189th General Hospital Unit History
Introduction & Activation:
On Saturday, 26 August 1944, the 189th General Hospital was officially activated at Camp Barkeley, Abilene, Texas (Armored Division Camp & Medical Replacement Training Center; overall acreage 69,879; troop capacity 3,192 Officers and 54,493 Enlisted Men –ed), under the provisions of T/O & E 8-550 dated 3 July 1944, and by Letter Order from the Adjutant General 322 dated 26 July 1944.
Thirty (30) Officers, including Colonel Walter L. Peterson, MC, O-18292, Commanding, and 210 Enlisted Men reported present for duty. As one of the several General Hospitals being activated at that time under the auspices of the overall US Army Service Forces Training Center, the 189th General Hospital was assigned a hutted half-block for quarters and offices. There was no fanfare, the Texas summer weather continued to be hot, and dust storms remained frequent.
The Officers assigned had been gleaned mainly from General and Station Hospitals operating in the Zone of Interior. They were originally from all sections of the country and the professional Officers had received their medical training from different Medical Schools and Hospitals. Their duration of time in the military service, except for the Commanding Officer, varied from 4 months to 4 years. A few of the Officers and EM had even seen previous war service in the Pacific Theater and others in the European Theater of Operations. The ANC Officers for the most part were transferred from Hospitals located in the Seventh and Eighth Service Commands. They did however not join the new organization until eighteen days after activation.
Training & Organization:
While many Officers had already served before, most of the Enlisted personnel assigned as either Surgical or Medical Technicians had received previous training in a Medical Technicians Training School.
A Training program was begun immediately following activation for the purpose of preparing all personnel assigned to the command for overseas duty. Required courses and lectures were given to all individuals who had not previously completed them. These consisted of malaria control lectures, map reading, infiltration course, tent pitching, gas chamber drill, reading and understanding the Articles of War, and other necessary lectures and training films.
As per SOP all of the Enlisted Men were interviewed by Officers of the command as to civilian occupation, military training, aptitude and job preference. This information was cross-checked in order to reveal primary duties, secondary skills, and military specialty number. It was found to be of great value during the early days of organization and operation. All Enlisted personnel were examined by Medical Officers of the newly-activated hospital unit. Approximately 50% had physical disabilities precluding full duty; others were disqualified for overseas duty and replacements obtained. By the end of the third week following activation, this was the second week of September, the 450 EM authorized by the Table of Organization were assigned to the 189th General, all of the female Officers had joined (83 Nurses, 2 Physio-Therapists, and 3 Dietitians), and 46 of the Medical and/or Medical Administrative Officers were assigned and joined the Hospital. Four (4) of the 32 Medical Officers allowed by the T/O had not yet been assigned by that date. Five (5) American Red Cross field workers were attached to the 189th as well.
A list of Officers and their respective duties were confirmed by Special Order No. 1, Army Service Forces, Eighth Service Command, Army Service Forces Training Center (ASFTC), Headquarters, 189th General Hospital, Camp Barkeley, Abilene, Texas, dated 27 August 1944:
Lieutenant Colonel James C. Harberson, MC, O-479753 – Chief of Surgical Service
Major Benjamin Goldberg, MC, O-482542 – Radiology Officer
Major Hiram P. Hampton, MC, O-356435 – Chief of Medical Service
Major Herman G. Janssen, Jr., DC, O-319236 – Dental Officer
Major Harry D. Rosenbaum, MC, O-314203 – Ophthalmology Officer
Captain Julius Aromow, MC, O-1821494 – Communicable Disease Officer
Captain Wallace H. Bassett, MC, O-426161 – Pathology Officer
Captain Allan B. Bell, MC, O-366857 – Anesthesia Officer
Captain Allan R. Cruchley, MC, O-543339 – Gastro-Enterology Officer
Captain Earl T. Hull, MC, O-400790 – Orthopedic Officer
Captain Miles W. Kelly, MC, O-333540 – Executive Officer
Captain Abraham I. Love, MC, O-547534 – Cardiology Officer
Captain William G. Meyer, MC, O-1693400 – Neuro-Surgery Officer
Captain Robert C. Peters, DC, O-1694248 – Prosthodontics Offer; Acting Adjutant; Acting Personnel Officer; Acting Fire Marshal
Captain Percy P. Pharr, MC, O-238850 – Internist; Acting Training Officer; Acting Mess Officer
Captain Joseph V. M. Ross, MC, O-1695284 – Ophthalmology & Ortho-Rhino-Laryngology Officer
Captain Bernard D. Rubin, MC, O-500961 – Orthopedic Surgeon
Captain Harold A. Schwartz, MC, O-1609056 – General Surgery Officer
Captain Philip W. Smith, MC, O-1691086 – Urology Officer
First Lieutenant Charles F. Browne, MC, O-472343 – Ortho-Rhino-Laryngology Officer
First Lieutenant Anthony J. Gabriel, DC, O-543875 – Dental Officer
First Lieutenant Joseph A. Graham, MC, O-552011 – Dermatology Officer
First Lieutenant James R. Hamilton, MC, O-552184 – Medical Officer, General Duty
First Lieutenant Zolton Harvey, MC, O-552226 – Medical Officer, General Duty
First Lieutenant Robert H. Johnston, MC, O-5504016 – Internist
First Lieutenant John S. Kowalski, DC, O-545140 – Dental Officer
First Lieutenant Edward E. Lefforge, MC, O-476 563 – Medical Officer, General Duty
First Lieutenant Frank M. Meifetz, MC, O-437547 – Allergy Officer
First Lieutenant Robert H. Odom, MAC, O-1541303 – Detachment Commander
First Lieutenant Thomas Scarlett, MC, O-345372 – Radiology Officer
First Lieutenant Charles F. Schneider, MC, O-1718136 – Medical Officer, General Duty
Second Lieutenant Ronald C. Deering, SnC, O-545752 – Biochemistry Officer
Second Lieutenant Robert W. Stachwick, MAC, O-543926 – Medical Supply Officer
Preparation for Overseas Movement:
As orders for overseas movement had already been received prior to the date of activation, POM was begun immediately upon activation date. The unit’s readiness date was set for 20 September 1944.
