47th Armored Medical Battalion Unit History

Group of drivers and mechanics of the 47th Armd Med Bn in front of their vehicle during training at Fort Knox, Louisville, Kentucky in 1942. The Ambulance is a 1/2-ton, 4 x 4, vehicle built by Dodge Brothers Corporation, a Division of the Chrysler Corporation.

Introduction & Activation:

The 47th Medical Squadron was first constituted on 7 January 1939 in the Regular Army and designated the 4th Medical Squadron (Mechanized) and activated at Fort Knox, Louisville, Kentucky (Armored Replacement Training Center & School, overall acreage 107,148, troop capacity 3,489 Officers & 57,048 Enlisted Men –ed) on 1 February of the same year. It was re-organized and re-designated the 4th Medical Troop (Mechanized) 1 April 1940. On 15 July 1940, it was once more re-organized and re-designated as the 47th Medical Battalion, the organic medical organization attached to the 1st Armored Division (former 7th Cavalry Brigade) and activated at Fort Knox, Kentucky. Further changes led to another designation with the unit now known as the 47th Armored Medical Battalion as from 1 January 1942.

Organization – Personnel Strength – basic (T/O 8-77) Armored Medical Battalion (1 March 1942)
Battalion Headquarters & Headquarters Company (T/O 8-76) > 10 Off – 3 WO – 90 EM
3 Medical Companies (each) > 11 Off – 122 EM

Organization – Personnel Strength – basic (T/O 8-77) Armored Medical Company (A, B, C)
Company Headquarters > 2 Off – 24 EM
Litter Platoon > 1 Off – 33 EM
Ambulance Platoon > 1 Off – 32 EM
Treatment Platoon > 7 Off – 33 EM

Organization – Number of Vehicles – basic (T/O 8-77) Armored Medical Company
Car, Half-Track, Armored M3 (w/o armament) > 1
Ambulance, Cross-Country, ½-ton > 12
Truck, ¼-ton > 5
Truck, ¾-ton, Carry-All > 4
Truck, 2 ½-ton > 10
Trailer, Water, 250-Gallon > 2

Troops belonging to TF Red (Brigadier General Lunsford E. Oliver) on board British landing barges start for St. Leu in the Gulf of Arzew (Z Beach), Algeria. Photograph taken around 0100 hours, 8 November 1942 during landing of the main body of invasion troops comprising personnel of the 1st Armored Division.

Organization – Distribution of Vehicles – basic (T/O 8-77) Armored Medical Company
Company Headquarters > 2 Truck ¼-ton – 1 Truck ¾-ton – 3 Truck, 2 ½-ton
Litter Platoon > 1 Half-Track – 1 Truck ¼-ton – 1 Truck ¾-ton – 1 Truck 2 ½-ton
Ambulance Platoon > 12 Ambulance – 2 Truck ¼-ton – 1 Truck ¾-ton
Treatment Platoon > 1 Truck ¾-ton – 6 Truck 2 ½-ton – 2 Trailer, Water


After completing its organization and receiving its basic equipment, the 1st Armored Division started training at Ft. Knox, where it participated in the short color movie “The Tanks Are Coming”. The students and trainees stood reveille at 0400 every day attending classes until 1600. Field exercises took place daily. The troops made three-day road marches, scraped and polished vehicles, sweated out Saturday morning inspections, and occasionally dropped by at “Benny’s” or “Big Nell’s”, the most easily accessible civilian nightspots, when off duty. After having been deployed for participation in the VII Corps Arkansas Maneuvers from 18 to 28 August 1941, the unit moved to Camp Polk, Leesville, Louisiana (Armored Division Camp, overall acreage 95,406, troop capacity 2,477 Officers & 40,790 Enlisted Men –ed), where it took part in the Second United States Army Louisiana Maneuvers for almost three months. Living was tough and the weather uniformly foul. Day and night exercises were hard on the nerves and dangerous, but it was understood that such incessant practice was necessary for the combat missions to come.
A change of station with relocation at Fort Jackson, Columbia, South Carolina (Infantry Training Center, overall acreage 58,653, troop capacity 5,907 Officers & 72,817 Enlisted Men –ed), followed 30 October 1941 in order to participate in the First United States Army Carolina Maneuvers. After completing the exercise, the organization returned to Fort Knox on 7 December 1941, where it received the dreadful news that Japan had attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor. World War Two had begun.

