dec. 1944.


FIGURE 86.-Medical supply points were operated at certain rail stations by the base sections concerned to supply and service hospital trains, such as in this operation at Gare St. Lazare, Paris.

then initiated a system of daily rail tonnage allocations, but because of rail operating difficulties, the Chief of Transportation decided to move only solid trainloads from one siding in Normandy to a forward consignee. G-4 had not allocated to the medical service sufficient tonnage to comprise a solid trainload. As a result, medical stocks were not moved for 12 days, and the allocations did not serve their basic purpose. Not until the medical supply situation became acute was approval given to move solid trainloads of medical stocks from Normandy to Depot M-407 in Paris, where individual cars were reconsigned to the armies and to forward depots (fig. 86). In early December, medical supplies began to move forward in volume. Rail shipments then acquired frustrating problems similar to those experienced with Red Ball shipments. Individual cars broke down and were placed on sidings; and cars were misrouted, lost, and, in some instances, disconnected from the rear of the train and the contents pilfered.

Hospital trains were used to move medical supplies forward to the maximum extent possible, but their usefulness was limited since the trains could not be delayed or diverted from their primary mission of evacuating casu-


alties. Movement of supplies by hospital train from Depot M-407 in Paris to Depot M-409 in Li?ge, where a hospital center was located, proved to be successful.

Air Shipments

Heavy reliance was placed on the air shipment of medical supplies, and the importance of this mode of transportation grew as the war progressed. Obtaining planes to airlift supplies to the forward areas was a problem until a squadron of 20 C-46's, which nobody wanted, was obtained. In 3 months, this squadron transported 30,000 pints of whole blood and 463 tons of other medical supplies, and evacuated 1,168 patients.

The peak of air shipments was reached during the Battle of the Bulge when 150 planes were loaded by the medical section of Depot G-45 in the United Kingdom for airdrops to the encircled troops at Bastogne. By the end of 1944, a total of 61,467 pints of whole blood, approximately 45,000 litters, 426,000 blankets, and innumerable emergency shipments had been moved to the Continent by air. From D-day to V-E Day, more than 10,000 tons of medical supplies were moved within the European theater; this was equivalent to the medical equipment for 49 general hospitals.23

Property Exchange Items

In the European theater, as in other theaters, property exchange items were a matter of serious concern and constant trouble. In the very early days of the invasion, many casualties were evacuated to England by LST's which were stocked with exchange items; this meant that the property exchange system could be used and, by exchanging the proper number of items at each end of the cross-Channel run, stocks in the forward elements could be replenished.

Evacuation of patients by air rapidly replaced the use of LST's. Inasmuch as the planes were not stocked with property exchange items, separate supply methods had to be used to move these supplies forward. Difficulties increased as the front advanced to and beyond the German border and as supply lines lengthened. It was frequently necessary to resort to various expedients to supplement the normal supply lines and the property exchange system.

The problem of property exchange items not only concerned internal operation within the European theater, but there was also a constant loss to the Zone of Interior. This was not so serious because 63 percent of the casualties were returned to duty in the European theater, while many others who were litter-and-splint cases originally became ambulatory before being returned to the Zone of Interior. When evacuation was by water as contrasted to air, litters were not necessary and blankets were furnished. To sustain the internal and external pipelines, huge quantities of exchange items were stockpiled in England before the invasion. For example, 300,000 extra blankets

23See footnotes 2(3), p. 310; and 15(1), p. 324.


were distributed to U.K. depots. Moreover, substantial quantities of various exchange items, far exceeding established factors, were included on routine requisitions to the Zone of Interior.24


Early Difficulties

Each medical depot company assigned to continental operations included, as a part of its organic capability, a maintenance section to repair Medical Department equipment and an optical section to repair and fabricate spectacles. These two sections usually accompanied the base section and headquarters platoon and were placed in operation immediately upon arrival on the Continent. These sections were staffed with specialists from the maintenance and optical schools of the St. Louis Medical Depot. In addition to a depot company's third and fourth echelon maintenance capability, each hospital was authorized one or two maintenance technicians for first, second, and third echelon repairs, depending on the hospital's size and the complexity of its equipment. Technicians were never sufficiently plentiful to meet all requirements. Each graduate technician was authorized a specialist's repair kit, but the scarcity of certain essential components until mid-1944 prevented a complete distribution upon graduation from the school in St. Louis. Not only was there a shortage of technicians, but a number of technicians were temporarily without kits.

To cope with the dual shortage, available technicians with kits were concentrated in the depot maintenance sections of selected hospitals operating in the United Kingdom and in hospitals phased onto the Continent. Technicians and kits, as they became available in the theater, were furnished to the hospitals.

Reports from France during the first few days after D-day indicated that repair and maintenance was a persistent problem. Principal problems involved equipment damage suffered in transit or abnormal incidents of mechanical breakdowns of apparatus used in around-the-clock operation. As a result of this combination, a more elaborate maintenance and repair setup was needed than had been contemplated.

Maintenance requirements constantly exceeded the authorized capability in ETOUSA. The gap was filled mainly by unit personnel with mechanical aptitude and by skilled POW's. While medical maintenance support within units was outstanding, the major workload fell on depot maintenance sections.

From the moment depot companies arrived in France, the maintenance sections were besieged with work. Affording close support, their men attempted to visit all units to perform periodic checks, to review preventive maintenance measures, and to furnish needed repairs. That approach proved difficult be-

24(1) See footnote 21(4), p. 337. (2) Memorandum, Lt. Col. Bryan C. T. Fenton, MC, for Lt. Col. [Leonard H.] Beers, 1 May 1944.


FIGURE 87.-Repairing field autoclaves at the Medical Maintenance and Repair Shop, Depot M-407.

cause of the constant change in unit locations, the inability to effect repair of equipment on site which resulted in a large volume of turn-ins of unserviceable equipment and requisitioning of the necessary replacement item, and the development of a backlog of deadlined material at each depot.

Soon after the invasion, maintenance personnel were faced with repairing technical equipment of foreign manufacture. Major breakdowns were impossible to repair unless the required parts could be fabricated or cannibalized. Maintenance personnel were extremely ingenious and capable, and returned much of this equipment to use.

Except for the high-mortality spare parts packed with unit equipment and stocked by the depot maintenance sections phased-in during the early landings, prescheduled shipments to the Continent did not include spare parts. They had to be requisitioned as required.

After Communications Zone stock control had been established on the Continent, spare parts continued to be a problem. Many of the less rapidly moving items were stocked only in one key depot in the United Kingdom, and one on the Continent. Moreover, units lacked the ability to adequately identify all of the required spare parts on their requisitions. This situation was improved with the publication of a theater spare parts catalog by the base maintenance shop at Depot M-407 early in 1945 (fig. 87).


Base Maintenance Shop

To increase the maintenance capability, an advance medical maintenance and repair unit was transported to the Continent on 14 August 1944, and attached to the 13th Medical Depot Company to set up a fourth and fifth echelon repair section at Depot M-2 (later M-402). The unit consisted of 2 officers and 10 enlisted men, all qualified technicians from Medical Maintenance Depot M-400 in the United Kingdom. Shortly after the establishment of Depot M-405 at Le Mans, the maintenance and repair unit was moved to that installation and it became the supply source for repair parts, buttressed by Depot M-400 in the United Kingdom. Following its relocation with Depot M-407 at Paris, the unit was redesignated the Medical Maintenance and Repair Shop, Depot M-407, on 12 October 1944, and became the key depot for spare parts on the Continent.