Personnel found physically unfit for overseas service were immediately transferred from the organization and replacements requested. The first Executive Officer was found physically disqualified and the Chief of the Medical Service was appointed Executive Officer. All personnel requiring glasses were provided with two pair according to Army specifications and the appropriate gas mark lenses were procured for those requiring them. Routine immunizations and other briefings for overseas duty were performed.
Equipment authorized to accompany troops for maintenance and repair was requisitioned, packed, crated, and plainly marked in the prescribed manner together with the shipping number and “T.A.T.”. Individual equipment, consisting of duffle bags, bedding rolls, foot lockers, and miscellaneous hand baggage was equally marked with name – individual serial number – and unit shipping number.
All personnel records were checked, amended, and completed. All individuals were urged to complete satisfactory arrangements for Allotments of Pay, life insurances, War Bonds, personal wills, and other legal and financial matters, and were aided in doing so.
A Supply Officer representative of the Hospital was ordered to the Boston Port of Embarkation in order to check the arrival of equipment for one General Hospital unit and to observe that it was properly and duly loaded about the transport ship.
Winter individual clothing and equipment were issued to all EM and inspection for any possible shortages and non-combat serviceability were conducted. Officers were instructed as to what personal equipment was needed. The Nurses could however not be fully equipped at Camp Barkeley due to their late arrival and shortage of equipment.
From the beginning, time was short and the emphasis remained on POM operations within a specified time period. There was unfortunately little opportunity for organization of the Hospital and no chance whatsoever for a bivouac of field exercises prior to the unit’s embarkation!
However on 12 September 1944 the port call to Boston was changed and notification received later that the date would be deferred. A change in training plans was contemplated but before any changes could be effected, a call to arrive at Boston POE came in on 20 September 1944, with the readiness date now set for 25 September 1944.
An advance party of 2 Officers supplemented by 3 EM was dispatched the night of 21 September to the Port of Embarkation, and organizational equipment to accompany the troops was crated completely and loaded. Two hours prior to entraining at Camp Barkeley, orders were received requiring that 50% of all MC Officers were to be dropped from the organization. Twelve (12) Medical Corps Officers were summarily dropped at 1400 hours, 22 September 1944, and the first echelon of the 189th General Hospital entrained for the POE. At 1800 hours, the second echelon entrained.
Finally, the 189th General Hospital, consisting of 39 Commissioned Officers, 83 Army Nurse Corps Officers, 2 Physio-Therapy Aides, 2 Hospital Dietitians, 454 Enlisted Men, and 5 female American Red Cross personnel, thus left Camp Barkeley, Texas, for Camp Myles Standish, Massachusetts (Staging Area for Boston Port of Embarkation; overall acreage 1,485; troop capacity 1,298 Officers and 23,100 Enlisted Men –ed).
The trip by rail to the Staging Area took place without mishap. Food was well prepared by the Hospital Dietitians and served throughout the train. Morale was high now the period of indecision had gone, singing was the main diversion during the trip. All personnel reached their destination safely by 25 September 1944.
The next morning winter uniforms became the order of the day. Officers, Nurses, and Enlisted Men attended orientation lectures at Camp Myles Standish. Briefing and planning for final overseas preparation was outlined to the Hospital staff. During the next days, demonstrations and lectures were given to the entire command, including such topics as the lightweight gas mask, abandon ship drill, life aboard troop ships, censorship, and the like. Issue of individual equipment was completed and inspected. Impregnated clothing was issued to all members of the unit with the instruction that it should be kept in the individual’s hand luggage for use at any time exposure to chemical poisonous gas was eminent! The female personnel were completely equipped with issue clothing and instructed as to where each item should be packed. All Officers enjoyed the privilege of purchasing clothing from a well-stocked Quartermaster Sales Store.
After a brief period in time when 12-hour passes were permitted, the Hospital was alerted and instructed as to the correct entraining procedure with destination the docks and the corresponding embarkation pier.
At 0200 in the early morning of 4 October 1944, the 189th General Hospital entrained on a cold New England morning for the Boston Port of Embarkation.
At approximately 0900 hours, the same day, the Hospital now consisting of its full personnel complement boarded the USS “West Point” AP-23, and sailed for the Atlantic the very same day. She carried a total of 7,588 passengers bound for the European Theater of Operations.
The “West Point” was quite a large ship, capable of accommodating several thousand troops. Officers were quartered in cabins with 4 to 16 of them occupying single cabins of various sizes, the Nurses occupied a separate part of the ship. The Enlisted Men were housed in compartments with bunks four tiers high. Two meals a day were prepared and served.
The sea was moderate and sea sickness was not too serious a problem. However, an upper respiratory infection which became evident in the command just prior to leaving the Staging Area caused some hospital admissions on board. Fortunately, a physical inspection prior to arrival and landing revealed no communicable diseases or serious illnesses.
The sea voyage was uneventful and after spending eight days at sea the USS “West Point” dropped anchor in Liverpool harbor; the date was 12 October 1944.
Apart from the group of personnel pertaining to the 189th General Hospital, a number of miscellaneous medical units, also traveled aboard the same vessel, sailing across the Atlantic to the United Kingdom. Their specific debarkation orders were as follows:
- Hq & Hq Det, 30th Medical Group (unit code 6585-C, 12 October 1944, 2305 hours)
- 179th General Hospital (unit code 1085-H, 13 October 1944, 0405 hours + 0605 hours)
- 180th General Hospital (unit code 1085-J, 13 October 1944, 0205 hours + 0405 hours)
- 190th General Hospital (unit code 1085-L, 12 October 1944, 1605 hours + 13 October 1944, 0505 hours)
- 413th Medical Collecting Company (unit code 6585-G, 12 October 1944, 1705 hours)
- 414th Medical Collecting Company (unit code 6585-H, 12 October 1944, 1705 hours)
- 415th Medical Collecting Company (unit code 6585-J, 12 October 1944, 1705 hours)
- 416th Medical Collecting Company (unit code 6585-K, 12 October 1944, 1705 hours)
- 460th Medical Collecting Company (unit code 6585-L, 12 October 1944, 1505 hours)
- 482d Medical Collecting Company (unit code 6585-M, 12 October 1944, 1505 hours)
- 483d Medical Collecting Company (unit code 6585-N, 12 October 1944, 1505 hours)
- 484th Medical Collecting Company (unit code 6585-P, 12 October 1944, 1505 hours)
- 490th Motor Ambulance Company (unit code 6585-D, 12 October 1944, 2105 hours)
- 596th Motor Ambulance Company (unit code 4901-B, 12 October 1944, 1805 hours)
- 606th Medical Clearing Company (unit code 6585-E, 12 October 1944, 2305 hours)
- 627th Medical Clearing Company (unit code 6585-F, 12 October 1944, 2305 hours)
As well as other miscellaneous units, such as Engineer – Signal – Ordnance – Maintenance – Tank Destroyer – Field Artillery – Quartermaster – and Replacement troops.