Command & Staff – 47th Armored Medical Battalion (29 January 1943)
Lieutenant Colonel W. E. Wilkinson, MC, O-20529 (Battalion Commanding Officer)
Major Morris R. Holtzclaw, MC, O-348716 (Battalion Executive Officer)
Captain Gerald A. Geise, MAC, O-306280 (Battalion Adjutant, S-1 Personnel Section)
Captain Leon D. Beddow, MC, O-23646 (S-2 Military Intelligence Section)
Captain Thomas B. May, MAC, O-393122 (S-3 Operations & Training Section)
First Lieutenant Bertrand N. Beaudet, MAC, O-452329 (Supply Officer)
First Lieutenant Robert B. Armstrong, MAC, O-425673 (Headquarters Company Commanding Officer)
Company A – 47th Armored Medical Battalion
Captain Sol A. Danchik, MC, O-369291 (Company Commanding Officer)
Captain Julius L. Rosenfeld, MC, O-405016 (Treatment Section Leader)
Captain Lawrence H. Feiman, MC, O-379710 (Treatment Section Leader)
Company B – 47th Armored Medical Battalion
Captain Armand A. DeVittorio, MC, O-381802 (Company Commanding Officer)
Captain Robert O. Beaudet, MC, O-342845 (Treatment Section Leader)
Captain Wendell A. Kapustiak, MC, O-416560 (Treatment Section Leader)
Company C – 47th Armored Medical Battalion
Captain Simeon S. Baker, MC, O-344795 (Company Commanding Officer)
Captain Albert M. Wheeler, MC, O-309110 (Treatment Section Leader)
First Lieutenant Harold D. Ashworth, MC, O-345183 (Treatment Section Leader)

With the advent of war, soldiering became a serious business. The Division was re-organized and training took on a new intensity.
While still in the Zone of Interior, the Battalion began experimenting in field medical care. The available equipment not being entirely adequate for field use, it invented the surgical truck – a complete OR mounted on a 2 ½-ton cargo truck (designed by Lieutenant Coleman Johnson and Staff Sergeant Lewis Norton, under the supervision of Colonel L. Holmes Ginn, Jr. –ed). This innovation proved so successful in the Tunisian campaign (17 November 1942 > 13 May 1943 –ed) that it was adopted as standard equipment for all other Armored Divisions (official designation: Tent, Surgical, Truck, Complete (with pins-and-poles) –ed). In addition to its mobile operating rooms, which could be set up in 15 minutes only, the Battalion introduced a rolling drug store; a truck which carried a complete stock of medical supplies and a dental truck capable of doing in the field what had formerly been done only in Hospitals. Each Company was set up in such a way that each Treatment Section (read Platoon) could operate individually from the other, having its own personnel, equipment, kitchen, and vehicles. The Ambulance Section was also split into two detachments, so that each group had its own ambulances. This foresight was to become invaluable, for, as was experienced later, during the early campaigns in North Africa, it was the exception rather than the rule to have a complete Company set up in one location.

An enemy landmine caused this casualty in the vicinity of Sbeïtla, Tunisia. Company A, was involved in the area in February 1943.

Overseas Movement:

The Division was alerted for movement overseas in March 1942 and subsequently staged at Fort Dix, Wrightstown, New Jersey (Training & Pre-Staging Area, overall acreage 28,344, troop capacity 1,825 Officers & 51,598 Enlisted Men –ed), 11 April 1942, until it departed New York POE in May under command of Major General Orlando Ward (who had taken over command from Major General Bruce R. Magruder, the unit’s previous CG, July 1940 > March 1942 –ed).
While at Fort Dix, there were movies, food, hot water, and 36-hour passes to New York, but also more training, classes, calisthenics, and the series of inevitable inoculations. Nobody knew when or where the troops would be going.