The 13th was soon operating a mobile machine shop (truck machine shop M-4) to repair, weld, install, and service generally all damaged X-ray, anesthesia, and similar medical equipment returned by combat units or other medical depot companies. Additionally, the unit inaugurated a mobile third, fourth, and fifth echelon spare parts replacement dump (spare parts truck, M-2) to service forward depot maintenance sections, including Advance Section, Armies, and Ninth Air Force Service Command. Two maintenance teams of two men each, with portable maintenance equipment, serviced hospitals in the vicinity of Depot M-407 and assisted maintenance sections of medical depot companies in forward areas.25

Fabrication of Spectacles

The two-man team assigned to the Advance Platoon, 31st Medical Depot Company, set up its portable optical fabrication equipment on D+3 and began to repair and fabricate spectacles. On D+14, a mobile optical unit was set up. By the end of June 1944, these units had repaired or replaced 1,250 pairs of glasses. By February 1945, 54 portable optical units were in use throughout the theater. Furnished with jeeps, they were placed in direct support of combat forces as well as being used, when possible, at general hospitals and medical depots.

From D-day until October 1944, the fabrication of spectacles, which was beyond the capability of mobile units, was accomplished by the ETOUSA Base Optical Shop located in Blackpool, England. As depots were moved to forward areas, it was necessary to activate a similar installation on the Continent. In October 1944, a base optical shop, commanded by Capt. Chester E. Rorie, MAC, was established at the 7th General Dispensary on Rue Helder in Paris. Personnel were assigned from the 31st Medical Depot Company, aug-

25(1) For more detail, see chapter IV. (2) Informal routine slip, Col. [S. B.] Hays to Chief Surgeon, ETOUSA, 26 June 1944, subject: Shortage of Spare Parts and Maintenance of Medical Equipment on Far Shore. (3) See footnotes 6(4), p. 312; and 10, p. 316.


mented by the optical section of the 15th Medical Depot Company. The shop moved in January 1945 to larger quarters, at which time the optical section of the 11th Medical Depot Company was added to the staff (fig. 88).

The base optical shop supplied mobile optical units on the Continent, established levels of supply for all echelons of optical repair, compiled theater optical supply requirements, filled prescriptions beyond the capability of mobile units, issued optical equipment, and filled prescriptions for spectacles needed in the local area (fig. 89).

The value of the optical program in terms of conserving fighting strength was extremely high. The field armies placed portable units in the division area so that combat soldiers whose spectacles were lost or damaged usually were back on duty with a minimum loss of time. The optical program as executed in the European theater prevented the evacuation of thousands of individuals each month.26



Shortly after their arrival on the Continent, many units were traveling long distances to the medical depots for supplies. Prevailing depot procedures and workload dictated that units submit requisitions, then return a day or so later to pick up the supplies. Seeking ways and means to process requisitions while the customer waited, the 32d Medical Depot Company discovered that more than 95 percent of the requisitions involved the same 250 fast-moving items. This led to a procedure that opened with a 10-minute visual edit by a well-qualified noncommissioned officer, who was fully cognizant of the supply position of the 250 fast-moving items. When the supply of a fast-moving item was limited, the noncommissioned officer rationed the available supply to make certain that equitable distribution would be effected. Following the edit, one copy of the requisition was immediately sent to the warehouse for selecting bulk supplies while a second copy was sent to the Loose Issue Section for selecting less than case lots. Upon completion of the selection of stock, the requisitions were compared to make certain that all supply action had been effected and that information was posted to both copies of the requisition. One copy was released to the requisitioner for his voucher file, and he returned to his parent unit with the available materiel. The second copy was forwarded to the depot stock record account for "post-posting" action. Depot records were necessarily brought up to date during the late evening hours and no loss of control was experienced.

This procedure permitted rapid supply action, saved unnecessary trips to the depot by consuming units, and was widely hailed by command and staff elements and the using agencies of the Third U.S. Army. It was pointed out

26(1) See footnote 1(4), p. 307. (2) ETO Base Optical Shop. [Official record.]


FIGURE 88.-Fabricating spectacles at the base optical shop, Paris, February 1945.


FIGURE 89.-Mobile repair teams serviced all forward medical installations, repairing equipment and issuing critical spare parts from their spare parts truck.

that, in support of a fast-moving field army, few organizations carried more supplies than they actually required and if the requisition item was in stock in the depot, it was issued.

Storage of Supplies

The storage sections of the depots were organized under three warehouse foremen: medical class 1 (drugs) was under one foreman, classes 2 through 6 under a second foreman, and classes 7 through 9, under the third foreman. This was particularly desirable where storage was scattered through a number of small buildings, especially during winter months when responsibility for around-the-clock heating could be placed on one individual. Moreover, this fixed responsibility enabled the personnel to gain familiarity with the stock and to derive added benefits from daily visual checks. Stock locator cards were maintained although the personnel were usually familiar with stock locations.


Prosthetics Laboratories

In addition to dental prosthetic devices, the laboratory attached to the 32d Medical Depot Company fabricated many ear plugs from acrylic resins for issue to personnel assigned to chemical mortar and artillery battalions. The plugs contributed substantially to a reduction of ruptured eardrums and injuries to the inner ear.

Maintenance Sections

Maintenance sections started operation soon after the depots became situated on the Continent. Unserviceable equipment was delivered to the depots by the using organizations, and repair was performed immediately, if possible, or a replacement item was issued to the unit and the unserviceable item was repaired and returned to stock. Where major repair and rebuilding were required, the item was shipped to a Communications Zone depot. Experience soon indicated that there was a definite advantage in having a depot maintenance team, consisting of one officer and two enlisted men, visit all hospital units periodically to inspect preventive maintenance procedures and to make necessary repairs. These visits had the added virtue of permitting maintenance personnel to observe and instruct the using personnel in the correct use and care of the equipment, thereby reducing the volume of major repairs that were required in the early days.

Optical Sections

The optical section in the depot base section was equipped with a mobile optical unit, mounted on a truck. Initially, all operations except mounting and dispensing were performed in the vehicle. It was found expedient, whenever space permitted, to remove the equipment from the truck and set it up in a building. The equipment could be dismantled and set up in the buildings within an hour, and the additional space allowed a more efficient operation. The most persistent problems confronting the optical sections were the improperly prepared prescriptions and the omission of frame sizes.

Blood Bank Detachments

Blood bank detachments were frequently attached to medical depot companies. A blood bank detachment consisted of 1 officer and 22 enlisted men with eight 2?-ton, 6 by 6 trucks, each mounted with a refrigerator, and one truck mounted with a storage refrigerator having a 600-pint capacity.

An advance Army blood bank detachment was attached to the 33d Medical Depot Company on 20 June 1944 for cross-Channel movement and early operations on the Continent. In August, two blood distribution trucks were assigned to the advance section of the 33d Medical Depot Company while it was located at Ducey, France, to service hospital units on the Brittany Peninsula. At that time, 20 percent of all blood furnished to the Third U.S. Army


FIGURE 90.-Whole-blood refrigeration unit installed on a wheeled machinegun mount gave mobility to blood storage.

was being distributed to the VIII Corps sector, which was engaged in clearing the German defenses of the Brittany Peninsula.

An effective means of delivering blood was inaugurated in November 1944. Two blood distribution trucks were used to service each corps zone daily, one carrying blood for evacuation hospitals only, and one for field hospital platoons. After the loss of a driver and truck, presumably captured, the truck destined for field hospital platoons reported daily to the corps medical battalion and picked up a guide, thus assuring prompt delivery. Additionally, each corps medical battalion maintained a level of 30 to 40 pints of blood (fig. 90).