In the early hours of Friday, at 0105 and 0505 hours, 13 October 1944, the 189th General Hospital (unit code 1085-K), debarked at the Liverpool docks and immediately entrained for Southampton, England. K-rations and water were provided for the approximately 12-hour train trip. Upon arriving in Southampton, the organization was marched directly to a British troopship called “Cheshire”. Since accommodations were not adequate for the entire Officer personnel, the Nurses were separated from the group and transported by trucks to another ship. They would consequently not rejoin the parent unit for thirteen days.
The English Channel was crossed without incident in just one day. As no landing craft were available at Utah Beach, it was not until late the next day, 15 October 1944, that the Hospital was landed at Omaha Beach by means of LCTs. Following debarkation, the men marched up a hill to reach Transit Area No. 2 around dark. The Enlisted Men had their packs containing among others a shelter-half and a blanket, but the Officers’ bedding rolls and more important none of the Hospital’s T.A.T. equipment had arrived; it did not accompany the troops and remained in England.
Mud and rain were the most serious enemy at the moment. It had been raining steadily for several days and not a dry spot could be found to set up. Large fires were built, around which the men gathered for warmth, tomato juice and excellent Spam sandwiches. In the early hours of the next day, most of the Officers were transported to another area where tents and blankets awaited them. They were eventually taken to an open area next to the installation site of the 2d General Hospital while the remainder of the unit (except for the Nurses) entrucked to the same area that night.
With the help of several borrowed ward tents, a bivouac was established. The Medical Detachment pitched their pup tents and wooden walks were constructed through the mud. Since the T.A.T. equipment had not arrived, mess facilities and rations were provided by the 2d General. The daily downpour continued, mud became more of a problem, and without equipment, the organization could not get started. Finally, the ANC Officers rejoined the parent unit at the bivouac, all dressed up in Class A uniforms. They had landed on 26 October 1944, after three previous attempts to cross the Channel in a British LCT proved unsuccessful because of the bad weather. While attempting to proceed with the crossing, the Nurses had remained quartered on the LCT. Bedding rolls were retrieved 14 days after landing on the Continent, while the T.A.T. equipment began arriving gradually at the various ports 21 days after arrival of the 189th in France. Finally 89% of the necessary equipment was located, identified, and brought to the bivouac site.
The Officers’ and the Nurses’ foot lockers were still stored in England and, as they had not been warned of this possibility, not only personal items but also some medical equipment was left in them. The ANC Officers had been instructed to pack items of issue clothing in their foot lockers and unfortunately no replacement clothing could be obtained. Meanwhile all personnel were required to returner to Quartermaster Supply the impregnated clothing for which there was apparently no use.
Bivouac & Parallel Training:
The site occupied by the 2d General Hospital was near the town of Lison (Site No. 1), and was laid out by the AEF Hospital Plan to contain a 1000-bed Hospital unit. Phase I construction was completed and 3 Nissen huts were erected in the form of a “T” for use as an Operating Room and a Sterile Supply pavilion. The entire Hospital installations and personnel quarters were erected under tentage and cement floors were provided for the Hospital tents and the Nurses’ quarters area. While Site no. 1 was occupied by the 189th Gen Hosp, operating Hospital Plant # 4276; the 168th General Hospital was operating Hospital Plant # 4277 at Site no. 2, and Detachment A, 168th General Hospital was responsible for Hospital Plant # 4278, located at Site no. 3, in Lison.
Since the 189th General Hospital (and other units) had arrived on the Continent directly from the Zone of Interior, such units were each set up in a bivouac area adjacent to the Hospital with which they would carry out parallel training. This gave the Officers, and primarily the Nurses the opportunity to see a tented Hospital in operation before taking over when the “old” unit moved forward. For hospital units arriving late in the Theater it was found that training of ANC personnel in the ZI was often deficient. It was therefore strongly suggested (but not always implemented) that Nurses be assigned to their organization for a period of field training prior to departure for overseas service.
So, the layout, planning and personnel requirements of the 2d Gen Hosp were closely studied thus providing a practical basis together with T/O & E 8-550 for the assignment of the proper personnel. The opportunity to assign the 189th General Hospital personnel to specific positions and to organize the unit to comply with requirements of the situation was exploited fully. Officers and EM alike observed the operation of their medical counterparts in the 2d General Hospital and in most cases were able to assist in actually performing the work. For purposes of formation and movement, the command was organized into two divisions, professional and administrative, and each division was subdivided into sections of approximately 50 men. During the stay at the bivouac it was extremely difficult to hold actual formations and conduct drills because of the inclement weather and mud. A full time training program concerning military and professional subjects of value was inaugurated on the second day of arrival at the bivouac. Demonstrations in correct tent pitching were given with time to practice as a team. Classes in litter drill and loading/unloading of ambulances were given to all Enlisted personnel. Officers pertaining to the 2d Gen Hosp lectured to the Officers on Hospital Administration, Discipline, Receiving and Disposition, Medical Supply, Hospital Maintenance, and Chemical Warfare. All Medical, Dental, Nursing Officers and Enlisted Technicians were assigned regular tours of duty on the wards of their counterparts. Administrative Officers (MAC Officers) and clerks (NCOs and EM) assisted in the offices of the 2d Gen to which they were assigned. Apart from the practical training time was taken to interview the professional Officers by Consultants from the Office of the Chief Surgeon and recommendations were made to complete the authorized allotment of Medical and Surgical Officers as a a large number of them had not yet been assigned (in line with T/O & E 8-550, dated 3 July 1944 –ed).
