300th General HospitalUnit History

Portrait (postwar) of Colonel George W. Reyer, MC, who assumed command of the 300th General Hospital from July 13, 1942 > August 4, 1945.

Introduction & Activation:

Following a request from the Surgeon General, the 300th General Hospital was formed in spring of 1940 as a reserve unit authorized by the Board of Trustees of Vanderbilt University under the leadership of Hugh J. Morgan. It consisted primarily of Doctors and Nurses from Vanderbilt University and the Nashville, Tennessee, community.
The unit was officially activated July 15, 1942, at Camp Forrest, Tullahoma, Tennessee (Infantry Division Camp, total acreage 73,124, troop capacity 1,886 Officers & 32,368 Enlisted Men –ed)  under command of Colonel George W. Reyer and First Lieutenant Alice L. Christensen, Principal Chief Nurse, who joined the unit on July 13 (the CO was transferred from Camp Barkeley, Abilene, Texas). The unit’s original cadre of Enlisted Men was formed from personnel of the 216th General Hospital  (non-affiliated hospital unit, activated June 1, 1941, which supplied cadres for other units, and eventually moved overseas March 13, 1944 –ed).

The 1000-bed unit was organized as per T/O 8-550 dated April 1, 1942 with an authorized strength of:

56 Commissioned Officers
1 Warrant Officer
105 Nurses
500 Enlisted Men

Although intended to efficiently operate a hospital of 1000 beds, General Hospitals pertaining to the Communications Zone were trained and organized in such a way that they could be expanded in an emergency to care for more patients, 2000 being the limit. Once located, a General Hospital (designated a “fixed” hospital) would usually remain in that place throughout the period of operations (not always possible in the field –ed).

Group of 300th General Hospital ANC Officers taking a break during one of the hikes near Tullahoma, Tennessee. This was one of the many exercises conducted when not on duty at Camp Forrest Post Hospital (at the time the Nurses were still wearing the old blue uniforms).

More Medical Officers and Nurses reported in the course of July-August from different locations so that processing could begin. Enlisted Men joined from other hospitals, posts, and camps after being assigned to the 300th General. Processing consisted mainly of filling out the necessary forms, being fingerprinted, and having a photo taken for preparation and issue of the official AGO identification card. Following this came the many immunizations (smallpox, typhoid, typhus, tetanus), and the distribution of the necessary clothing, service shoes and dismounted canvas leggings, supplemented by some basic individual equipment such as barrack bag, duffel bag, haversack, pistol belt, first-aid packet and pouch, meat can and mess kit, canteen with cup and cover, gas mask, shelter half tent with pole and pins, two blankets, and steel helmet with liner.

Training:

Training was immediately initiated as soon as a number of personnel and staff became available. Many of the Doctors, Nurses, and EM were sent to the Post Station Hospital (Camp Forrest) to get more experience, while others went to Schools to specialize in some of the more technical aspects of medicine. It must not be forgotten that the professional services constituted about four-fifths (4/5) of the personnel of a unit, hence the importance of efficient training. Basic military training came first with all Enlisted Men receiving two weeks of basic training (in topics such as individual defense and protection, dismounted drill, interior guard duty, military courtesy and discipline, equipment, clothing,  tent pitching, etc), before they were assigned to Specialist Schools. February 18, 1942, a new Medical Department Mobilization Training Program (MTP 8-1) lasting thirteen weeks for MD units at Unit Training Centers was published. It was eventually substituted by MTP 8-5, reduced to eleven weeks  for medical units stationed at Medical Replacement Training Centers. MTP 8-10 governed the training of “Specialists” of the Medical Department. All individual trainees received the same basic instruction (ref. master program), with additional technical – tactical – logistical training hours as required by their position in the medical unit.

General view of the 300th General Hopital’s bivouac area in Tunisia. This was the so-called “Camel Pasture” area, where the unit would remain from September 4, 1943 until November 2, 1943.

Notwithstanding the classroom and field training program, other exercises were held on a regular basis, including calisthenics, marches, hikes, and field demonstrations. Gas mask drill (including gas chamber test) was thrilling but also dangerous, as was the infiltration course. Bivouacs and tent demonstrations were also organized, with some detailed ‘heavy’ tent pitching exercises. Closed order drill sessions were held on the parade grounds, including the more ‘formal’ retreat.

Overseas Movement:

After receiving its initial “alert orders” a first movement was contemplated which implied that all arrangements had to be made for the unit to depart Camp Forrest on September 19, 1942 (orders were however withdrawn October 15, 1942 –ed). Although military training did not stop after alert orders were cancelled, the Nurses present were assigned to duty at one of the Post’s hospitals on a full-time basis, which represented regular 12-hour shifts in the wards.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited Camp Forrest on April 17, 1943, and a formal parade was held, during which the President reviewed the troops in an open car.

