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Third Portable Surgical Hospital, 22 August, 1944

Table of Contents

22 August, 1944

Commanding Officer:  WILLIAM L. GARLICK, Major, M. C.  None previous and none since

Activated 27 September, 1942, at Brisbane, Australia, as a 25 bed Portable Hospital. Officers, Nurses and Enlisted Men were selected from personnel of the 42nd General Hospital, then stationed at Stuartholme in Brisbane, and consisted of 4 Officers, 4 Nurses and 25 Enlisted Men. The newly formed unit left its parent organization on 23 September, 1942, and set up a tent camp on the bank of the Brisbane River, some 12 miles away. Training consisted of physical conditioning, marches with heavy packs, drill and exercises. The entire portable equipment was to be carried by the men themselves, so much time was spent perfecting a method suitable for the task. Equipment was segregated, divided and packed into pack sacks wade for that purpose. These packs proved to be too great a strain upon the shoulders and backs of the men, so a pack frame of wood with a canvas cover laced around it was used. It seemed to be the best method of carrying the supplies and was adopted, enough being built so that every member of the unit was supplied with one. Each man could carry the 70 pound packs with less fatigue than with any of the other methods that were tried. Also much time was spent at learning the best method of building jungle beds, using poles at hand and canvas sleeves which were specially made for this unit.

After two weeks the nurses were deleted from the T/O and were transferred back to the 42nd General Hospital.

This hospital was then assigned to the 32nd Division and attached to the 127 Infantry Regiment. Unit was moved to Camp Columbia, near Wacol, Australia, on 4 November, 1942, where 8 days were spent in further training and conditioning. Departed Camp Columbia 12 November, by truck, arriving at Camp Doomben Staging Area same day. Equipment and personnel were loaded on board the Chinese S.S. Anhui, and embarked 15 November, 1942. Arrived Port Moresby, New Guinea 26 November, 1942. Attached to Hq. Co. lst Bn., 127 Inf. for rations. After another period of training and conditioning, unit was ordered to go by air transport to Dobodura, New Guinea. As flying conditions were very uncertain, the unit was divided into four groups with an Officer assigned to each group. The first group departed Port Moresby 15 December, 1942. Two days later two more groups were able to advance. Next day the remaining Officer flew over, but had to leave four enlisted men behind. The unit, minus four enlisted men, departed Dobodura 19 December, 1942, on foot. and carrying the heavy packs of hospital equipment. Swamps and jungle made the progress slow. Twelve miles were covered in this manner. Arrived Buna, 25 December, 1942, and at once set up hospital approximately 200 yards behind the front line. Began admitting patients same day. Remaining four men arrived four days later. Hospital strafed on one occasion and snipers caused some concern, but all personnel escaped injury. Remained in action until relieved by 21 Portable Hospital 5 February, 1943. Departed Buna. 6 February, 1943, arrived Dobodura same day. Established hospital near airstrip and treated fever patients until 127 Inf. Regt. had been evacuated. Departed Dobodura 20 February, 1943, by air transport, arrived Port Moresby same day. Departed Port Moresby 22 Feb.