Part of the divisional troops departed New York 11 May 1942 aboard RMS “Queen Mary” (with 9,880 troops) bound for the United Kingdom. They reached the Firth of Clyde 16 May 1942. The 47th Armored Medical Battalion left on the “North King”, departing New York POE 25 May 1942, and arriving in Belfast, Northern Ireland, 10 June 1942. While in Northern Ireland, the 47th Armored Medical Battalion was stationed at Tollymore Park. The organization continued training intensively until the Division moved to England on 29 October 1942. Company B was detached from Battalion control from 1 October 1942 to 29 January 1943, and would support Combat Command B of the 1st Armored Division during the initial Allied invasion of North Africa in the Oran area, and later in Tunisia. The 47th was brought together again, after Company B’s combat experience in the first stage of the North African campaign was over; this was 29 January 1943.

The 47th Armored Medical Battalion, less Company B, remained in Northern Ireland until 21 October 1942, preparing for a change of station. On 21 October the advance party departed for England with the remainder of the unit following eight days later. The organization arrived at Wilmslow, Cheshire, and Alderley Edge, Cheshire, England, where it would remain until 8 December 1942. Although the stay was short it was pleasant, with the personnel directing all their effort to preparation for departure to a new and active Theater of Operations, implying an extended overseas movement. Training and physical conditioning remained part of the daily activities.
Departure from England took place in 2 groups. On 23 November 1942, Major Morris R. Holtzclaw, MC, O-348716 (XO > 47th Armored Medical Battalion) with Company C departed for its staging area. The remainder of the unit left 8 December 1942.

Illustration of a Surgical Truck and Tent, as introduced by the 47th Armored Medical Battalion. This particular picture was taken during the unit’s stay in Tunisia in 1943.

After a twelve-day voyage the Battalion landed at Mers-el-Kébir, Algeria. The bivouac was about 23 miles southeast of Oran. The stay at Oran, which would last until 11 January 1943, was spent in a slow process of assembling the unit after this important overseas movement. Initially, the majority of the organization’s vehicles which were on another ship were reported to be considered lost. Finally, only a few days before the Battalion’s move, the ship arrived in port and two days later, all vehicles had been unloaded and reached the bivouac. On 11 January, the Battalion made a four-day overland movement to a Division Assembly Area in the vicinity of Constantine, Algeria. During their stay in the area, the finishing touches were put on combat training and assembly of the tracked vehicles which had made the trip by rail and boat.
On 17 January 1943, the advance party left for the final Division Assembly Staging Area on the Algeria-Tunisia border at Bou Chebka, some 32 miles further southeast of Tébessa. The move was made entirely during night because of the danger for enemy air attack. On 21 January, Major Morris R. Holtzclaw, with one Section of Company C moved from the Bou Chebka staging area to support Combat Command A. This group would eventually remain in the Sbeïtla area, Tunisia, and participate in minor actions and patrol activities required by their holding mission.
On 22 January 1943, Captain Leon D. Beddow, reinforced by a Section of Company C, under the command of Captain Albert M. Wheeler left Bou Chebka to support a TF commanded by Colonel Robert I. Stack (CCB) who was launching an attack against an Italian garrison at Station-du-Sened. The ability to break up a Company into Sections was an asset to support two different Task Forces, one at Sbeïtla, and the other at Gafsa, some 90 to 100 miles apart!