Late June 1943, more rumors were heard about a possible move for overseas duty. But the unit’s First Anniversary party (celebrated July 15, 1943) did however not confirm any preparation for overseas movement! On July 22, the CO honored the 300th General Hospital with a ‘special’ party at the Officers’ Club whereby it was announced that the organization was alerted for overseas movement again and that all personnel on DS at other installations was to return to quarters. All the ANC Officers were meanwhile relieved from duty at the station hospital on July 24, indicating that departure was kind of imminent.
Instructions were received to step up physical training, to review and update wills, allotments, and power of attorney, and week-end passes were contemplated in order to enable everyone to say goodbye to family and friends. Packing and repacking was done, and rosters were updated. Although no specific date of departure was given, all personnel was warned again about “military censorship” and its consequences.
On August 11, 1943 a large number of 2½-ton vehicles arrived at Camp Forrest, and it was time to entruck for the final move to the Staging Area. The motor convoy carried the personnel to Tullahoma railroad station in two different groups. The first group consisting of the Medical Officers, the Nurses, and the Red Cross workers, boarded a troop train which left at 1430 hours, for an unknown destination … a second group, with all Enlisted Men and some junior Officers left around 2015 hours on another train which took an alternate route.
Both trains with the 300th on board reached Camp Shanks, Orangeburg, New York (Staging Area for New York P/E, total acreage 2,009, troop capacity 2,545 Officers & 46,367 Enlisted Men –ed)  before noon August 13, 1943.

Medical Officers of the 300th General Hospital breaking camp in the “Camel Pasture”. Dr. Robert Finks (left) facing the camera, and Dr. Joseph W. Johnson, Jr. (right) holding his folding cot. This picture was taken on November 1, 1943, the day the organization’s advance party left for Bagnoli, Italy.

After being set up in cantonment buildings, the personnel resumed its many activities including hikes, drills, calisthenics, and more training sessions. Meanwhile the ANC Officers had been informed that they would be issued new uniforms (the old blue ones being replaced) of olive-drab color. Everyone was furthermore supplied with impregnated clothing in case of enemy gas attack.
The personnel moved to the Orangeburg Station for a last train ride, detrained at the Manhattan Ferry building and continued to a small East River Ferry bound for New York Harbor where the troops arrived at 2300 hours. At Staten Island, everyone lined up waiting for a last role call and embarkation.  ARC volunteers distributed coffee and doughnuts, and on August 19, 1943, the 300th General Hospital walked up the gangplank of the transport  vessel, while a band was playing.

The organization embarked for North Africa August 21, 1943 on US Army Transport “Thomas H. Barry” (ex-liner Oriente) which departed for the Mediterranean region carrying 6,500 troops consisting of Infantry, Air Corps, Military Police elements, and 2 General Hospitals. The ship was to rendezvous with about 25 other vessels, part of a convoy including transports, tankers, and warships.
Once on board, instructions were given, including strict rules for smoking, disposal of refuse, blackout precautions, wear of life preservers, uniform code, chow lines, use of fresh water, abandon ship drills, and the like. Two meals were served daily and in shifts. After traveling a week, French and Arabic language guides were distributed, which gave away the 300th’s final destination. As it gradually became warmer, the men were ordered to change from (woolen) ODs to khakis. Everyone was ordered to take Atabrine as a prevention against malaria. By August 30, Gibraltar (The Rock) was in sight, and the convoy passed the Straits, entering the Mediterranean Sea, where it was then escorted by British destroyers.

Group of Nurses of the 300th General Hospital with their personal belongings, arriving on the hospital grounds in Naples, Italy, where the unit would remain from November 16, 1943 > March 31, 1946.

Although the crossing had been uneventful, the convoy was attacked on September 2, 1943, by German aircraft. Fortunately the “Thomas H. Barry” remained unhurt, but a destroyer in the convoy was slightly damaged (USS “Kendrick” DD-612, she did however reach Oran, Algeria, under her own power –ed). There was an alert for enemy submarines in the vicinity, which did not show up, and the rest of the voyage remained uneventful.