Depot Pharmacies

Recognizing early the need to compound certain pharmaceuticals for divisions and smaller units which were not authorized pharmacists, depot officers unofficially established pharmacies in depots. Registered pharmacists among the assigned personnel welcomed the opportunity to continue their vocation, and the practice gained momentum. Depots accepted prescriptions prepared by medical officers from the various units until the Surgeon's Office, Third U.S. Army, discovered that prescriptions were exceeding the intended capability of some units. Depot pharmacies were temporarily closed until the necessary


controls could be established. The Third U.S. Army Surgeon published a list of authorized preparations, such as ointments, cough remedies, and solutions, which could be drawn from the depots, and on 29 October 1944, the pharmacies were reopened. All other prescriptions had to be approved by the Third U.S. Army Surgeon's Office.

Quartermaster Laundry Sections

Quartermaster laundry sections were often attached to depot companies to launder soiled items, such as pajamas, blankets, surgical drapes, and similar textile items, for depot stock replenishment and to support smaller army medical units. The need to site laundries within buildings and near available water supply sometimes led to locations at a distance from the depots.27


Base Section Organization

With the movement of Headquarters, ETOUSA, from England to the Continent in July and August 1944, the administration of Communications Zone activities that were to remain in the United Kingdom was assigned to the U.K. Base, which was activated on 1 September 1944. The base section was subdivided into four districts-Eastern, Western, Southern, and Central-comprising nearly the same areas previously designated as U.K. Base Sections.

The U.K. Base Section Surgeon, Col. (later Brig. Gen.) Charles B. Spruit, MC, assumed control of 112 hospitals, consisting of 64 general, 43 station, and 5 field hospitals, and 3 hospital center organizations-more than 130,000 beds in all. Maj. Robert R. Kelly, MC, was designated chief of the Supply Division, which was responsible for the support of activities in the United Kingdom and for bulk supply support of continental operations. Major Kelly was succeeded by Lt. Col. Robert L. Black, PhC, on 1 December 1944. 

In supply matters, hospital group commanders had broad authority to control the supply for hospitals (including centers) under their jurisdiction. Their responsibilities were to insure that the approved system of station stock control was in operation, to conduct periodic inspections, and to assist the medical supply officers of each hospital in any supply problems. The organization of these groups assisted considerably in the administration of medical units in the United Kingdom.

United Kingdom Depot System

On 1 September 1944, 16 depots in the United Kingdom were engaged in the medical supply mission, 3 medical branch depots and 13 medical sec-

27See footnote 1(3), p. 307.


tions of general depots. One storage depot (M-403) had been closed on 7 July 1944.

With the buildup of continental depots and the deployment of increasing numbers of medical units to the Continent, the mission of U.K. depots focused mainly on the support of the U.K. hospital system. During the period from 1 September to 31 December 1944, the missions of four depots were changed and six medical depot activities were closed. In September, the mission of the medical section of Depot G-22 was changed from distribution to storage, and the depot was closed in the fall of 1944. During October, Depot M-401 and the medical sections of Depots G-14, G-15, G-16, G-40, and G-55, all with storage missions, were closed. In November, the mission of Depot M-410M was changed from distribution to storage. During December, the medical section of G-45 became a distribution depot and that of G-50, a storage depot.

The mission of the medical section of Depot G-30 was to receive British items that had been procured through reciprocal aid arrangements and to provide Medical Department blank forms, medical books, teeth, and special air shipments from the Zone of Interior, and also to receive, store, and issue all United States of America Typhus Commission stocks in the United Kingdom. The Medical Supply Officer, Lt. Col. George T. O'Reilly, MAC, Commanding Officer of the 64th Medical Depot Company which provided the personnel, also served as the medical procurement officer for British procurement. Located in a freight terminal building on Commercial Road in London's East End, Depot G-30 had been subjected to air raids in the early days and to V-bomb attacks after D-day. Part of the depot roof, windows, and the railroad cars in the nearby marshaling yards periodically suffered damage. Depot operations continued in spite of the attacks, with only minor personnel injuries.

Diversion of shipments from continental to U.K. ports because of split assemblies and the nonavailability of ports on the Continent not only delayed their arrival and placed an added workload on the U.K. depots, but increased the load of already overburdened British transportation facilities and interfered with moving desperately needed supplies and equipment to the Continent.

Distribution Mission

Depot closures during the last 4 months of 1944 required a realinement of the distribution areas for depots remaining open. When depot realinement was completed at the end of the year, four depots were servicing 103 hospitals in the United Kingdom (table 5).

In addition to the supply of U.K. hospitals, from 1 September to 31 December 1944, TOE equipment and supplies were distributed to 9 infantry divisions, 3 armored divisions, and 142 other units. Port assemblies were issued to 147 units arriving in the United Kingdom. During the same period, 6,744 long tons of maintenance supplies were received from the Zone of Interior,


TABLE 5.-Hospitals serviced by medical depots in the United Kingdom, December 1944


Number of hospitals

Approximate number of beds
















including 1,700 long tons diverted from continental ports. Outgoing shipments to the Continent during this 4-month period were as follows:

Type of shipment

Long tons shipped

Bulk shipments


Red Ball shipments


General hospital assemblies


Coaster shipments (bids submited by G-4)


Coaster shipments (priority A)


Air shipments




Depots processed nearly 24,000 requisitions during the period, shipping a total of nearly 894,000 packages while receiving 897,000. Depot stocks on hand approximated 36,000 long tons.

Operations in 1945

As of 1 January 1945, the staff of the Supply Division, Surgeon's Office, U.K. Base, consisted of 15 officers, 25 enlisted men, and 1 Wac. The personnel strength of the nine active U.K. depots numbered 1,321-753 military and 568 others, consisting of civilians, POW's, and Italian service troops (table 6).

During January and February 1945, in addition to supporting U.K. hospitals, depots shipped sixteen 1,000-bed general hospitals and one 250-bed station hospital to the Continent. To assure that the assemblies reached their destination, a security detail of one officer and eight enlisted men from the hospital unit accompanied each assembly from the U.K. depot to the hospital site on the Continent.

Stock levels were constantly revised. On 31 January 1945, they were based on a maximum of 75 days' stock in depots. During the latter part of April, levels were established at a 60-day stockage after they had been reduced three times since the end of January.28

28(1) Annual Report, Surgeon's Office, United Kingdom Base, 1944. (2) See footnotes 2(3), p. 310; and 21(3), p. 337. (3) Monthly Reports, Surgeon's Office, United Kingdom Base, January, February, and April 1945


TABLE 6.-United Kingdom depot status report, 15 January 1945


Tonnage on hand (long tons)









Prisoners of war

Italian service troops





Enlisted men





































































































Source: Annual Report, Supply Division, Chief Surgeon's Office, ETOUSA, 1944, section II, exhibit I.


Depot Support of the Armies

First U.S. Army-Despite poor weather conditions and the adverse effect of the German counteroffensive in the Ardennes, the Allies renewed their offensive early in January 1945. The First U.S. Army, handicapped greatly by poor roads and a nearly complete destruction of possible storage facilities, was fortunate to be strongly supported by the 1st Medical Depot Company.

Early in January, the base section moved forward to Basse-Wavre from Dolhain, where it had been since mid-December. A month later, the base depot platoon sent out sections to Brand, Germany, and Malm?dy, where advance dumps were set up (map 20).

To give close support at the division level, depot sections moved frequently-so frequently at times that it was necessary to obtain clearance from corps and division headquarters before a selected depot site was outdistanced.

By early March, the 1st Medical Depot Company had advance sections moving first into Frenchen, Germany, then Dollendorf, and finally to Honnef, just across the Rhine. The base platoon, meanwhile, was established at Mechernich.

A section of the base platoon was deep inside Germany by April when the supply of exchange items again demanded attention because most casualties leaving the army area were evacuated by air. Normal replenishment channels were too slow, and routine property exchange was circumvented. Consequently, arrangements were made with the Medical Supply Division, Communications Zone, to stock exchange items at the holding units supporting air evacuation points.