North Africa:

Operation “Torch”, the Allied assault in North Africa took place in the early hours of 8 November 1942. The first elements of the 47th Armored Medical Battalion, Company B, included in “Center Task Force” (which was to carry the 400-bed 48th Surgical Hospital, and the 750-bed 38th Evacuation Hospital on D-Day, later followed by the 77th Evacuation Hospital and the 51st Medical Battalion –ed) landed near Les Andalouses, acting as medical support for CCB. About noon, additional elements of Company B, assisted by a Detachment from the Twelfth United States Army Air Force Surgeon’s office, set up an Aid Station in the city hall of St. Leu, 4-5 miles southeast of Arzew (where they operated from 8 November 1942 > 12 November 1942), gradually turning the facility over to AAF control on 10 November.
A Detachment pertaining to Company B, 47th Armored Medical Battalion, took part in the attempted assault on 10 November 1942 of a composite force trying to liberate Oran, Algeria (it failed –ed). Other Division elements only arrived in North Africa 22 December 1942. At the time, total strength of Company B consisted of 11 Officers and 124 EM (all assigned) supplemented by 1 Officer, 1 Warrant Officer, and 5 Enlisted Men (attached). The Company Commander was Captain Armand A. DeVittorio, MC, O-381802, assisted by the two Section Leaders of the Treatment Platoon, Captain Robert O. Beaudet, MC, O-342845 and Captain Wendell A. Kapustiak, MC, O-416560. The group took part in different small actions, often see-sawing back and forth for some days, in support of Combat Command B. It should be remarked that no casualties were suffered by the Company during the entire phase. It seemed that the enemy respected the GC symbols and often took special effort to avoid any chance of hitting a medical installation or vehicles marked with the Red Cross!

The bulk of the 1st Armored Division which had remained in the United Kingdom for further training and preparation for overseas movement followed Combat Command B to Tunisia during December 1942.
Headquarters & Headquarters Company, Company A and Company C, 47th Armored Medical Battalion were included in the large group which sailed on 23 November 1942 in the “Duchess of Bedford”, part of a convoy of 28 transports en route to the Mediterranean, where it arrived 22 January 1943, after going through one of the worst five-day storms ever recorded.

Partial group of tents forming the Casualtry Treatment Section, set up by Company A, and operated by its Treatment Platoon, near Maknassy, Tunisia, February 1943.

Company B’s participation in the Tunisian campaign culminated during the five days (23 January > 27 January 1943) when the unit supported the Ousseltia Valley drive of CCB. This was its final battle of the early stages of the Tunisian campaign. No casualties were suffered by the Company during the above phase. On 29 January, Company B returned to full Battalion control.

After the establishment of a new II Corps Headquarters at Constantine, Algeria, the US Command began moving its forces in the vicinity of Tébessa, for operations in neighboring Tunisia. Therefore additional elements pertaining to the 1st Armored Division and the 34th Infantry Division were sent to the II Corps sector from England, while all remaining units of the 1st Infantry Division were brought up from Oran, Algeria. The three Divisions were assembled by 1 February 1943, with the scattered elements of the 9th Infantry Division being moved into position as Corps reserve. Medical units deployed around Tébessa included, in addition to the organic medical units such as the 47th Armored Medical Battalion – 109th Medical Battalion – 1st Medical Battalion – 9th Medical Battalion, the 51st Medical Battalion, the 2d Battalion/16th Medical Regiment, elements of the 2d Medical Supply Depot, the 48th Surgical Hospital, and the 9th and 77th Evacuation Hospitals. Other attached medical units taking part in the Bizerte campaign included Detachments of the 56th Medical Battalion; the 2d and 3d Auxiliary Surgical Groups; and the 11th, 15th and 128th Evacuation Hospitals.
During non-combat periods, the 47th treated injury and disease cases of the Division, and was so equipped that in case of entry into a rest area, it could operate a small hospital setup, keeping minor cases until they were fit and ready to return to duty.