Course of November, notice was received that the Hospital equipment had finally arrived on the Continent and a detail was sent to Barfleur to identify and guard it. During this mission, 2 men of the Detachment stepped on a landmine and one of them was seriously injured.
Personnel Strength – 189th General Hospital
20 August 1944 > 30 Officers – 210 Enlisted Men
9 September 1944 > 46 Officers – 83 Nurses – 2 Physio-Therapists – 3 Dietitians – 5 American Red Cross workers – 450 Enlisted Men
20 September 1944 > 39 Officers – 83 Nurses – 2 Physio-Therapists – 2 Dietitians – 5 American Red Cross workers – 454 Enlisted Men
4 October 1944 > 41 Officers – 1 Warrant Officer – 82 Nurses – 2 Physio-Therapists – 2 Hospital Dietitians – 5 American Red Cross workers – 454 Enlisted Men
14 December 1944 > 55 Officers – 1 Warrant Officer – 83 Nurses – 2 Physio-Therapists – 2 Hospital Dietitians – 5 American Red Cross workers – 589 Enlisted Men
Start of Operations:
On 17 November 1944, at 0001 hours, Colonel Walter L. Peterson, CO, assumed command of the site previously occupied by the 2d General Hospital and Hospital Plant # 4276 and the 1000-bed 189th General Hospital began operation (790 patients were in the Hospital at the time of transfer).
Although 40% of the MC Officers had still not been assigned, treatments and operative schedules were maintained and there was absolutely no slackening of the rate of discharge. On 18 November instructions were received to expand the facility to 1200 beds, although no further construction by the Corps of Engineers was authorized. It was discovered that the soggy conditions of the area made the metal beds promptly sink into the ground to the springs. A large supply of wooden crates for jeeps and weapons carriers was located and their side panels were found to be quite serviceable floors in the ward tents. Expansion tents were placed in between the ward tents of the existing ward blocks, sometimes replacing some of the smaller pyramidal tents. At the time, and although the weather did not improve, no additional area, roads, or walks were necessary. The expansion tentage was erected on schedule but the patients arrived before delivery of beds and mattresses could be effected. Consequently, this required some temporary improvising, but the patient census of 1,186 was nevertheless contained and treated. Activities continued to be hampered by the adverse weather (too much mud) but also by the lack of enough electrical power and an inconsistent water supply. Meanwhile the walkways were repaired with the aid of crushed rocks provided by an Engineer unit and repair conducted by enemy PW labor. It became necessary to assign a permanent work detail to maintain everything. Due to the incessant rains many of the tents (taken over from the 2d Gen Hosp) started leaking badly; unfortunately no large flys were available to remedy the situation. The available 30 KW diesel generators and several small auxiliary ones did not provide sufficient electrical power for the Hospital’s requirements; moreover the OD color of the tents’ interior canvas poorly reflected whatever light there was (there had been no time to either spray the walls with white paint or drape them with white cloth or linen). Water was pumped from a water point approximately one mile away, but the same water point and pumping facilities served 3 1200-bed Hospitals, which often resulted in unpredictable shutdowns. As no Sanitary Officer had been provided to the unit, it was necessary to assign a Biochemist to the position. He became responsible for the degree of chlorination required, the bacteriological content test, the removal of trash, and also cared for the latrines (bucket system in operation, later taken over by enemy PW labor –ed).
As soon as the Officers quota had been completed, it became possible to make final professional assignments and functions at full capacity. Due to the preponderance of surgical patients, it was found necessary to assign the majority of Medical Officers to the Surgical Service. The CE Officer authorized now proved to be a valuable asset as many improvements and repairs were necessary and the existing facilities required constant maintenance. Thanks to his assistance construction of a vehicle grease rack, a loading platform, wooden floors, articles of furniture, prefab huts, and many other projects were completed, improving the overall efficiency of the Hospital Plant.
List of Officers and respective assigned duties, as per Special Order No. 18, Headquarters, 189th General Hospital, APO # 562, United States Army, dated 29 October 1944:
Colonel Walter L. Peterson, MC, O-18292, Commanding Officer
Lieutenant Colonel James C. Harberson, MC, O-479753, Chief of Surgical Service
Major Benjamin Goldberg, MC, O-482542 – Chief of X-Ray Service
Major Hiram P. Hampton, MC, O-356435 – Executive Officer (Hospital Inspector; Public Relations Officer)
Major Arthur G. Hollander, MC, O-428250 – Chief of Medical Service
Major Herman G. Janssen, Jr., DC, O-319236 – Chief of Dental Service
Major Raymond A. Taylor, ChC, O-468577 – Chief Chaplain
Captain Wallace H. Bassett, MC, O-426161 – Chief of Laboratory Service
Captain John Dively, MAC, O-472154 – Supply Officer
Captain Kenneth E. Lands, MAC, O-454072 – Adjutant (Postal Officer; Custodian Post Hospital Fund)
Captain Percy P. Pharr, MC, O-238850 – Admission & Disposition Officer
Captain Murray B. Quigles, Jr., CE, O-342107 – Utilities & Maintenance Officer
First Lieutenant Auben W. Brunnemann, MAC, O-1542351 – Assistant Commanding Officer Medical Detachment (Motor Transportation Officer; Provost Marshal; Chemical Warfare Officer; Training Officer)
First Lieutenant Francis W. Devlin, MAC, O-1534711 – Dietetics Officer
First Lieutenant Robert H. Odom, MAC, O-1541303 – Commanding Officer Medical Detachment (Class A Agent Finance Officer for Troops)
First Lieutenant Bayard Stockton, MAC, O-1535086 – Commanding Officer Detachment of Patients (Director of Security & Intelligence; Class A Agent Finance Officer for Patients; Custodian of Patients’ Funds & Valuables)
Second Lieutenant Frederick M. Carmean, MAC, O-2049194 – Special Service Officer (Post Exchange Officer; Fire Marshal; Air Raid Officer)
Second Lieutenant Ronald C. Deering, SnC, O-545752 – Sanitation Officer
