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Headquarters, Third Portable Surgical Hospital, A.P.O. 704

Table of Contents

A. P. O. 704

[no date]

SUBJECT: Historical Report.

TO: Adjutant General, U.S. Forces, APO 704.

1.    The CYCLONE TASK FORCE was organized and put into operation on June 22, 1944. The 3rd Portable Surgical Hospital was attached, at that time to the 6th Division and in operation as a surgical hospital between the Tor-Tirfome [Tirfoam] Area below Sarmi with the 20th Inf. Regt. The 11th Portable Surgical Hospital was attached to the CYCLONE TASK FORCE but on this date relieved us and we returned to Toem. Colonel Sandlin, Commanding 158 Inf Regt, requested of General Patrick that we be assigned in its place, as we had previously satisfactorily worked together, and as the 11th Portable Surgical Hospital just been committed to combat which would necessitate another movement of each organization at a time when casualties were heavy in the Tor-Tirfome [Tirfoam] Area. The request was granted by the 6th Army and we were attached to CYCLONE TASK FORCE on 24 June, 1944 by Radiogram dated 24 June, 1944.

2.    From June 16 to June 26, 1944 our time was spent packing, reequiping and preparing for the coming invasion. On June 26, 1944 the camp was packed into 2 2½  ton trucks borrowed from Lt Col Rollings, 27th Combat Engr., 2  3/4 ton trucks, a jeep and one ton trailer. The equipment, thus mobile loaded, is the minimum amount required to function as a complete hospital and everything carried is required on the D-day set up. We leave no rear echelon and do not bulk load any equipment because of destressing previous experiences. We carry all equipment necessary for the completion of a campaign.

3.    Our mission on a Task Force is to supply adequate surgical care functioning as a surgical team and give such medical care until an evacuation chain is established or until a higher echelon field hospital can arrive and safely set


up, at which time we fill the other function prescribed by T/O, i.e. that of a station hospital. We have carried out these functions until the completion of the CYCLONE TASK FORCE.

4.    June 26, 1944, the equipment and drivers were mobile loaded on LST 467 and the following day, personnel was committed to the open upper deck for a practice run. The LST fleet pulled off the beach and cruised off Wakde Island until daylight of June 27, 1944 when they disgorged alligators filled with infantry soldiers making a practice beach landing. Once free of their burden the LST returned and beached again at Toem.

5.    We remained on board, in the heat and weather for two days, the EM sleeping the “sun” deck under trucks and becoming exhausted from little rest and two meals a day. A bad situation, yet it seemed illogical to unload with the actual run a matter of days away.

6.    On June 29 the LST pulled out at night and proceeded throughthe Shouten Islands by Biak to anchor off the NW corner of Noemfoor Island at daylight about 1500 yards from the coral reef. With daylight a tremendous aerial and naval bombardment took place along the coast, the bombing and strafing were in full view. The naval shells could be seen striking the shores, trees, and camoflauged defences. The Infantry departed in alligators and landed along a strip of beach opposite Karimi Air Strip and fighting could be followed through field-glasses. Each  forward move was marked by smoke grenades beyond which the destroyers continued to shell and throw in a straffing fire. Patrols along the sandy beach could be seen to deploy and fire, rise and move forward, and fire again.

7.    Soon after the infantry was ashore LCMs began to remove mobile equipment from the LST to edge of the reef where they were driven ashore through. two to four feet of water. The feeding of LCMs by LST is an interesting phenomenon looks like some prehistoric monster nourishing its young. Lines of Troops


wading over the coral, with equipment held high, were fired on by enemy mortars located about the hill beyond the airstrip. The water spouts from the shells hardly deflected the moving soldiers in their forward move. Trucks and trailers, jeeps, engineer and artillery equipment began moving across to shore under their own power with an occasional one getting drowned out, or getting struck between cracks in the coral. An alligator full of ammunition was hit and began to blaze furiously igniting a 2 ½  ton truck sitting next to it on the beach. Both rapidly became completely destroyed.

8.    We joined the parade a shore getting onto an LCM in thick heavy rain that blotted out the reef, the shore, and the island. The LCMs beached and the first truck drove off into water over the engine and drowned out. The ship pulled off and found another place along the coral. We stepped off into neck deep water. The water-proofed vehicles drove off. It was a laughable sight to see a jeep completely under water with only the driver's head and the top out and see it continue to the dry land. We collected on the beach without casualties, with no loss, but thanoughly wet equipment and preceeded to a previously designated area on the far aide of the air strip about in its middle, next to the 158 Inf Regt C. P., to be met by a stream of casualties before we could unload. The established D-day routine is to send all casualties to the LST which carries a surgical team and 120 hospital beds. We diverted them out in that manner to be treated on the ship and immediately evadnated. By 3:30 PM we were set up and doing surgical proceedings.

9.    Our first few patients were badly wounded Japanese, Formosans and Javanese with a. few shell-fragment wounds among Americans. Surgical work was light and gave us a chance to clear and clean up the area which was full of blasted trees and coral lumps.

10.    The 158th Headquarters perimeter was about us on the hill above and we were not required to protect ourselves by manning fox-holes.