North Africa:

USAT “Thomas H. Barry” arrived in the Mediterranean Theater September 4, 1943, docking at Bizerte Harbor, Tunisia the early morning of the same day. Debarkation began in the afternoon and once on land, the personnel entrucked in 2½-ton vehicles for a former wheatfield, situated somewhere between Ferryville and Mateur, Tunisia, designated as the bivouac site for the 300th General Hospital. The staff and personnel finally arrived into a field in which rows of pyramidal tents with folding cots had been erected, some barren land, without trees, bushes, or grass, which quickly became known as the “camel pasture”. Enlisted Men were expected to set up their individual “pup” tents. While temperature seemed bearable during the day (only on arrival, as it was past 1700 hours), nights were unpleasantly cold, and the contrast in day and night temperatures was enormous.

Bivouac – 300th General Hospital
Ferryville-Mateur, Tunisia – 4 September 1943 > 2 November 1943

Illustration showing Medical Officers of the 300th General Hospital at work in one of the ORs at the Naples installation.

Activation of the 300th General raised questions at the time, because of the recent surrender of Italy (unconditional surrender to the Allies September 8, 1943 –ed). Would the unit activate in North Africa ? and as there seemed no formal reply to this question, orders were received on September 15 to suspend any construction, leaving the command uncertain as to the hospital’s immediate future.
In order to keep the personnel busy and with respect to local medical requirements, 2 Officers, 11 Nurses, 1 Physical Therapist and 20 EM were placed on DS with the 33d General Hospital (Albany Hospital, New York-affiliated unit, activated July 15, 1942, embarked for North Africa July 7, 1943, served in Tunisia, 15 September 1943 > 10 May 1944 and Italy, 21 June 1944 > 24 September 1944 –ed). A number of Enlisted personnel were meanwhile detailed to the docks to unload medical supplies. For the remainder of the unit, there were no actual ‘professional’ duties at the time.

The fact that the organization was not really activated in Tunisia, deprived the installation of a number of comforts, electric lights were never installed in the tents housing personnel, no gravel walks were constructed, no showers were available, issue and sale of PX supplies was very limited, food left much to be desired, there were few vehicles, and there was no official communication system. The cold, the heat, the flies, the rain, the mud, brought a number of discomforts, and did sadly affect morale to a certain extent. It was experienced that during the hot afternoons, flies were a nuisance, and at night the mosquitoes were a problem. Water and lack of it influenced personal hygiene; Lister bags contained hot water loaded with chlorine, but as water was not to be wasted, bathing and washing was done in a steel helmet, with clothing items hung on lines strung between tents for drying. After a few weeks generators were installed, and limited arrangements for a shower tent initiated. It must be said that some units in the neighborhood lived under even more ‘primitive’ conditions. When it started raining September 27, living conditions took a turn for the worse. Some improvisations were therefore necessary, including trying to secure wood for floors (lumber was in short supply in North Africa –ed).

Italy:

October 22, 1943, orders were received assigning the 300th General Hospital to the Fifth United States Army, under Lieutenant General Mark W. Clark, which at this time was engaged in the second phase of the Allied Campaign in Italy.

Column of enemy PWs captured in Italy marching to one of the many PWEs set up in the country. Prior to the formal collapse and surrender of all German Forces stationed in Italy (May 2, 1945), large numbers of wounded enemy personnel were admitted and treated at American Hospitals in the country. As the numbers continued to grow, fixed medical installations specifically reserved for prisoners of war were gradually established in Italy

An advance party consisting of 5 Officers accompanied by 50 Enlisted Men left by LCI for Italy November 1, 1943, arriving at Bagnoli, Italy, in the western district of Naples November 3. The same day, the 300th personnel was transferred to the Staging Area in preparation for the move to Italy. While the Officers and Enlisted personnel staged in individual pup tents, the ANC Officers staged at the 33d General Hospital for quarters and rations.
November 10, 1943, all personnel boarded USAHS “Shamrock” (designated Hospital Ship August 3, 1943, by the War Department –ed) in Bizerte Harbor, with destination Naples, Italy. The ship sailed early in the morning of November 11, 1943 (Armistice Day) anchoring off Naples Harbor the next day.
Two LCIs transported staff and personnel  to shore, where they entrucked for their new premises, a modern TB Sanatorium (Istituto Sanatoriale “Principi di Piemonte” –ed) built in 1939, which was to become the organization’s permanent location in Italy. The building occupied by the 300th consisted of two wings having six floors and a basement, and the rear wing seven floors plus basement. These two wings were joined by corridors consisting of three floors and a basement (the other building remained occupied by the Italians). In addition to the Hospital proper, four small buildings also located in the area served for morgue, guard duty, office space, motor pool, and EM quarters.