MAP 20.-First U.S. Army medical supply depots in Belgium and Germany, January-May 1945.


Toward the end of April 1945, the first advance section of the 1st Medical Depot Company, attempting to maintain a supporting position, took advantage of available airlift to move from Dollendorf, Germany, to Wetzlar. For the first time, the rapid advance of depot personnel, equipment, and stock by air was accomplished successfully.

The base platoon of the depot selected a site well forward and moved to Korbach, leaving 200 long tons of excess and slow-moving items to be taken over by ADSEC. To support troops on the left flank, the second section advanced to Duderstadt, Germany, and opened for issue on 16 April. At that time, the supply system appeared to be in a comparatively good position. Envelopment of the Ruhr pocket, however, created a situation that demanded the employment of another advance section.

The first advance section of the 47th Medical Depot Company had been assigned earlier to the First U.S. Army and it was decided to position it at Seigen, Germany, to support the XVIII Corps (map 21). Forty-eight tons of medical supplies, constituting a balanced stock for an advance section, were shipped by air from the United Kingdom and Depot M-407 in Paris to airstrip Y-84, where it was picked up by the section. As the Ruhr pocket was eliminated, the entire stock and the depot section reverted to control of the Fifteenth U.S. Army.

As the First U.S. Army pushed across Germany, supply of hospitals and miscellaneous medical installations for the rapidly surrendering prisoners and large numbers of displaced persons constituted an onerous task. For the most part, captured materiel was sufficient, but quantities of liberated German medical supplies necessitated the establishment of an organization capable of collecting, classifying, and distributing them. The First U.S. Army, operating with only one medical depot company, was compelled to request, and was successful in acquiring, two additional advance depot sections. The first advance sections of the 33d and 35th Medical Depot Companies were attached to the First U.S. Army to establish and maintain issuing points for captured enemy materiel.

A large captured German medical depot at Ihringshausen presented an excellent nucleus for a base issuing depot, and stocks from the collecting points and outlying locations were concentrated there. One hundred long tons of medical supplies were issued from that point during April. A second large German medical depot, equaling in tonnage the one at Ihringshausen, was uncovered at Treuen (map 22). As a result of a conference with representatives of the Chief Surgeon, ETOUSA, the entire stock was evacuated by ADSEC to a central depot under the control of the Third U.S. Army.

With the First U.S. Army ceasing all operations on 9 May 1945, medical supply functions were turned over to the Ninth U.S. Army. This action was preceded by a series of conferences with supply representatives of the


MAP 21.-Third U.S. Army medical supply depots in Germany, January-May 1945.


MAP 22.-Captured enemy supply dumps in Germany, February-April 1945.

Surgeon's Offices, First and Ninth U.S. Armies, to fully acquaint the latter with the existing situation and plans.29

Third U.S. Army-While the First U.S. Army was crossing the Rhine River to the north and plunging into the heart of Germany, the Third U.S. Army, supported by the 32d Medical Depot Company, which had been at Metz, crossed the Rhine at Oppenheim and headed northeast (fig. 91). By 21 March, the base section was situated at Saint-Wendel, where it remained until 13 April.

29(1) Semiannual Report, 1st Medical Depot Company, 1 January-30 June 1945. (2) Annual Report, Medical Section, First U.S. Army, 1945.


FIGURE 91.-Medics of the 4th Infantry Division, Third U.S. Army, approach a river with an assault boat loaded with medical supplies.

The first and second advance sections had moved forward in late March to W?rrstadt and Frankfurt. The second advance section, after crossing the Rhine and setting up at Hersfeld on 2 April, had advanced by 11 April to Eisenach where it was joined two days later by the base depot. At Eisenach, the 32d employed 40 Serbians and Yugoslavs who had been German slave laborers. These workers stayed with the depot for the remainder of the campaign.

By 25 April, the base depot had moved from Eisenach to Weiden, and finally to Straubing, Germany (map 21), where it remained until its deactivation.30

The 33d Medical Depot Company, operating in support of the Third U.S. Army's drive to pinch off the Ardennes salient of the German counteroffensive, was located in January 1945 at Longuyon. After operating a storage area and issue section at Longuyon for nearly a month, one advance section was sent to Bastogne on 27 January to afford closer support for troops in the Ardennes battle. Moving to Ettelbruck, Luxembourg, on 25 February,

30Semiannual Report, 32d Medical Depot Company, 1 January-30 June 1945.


MAP 23.-Operations of the 33d Medical Depot Company, 1945.

the advance section was joined by the base section on 27 February. By 4 March, an advance section had moved to Bitburg, Germany, and on 23 March, the base depot moved into Germany at Kastellaun. Here, a Military Government supply section was set up on 20 April to handle medical supply of requisitions for displaced persons and civilians. By 30 June, 80 tons of supplies had been received and 477 requisitions were filled.

Making its final move of the war, the depot was moved to Furth, Germany, on 28 April 1945 (map 23), where it operated 218,541 square feet of open storage space and 139,623 square feet of closed storage space for 10,952 long tons of supplies.

During its operations in Germany, the 33d had small detachments supervising operations of several captured enemy supply dumps at Trier, Isaar, Oberstein, Mainz, Bingen, Lauterbach, Fulda, Kassel, and Treuen (map 22). Supplies totaling 7,000 tons were consolidated by the 33d.31

Seventh U.S. Army-Having returned to Sarrebourg from ?pinal early in January 1945, the 7th Medical Depot Company, with help from the Advance Platoon of the 46th Medical Depot Company, carried the basic medical supply load of the Seventh U.S. Army.

On 12 February 1945, SOLOC was dissolved and its personnel and functions were absorbed by Communications Zone, ETOUSA. As a result of the reorganization, the SOLOC medical section's supply personnel were transferred to the Supply Division of the Chief Surgeon's Office, ETOUSA. Col. Charles F. Shook, MC, was made Deputy Surgeon.

31Semiannual Report, 33d Medical Depot Company, 1 January-30 June 1945.


MAP 24.-Seventh U.S. Army medical supply depots in France and Germany, 1945.

With the beginning of the Seventh U.S. Army offensive in March 1945, the 7th Medical Depot Company set up depots at Retschwiller, France, and Kirchheim, Germany. The Seventh U.S. Army's first supply point east of the Rhine River was established at Die Burg, Germany, on 31 March. Following the closing of the main depot at Sarrebourg on 31 March, the base depot was moved to Walthurn, Germany, where it remained until 2 May. At that time, all depot stocks were consolidated at Schw?bisch Hall, Germany (map 24). During the period from 16 August 1944 to 30 June 1945, the 7th Medical Depot Company had processed 20,356 requisitions and issued more than 2,500 tons of supplies in support of a force which grew to nearly 400,000 men.32

Ninth U.S. Army.-After moving north into the Netherlands in late 1944, the Ninth U.S. Army had the 28th and 35th Medical Depot Companies for medical supply support.

32(1) See footnote 19(1), p. 332. (2) Semiannual Report, 7th Medical Depot Company, 1 January-30 June 1945.


FIGURE 92.-Central supply of the 48th Field Hospital, Friedrichsfeld, Germany, supporting the 30th Division, Ninth U.S. Army, was in turn supported by the 35th Medical Depot Company.

In January 1945, after the collapse of the German counteroffensive, the Ninth U.S. Army engaged in a holding action along the west bank of the Roer River with five divisions. The first advance section of the 35th Medical Depot Company at Valkenburg distributed to the 29th and 102d Infantry Divisions, the 41st and 91st Evacuation Hospitals, and the 1st and 2d Hospitalization Units of the 48th Field Hospital (fig. 92). All other units were supplied by the 28th Medical Depot Company at Maastricht and through a


supply point established near Brand. Several supply points were also established with supply personnel from medical battalions to facilitate the handling of fast-moving items to small units and clearing stations, with requisitioning on an informal basis, oral or written.