While Company B was still supporting CCB, Company A was constantly shuffling casualties by ambulance. Early in the morning of 14 February 1943, the enemy made a large breakthrough in CCA’s area. The forward detachment of Company C saw a tank and artillery battle in progress and were forced to withdraw to the Sbeïtla bivouac because of the danger. Aid was requested for CCA and Captain Julius L. Rosenfeld’s Section (Company A) moved into the Sbeïtla bivouac to support them. During the night of 15-16 February, CCB was brought down to support the Division, accompanied by Company B. The enemy advance nevertheless continued, and a general withdrawal therefore commenced with the personnel and vehicles retreating outside Kasserine Pass, Tunisia. During the first days of the enemy advance, an entire Medical Collecting Company of the 109th Medical Battalion was captured, together with most of the Medical Detachment/16th Infantry Regiment (1st Infantry Division), in all 10 Medical Officers and 100 EM. On 14 February, an Officer of the 47th was captured with four ambulances loaded with casualties. The rear guard was gradually withdrawn until they joined the Battalion just north of the Kasserine Pass. Strong enemy advance forced further withdrawals, and early morning of 17 February 1943, the 47th moved further north of Kasserine Pass, even passing Bekkaria, about seven miles from Tébessa, both in Algeria. CCA was immediately sent to meet a possible enemy thrust with Company A in support. They were however withdrawn during the following night and Company A returned to the Battalion bivouac at Bekkaria, Algeria. In order to avoid any traffic bottlenecks and congestion around Tébessa the entire 47th Armored Medical Battalion bivouacked 2 miles north of Youk-les-Bains, Algeria. As lines of evacuation were long and circuitous, over roads that could be safely traveled only at night, ambulance or litter-jeeps were freely used to supplement the ambulances, never available in sufficient numbers.

Group of ward tents established in the Bou Chebka area, on the border between Algeria and Tunisia in March 1943. The severe rainfall affected daily activities, movement, and evacuation, making life miserable for the personnel of the 47th Armored Medical Battalion.

After the battle of Faïd Pass, the defense of Tébessa got started, culminating in the battle for Kasserine Pass, with the Germans being routed from that section of Tunisia. On 18 February Lieutenant Harold D. Ashworth’s Section of Company C moved southeast of Tébessa in support of Combat Command A, and was to assume the latter’s medical support until 28 February 1943, when it was relieved by Company A.
The entire period from 1 March to 13 March 1943 was one of re-equipping the 1st Armored Division with further plans being elaborated to attack the enemy at Station-du-Sened and Maknassy. The Division eventually re-assembled in extreme rainy weather with mud affecting overall vehicle movement along the main Bou Chebka-Gafsa road.

Change of Command – 47th Armored Medical Battalion
Major Morris R. Holtzclaw, MC, O-348716 (Battalion Commanding Officer) > 14 March 1943
Captain Leon D. Beddow, MC, O-23646 (Battalion Executive Officer, S-2) > 15 March 1943

North Africa 1943. Picture illustrating First Lieutenant Lester M. Mertz and Captain Robert B. Armstrong, both of Headquarters Company, 47th Armored Medical Battalion.

The attack started on the night of 21 March 1943, and as soon as CCA moved off, CCB with Company B moved nearer Gafsa (occupied by the 1st Infantry Division 17 March 1943 –ed), and the tank force, with a Section pertaining to Company B moved in the vicinity of El Guettar (seized 18 March 1943 –ed). On 22 and 23 March, CCA closely supported by Companies A and C took Station-du-Sened and Maknassy. Combat Command B then moved through Station-du-Sened protecting the flank of the other armored groups near the mountains. Because of the proximity of all Combat Commands, the entire Company B was put in support of the flank force who were not actively engaged, with Companies A and C to provide medical support for Combat Commands A and B in subsequent actions in the hills to the east and north of Maknassy, Tunisia (Company A elements of the Battalion set up an Aid Station near Maknassy after its capture from the enemy).
In order to meet a German threat in the vicinity of El Guettar, one Tank Battalion of the 1st Armored Division moved into the area, supported by Captain Lawrence H. Feiman’s Section (Company A). They remained at this location from 23 March to 30 March 1943 until relieved by Company B. The flank force operating around El Guettar, Tunisia, was now under control of II Corps.

Partial view of US Army Hospitals set up in the vicinity of Ferryville, Tunisia. Between 10 and 12 May 1943, all Companies (A, B, C) were ordered to regroup in this area. The Tunisian Campaign officially ended on 13 May.