11.    On D-plus-l the 503 Paratroop Infantry Regiment arrived overhead in Douglas transports and commenced to jump. The first two planes dropped their soldiers at a very low altitude. The following dropped from a greater altitude along the entire length of the strip. The strip was more or less cleared in the center but troops, vehicles, tents, and heavy equipment lined the aides as deep as the hill against which was our camp. Paratroopers landed on trucks, stumps, tents, ammunition, bombed Jap planes, and even caught in the two or three remaining tall fig trees. Chutes were opening just as a few hit the ground. Helmets, knives and other equipment were jerked off when the chutes opened and rained on the troops below. One man was even swinging in his straps, hit the broad side of an alligator and failed to rise. Another with his foot caught in the risers landed butt end on a stump. One landed on a tent and brought it down with him. Another had his chute caught by a limb of a tree, about fifty feet in the air. The Signal Corps climbed and got him without mishap.

12.    Before the last paratroopers of this battalion had jumped we began getting patients within half an hour there were fifty-four men with broken or sprained legs, backs, arms, or cerebral concussions and fractured skulls, or deep lacerations. There was more work to be done in the treatment of shock alone, doing no definitive surgical work, than four men could do immediately. Captain Stevens, Regt Paratroop Surgeon, joined our team and was enthusiastic and diligent in working with us through that day and night. We stopped work only during the first air alert. Fractures were reduced and cast applied, wounds were debrided and sulfathiazole and vaseline gauze dressing put on. Plasma, glucose or whole blood was given as needed.

13.    No minor cases were treated in our hospital. They were transferred to the 637th Med. Clearing Co. which set up adjacent to us. By the end of D-plus-3 every available cot was filled by a patient and the of my command were sleeping in jungle hammocks.


14.    The accidents of the jump occurred to the paratroopers again on D-plus-2. The second jump delivered thirty-five patients to us with similar injuries as of the day before and required that we work most of the third night on the island.

15.    We had a black-out and bombing raid while in the middle of an abdominal operation which Captain Fernbach was doing. The patient wounded was Pvt Malone of the 158 Inf Regt., shot in the belly by a sniper fire. Bombs were dropped in the vicinity of the far end of the air-strip. The operation continued to its completion as though it was of everyday occurrences and commend him for it.

16.    Each day as patients recovered from shock, when plaster was dry, wounds clean, and the patient more or less fever free, they were evacuated. We make it a practice of evacuation patients when they are In such good shape that t ey require no expert attention for at least 48 hrs. It has occurred in the past that patients evacuated when seriously ill get over-looked in the rush of large numbers of patients on to LST or in a new hospital in the rear, get over-looked with the possibility of disastrous results. We prefer to hold all patients until they are out of serious danger.

17.    Surprisingly few members of the 158 Inf Regt came to the hospital wounded but most of the wounds were some of the most profound we have seen in combat—large shell-fragment wounds of the thigh, back and arm muscles with much loss of substance, complete destruction of the lower jaw, several abdominal wounds with multiple lacerations of small and large bowel, penetrating wounds of the groin and penis, and one patient with his face completely removed by machine gunfire, nose, cheeks upper and lower jaw, and part of the tongue, who persisted in living and was eventually evacuated.

18.    On D-plus-6 we received orders from the Task Force Surgeon to move our hospital to an area between the two atistrips and proceeded to do so carrying all patients. We built the hospital around a centrally placed operating room and


kitchen, lined the wards up on one side the supply, office and housing quarters on the other, making a very workable camp and continued to function.

19.    Patients were received from various directions, from the 158th Inf Regt and the 503rd Prcht Inf. Regt. Those patients wounded about Nambar were given shock therapy in the 263rd Med. Clearing Co. and evacuated to us by LCMs for debridement and repair.

20.    No. of Patients and break-down.


21.    The 3rd Portable Surgical Hospital is composed of 4 Officer and 30 Enlisted Men. The officers are two surgeons and two specialists in internal medicine and tropical diseases.

WILLIAM L. GARLICK, Major, M. C.,    
Commanding Officer and Surgeon.
PAUL A. FERNBACH, Captain, M. C.,    
Surgeon and Inteiaigence Officer.

JAMES R. KARNS, Captain, M. C.,
Medical Officer and Personnel Officer and Adjutant.

STEPHEN E. MULLER, Capt., M. C.,    
Medical Officer and Supply Officer.

22.    We are particularly fortunate in having been created out of the 42nd General Hospital with which unit we came overseas and had known each other for a number of years in civil practice.

23.    On July 16, 1944, the 71st Evacuation Hospital began taking patients and the battle casualties soon ceased as the enemy was more or less annihilated and only “mopping-up” patrols have continued, hunting small parties of Japanese until the present date. Our work gradually ceased to be surgical and settled down to the steady flow of Station Hospital work, i e., tinea and ulcers, infections and tonsilitis, malaria and dengue, chronic back aches and goldbricks.

24.    We take sick call for various organizations in our near vacinity and keep a capacity bed number to the present date.

Major, M. C,

SOURCE:  National Archives and Records Administration, Record Group 407, The Adjutant General's Office, World War II  Unit Histories: 3d Portable Surgical Hospital, Box 21733.