Second Lieutenant William A. Fischer, MAC, O-1546977 – Registrar
Second Lieutenant William H. Pragnell, MAC, O-530493 – Personnel Officer (Certifying Officer; Class A Agent Finance Officer for Officers & Nurses; Personal Affairs Officer)
Officers and assigned service duties, 189th General Hospital, dated 29 October 1944:
First Lieutenant Arthur Appleyard, MC, O-445106 (Medical Service)
First Lieutenant Robert H. Johnston, MC, O-554016 (Medical Service)
Second Lieutenant Sam C. Webb, AGD, O-1004539 (Medical Service)
Major Harry D. Rosenbaum, MC, O-314203 (Surgical Service)
Captain Earl T. Hull, MC, O-400790 (Surgical Service)
Captain Harold A. Schwartz, MC, O-1689056 (Surgical Service)
First Lieutenant James R. Hamilton, MC, O-552184 (Surgical Service)
First Lieutenant Clyde D. Platner, MC, O-371674 (Surgical Service)
First Lieutenant Charles F. Schneider, MC, O-1718136 (Surgical Service)
First Lieutenant Thomas Scarlett, MC, O-345372 (X-Ray Service)
First Lieutenant Richard E. Horrall, SnC, O-302210 (Laboratory Service)
Second Lieutenant Ronald C. Deering, SnC, O-545752 (Laboratory Service)
Warrant Officer, Junior Grade James R. Mosley, USA, W-2115779 (Registrar Office)
Captain Frank D. Dietrich, DC, O-308974 (Dental Service)
Captain Robert C. Peters, DC, O-1694248 (Dental Service)
First Lieutenant John S. Kowalski, DC, O-545140 (Dental Service)
First Lieutenant James J. Marine, DC, O-531155 (Dental Service)
First Lieutenant Rodney H. Rubin, DC, O-1717436 (Dental Service)
Second Lieutenant Robert W. Stachwick, MAC, O-543926 (Supply Service)
Captain Oliver T. Barnes, ChC, O-501025 (Chaplain Section)
First Lieutenant Walter E. Kennedy, ChC, O-551228 (Chaplain Section)
A Prisoner of War Enclosure containing 250 PWs was maintained in an area adjacent to the Hospital site. They proved a real value in providing manpower for maintenance, repairs, construction details, KP, and general sanitation. As there was no fence around the site, it was necessary to escort the prisoners to and from the enclosure and to provide guards for each detail. Therefore a portion of the allied manpower saved by the use of enemy PWs was used in guarding the prisoners. It should be noted that there were no attempts to escape and generally speaking the prisoners behaved and worked well.
Consultations – 189th General Hospital (17 November 1944 > 31 December 1944)
Patients – 744
Operations – 189th General Hospital
Patients – 612
Some Statistics – 189th General Hospital (17 November 1944 > 31 December 1944)
Laboratory Service – 494 Serological Examinations – 749 Bacteriological Studies – 1092 Urinalysis – 130 Parasite Analysis – 240 Tissue Studies – 709 Chemical Tests – 2082 Hematological Examinations – 8 Autopsies – 80 Pints of Whole Blood – 377 Million Units of Penicillin
Dental Service – 2,151 Sittings
Radiological Service – 68 Fluoroscopic Examinations – 3,355 X-Ray Exposures
The great majority of patients were received by Hospital Trains in groups ranging from 100 to 200 at a time, transferred from Hospitals operating closer to the front. They arrived at a railhead about one mile away and were carried to the Hospital by ambulance. About 1 hour was required for the admission of 100 incoming patients.
Both American, Allied, as well as PW patients were received and it was standard policy not to place Allied and Prisoner of War patients in the same wards. As the 189th was functioning at peak bed capacity frequent shifting of patients was required to accommodate the changing ratio of Allied and PW patients.
Admissions – 189th General Hospital (17 November 1944 > 31 December 1944)
American & Allied Patients – 1,698
Prisoner of War Patients – 947
Civilian Patients – 71
Admissions – Surgical Service – 189th General Hospital
Patients – 1,957
Admissions – Medical Service – 189th General Hospital
Patients – 757
Admissions – Outpatient Dispensary/Hospital – 189th General Hospital
Patients – 2,271
Diagnosis of Patients – 189th General Hospital (17 November 1944 > 31 December 1944)
Battle Injuries – 675 Patients
Non-Battle Injuries – 134 Patients
Whole Blood Transfusions – 77 Patients
Plasters – 254 Patients
Plasma Transfusions – 27 Patients
Respiratory Diseases – 138 Patients
Gastro-Intestinal Diseases – 86 Patients
Cardio-Vascular Renal Diseases – 104 Patients
Venereal Diseases – 82 Patients
Dermatological Diseases – 26 Patients
Neuro-Psychiatric Diseases – 124 Patients
General Medical Diseases – 45 Patients
Trench Foot – 116 Patients
Patients returned to duty through the Reinforcement Depots were transported by train scheduled to leave each Saturday. Those patients transferred to other Hospitals for return to the United Kingdom were transported by ambulance to their destination.
Prisoners of War when sufficiently recovered were assigned to neighboring stockades or enclosures. When prolonged hospital care was required they could be transferred to the UK if facilities were available. At the time, 70 PWs were recommended for repatriation because of the severity of their disability via the International Red Cross.
As the percentage of PW patients increased, the problem of adequately guarding them became more difficult. Most of the recently-captured enemy had not been properly or thoroughly processed. Of course, many were not ambulatory but the 16 guards of a nearby MP Battalion were not sufficient to guard so many prisoners 24 hours a day without a decent surrounding enclosure. On 31 December 1944, almost 88% of the patients held at the 189th General Hospital were enemy Prisoners of War and as yet none had escaped (they could have done so, without problem).
Type of Discharge of Patients – 189th General Hospital (17 November 1944 > 31 December 1944)
Returned to Duty – 839 Patients
Transferred to Convalescent Hospitals – 168 Patients
Transferred to United Kingdom Hospitals – 258 Patients
Transferred to Continental Hospitals – 150 Patients
Transferred/Returned to Prisoners of War Enclosures – 232 Enemy Patients
Deaths – 10 Patients (5 American, 5 Enemy)
AWOL Cases – 2 Patients
By the end of 1944, the 189th General Hospital had effectively received 2,716 military patients for treatment. During only 103 days of operation in Normandy, a total of 5,022 patients were admitted of which 1,868 were American or Allied, 3,078 were German Prisoners of War, and 76 French civilians.