The first advance section of the 35th Medical Depot Company, which went to Heerlen in early February 1945, supported XIII Corps units in that vicinity during that month. The first advance section of the 28th Medical Depot Company was located in Aachen, Germany, to supply XIX Corps while its base depot, still at Maastricht, provisioned XVI Corps and the surrounding units during this same period.

Following the Roer crossing, which occurred in bitter cold weather, the depots at Maastricht and Aachen were closed, and the sections of the 28th Medical Depot Company then rejoined to open at Rheydt, Germany, on 5 March, to supply the XIII and XIX Corps units and the Army troops in the vicinity. Over 500 long tons, 260 truckloads, and 29 trailer loads, were transported to Rheydt within 8 days. The first advance section of the 35th Medical Depot Company at Heerlen closed and reopened at Aldekerk, Germany, on 12 March, with part of a blood bank unit to serve XVI Corps and Army units in that vicinity. Meanwhile, the three corps of the Ninth U.S. Army began deploying along the west bank in preparation for crossing the Rhine River.

The crossing of the Rhine River by the Ninth U.S. Army began on 24 March 1945. On 30 March, the first advance section of the 28th Medical Depot was transported in 21 trucks, with 36 tons of supplies, from Rheydt to Dinslakenerbruch to supply troops of the XVI and XIX Corps. Upon completion of the Rhine crossing, the Ninth U.S. Army moved rapidly across Germany until the 113th Cavalry met the Russians at the Elbe River on 30 April 1945. The mopup of German troops was completed rapidly and the depot companies had difficulty in keeping contact with the rapidly moving troop units. The 28th Medical Depot and its sections set up in rapid succession at Dinslakenerbruch, Aldekerk, Bevensen, Drensteinfurt, Helmstedt, Hameln, and Wiedenbr?ck. The 35th Medical Depot Company, including its advance sections, operated at Aldekerk, Hameln, and Wiedenbr?ck, as well as in Viersen, Burgdorf, L?denscheid, and Ihringshausen. Even with the succession of locations, the depots were unable to maintain supply points within the limitations of depot transportation to provide supply impetus from the rear for some units which were 50 miles distant (map 25).

At the end of April, the 1st Medical Depot Company from the First U.S. Army had joined the Ninth U.S. Army for operation at Korbach, Jena, and Duderstadt in support of the VII, VIII, XIII, XVI, and XIX Corps, which were comprised of 17 infantry and 5 armored divisions, totaling more than 650,000 troops by the end of the war, 9 May 1945.33

33(1) Semiannual Report, Medical Section, Ninth U.S. Army, 1 January-30 June 1945. (2) See footnote 20(3) p. 335. (3) Organizational Diary, 35th Medical Depot Company, 26 December 1943-3 November 1945.


MAP 25.-Ninth and Fifteenth U.S. Army depot operations in northern Europe, 1945.


Fifteenth U.S. Army.-The Fifteenth U.S. Army was the last field army deployed to the European theater, arriving on the Continent on 28 December 1944. Because of the limited scope of its combat operations, it never faced the medical supply problems which beset the other armies.

The initial mission of the Fifteenth U.S. Army was the responsibility for supervising the rehabilitation and reequipping of combat forces withdrawn from action after, and as a result of, the Ardennes offensive. Since the Fifteenth U.S. Army had no depots operational at the time, this involved merely the processing of requisitions to supporting Communications Zone medical depots. During this period, some field and evacuation hospitals arrived from the United States and were assigned to the Fifteenth U.S. Army for training. The Army Surgeon, Col. L. Holmes Ginn, Jr., MC, through his medical supply officer, Maj. Joseph J. Strnad, PhC, took the opportunity to requisition and obtain special hospital allowances of other technical service equipment, such as additional generators, tentage, switchboards, and water purification equipment, which proved invaluable to hospitals in later combat support.

On 1 April 1945, the Fifteenth U.S. Army assumed the defense of the west bank of the Rhine River from Bonn to Neuss and was directed to be prepared to occupy, organize, and govern the Rheinprovinz, Saarland, Pfalz, and that portion west of the Rhine River as the eastward advance of the Allied armies uncovered these areas.

To support this mission, the 47th Medical Depot Company was assigned to the Army and established a base depot at Elsdorf, Germany, during March 1945. With the aid of past experience of other field armies, a balanced stock was issued to the depot, enabling the 47th to render excellent medical supply support to Fifteenth U.S. Army units.

In connection with the Fifteenth U.S. Army's responsibility to handle the delousing of civilians and POW's traveling from east to west, the Chief Surgeon took over the distribution of the necessary dusters and DDT powder. In coordination with Civil Affairs/Military Government, requirements were met for operation of delousing stations along the Rhine.

The immense problem was that of providing medical supply support for approximately 300,000 displaced persons in the Fifteenth U.S. Army area. While the German civilian population had primary responsibility for supplying essential commodities to displaced persons camps, frequent demands for specific medical supply items were met from Civil Affairs/Military Government supply packs issued for this purpose and from captured enemy materiel which had previously been consolidated into the Army medical depot at Elsdorf. Since medical and nursing personnel in displaced persons' camps were familiar with drugs and equipment of German manufacture, the latter practice proved highly successful.34

34Semiannual Report, Medical Section, Fifteenth U.S. Army, 1 January-30 June 1945.


Operation of Support Depots in the Rear

As the depots supporting the field armies moved into Germany with the troops, several large depots remained in operation in France and Belgium (table 7) and one (M-416T) was opened in Germany (map 26).

TABLE 7.-Depots on the Continent, 1 November 1944


Gross space allocated 
(sq. ft.)

Net usable space 
(sq. ft.)

Space occupied 
(sq. ft.)







M-402, Carentan, France







M-405, Le Mans, France







M-407, Paris, France







M-408T, Reims, France







M-409, Li?ge, Belgium







SOURCE: Annual Report, Supply Division, Chief Surgeon's Office, ETOUSA, 1944, section II, exhibit 4a.

Depot M-402 at Carentan, in early January, was being operated by the 11th Medical Depot Company. On 5 January, the 11th was relieved by the 26th Medical Depot Company, assisted by the 16th Medical Depot Company, which remained until 8 March when it departed for duty at M-407 in Paris. During the early days of 1945, Depot M-402 was consolidated from three separate areas, at Carentan, Chef Du Pont, and a nearby airfield, to two by the closing of the Chef Du Pont open storage area and the redistribution of its stocks. By April, the airstrip was cleared and closed also. With the decrease in depot size and the forward movement of thousands of tons of medical supplies, it was possible to send a detachment of the 26th to Le Mans to relieve the 30th Medical Depot Company in the operation of Depot M-405.

As troop activities in the Le Mans area diminished in February, March, and April 1945, the necessity of keeping Depot M-405 open also lessened. By 20 May 1945, the depot was closed after all area hospitals had built up a 90-day supply level, and the remaining depot supplies were sent forward to Depot M-417 at Elbeuf, France.

Depot M-407 at Paris had rapidly become the largest depot on the Continent-157,600 square feet-and served as a backup point for all forward areas and the key depot for certain selected items. It was operated by the 11th Medical Depot Company, commanded by Lt. Col. Roland H. Iland, MAC. Despite pilferage, the depot used indigenous personnel because of their availability and the problems involved in the control of POW's in a big city.

The large in and out shipments made it necessary to augment the 11th with the Advance Platoon of the 16th Medical Depot Company on 30 January and later, on 9 March, the Headquarters and Base Section, making a total of two medical depot companies serving at Depot M-407. On 25 April, Depot


MAP 26.-Rear support depots, Belgium, France, and Germany, 1944-45.