Medical supplies for the 300th were shipped in order to arrive about the same time as the personnel of the unit in the Theater. Due to unforeseen circumstances however, supplies were unloaded at Oran, Algeria. This made it necessary to send some NCOs and EM to sort, check, and safeguard the equipment. With the aid of Italian PW labor and cooperation of Medical Depot personnel and facilities, all supplies were checked and prepared for transshipment to Naples, Italy (the latter took 21 days). Because of the late arrival of the hospital equipment, and considering the high number of beds, supply personnel had little time off duty for the next six months or so. The CO therefore gave them a day off each week. On November 13, the staff was informed that patients would begin to arrive November 16, 1943. Types of wards were eventually designated, assignments of personnel made, work areas defined, located and thoroughly cleaned, and equipment and supplies installed and stored. Men of the 40th Engineer Combat Regiment (activated May 15, 1942, landed in Italy October 18, 1943 –ed) solved many of the problems and did much work in the buildings. The workload was organized day and night, with Nurses and Enlisted Technicians working eight hours with a day and a half off each two weeks, and night personnel working nine hours with a full day off at the end of a two-week period.

Stations in Italy – 300th General Hospital
Naples – 16 November 1943 > 31 March 1946
Dugenta – 5 June 1944 > 19 July 1944 (Detachment A, 250 beds)
Caserta – 21 July 1945 > 1 November 1945 (Detachment A, 500 beds)
Aversa – 1 October 1945 > 1 November 1945 (Detachment B, 250 beds)

Staff, personnel, and patients of the 300th General Hospital in Naples, Italy, celebrate Easter Sunrise Service in front of the unit’s premises (Istituto Sanatoriale Principi di Piemonte). The day is Sunday, April 1, 1945.

On November 15, 1943, the unit issued its first “300th Daily Bulletin”. The first patients came in the next day. They were unshaven dirty, and weary, and few had personal possessions with them.
Considering the increased census, instructions were received on November 21, to expand the Hospital to 1500 beds. In view of the large number of people to feed (patients and personnel), 80 Italians were employed in the kitchen and served food at the tables. In season, rations were supplemented with fresh vegetables and fruits. About mid-December permission was granted for staff and personnel to visit Naples; however few people had the opportunity because of the workload and a typhus epidemic in the city that developed late December. As Christmas was approaching, the American Red Cross workers prepared a Christmas stocking for each patient and set up a tree in every ward. Rolls of red wool flannel bandages were used for decoration. Work continued during the period, only interrupted by a good dinner.

The Hospital began to receive more and more patients directly from the front. They were evacuated to Naples by ship or by plane, and those who could walk were brought in by truck, while the ones more seriously wounded arrived by ambulance. The majority of the patients were surgical cases, overtaxing the OR which was now averaging 120 cases a day with the staff required to work 12-18 hour shifts. Space to accommodate the incoming flow of wounded became a problem and additional cots had to be placed in wards, in porches, in the chapel, the recreation area, the library, and even in corridors (a convalescent annex was therefore built in a Quonset hut with a 200-bed capacity on the front lawn on March 13). The 300th was designated to do research on penicillin and to eventually supply the entire PBS with the new drug. A new Penicillin Lab opened February 19, for that specific purpose (nearly 5,000,000,000 units of penicillin had been used for treating surgical patients by the end of 1944).

Some of the problems encountered while in Italy. Rain and mud inhibited transportation of supplies and evacuation of patients. Engineer units often had to step in and improve or repair existing roads or simply bypass them or construct new ones.

March held two important dates in the lives of the Hospital staff and personnel. The first shipment of bottled Coca Cola from the ZI reached the unit March 2 (weekly ration consisted of 2 bottles per person), and a shipment containing 17,000 fresh eggs was received March 4, 1944.
On March 14, the 300th General suffered three air raids, and during the last one, a 500-lb bomb hit the area near the laundry, causing debris to spray the building and some personnel quarters, a loss of many windows, and damage to the heating system. There was total confusion following the blast but nobody was hurt. It became doubtful whether the enemy would observe Geneva Convention rules, as the hospital area was clearly identified with the corresponding GC symbols. A total of eight 500-lb bombs hit the hospital grounds during the attacks but no one was hurt seriously. Neighbors were not so fortunate, such as the British 92d General Hospital and the 17th General Hospital (Harper Hospital, Detroit-affiliated unit, activated July 15, 1942, embarked for North Africa July 30, 1943, and served in Italy, 11 November 1943 > 25 October 1945 –ed). Losses were 1 Nurse killed and 4 EM wounded, respectively. Less tragic was the eruption of Mount Vesuvius on March 18 which did however threaten 2 small towns built on its slopes (the hospital was never in danger, but was close enough for personnel and patients to witness the lava flow, the rumbling, and the heavy smoke –ed). On March 31, 1944, the 300th was designated a Chest Center, with Dr. Thomas Burford in charge of this new service, assisted by Dr. Edward F. Parker.