Operations in 1945:
On 1 January 1945, the 189th Gen Hosp contained 891 patients of whom 618 were Prisoners of War. The official capacity of the organization continued to be 1000 beds, although actually 1300 beds were available.
On 8 January 1945 instructions were received by the Commanding Officer to evacuate ALL American and Allied patients as the Hospital would be entirely devoted to the care for enemy patients. Construction was therefore begun of a high, double, barbed wire fence, covering about the periphery of the entire Hospital and personnel quarters area. All patients received thereafter were German PWs and as definitive care was required for all cases, the turn-over was slower. The PWs were a colorful bunch that came in all odd shapes and sizes, and from 15 up to 58 years old. Hospital personnel, especially Nurses, did not relish the assignment of servicing only enemy prisoner patients, but it was understood that as soon as final arrangements could be made a German medical staff (protected Officers and Enlisted personnel) would be assigned to care for these patients, and the 189th would move forward.
Personnel Strength – 189th General Hospital
1 January 1945 > 55 Officers – 1 Warrant Officer – 82 Nurses – 2 Physio-Therapists – 2 Dietitians – 451 Enlisted Men
On the night of 10 January 1945, the Hospital personnel thought for a while that perhaps the “front” had come to them. Five terrific explosions occurred during the evening meal and a number of missiles rained down on the Hospital area. Some tent poles were broken and a few tents damaged or blown down; but no lives were lost. Finally it was learned that the cause was a collision between two munitions trains approximately one or one and a half mile from the 189th. One of the missiles proved to be a train axle. Fortunately no casualties were suffered.
As a result of much effort and extra work during the last month of 1944, improvements were begun to improve the water supply and the failing electrical power system. Adequate pumps were installed and a new 100 KW generator received.
On 23 January 1945 the 189th General Hospital was assigned to the 812th Hospital Center (Headquarters, Cherbourg, Normandy –ed) and on 28 January 1945 the organization’s bed capacity was officially increased to 1500. Hospital Trains with 200 enemy patients continued to be received frequently. Because of the increase in numbers of PW patients, those of them who had been able to recover sufficiently, were immediately discharged and sent to a PW cage.
Change of Station:
On 2 February 1945, 1 Officer supplemented by 15 EM departed for the city of Rouen, France, to guard a new Hospital assembly. The 168th General Hospital, which operated an adjacent site, was designated to assume command of the current 189th General Hospital at a later date and use PW Medical Officers exclusively for the care of enemy patients. An advance party was chosen to depart for the as yet undisclosed new destination upon receipt of orders.
During February the weather finally cleared, after three months of almost daily rain or snow, permitting to complete further improvements of the pathways and the drainage system. On 28 February 1945, the Hospital received orders to close for receiving of patients and prepare for movement.
On 1 March 1945, Detachment B, 168th General Hospital assumed command of the complete area, Site no. 1, including the 1000-bed Hospital Plant # 4276 with all its patients while the 189th Gen prepared for movement. By 2 March 1945 the site was officially turned into a Provisional German Military Hospital, now designated 8275th German Prisoner of War General Hospital, Provisional, with official opening as of 0001 hours, the morning of 2 March. The official APO number became # 562.
All 189th Gen Hosp Nurses were sent on DS with other General Hospitals located in and around Paris, the French Capital, they would not rejoin the unit (on 17 March) until it was ready to operate at their new site (Mourmelon Sub Area, Oise Intermediate Section, Theater Service Forces, European Theater, TSFET –ed). On 28 February 1945 an advance party, consisting of 2 Officers and 40 EM, had already left for Mourmelon by ambulance, a Base Camp in the Oise Intermediate Section. On 3 March the main body entrained in the infamous “40 and 8” boxcars arriving at Camp Mourmelon, France on 5 March 1945. Only 5 Officers plus 50 EM were left on TD at Lison in order to act as an operating nucleus for the German medical personnel newly arrived to assume the necessary professional duties.
The new Hospital site at Mourmelon offered a real challenge to the command. Much had to be done before it could ever be called a true Hospital! It was an old French Cavalry Post, begun during the Napoleonic era, located approximately 20 miles south of the ancient city of Reims. In more recent times, an airfield had been constructed by the French adjacent to the southern border of the camp. With the capitulation of France May 1940, Camp Mourmelon was occupied by the Germans who made little improvements. Later during the war, the condition of the camp was further impaired by Allied bombings of the nearby airfield (located 1 mile southeast of Mourmelon-le-Grand, and approximately 93 miles from Paris –ed) occasionally landing among the buildings. The final blow to the camp site occurred when the enemy was routed from the area, and 101st Airborne Division troops took over the buildings. Several of these having been demolished by bombs, had subsequently been stripped of light fixtures, wiring, furniture, plumbing, and in some cases, wooden floors. Water pipes had burst during winter and the sewer was stopped up. The site however had one thing that was greatly appreciated; a shower room run by a French civilian, and made available to the Officers, three days a week.
Mourmelon was divided into 6 sites, each of which was to be occupied by a separate General Hospital.
General Hospitals Stationed at Mourmelon Sub Area (March > April 1945)
Site no. 1 > 195th General Hospital, operating Hospital Plant # 4364
Site no. 2 > 226th General Hospital, operating Hospital Plant # 4365
Site no. 3 > 250th General Hospital, operating Hospital Plant # 4386
Site no. 4 > 227th General Hospital, operating Hospital Plant # 4387
Site no. 5 > 189th General Hospital, operating Hospital Plant # 4388
Site no. 6 > 123d Station Hospital, operating Hospital Plant # 4389
In this manner, during the final battles of the war, patients could be flown in from all areas of Germany to these Hospitals and from there distributed to other General Hospitals in the area or elsewhere. The 6 Hospitals adjacent to the airfield and several other medical units in neighboring areas were placed under control of the 813th Hospital Center (Headquarters, Mourmelon Sub Area –ed).