M-407A was established at Trilport, 20 miles east of Paris, in a former mattress factory.

As the receipts and issues of Depot M-407 declined in early May, the Headquarters and Base Platoon of the 16th Medical Depot Company were sent forward to Depot M-418 at Mourmelon-le-Petit, France.

The 13th Medical Depot Company had opened Depot M-408 at Reims in September 1944 and, with the help of detachments of the 15th and 48th Medical Depot Companies, operated this depot until the end of the war.

By 31 January, the effects of having additional ports and improved transportation facilities were evident. In one 10-day period that month, 375 cars of medical supplies were received and processed by Depot M-408T. Thereafter, except for a period in February when roads in the area began to thaw and break up, transportation difficulties subsided and the operation at Depot M-408T became somewhat routine for the balance of the war.

Because of the large number of Communications Zone troops concentrated in the Li?ge area, Depot M-409 was a consistently heavy operation. The depot was operated exclusively by the 66th Medical Depot Company until 10 March, when the 48th Medical Depot Company arrived at Li?ge and helped with the operation while training in ETOUSA supply operation before leaving on 9 April for the forward area depot at Duisdorf.

The U.S. Armies were preparing to move forward and it was necessary to establish a depot (M-412) forward of Reims to supply the Third and Seventh U.S. Armies and to handle captured supplies and stocks for the Civil Affairs Division.

Rapidly established in late December 1944, after V-1 bombs forced the abandonment of Depot M-411 at Li?ge, Depot M-413 at Noirhat served as a sorting and reconsignment point for medical supplies received through the port of Antwerp. Despite being handicapped by poor buildings and lack of roads, the depot, operated by elements of the 11th and 15th Medical Depot Companies, ran smoothly.

Following extensive reconnaissance, a foundry at Foug, France, 4 miles west of Toul was selected as the site for Depot M-414, and a detachment from the 31st Medical Depot Company opened at the new location on 4 February 1945. Although the depot was not as forward as was desired, the Third U.S. Army would not allow Communications Zone depots within its area. This site, however, did favor a number of Communications Zone hospitals in the immediate vicinity. Additionally, Depot M-414 assumed the mission of Depot M-451 at Dijon, which closed on 10 May.

Depot M-417 at Elbeuf came into being unexpectedly. Shipments from the United States started to arrive on the Continent through the Le Havre and Rouen areas without warning in October 1944; they included hospital unit assemblies and bulk medical stocks. With the bulk stocks scheduled for delivery to Depot M-407 and the unit assemblies to be shipped directly to their operational sites, the workload exceeded the port capabilities to segregate the stocks for transshipment. A detachment from the 15th Medical Depot Com-


pany was sent to Rouen in early November to accomplish the sorting. By January 1945, operations had increased to the point that a detachment from the 30th Medical Depot Company was added. As receipts increased, additional space was acquired in an old silk factory at Elbeuf. This site was initially established as the 11th Port Medical Transit Depot on 13 February 1945. With the port receiving shipments around the clock, it was essential that the medical section follow suit, operating with a few medical military personnel serving in a supervisory and administrative capacity while POW's were used extensively. Although this depot originated as a storage and sorting point, G-4 directed that each Supply Service open issue points to serve units in the Rouen vicinity. To meet this requirement, the 239th Medical Supply Team was assigned to the operation, and on 30 March 1945, Depot M-417 was activated with an issue mission area.

The last depot established in France was opened at Mourmelon-le-Petit by the 16th Medical Depot Company in the spring of 1945 and designated Depot M-418. With the anticipated ending of hostilities and the planning for redeployment of equipment to the Pacific area, it was advisable to establish facilities for receiving, sorting, disassembling, and reassembling medical equipment other than hospital assemblies, including all types of kits and chests. None of the existing depots was suitable for such an operation and a site at Mourmelon-le-Petit was selected for the construction of Depot M-418. It was located within the Assembly Area Command, which was being formed to receive and process troops withdrawing from Central Europe.

Depots in southern France-With the consolidation of SOLOC and Communications Zone, ETOUSA, two medical depots, M-351 at Dijon and M-352 at Marseille, came under the control of the European theater.

The Dijon depot was operated by the 70th and 71st Medical Base Depot Companies in support of the Seventh U.S. Army and the First French Army. With the consolidation, the depot assumed the parallel position of the advance section depots and moved along with the advance of the Seventh U.S. and First French Armies into the Rhine area.

Depot M-352 (later M-452) at Marseille, operated by the 231st Medical Composite Battalion, served as a port, filler, and reserve depot and, later, as an assembly depot. Consisting of 250,000 square feet, this depot was one of the first to use mechanical handling equipment on a large scale.

Depots in Germany-A site at Weinheim, east of the Rhine River, was selected for Depot M-416T. Although rail service had been reestablished, the site was about 10 miles from the rail line. The 30th Medical Depot Company opened Depot M-416T on 1 May 1945. As the depot was in process of being organized, units began to turn in equipment for redeployment, and the magnitude of receipts made it necessary to augment the depot with a detachment of the 30th Medical Depot Company, which had been assigned to Depot M-417 in Elbeuf since early January 1945.

As the armies drove into Germany, the Medical Department was pressured to select a depot site on the extreme right flank of the Ruhr area. However, Col.


Silas B. Hays, MC, Chief of Supply Division, Chief Surgeon's Office, believed that Depot M-409 at Li?ge was adequate since any relocation would be temporary because the British were scheduled to take over the area as soon as the Ruhr drive had been completed. A compromise site was selected by ADSEC at Duisdorf, close to Bonn, and on 9 April, the newly arrived 48th Medical Depot Company assumed operation of Depot M-415.35


Medical Maintenance

By the end of 1944, the medical maintenance program was functioning effectively, and planning was started on the redeployment of equipment to the Pacific theater. On 16 March 1945, the Maintenance and Repair Section of the Supply Division, Chief Surgeon's Office, ETOUSA, was created, and plans were made to reclaim and salvage medical equipment and to locate redeployment maintenance centers. The 317th Medical Service Detachment was moved from Normandy Base (Depot M-402T) to establish a maintenance shop at Depot M-408T at Reims while the 321st Medical Service Detachment was moved from Depot M-407 in Paris to Depot M-409 in Li?ge to meet the regional redeployment maintenance requirements.

To supplement the 15th Medical Depot Company, medical service detachments were assigned to various depots. The 233d and 235th Medical Service Detachments were assigned to the medical maintenance and repair shop at Depot M-407.

Repair parts were a constant problem until the Chief Surgeon, ETOUSA, inaugurated the system of having a repair parts truck make scheduled visits to the army area. More than 3,500 items were repaired by the army depots' maintenance shops from January to June 1945.

Selected officers and enlisted men from maintenance shops were sent to the tropicalization and fungusproofing course conducted by the Signal School at La Jonch?re, France. Attendance at the course was supplemented by 2 days of application at the maintenance and repair shop at Depot M-407. Shortly thereafter, a standing operating procedure for moisture-fungus-proofing of Medical Department technical equipment was completed and distributed to all medical maintenance shops on the Continent and in the United Kingdom. Concurrently, serviceability standards for Medical Department technical items were developed for daily operations and for redeployment.

35(1) See footnote 10, p. 316. (2) Annual Report, 15th Medical Depot Company, 1945. (3) Annual Report, 13th Medical Depot Company, 1945. (4) Semiannual Report, 66th Medical Depot Company, January-June 1945. (5) Semiannual Report, 31st Medical Depot Company, January-June 1945. (6) Annual Report, 70th Medical Base Depot Company, 1945. (7) Semiannual Report, 231st Medical Composite Battalion, 1 January-30 June 1945. (8) Annual Report, 30th Medical Depot Company, 1945. (9) Semiannual Report, 48th Medical Depot Company, 1 January-30 June 1945.