Number of Patients – 300th General Hospital (incomplete statistics)
November 16, 1943 > 344
November 17, 1943 > 483
November 18, 1943 > 599
January 8, 1944 > 1,946
February 9, 1944 > 2,143
June 1, 1944 > 2,562
June 3, 1944 > 2,730
June 6, 1944 > 3,204
August 15, 1944 > 1,150
September 7, 1944 > 2,800
January 3, 1945 > 2,500
February 8, 1945 > 1,500
March 9, 1945 > 676

Partial view of patient’s mess at the 300th General Hospital, Naples, Italy.

Total Statistics – 300th General Hospital
1944 > 21,775 patients admitted
1944 > 20,802 patients transferred/discharged

While stationed on the Anzio Beachhead (March 1944), incendiary bombs fell on the 56th Evacuation Hospital (Baylor University, Dallas-affiliated unit, activated April 4, 1942, embarked for North Africa  April 16, 1943, served in Tunisia, 20 June 1943 > 17 September 1943 and Italy –ed). One bomb landed outside surgical ward # 8; one hit directly in the center of the large Geneva Convention Red Cross ground marker near ward # 26; and a third one hit the Officers’ area. Three pyramidal and three small wall tents were leveled, personal belongings, documents and papers were strewn everywhere, entangled with shattered tent poles and torn canvas. All told, 4 patients were killed and 19 wounded, and 2 Hospital staff were wounded, including 2 Nurses. First Lieutenant Helen McCullough, ANC, suffered a torn right lung and a sucking chest wound, and was therefore evacuated to the 300th General Hospital in Naples on April 3, 1943 (new Chest Center).
On May 31, the organization was officially notified that it was now a 2000-bed medical facility, with an expansion potential to 3000. This would have certain consequences, and personnel was to be part of it. In order to remedy the personnel question (too few), the 300th took over the 66th Station Hospital (arrived in North Africa April 24, 1943, served in French Morocco, 12 May 1943 > 6 December 1943 and Italy 3 January 1944 > 5 June 1944 –ed)  located some 16 miles away. Its patients were all German Prisoners of War (from PWE # 326, Dugenta, Italy), and predominantly surgical cases, making this unit’s operative schedule extremely heavy for the limited facilities available. By joining the two Hospitals, the burden was shared and solved. At first, Lieutenant Elizabeth Hanna, Chief Nurse (66th Station Hospital) and a number of her Nurses were uneasy about joining the 300th, but the attitude changed after an exchange of personnel took place (by end July 1944, the 34th Station Hospital, which arrived in North Africa May 11, 1943, and served on Pantelleria Island, 18 June 1943 > 21 September 1943, in Sicily, 1 November 1943 > 9 July 1944 and Italy, 19 January 1945 > 9 October 1947, moved from Palermo, Sicily, to occupy the 66th facilities –ed), and all personnel of the 66th Station was transferred to the 300th.

As Allied Forces moved further north in Italy, the census began to drop, and rumors began circulating that the organization would be sent to France. This was not to be true, but following the Invasion of Southern France (August 15, 1944), the 300th felt the consequences of this operation as the census began to rise with receipt of more patients from the area (about 40% of all admissions were from Southern France. In times of emergency, when the census was high, and the staff overloaded, there was help from patients in one form or other. Many contributed, and some made bandages, gave blood, distributed food, and even helped transport patients.

Enlisted personnel stand in formation on the grounds of the 300th General Hospital in Naples, Italy. Promotions, awards, and announcements relating to the unit usually took place during these formations, with the majority of staff and personnel attending.

Thanksgiving was celebrated and the traditional turkey with all the trimmings was certainly part of it. However, as the end of 1944 was approaching, many people wondered whether they would be home or not by next Christmas … consequently there was little celebration in this period, except for the traditional dinner, and the religious services, followed by a reception.

The weather was turning colder and the first heavy snow fell on January 10, 1945, rendering receipt and evacuation of patients difficult. It was accompanied by hail and strong winds, and at times there was three inches of snow on the ground. Although the census was down during the holiday period, more patients were admitted from other medical facilities. On January 3,274 wounded were received from the 12th General Hospital (Northwestern University, Chicago-affiliated unit, activated January 28, 1942, embarked for North Africa December 12, 1942, served in Algeria, 14 January 1943 > 3 December 1943 and Italy 22 June 1944 > 12 November 1944 –ed).
Administrative changes and transfers of personnel became more frequent, and many original members of the 300th left, either for return to the United States, or for new assignments. Promotions took place, and two of the unit’s higher ranks became Commanding Officers in other Hospitals.