An Engineer General Service Regiment had been assigned the task of readying the Mourmelon Sub Area for occupation by the different Hospital units. However, due to a shortage of materials and other priorities early in March, no work had been done on the section assigned for 189th Gen occupancy. A survey of the area had been made by the command and plans prepared for renovation of certain buildings in the area. In order to fulfill the mission and be ready to receive patients it became necessary for the Hospital to draw the necessary plans for urgent construction of a temporary Surgery, Sterile Supply Room, X-Ray Room, Laboratory, Dental Clinic, and EENT Clinic. A large building previously used as a Mess was found to be suited and put to use as an appropriate Mess for both Hospital patients and personnel. The Medical Detachment was housed under tentage in a temporary location and some apartment buildings without functioning plumbing were made available for the Officers and Nurses. Another building was selected; it consisted of twenty rooms with a tile floor which were modified for use as a Surgery, a Sterile Supply Room, an X-Ray Service, and a 100-bed Hospital. In the meantime the Hospital’s own Utilities Department fixed the plumbing, arranged for a constant water supply, and the necessary electrical wiring. Cyclotherms and generators were installed for steam and electricity.
The buildings designated to become the Laboratory, EENT and Dental Clinics had originally been built as Non-Commissioned Officers quarters and were in a bad state. They were gradually remodeled by the Clinic personnel themselves and quickly readied for operation. At times works were terribly slow, affecting the readiness date of the Hospital Plant. The hardest part of the work was the remodeling of the existing stables into proper wards.
On 22 March 1945 the 189th General Hospital officially opened at Site no. 5 for receipt of patients with a temporary 400-bed capacity. Much of the necessary work had been done by the command.
Following the arrival of the necessary supplies, the Engineers were able to continue and complete the renovation of some of the buildings to be used as Wards. Some of these buildings had been used as Enlisted quarters and were to be converted to 25-bed Medical Wards; those buildings that had previously been horse stables were made into 65-bed Wards. As soon as a building and renovation were completed, beds and patients were moved in.
As the tempo of Allied advance increased, patients began to arrive more rapidly. The 434th Troop Carrier Group was stationed at the adjacent airfield (ALG A-80, opened 20 September 1944, closed 2 July 1945 –ed) and squadrons of cargo planes (mainly C-47 aircraft) would leave during the morning, often carrying loads of gasoline or other urgent supplies, and in the late afternoon and evening, they would return with a full load of patients. Gradually, Camp Mourmelon was being turned into an Evacuation Center for the Battle of Germany.
Upon arrival, a constant stream of ¾-ton ambulances carried the patients from the aircraft to the various Hospitals. Starting the first week of April 1945, from 100 to 400 patients were received at the 189th almost every evening. In the early morning thereafter, Hospital Trains would be loaded for moving transportable patients to General Hospitals in other parts of France, including Paris. Thus many patients received one evening would already be sent out early the next morning. In order to handle the mass of surgical patients, a large ward room was designated as the Surgical Receiving Ward. Patients were then brought directly from the arriving ambulances to this special ward on stretchers, and had their wounds examined and dressed, and their dispositions decided. They were then directly carried to their respective wards, put to bed, and fed. This enabled a fast unloading of ambulances, and reception at the Receiving Office since there was no obstruction in the flow and moreover patients received prompt care. It must be noted for the sake of official recordings, that those patients considered transportable within 24 hours were counted as “holding patients” and were therefore not formally admitted.
From opening date, 22 March 1945 until 1 May 1945, while construction on the buildings continued, over 7,000 patients went through the 189th General Hospital. By V-E Day patient census was at its height!
Even after the end of the war in Europe, patients continued to arrive in large numbers by cargo plane. However, the organization was settling back to a normal type of operation. Patients could now be kept for a longer period of care and more definitive treatment could be given to them. Many of the severe cases of malnutrition discovered among RAMPs were received at the 189th. They presented pathetic evidence of undernourishment and mistreatment by the Nazi Government, and were characterized by their patience and gratitude for having been liberated. Those patients who did not suffer from TBC or other specific diseases responded rapidly to treatment.
On 8 May 1945, the organization, together with the few troops still here and belonging to the 101st Airborne Division, held a V-E Day parade. Detachments from all the Hospitals stationed in the area and the Corps of Engineers were duly represented. On 11 May 1945, the personnel were informed of the new Point System, and the day’s Stars and Stripes published the necessary conditions that applied and could eventually lead to discharge. New regulations now applied to censorship. Many Hospitals located in the Mourmelon Sub Area were put on alert for redeployment to the Pacific Theater.
During its stay in the European Theater, the 189th Gen Hosp published a newsletter “Dry Run”. The staff consisted of:
Colonel Walter L. Peterson, MC (Commanding Officer)
Captain Frank D. Dietrich, DC (Information & Education Officer)
Master Sergeant L. M. Trauth, MD (Music)
Technical Sergeant D. A. Tapp (Editor-in-Chief)
Technician 5th Grade F. Kruckman, MD (Sports)
Technician 5th Grade J. Waldron, MD (Arts)
Private First Class H. C. Fisher (Associate Editor)
The Engineer Company which had been assigned to construction and repair works departed on 19 May 1945. Permanent rooms and selected space had been completed and a large patients Mess Hall was now in operation. By end May of 1945, the full quota of 1470 beds were open. Five (5) of the smaller buildings containing 25 beds each, made up a single block, serviced by the facilities in a sixth building equipped with a Kitchen, Storage Room, Linen Room, Sluice Room, Shower, Offices and a small Ward. The larger building with 65 beds were complete units in themselves. From the beginning, attempts were made to improve the overall appearance of the Hospital site. With the help of PW labor, working under supervision of the Utilities Department, a landscaping and beautification project was started which produced results in improving the road and pathway system and general appearance of the Hospital. In addition, a tennis court with a brick dust surface, two volleyball courts, a baseball diamond, horse shoe pits, badminton courts and recreational facilities were prepared for the benefit of patients and personnel. Dayrooms and gardens were in use, and even a 25-acre vegetable farm was planted on nearby land.