1943, on U S..S. Henry Dearborn. Arrived Brisbane, Australia 1 March, 1943. Departed Brisbane by rail same night, arrived quarantine camp near Tweeds Head, N. S.W. 2 March, 1943. Departed quarantine camp 19 March, 1943, arrived Camp Cable, Q'ld.,  Australia same day. Trained with until 4 April, l943. Relieved assignment 32nd Division, assigned U.S.A.S.O.S., attached 42nd General Hospital for rations and training. Departed Camp Cable 5 April, arrived 42nd General Hospital, Brisbane, same day. Training schedule planned and carried out. 10 enlisted men declared unfit for further combat duty were replaced by personnel of parent organization. One officer developed corneal ulcer, was transferred to parent organization without replacement. Departed 42nd General Hospital, Brisbane, 3 June, 1943, with 25 enlisted men and 3 officers. By rail to Cairns then by Aust. Small Ship Mongana. Arrived Portland Rhoads, Q'ld, 9 , June, 1943. Traveled by truck to Iron Range arriving same day, relieving 18th Station Hospital. Operated 50 bed Station Hospital, serving Port Detachment, Weather Station, Signal Co., Radio Station, 1 Ordnance Co., 1 Battalion Australian Inf., 1 Co. Australian AAA, a C.C.C. camp of 400 workers and various civilians and aborigines in the area. Departed Iron Range 19 November, 1943, on Aust. S.S.. Wandana. Arrived Brisbane 28 November, 1943. Attached 42nd General Hospital, Holland Park, for routine and training. Training consisted mainly of assignment to various departments of the Gen. Hosp. T/O now allowed 33 Enlisted Men. Unit brought up to T/O strength, assigned to 6th Army. Departed Brisbane 19 March, 1944, by rail to Townsville, then by Dutch S.S. Bontekoe. Arrived Finschhafen, New Guinea 3 April, 1944. Attached 163 Inf. Task Force. Departed Finschhafen 18 April, 1944, on LST 452, arrived Aitape, New Guinea, 22 April, 1944, made D-day landing, set up hospital and began admitting patients same day. Functioned at capacity until relieved by 54th Evacuation Hospital. Departed Aitape by LST 456 with 163 Inf. Task Force 14 May, 1944. Arrived Wakde-Sarmi area 17 May, 1944, made D-day landing and set up hospital on beach near Toem village, admitting patients same day. Treated a11 casualties from Wakde Island and from mainland till relieved by 2nd Portable Surgical Hospital 25 May, 1944. Attached 158 Inf. Regt. and departed Toem 25 May, 1944, by truck across Tor river and 12 miles along coast toward Sarmi. Set up hospital 400 yards behind front line, admitting casualties 4 hours after arrival same day. Forced to retreat with 158 Inf. 28 May, 1944. Set up hospital same day near Tor river, admitting casualties 3 hours after ordered to withdrew. Ordered by CO, 158 Inf. to hold 200 yards of perimeter same night. Functioned as hospital and held 200 yards of perimeter each night until relieved by 11th Portable Surgical Hospital 16 June, 1944. Returned to area near Toem village same day; did not function. Time spent reequipping and recuperating.   Departed Toem village on LST 467 with 158 Inf. Task Force 27 June, 1944. Arrived Noemfoor Island 2 July, 1944. Made D-day landing and set up hospital same day, admitting casualties 4 hours after arrival. Hospital located near Kamiri drome. Treated 158 Inf. end 503 Parachute Regt, casualties. Departed Kamiri drome with 30 patients 8 July. Arrived new location 1 mile north east of Kamiri drome same day. Set up hospital end continued treating patients. Began admitting fresh casualties same day. 6 hours after arrival.


This hospital is situated on Noemfoor Island, Dutch New Guinea, near the beach 1 mile north-east of Kamiri Airdrome, a newly built road connects it with all other organizations on the Island. The area is suitable. Shaded by


palm trees and the jungle cleared away for some distance on three sides, the beach forming the fourth side.  The entire hospital is under framed tents with coral floors. A well was dug in the area by hospital personnel, using gas drums for casing. A shower was built using gas drums mounted on a platform and filled by hand. This shower serves all patients and personnel.

T/O beds.                         25
No. of beds in prefabricated buildings    None
No. of beds under tents            50
Theatre                    None
Chapel                    None
Red Cross Hut                   None
Enlisted Men's Quarters            Framed tents, coral floors.
Officers'     Quarters              Framed tents, coral floors.
Nurse's Quarters                None.

Some reading material is furnished at times by special service. Some athletic equipment and games are available.


Sanitation is satisfactory. Water for cooking and drinking is hauled by truck from one of the water- points on the Island. Water for bathing is drawn from well in the area. Waste is disposed of by incineration and by burial. Electricity is supplied by a small portable generator. Latrines are of the pit type. Laundry was done by hand until very recently. A small quartermaster laundry is now serving the hospitals in this area. Hospital has one 6 cubic foot refrigerator, kerosene operated.


Approximately six hours elapsed between arrival and the admission of new casualties, but since 30 patients were moved with the hospital, it did not entirely cease to function during the move. All personnel worked at the clearing of the area and pitching the tents, setting up the surgery and making the patients comfortable when tents were up to shelter them, Twelve battle casualties were admitted the first night and by the following night the hospital was filled to more than capacity.

This hospital has been in action on many different fronts and has functioned in an excellent manner under the most adverse of conditions, at times under enemy fire. The organizations served by this hospital have been more than pleased with service rendered and have classed this hospital as a very outstanding one of its kind.

Major, M. C.,

SOURCE:  National Archives and Records Administration, Record Group 112, The Army Surgeon General, Entry 54A, 3d Portable Surgical Hospital History, Box 611.