By end January 1945, the 2000-bed 300th General Hospital was still located in Naples, Italy, together with the 1000-bed 17th General Hospital (11 November 1943 > 25 October 1945 –ed), the 500-bed 52d Station Hospital (17 January 1944 > 3 May 1945 –ed), the 106th  Station Hospital (17 October 1943 > 24 May 1945 –ed), and the 118th Station Hospital (14 October 1943 > 20 May 1945 –ed).

Colonel Florence A. Blanchfield, Chief Nurse, US Army, visited the Hospital March 15, 1945, and after visiting the installation, a banquet was held in her honor, followed by a reception in Naples.
While on an inspection tour in the region, Brigadier General Hugh J. Morgan, MC, (Chief Consultant, Medical Consultants Division, Office of the Surgeon General) came to visit the 300th too. This visit took place March 23, 1945. After his visit he left for inspection of the frontlines.

Three surgical teams from the 300th General departed for Florence, Italy, April 11, 1945. The 300th had already detached a surgical team earlier in order to support the 56th Evacuation Hospital in Scarperia. In total, fifteen such teams were ordered to Florence, for DS with Headquarters, Fifth United States Army (to support the offensive), and were eventually supplemented by members of the 2d Auxiliary Surgical Group. Meanwhile, personnel continued to be transferred or departed to join other hospital units designated for redeployment to the Pacific Theater. As a result some Medical Officers and Nurses were detached on temporary assignments to the 15th Evacuation Hospital (activated June 1, 1941, embarked for North Africa November 2, 1942, served in Tunisia, Sicily, 19 August 1943 > 29 September 1943, and Italy –ed), the 170th Evacuation Hospital (ex-29th Station Hospital, arrived in North Africa December 21, 1942, served in Algeria, 30 January 1943 > 25 August 1944 and Italy –ed) at Silla,and the 32d Field Hospital with hospitalization units located in Viareggio and Valdibura (arrived in the Mediterranean Theater September 2, 1943, only served in Italy 23 October 1943 > 23 July 1944 –ed). Plans for redeployment of medical units comprised different categories; those required to care for troops in the Theater during the redeployment and demobilization phase, and those available for other use, which meant either for transfer to another Theater, or for return to the ZI for inactivation. Hospitals were alerted for movement, others were ordered to close operations, some were transferred and replaced by others (the most difficult problem was keeping enough fixed beds and a balanced distribution of medical facilities and specialized personnel, in order to meet redeployment plans and readjustment of personnel in the area –ed). The last phases of the Allied offensive during the Pô Valley campaign produced heavy casualties, starting with severe wounds, and gradually evolving to lighter wounds and injuries, with a growing volume of prisoner patients (the number of enemy patients became so large that problems developed as Germans were retreating and withdrawing their installations north of the Pô River, and started bringing their casualties to American and British medical facilities –ed). In the closing days of the war in Italy, German casualties were received by the hundreds, overtaxing the operating US Army Hospitals. At times, hospitalization became confused, because of poor communication and inadequate transportation, forcing hospitals and medical units to improvise. Some recent transfers were now operating in the different wards and assisting with surgery.
Then news came in that FDR had died on April 12, 1945.

Illustration showing British Officer and Italian civilians in the process of being de-loused. The photo was taken during the December 1943 > February 1944 Typhus epidemic in the Naples area. When the Germans retreated from Naples, Italy, they destroyed the city’s water system and sabotaged the gas supply. Lack of proper hygiene and abundance of lice, provoked a Typhus epidemic in the city which was promptly declared “off limits” to everyone by the Allied Military Government. British, American, and Italian medical personnel were tasked with dusting (de-lousing) the local population with masses of DDT. In order to control the epidemic, 43 DDT stations were set up in Naples, with positive results.

Early May, the 300th was informed that all German Forces in Italy had surrendered to the Allies, May 2, 1945. Following the German surrender, Allied Forces moved out to the borders, primarily to round up any prisoners and preserve general order. The French, Swiss, Austrian, and Yugoslav frontiers were under control of American, British, Free French, and Brazilian Forces. Most of the Fifth US Army Hospitals were now tied down with PW patients and with the supervision of German PW Hospitals, at the same time outpatient clinics were busy treating civilian patients. Again there was talk about going home. As soon as MTOUSA redeployment plans were firm, Fifth United States Army began establishing Redeployment and Training Centers in Italy where troops could be prepared for transfer to another Theater or for shipment home. During this period, each Officer, Nurse, and Enlisted Man in the Theater was given an Adjusted Service Rating score (ASR) as of May 12, 1945, based on a recognized point system. Unfortunately the large number of high-pointers produced such a demand for shipping that it precluded further movement of medical units to the Zone of Interior for inactivation. It was therefore decided to inactivate some unit in the Theater (anyway, transfers to the Pacific Theater were stopped with the announcement of the Japanese surrender –ed)!