With the announcement of Redeployment procedures for the US Armies operating in Europe, it became apparent that the 189th General Hospital would most probably have a part to play in this program. Many tented cities had meanwhile been erected in the vicinity of Mourmelon, and by the end of June 1945, more troops began to arrive in long motor convoys. As the 189th had been made an Orthopedic Center most of the severe or complicated fractures occurring in the area found their way to the organization’s wards. By 30 June 1945 the fate of the 189th Gen had still not been announced. However, the question was being answered individually for many of the Hospital staff. Those Officers and EM with long service time overseas were returned to the Zone of Interior for discharge. The Medical Officers with skills in demand were re-assigned as required to General Hospitals designated for immediate deployment in the Pacific Theater. Other Medical/Surgical Officers and Nurses were assigned on Temporary Duty to fill the gaps in the Hospital staff of the command. It became very apparent that the forces of attrition were taking their toll of the original staff and personnel and that many new faces would be required to fulfill any further assignments for the 189th General Hospital.
After the V-E Day celebrations were over, passes and furloughs were very common, with personnel being granted 12-hour passes to Brussels, Belgium; and 3-week furloughs to England; Paris too was not forgotten, where some of the Nurses would be spending their leave and probably all their dough!
Quite a number of Officers received authorization to proceed to the United States Army Riviera Recreational Area for 7 days + travel time, per Government motor, reference: Headquarters Oise Intermediate Section, Communications Zone, ETOUSA, APO # 513, Special Order # 179, dated 28 June 1945 and Letter AG 354.1, OpGA, Headquarters, European Theater of Operations, dated 8 January 1945, Subject: “Riviera Recreational Area”. The period started 28 June 1945 and involved a number of Medical Officers and Army Nurse Corps Officers.
Members of the 189th Gen continued to leave the organization, with Captain Murray B. Quigles, Jr., CE, O-342107; First Lieutenant Bayard Stockton, MAC, O-1535086; and Technical Sergeant Emmett Nickles, MD, departing for the United States and discharge. In May, more high-pointers left for Redeployment to the States and eventual discharge. They included: Master Sergeant Herman Crawford (ASR 88); Technical Sergeant Alonzo Cowling (ASR 94); Sergeant Frank Naultsby (ASR 89); Technician 3d Grade Conrad Striegle (ASR 92); Technician 5th Grade John Paige (ASR 86); Private First Class Harold Cook (ASR 94); Private First Class Riaso Guglielmo (ASR 92); Private First Class John W. Hart (ASR 91); Private Huron Lancaster (ASR 86); Private First Class Robert Lefevre (ASR 97); and Private First Class Emerson Sealy (ASR 99).
During summer of 1945, an important reorganization took place in the European Theater. On 1 July 1945 ETOUSA was redesignated United States Forces, European Theater (USFET), and on 16 July 1945 SHAEF was inactivated. On 1 August 1945, Communications Zone (COMZ) became Theater Service Forces, European Theater (TSFET). This was accompanied by an overall change in personnel with many high-ranking Officers returning to the Zone of Interior. By 6 August, quite a number of Officers had left the unit, and rumors indicated that the 189th would probably close within a month. On 19 August 1945, it was rumored that in the end the 40th General Hospital would not relieve the Hospital. A number of high ranking Officers from Paris visited Mourmelon, and it was expected that the orders for redeployment to the Pacific Area would be altered with the organization now to become part of the Army Occupation Forces in Germany.
On 27 August 1945, it was announced that Officers who had reached 85 points or more would be out of the Army by 15 September at the latest … The majority of the high-point Officers had indeed left by 6 September.
As per Special Order No. 186 issued by Headquarters, 813th Hospital Center, Oise Intermediate Section, United States Forces, European Theater (USFET), APO # 513, United States Army, dated 11 September 1945, following Officers were released from assignment to the 58th General Hospital and reassigned to the 189th General Hospital, authorized by TWX EX-69563, Headquarters, Communications Zone, dated 17 July 1945, VOCG, Oise Intermediate Section, dated 10 September 1945:
Major Conrad Spilka, DC, O-486996
Captain Clarence A. Lyon, MC, O-500268
Captain Pasquale Montilli, MC, O-1689570
Based on the above orders, authorized by VOCG, Oise Intermediate Section, dated 10 September 1945, some of the Officers were released from assignment and duty with the 189th General Hospital and reassigned to the 58th General Hospital:
Lieutenant Colonel Herman G. Janssen, Jr., DC, O-319236
Captain Frank D. Dietrich, DC, O-308974
On 16 September 1945, 10 ANC Officers and 30 Enlisted Men received their orders for return to the Zone of Interior. The Reims Assembly Area Command took over responsibility for the 189th Gen Hosp while its staff and personnel were moved to another hospital at Châlons-sur-Marne, where they were to stay until it was time to leave.
12 October 1945; the 189th General Hospital received its orders to move to the Calas Staging Area near Marseille, Southern France. The move was expected to take three days and the group was to travel in “40 & 8” boxcars with departure scheduled some time between 18 and 25 October.
29 October 1945, alert orders were received and while awaiting final instructions, the remaining members of the command were restricted to the area. The ship’s name was the SS “Felix M. Grundy”, a Liberty Ship … We unfortunately could not find more information about the return of the complete organization to the United States. We suspect that only the remaining Officers traveled aboard the “Felix M. Grundy”. What happened to the Nurses and the Enlisted Men ? It can be noted that the ship left Marseille, Southern France, on 31 October 1945, passed the “Rock” of Gibraltar on 3 November 1945, and continued her voyage to the Zone of Interior, where she arrived 16 November 1945 …
The MRC Staff wish to sincerely thank the late Lynn F. McNulty, son of Captain Frederick J. McNulty (ASN: O-526873) for his personal contribution and assistance. He most generously provided them with a number of precious vintage copies of official 189th General Hospital Reports which helped them edit a concise Unit History of the organization. Additional thanks are due to Barbara Fortune Janssen Knipe and Robert Herman Janssen, daughter and son of Lt. Colonel Herman G. Janssen, Jr. (ASN:O-319236) who served with the 189th General Hospital in the European Theater, for providing them with some very interesting data and photos relating to their Father’s unit. We are still looking for a complete Nurses’ and Enlisted Men’s Roster.