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







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









This volume is one of a series on the history of the U.S. Army Medical Department in World War II. It deals most fully with the commissioned and enlisted members of the Army's medical service, less fully with the large number of civilians, the sizable contingent from the Women's Army Corps, and the numerous prisoners of war who were employed in the Department's work. Other groups that assisted the medical service but which were comparatively small in size-the body of Red Cross workers, for example-are given much briefer consideration.

Inevitably, the subject matter of the volume overlaps that of others in this series. The uses to which personnel were put can hardly be discussed without touching on their employment in hospitals and, thus, entering on a small portion of the field covered by the volume dealing with hospitalization and evacuation in the Zone of Interior. To make clear one way of alleviating personnel shortages, it has been necessary to give certain facts about training, even at the cost of encroaching on the history of that subject. Similarly, such apparent inadequacies as the relatively superficial coverage of Army Ground Forces medical and paramedical personnel are made up in more appropriate contexts in other volumes.

For reasons made clear in the narrative, the volume covers not only the years during which the United States was at war but a space of time before and afterward-roughly the years 1939 through 1946. In a few instances, the account of some train of events begins at a considerably earlier or concludes at a rather later date if such a departure makes for a better understanding of the subject.

Most of the actions and decisions on personnel matters recorded in this volume emanated from the higher authorities of the War Department, particularly the Surgeon General's Office, the General Staff, the Air Surgeon's Office, the headquarters of Army Service Forces, and the offices of the commanding generals of service commands and theaters of operations or their surgeons. The actions that figure most prominently in the account are those of the Surgeon General's Office, since it had comprehensive responsibility for-though not equally full power over-the Army's Medical Department. That power, as regards personnel, was shared by other agencies, not only inside but outside the War Department. Of great influence in this respect were Congress and its committees, certain civilian branches of the Executive-the Selective Service System, the War Manpower Commission, and the latter's Procurement and Assignment Service-and nongovernmental agencies such as the American National Red Cross, professional organizations in the field of medicine and their journals, other groups intent on promoting special interests, and finally

unorganized public opinion in its various forms of expression. The influence of all these agencies, so far as it was brought to bear on the personnel administration of the Army's medical service, is therefore also taken into account.

Statistics have been used extensively in this volume, not only to record in quantitative terms personnel developments in the Medical Department but also to compare them with developments in the Army as a whole. For these purposes, the authors have, as a rule, used the statistical source which gives the most detailed and comprehensive data on the particular point under discussion. A number of agencies produced these data. However, most of the time series compiled for the volume are based on data assembled by the Office of The Adjutant General, the chief agency of the Army for preparing personnel actions and maintaining records of them.

The Adjutant General's summaries of Army strength (including distribution according to race, rank, branch of service, and losses of personnel) derive added authority from the fact that they are compiled from information entered on each unit's morning report, which "is a permanent, statistical, and historical record" (AR 345-400, 7 May 1943, 1 May 1944, 3 January 1945). Each month, the information in these reports was consolidated for a particular cutoff date, a summary being made first on an area level and then by The Adjutant General, for all areas combined. The most important time series used which do not entirely follow The Adjutant General's figures are the worldwide strength of the Medical Department and its individual components from Pearl Harbor to mid-1946. These series were supplied to the authors in 1950 by the Resources Analysis Division, Office of The Surgeon General. They incorporate many of The Adjutant General's figures but for the most part differ, often very substantially, from them. The differences result primarily from using summaries of orders for accessions and separations of personnel instead of The Adjutant General's summaries of head counts based on the morning reports. The authors have made use of these series both in stating Medical Department strengths and in computing ratios and percentages involving them. One reason for doing so is that the Resources Analysis Division in the latter part of the war and for some years afterward was The Surgeon General's chief authority on statistics of Medical Department personnel; the series may therefore be regarded as virtually the official statement of the Medical Department on its strength and, as such, appropriate for use in this volume. The series are also somewhat more comprehensive than those of The Adjutant General. The reader may compare the two sets of figures for himself as they are reproduced in table 1.

The statistical approach proved to be particularly useful in the discussion of oversea matters. It lent itself to a treatment of the oversea personnel situation as a whole, rather than by individual theaters, and at the same time facilitated comparisons among different areas, thus enabling the demands of space to be more readily met than would otherwise have been possible. Nevertheless, much attention is focused on the European theater, not merely because it gave rise to more comprehensive personnel statistics than any other theater,

but because it was the largest theater in terms of both medical and general Army strength.

Max Levin is responsible for the sections on oversea developments and for most of the statistical compilations. For all other parts of the volume, John H. McMinn is responsible. The entire manuscript was prepared in the first instance under the direction of Donald O. Wagner, Ph. D., whose contributions extended to various changes in organization and a number of textual revisions. After both the authors and the original editor had left The Historical Unit, the volume was further reorganized and substantially reduced in length by Dr. Charles M. Wiltse, assisted by Mrs. Lucy W. Lazarou. The basic content of the volume and much of its language, however, is still that of Dr. McMinn and Mr. Levin, whose names appear on the title page as coauthors.

The bibliographical note mentions the most important documents, types of recorded material, and file collections used in preparing the volume. Much information also came from personal interviews and correspondence with officers and civilians familiar with the Medical Department's personnel operations during the war and from comments on chapters of the manuscript which a rather large number of them were kind enough to review. The names of reviewers are listed under "Acknowledgments." Without their willing cooperation, many valuable facts would not have come to the writers' attention, and many official documents could hardly have been properly interpreted. Singled out for particular mention here must be Maj. Gen. George F. Lull, USA (Ret.), and Dr. Durward G. Hall, Colonel, MC, USAR, both wartime chiefs of the Personnel Service, Office of The Surgeon General; and Miss Anna E. Carey, whose long and intimate connection with the personnel service makes her authority preeminent in all matters concerning it. These three individuals reviewed all of the manuscript in each of its revisions and acted collectively as an ad hoc advisory editorial board in the finalization of the text. The writers are also indebted to Mr. Joseph A. Logan of the Office of the Comptroller of the Army, whose advice and assistance as a statistical expert could always be counted upon, and to the former Chief Historian, Dr. Kent R. Greenfield, his successor, Dr. Stetson Conn, and other members of the Office of the Chief of Military History, Department of the Army, who made many useful suggestions as to form and content. Finally, they wish to acknowledge the contributions made by the Director of The Historical Unit, U.S. Army Medical Service, Col. John Boyd Coates, Jr., MC; by Mrs. Josephine P. Kyle, former Chief of the General Reference and Research Branch; by Miss Rebecca L. Duberstein, who performed the final publications editing and prepared the index; and by their coworkers in all branches of The Historical Unit.