By end May 1945, only the 21st Station Hospital (transferred from another Theater, arrived in the Mediterranean Theater March 7, 1945, served in Eritrea, Palestine, Persia, and Italy, 16 April 1945 > 23 July 1945 –ed), the 17th General Hospital (arrived in the Mediterranean Theater October 28, 1943, only served in Italy, 11 November 1943 > 25 October 1945 –ed), the 45th General Hospital (Medical College of Virginia, Richmond-affiliated unit, activated May 15, 1942, embarked for North Africa March 21, 1943, served in French Morocco, 29 April 1943 > 15 November 1943, and Italy, 1 January 1944 > 9 June 1945 –ed) and the 300th General Hospital functioned in Naples, with an aggregate T/O strength of 5500 beds (as of September 1, only 3900 beds would remain available in the Naples-Caserta area –ed).

On May 31, 1945, Major General Morrison C. Stayer, MC, (Theater Surgeon > MTOUSA) presented the 300th General Hospital with the “Meritorious Unit Service Plaque” at a formation in front of the Hospital building (awards of Purple Hearts and Good Conduct Ribbons had taken place earlier). Early June, a number of BEF patients were received together with some Brazilian staff to care for them.

On July 21, 1945, the unit took over operation of the 32d Station Hospital at Caserta (arrived in the Mediterranean Theater January 26, 1943, served in Algeria, 28 February 1943 > 28 November 1943, and Italy, 15 February 1944 > 20 July 1945 –ed), some 25 miles from Naples.

Members of the Supply Section, 300th General Hospital, stationed in Naples, Italy, discuss some ‘medical’ issues.

On August 4, 1945 a change of Command took place, whereby Colonel John Crutcher, MC,took over the 300th General Hospital (Colonel George W. Reyer returned to the Zone of Interior August 10, 1945, with a load of patients on board the USAHS “Seminole” –ed).

The End:

Organization changes and disposition of medical units in Italy continued well into 1946. As of  January 1, 1946, the 300th General Hospital (Naples), the 34th Station Hospital (Rome) and the 99th Field Hospital (Pisa), were the only fixed hospitals remaining in the Theater. Another cutback took place April-May 1946, with the 99th Field closing on May 1, 1946, and the 300th General, closing down May 31, 1946. The latter was replaced by a new 200-bed unit, designated 392d Station Hospital.

Campaign Credits – 300th General Hospital
Naples-Foggia
Rome-Arno

Reorganization – 300th General Hospital
Takeover/Absorbtion 66th Station Hospital – June 6, 1944

Meritorious Unit Service Plaque Award – 300th General Hospital
May 31, 1945 

Inactivation – 300th General Hospital
May 31, 1946 (only fixed hospital left in Naples)

Redesignation/Replacement – 300th General Hospital
November 1945 – redesignated 392d Station Hospital (200 beds)
Naples – June 1, 1946 > January 15,  1947 (inactivated)

Personnel Roster (incomplete):