Airlifts Into Germany

In January 1945, seven C-47 transports replaced the 20 small C-46's operating out of Paris, and a daily airlift of 17? tons of medical supplies was established. Frequently, these C-47's were used to pick up supplies in the United Kingdom and deliver them directly to army depots. After the armies crossed the Rhine River, far in advance of Communications Zone depots and in territory where rail transportation had been completely disrupted, C-47's provided the essential means to medical supplies.

Captured German Medical Supplies

Before entering Germany, all captured enemy equipment in the hands of units was turned in to the army medical depots. Those few items which were considered suitable substitutes for U.S. items were placed in open stocks. All other expendable items were turned over to the Civil Affairs Division while nonexpendable items were evacuated to Communications Zone depots.

Although problems allied with captured enemy medical materiel were encountered early in France, the quantities uncovered in Germany surpassed the capacity of the Army depots. Consequently, provisional platoons were organized to classify, process, and effect proper disposition of the materiel. Aside from the volume, scarcity of trained personnel, lack of uniformity in German packing, differences in language, nomenclature, and units of measure hampered identification, inventory, and stock control procedures.

German medical supplies and equipment were found in many places in great quantities in the drive to the Elbe River (fig. 93). At the outset, large quantities were wantonly ransacked and destroyed due to failure to provide proper guards. This oversight was soon corrected. Nine supply dumps to segregate, store, and issue the supplies were established in quick succession. Some supplies, after being sorted and salvaged, were used by U.S. units, and the remaining stocks were turned over to displaced persons centers, German hospitals, military governments for civilian use, and similar agencies.36

In Germany, the Third U.S. Army used the personnel of captured medical depots, usually Wehrmacht troops, and German civilian employees to operate its own depots, under supervision of a limited number of American military personnel. This staffing was rather significant because POW's, who had been attached to assist in processing captured medical materiel in France, could not be taken into Germany. The prohibition of the use of German prisoners in Germany for augmentation of depot staffs made it necessary to recruit personnel from displaced persons camps and to employ German civilians.37

36See footnote 10, p. 316.
37Semiannual Report, Medical Section, Third U.S. Army, 1 January-30 June 1945.


FIGURE 93.-In addition to stores of medical supplies captured in the race across Germany, many German medical facilities were overrun, such as this Nazi hospital, April 1945.

Depot Closures in the United Kingdom

Further curtailment of medical depot activities in the United Kingdom was effected in January 1945. After the 36th Station Hospital in northern Ireland was closed on 12 January 1945, action was taken to close Depot M-410M, also in northern Ireland, on 25 March. On 12 February, the 16th Medical Depot Company closed out the medical section of Depot G-50 in preparation for early movement to the Continent. Remaining U.K. depots were operated by four medical depot companies (6th, 63d, 64th, and 65th) and a non-TOE group of 4 officers and 26 enlisted men. This group also operated the U.K. Base Optical Shop under the command of Capt. Joseph B. Handley, MAC.

Increasing pressure to close the depots was exerted on the U.K. Base Section during February 1945 by theater headquarters. On 18 February, a report was submitted to Lt. Gen. John C. H. Lee, Commanding General, Communications Zone, ETOUSA, stating that it would be impossible to contemplate any further reduction of either personnel or installations at that time because of (1) anticipated workloads in the deactivation of hospitals, (2) re-


assembling, repacking, and redeploying of hospital assemblies and depot stocks, and (3) servicing the heavy hospital patient load. As a result, there were no further depot closures until May 1945.

Deactivation of Hospitals

With emphasis on the continental hospital system and the resultant shortening of the evacuation lines, plans were prepared in February 1945 for the phased transfer of U.K. hospital units to the Continent. In all, 21 hospital assemblies were shipped to the Continent.

On 20 March, the Surgeon, U.K. Base, directed that hospital units being closed for movement would turn in equipment to their servicing depot. Unfortunately, when the first few hospitals were closed, distribution depots were engaged in building hospital assemblies for shipment to the Continent. As the uncrated and unpacked supplies from closing hospitals were delivered to depot docks, the resulting confusion necessitated an immediate change of plans; one depot, G-24, was designated to receive the supplies and equipment turned in by hospitals.

The magnitude of the receipts of supplies and equipment from hospital closures required prompt action to establish methods and procedures for sorting, repairing, packing, marking, and shipping the materiel. Approximately one-half of the officers and enlisted maintenance technicians of Depot M-400 were transferred to Depot G-24 to supervise the sorting and repairing of technical equipment.

In May, 10 hospital locations were closed simultaneously on orders of the Surgeon, U.K. Base. Large quantities of supplies and equipment, in all degrees of serviceability, were literally thrown into the depot. Technical equipment was turned in either without accessories or with accessories in unlabeled boxes. Serviceability of this equipment was not indicated, British and American items were not separated, and scrap and salvage were sent to the depot along with technical services equipment. Articles of clothing were not sorted according to size, and combinations to safes were not furnished. These deficiencies resulted from failure to comply with the provisions of the directive. To prevent similar recurrences, Colonel Black, Chief of the Supply Division, met with medical supply officers of approximately 50 hospitals and the various hospital centers at Depot G-24. There, the officers were oriented in the proper method of returning medical supplies and equipment as their hospitals closed. They were conducted through the depot to see at first hand the problems that had been created, and to impress on them the necessity for complying with the directives covering turn-in of supplies. The orientation and series of inspections corrected the major deficiencies in the turn-in of hospital assemblies in May and June 1945. At the same time, additional personnel were secured to assist in receiving materiel at Depot G-24. Medical, surgical, X-ray, and dental technician personnel were obtained on temporary duty assignments to help classify and identify supplies and equipment.


FIGURE 94.-Scarcity of boxes and packing material caused units to use discarded German small arms ammunition boxes to transport medical supplies.

A serious operational problem developed within the depots as packaging and crating lagged behind the sorting process, and large quantities of individual items began to accumulate. Textiles were baled on a 24-hour schedule with the help of POW's, but the backlog of packing and crating continued to mount. Military personnel records were screened for qualified carpenters; 15 so located were put to work promptly, prefabricating boxes and crates. Two sanitary companies were also attached to Depot G-24 to expand operational capacities.

Shortages of various types of packing materials compounded problems. Although one officer in London was constantly attempting to purchase packing and crating material, these items were not available. On one occasion, a planeload of excelsior was flown from France to enable continuation of the packing operation. Deliveries of packing and crating materials from the Zone of Interior were woefully behind schedule (fig. 94).

Disposition of British Items

As has been mentioned, hospitals in England were equipped with both American and British items. Housekeeping items, such as beds, mattresses, and bedside tables, had been furnished by the British and were to be returned


upon deactivation of the units. Many items of equipment which had been procured from British sources through reciprocal aid arrangements were not considered desirable for shipment to other theaters, or to the United States because of parts peculiarity and different electrical voltages. Consequently, supplies in hospitals were segregated into three categories: British reciprocal aid items which would have to be disposed of as surplus, housekeeping items which were to be returned to the British, and American items which were further categorized as to items in excess of overall American requirements and items which would be required either for redeployment or return to the United States.

Return of housekeeping items presented a rather complex problem because adequate records had not been kept on the items furnished by the British. Further complications were caused by the transfer of many items from one installation to another as necessity demanded. The problem was finally resolved by having the local British barracks officers furnish the U.S. Forces with receipts for all British accommodation stores which were returned. No attempt was made to correlate items turned in against the list of items initially issued.