ANC Officers Officers & Enlisted Men
BACOT, Sue ACKER, Aubrey D.
BENGE, Aileen B. AKEMANN, Wilbert T.
BERRONG, Sarah ANGELUCCI (Capt)
BESHEARS, Helen ATTOCKNIE, Francis J.
BLANDFORD, Elizabeth AVERY, Walter W. (Sgt)
BRAZZALE, Olga BARRETT (Col)
BROWN, Gladys BENNETT, James
BRUSH, Frances BLUM, Robert D., Jr. (1st Lt)
BUCHANAN, Margaret S. BOLLETINO, Nick V.
BURGAN, Vera BRASK, Kermit (Off)
CALVIN, Martha BRYANT, Wayne
CASEY, Eva D. BUCHANAN, Robert N., Jr. (Off)
CHRISTENSEN, Alice L. BUCHE, Karl W.
CLARK, Ona L. BURFORD, Thomas (Off)
CLARKE, Blanche CARNEY, Henry M.
CLAXTON, Una CRUTCHER, John (Col)
COBB, Helen DOUGALL John M.
COLLIE, Maxine DREVIDSON, Robert C.
COOPER, Opal DROEGE, Russell B.
CORBIN, Anna C. EIME, Louis E., Jr. (Sgt)
CRIM, Bess EVANS, James C.
DAINWOOD, Christine FERRIS (1st Lt)
DAVIS, Margaret I. FINKS, Robert (Off)
DAYTON, Edith FREDERICK, Alfred J.
DAYTON, Mabel E. GIBSON, Carl
DILL, Lelia B. GUTHRIE, Joseph A.
DORRIS, Eva Rose HAND (Off)
DOXSTATOR, Arlene HANNER (Capt)
DRAKE, Dorothy HERNANDEZ, Raphael
DRIVER, Ame B. JOHNSON, Joseph W., Jr. (Off)
FRISK, Jean JONES, Merle E.
GARNER, Helen KIRTLEY (Col)
GEORGE, Frances LAYMAN, Robert
GLIDEWELL, Claudine LICARI, Andrew J. (Off)
GODDARD, Elizabeth LOOMIS, Kenneth R.
GRUSSING, Lena LYONS, Champs (Maj)
HARVEY, Clatie MANGAN, William
HAWKINS, Alexine MARSHALL, Ben (Off)
HENDRIX, Charlotte McGUIRE, Richard F.
HENSLER, Dorothy McKELLER (Capt)
HILL, Marjorie MEYERS, Johnnie
HUMPHREYS, Alline D. MILLS, Henry F.
JOHNSON, Evelyn M. MORTIMER, Robert
JOHNSON, Grace MUIR, Richard (Off)
KEEFER, Rosemary O’BOYLE, John J.
KEMBLE, Mildred O’DONNELL, Flavian (RC Chaplain)
KINDER, Helen OTTO, Ralph (Sgt)
KRONING, Lucille PARKER, Edward F.
KUBLER, Betty PARTLOW, Carl
LASSITER, Ella PAYLACK, George
LESTER, Christine PECKERMAN, Joseph
LITTLE, Maynette PILEWSKI, Edward J. (2d Lt)
MAGRUDER, Virginia PROFFITT, James M.
MARTIN, Beatrice REYER, George W. (Col)
MAY, Hazel RITZ, Emil
MAYO, Leah ROOT, John (Off)
McCORMICK, Frances ROSENFELD
McDONALD, Gertrude ROVANE, John (Off)
McKEE, Helen RUSTIGIAN (Capt)
McKONE, Betty SARRANTONIO, Anthony
MOTE, Pauline SCHAEFER, Joseph C.
MULLINS, Arra SKELLIE, Harrison, R.
NEUBERT, Elizabeth SNIDECKI, Clement J.
NILSON, Bernice SONNE, Reuben A.
OFFUTT, Pauline SONNEBORN, Walter (Off)
O’TOOLE, Polly SORCE, Jack A.
OWENS, Juanita SPOLETA, Felice A.
PETTIT, Janie TALLEY (Col)
PIANFETTI, Margaret T. TRABUE, Charles (Off)
PLUMMER, Minetta VAN ZANDT, Tom K. (Capt)
P’POOLE, Pauline VERNON, Edward I.
PRICE, Reba WILSON, Harrison D. (Col)
SAUTER, Ellen WRIGHT, George (Off)
SEDOR, Elizabeth
SHASTEEN, Wilma
SMITH, Allia
SMITH, Fannie
TAW, Selma
THOMAS, Allie M.
THOMPSON, Hazel L.
THORSON, Doris
TURZINSKI, Dorothy
WAGNER, Maysel
WALLIS, Mary B.
WEBSTER, Betty L.
WHITLOCK
WILLIAMS, Catherine E.
WILLIS, Virginia
YOUNGS, Dorothy

Portrait of First Lieutenant Margaret S. Buchanan, ANC, N-744640, who served with the 300th General Hospital from September 16, 1942 until September 24, 1945.


This Unit History was based on vintage reports and documents and the MRC Staff also used large excerpts from the book “Reminiscing – An Account of the 300th Army General Hospital in WWII” written by Lieutenant Margaret S. Buchanan, ANC, and published in 1988. General information and illustrations about the unit are courtesy of the book’s author.
The MRC Staff are still looking for more information relating to the last phase of overseas service of the 300th General Hospital (392d Station Hospital) in Italy, and would also welcome a complete personnel roster of subject Hospital. Thank you.

 

This page was printed from the WW2 US Medical Research Centre on 23rd June 2018 at 19:58.
Read more: https://www.med-dept.com/unit-histories/300th-general-hospital/