Disposition of unserviceable items was another problem. The British controlled the salvage operations and were reluctant to accept any items unless they met established salvage criteria. Unserviceable vehicles were not accepted until all wood and rubber were removed. Ordnance had a number of unserviceable ambulances, which were concentrated in a large field, doused liberally with gasoline, lighted, and thereby reduced to the desirable state of metal only.

All hospitals had many open packages of laboratory chemicals and drugs which could not be returned to the depots. Arrangements were made with the British Ministry of Supply to turn such items over to local charities in exchange for a signed release from liability for any error in label or content. Closing hospitals were informed to destroy any open packages whose contents were in doubt.

With the declining distribution and maintenance workload resulting from hospital closures after 1 May 1945, further adjustments were made in the depot system. The repair workload at Depot M-400 had diminished drastically so that it was practical to close the depot on 15 May and to transfer the personnel and equipment to Depot G-45 where a medical maintenance and repair section was established.

On 20 June, Depot G-45 was designated the sole distribution depot in the United Kingdom, thus allowing the medical sections of Depots G-20 and G-35 to begin to close and transfer to Depots G-24 and G-45 stock not required for the assembly programs. On 27 June, Depot G-24 was turned over for the exclusive use of the Medical Department and was redesignated as Depot M-424. On 30 June, Depot G-30 was officially closed and the procurement office was moved to the U.K. Surgeon's Office.

Planning was completed for closure of Depot G-23 on 21 July, and Depots G-20 and G-35 on 31 July. Depot G-45 continued to operate as a distribution depot, including the medical maintenance and repair shop.


Depot M-424 continued its mission as a filler depot and repository of stocks from hospitals and units closing in the United Kingdom, including a program of sorting, classifying, and repacking supplies and equipment. The depot also served as a storage point for surplus property awaiting disposition by the U.K. General Purchasing Agent.38


Preinvasion Planning

Preinvasion planning for Civil Affairs medical supply, under the direction of Col. Stuart G. Smith, MC, conceived of the Supply Division as responsible only for the distribution of Civil Affairs supplies. Requirements were to be determined by SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force) and the Combined Chiefs of Staff, based upon the expected civilian population to be liberated during successive stages of the invasion. These needs were to be satisfied principally in terms of the BMU (basic medical unit), and the assembly of 189 cases containing drugs, dressings, surgical instruments, general practitioner's sets, and layettes. The so-called BMU was capable theoretically of meeting minimum requirements for 30 days for 100,000 civilians in liberated areas and for 1 million civilians in conquered territories when supplemented by various other smaller assemblies, such as basic veterinary units, basic laboratory units, and similar items.

Change in Concept Following Invasion

Although 85 basic units were allocated for distribution during the first 90 days of the invasion, only 5 were actually issued-1 each to Valognes, Coutances, Avranches, Rennes, and Paris. Civilian requirements were satisfied during that period principally by use of indigenous supplies, captured enemy medical supplies at Cherbourg and Isigny, and to some extent, by drawing upon regular U.S. Army stocks.

It became apparent after the breakthrough at Avranches in July 1944 that the whole concept of Civil Affairs medical supply had to be revised because of numerous difficulties. Only in the larger cities, and then only after the battleline had moved far forward, was civilian authority sufficiently reconstituted to accept and distribute an entire unit of supply of such magnitude. The arrival of basic units in France on seven different ships posed the difficult problem of marrying-up the component parts into a whole unit. Transportation was in such short supply that critical items were removed from the units and moved forward while the depleted remains stayed on or near the beach. Enemy materiel had been captured in quantity at no fewer than 14 locations in France, permitting the selection of needed items. Health

38See footnotes 10, p. 316; and 28(3), p. 352.


conditions in France and Belgium, moreover, were better than had been anticipated.

Confronted with these factors, yet aware that a hard winter and the advance into Germany lay ahead, the Supply Division, in cooperation with representatives of SHAEF and the 12th Army Group, made a fundamental revision in the Civil Affairs supply concept: Basic medical units and other large assemblies would henceforth be issued only to governmental authority in liberated areas when and as such authority would reassert itself. Captured materiel would be inventoried and prepared for issue at "retail" to refugee camps, POW compounds, Civil Affairs teams, and villages in forward areas, and 10 BMU's would be broken down for issue of component items.

By the end of 1944, French authorities had accepted 23 BMU's for distribution in Paris, Reims, Le Havre, Nantes, Caen, Rennes, Tours, Lille, and Nancy.

Captured Materiel Program

The captured materiel program, however, adapted itself most efficaciously to meeting civilian needs.

Establishment of captured materiel depot-Since seven warehouses of high quality medical supplies and equipment of French, German, and Italian origin had been uncovered in Reims, it was determined to set up Depot M-412 in that city, both to classify and distribute the materiel captured there and to marshal and collect all other materiel captured west of the Rhine.

To staff the depot, 3 officers and 15 enlisted men of the European Civil Affairs Division were detached from headquarters and one platoon of the 13th Medical Depot Company was placed on temporary duty. From time to time thereafter, personnel familiar with foreign nomenclature were assigned to Depot M-412 on temporary duty ranging from 5 to 60 days.

Captured materiel teams were formed at Depot M-412 to assay all such materiel in northwest Europe. Items which were of high quality and in short supply in regular U.S. Army stocks were transferred to nearby medical depots for issue; items of French or Belgium origin insofar as practicable were delivered to nearby officials of those countries, and the balance was then transferred to Depot M-412.

All of the captured items so collected were identified, inventoried, assigned supply numbers, and cross-referenced with their U.S. counterpart. By mid-winter of 1944, some 3,150 items, including more than 1,000 drugs, were in stock at Depot M-412.

Such efficient use of captured materiel brought numerous commendations from higher authority, including visitors from the War Department. But perhaps the most significant innovation by Depot M-412 in terms of Civil Affairs supply was the so-called Pannier program (fig. 95).

Medical kits devised-The early campaign had demonstrated the need for balanced, compact units of supply to be used in displaced persons camps


FIGURE 95.-Assembly of Panniers for distribution through Civil Affairs channels was accomplished at Depot M-412.

or in forward areas where distribution of a BMU would have been wasteful and where there were no personnel capable of requisitioning captured materiel selectively. Accordingly, in cooperation with U.S. Public Health and French medical officers, the Supply Division devised separate Civil Affairs drug, dressing, and surgical instrument kits (referred to as Panniers), containing 46, 43, and 18 items, respectively.

Depot M-412 personnel, with the assistance of available prisoners, assembled the items in captured portable trunks or in wicker baskets. Within 45 days, 5,646 kits were assembled and issued to displaced persons camps and Civil Affairs teams. The prudent selection of component items and the portability of the chests brought widespread acclaim for the Pannier program.

As the military operation swept across the Rhine and into Germany in the early months of 1945, French authority was able to accept delivery of 28 additional BMU's, and 400-bed Civil Affairs hospitals were set up in 20 French cities and towns. With the delivery of these units, responsibility for distribution of civilian supplies to our Western Europe Allies substantially came to an end.

Distribution of captured materiel-When the fighting ended, the Supply


Division took over numerous German medical depots, including the Neuhof salt mine with its 3,200 tons of supplies. Much of the captured materiel was required to service POW enclosures and hospitals and the balance was used, in the main, for displaced persons camps.39

Antityphus Supplies in Germany

Although the Quartermaster Corps was nominally in charge of antityphus supplies, the Medical Supply Division through Depot M-412 issued almost 650,000 pounds of DDT and 4,600 hand-dusters and airlifted 40 power-dusters from the United States and the United Kingdom. Thus, Depot M-412 became the nerve center of all antityphus supply activity.

39See footnotes 2(3), p. 310; and 10, p. 316.