The flank force made contact with the British 8th Army on 7 April 1943 between El Guettar and Gabès, with Company B offering close support. The next phase of the Tunisian campaign was to advance north inland, following the retreating enemy and drive to Bizerte, while the British advanced up the coast. The Germans evacuated Faïd Pass, followed by CCA and Company A. The 6th Armored Infantry Regiment went into action in the hills with medical support provided by Company C. The progress lasted until 3 May when the road to Mateur, Tunisia, was opened and the Division achieved a breakthrough  in the direction of Ferryville (Mateur was captured 3 May 1943, and Ferryville 7 May 1943 –ed). All medical elements were used from that point, leapfrogging each other. As the advance was so swift it became difficult to assign one particular Company to any one Combat Command, and better medical service was afforded by using all three Companies to support the Combat Commands during the operation (particularly applied on 8 > 9 May 1943 –ed). By 9 May 1943, all organized German resistance on the II Corps front ceased, thus ending the North African campaign for “Old Ironsides” (1st Armored Division). As fighting often took place in mountainous country, covered with thick, thorny underbrush, largely without decent roads, evacuation was particularly difficult. There was a huge lack of sufficient litter bearers, and while the 1st Infantry Division borrowed litter bearers from the 51st Medical Battalion, the 1st Armored Division drafted cooks, clerks, and other non-combat personnel into service as bearers to supplement its organic medical personnel. Half-track ambulances had trouble entering the narrow wadis where casualties were collected, and had therefore to be replaced by litter-jeeps.

At 1000 hours 10 May 1943, Company C moved to join Battalion in bivouac, approximately 7 miles of Ferryville, Tunisia, and established a Division Treatment Station. They were joined at 0900 hours 11 May, by Company B, and followed at 1900 hours 12 May by Company A. Following orders dated 16 May 1943 emanating from Headquarters, 1st Armored Division, all units were to start training (individual and unit) from 16 to 21 May 1943. Casualties suffered by the Battalion were 2 EM wounded by enemy fire and 6 men listed as missing in action.

On 12 May 1943, memorial services were held for the numerous Division dead who lay in the temporary cemetery at Mateur. As the last German forces in Tunisia surrendered on 13 May, the Division was ordered to re-group and re-organize in French Morocco, in view of future operations.

The 1st Armored Division marched by water, rail and overland from their current assembly area to a new bivouac in the vicinity of Rabat, French Morocco, commencing 22 May 1943. Overland daylight movement was to begin at 0600 hours daily – distance to be observed between vehicles 100 yards – total radio silence, including FM sets – recommended rate of march 15 MPH – number of bivouacs five (5) – number of serials involved 4 (four). Serial No. 1 – forward echelon, movement by motor convoy; Serial no. 2, movement by motor convoy; Serial no. 3, movement by rail; Serial no. 4, movement by boat teams, comprising tanks and half-tracks, with a total of 32 boat teams.

Group of personnel pertaining to Company B (three Medical Companies identical in organization, equipment, and transportation, were part of the organic Armored Medical Battalion; they each consisted of a Company Headquarters, a Litter Platoon, an Ambulance Platoon, and a Treatment Platoon). Picture shot early June 1943 most probably at the end of the organization’s stay in North Africa.

Company A left the Battalion bivouac 22 May 1943 enroute for Rabat, French Morocco; Company B left at 1000 hours 23 May also for Rabat; Battalion (less Companies A & B) left the bivouac area at 0800 hours 24 May 1943 enroute for Rabat. The necessary bivouacs were foreseen on the journey to French Morocco.
Company A reached its last bivouac on the Rabat-Marchand road on 31 May, Company B arrived on 1 June, and the Battalion closed in the area on 2 June 1943. All Companies received instructions to open Company Treatment Stations, after which a period of unit training and vehicle maintenance followed.
On 2 August 1943, Major Leon D. Beddow and 1 Enlisted Man left for Oran, Algeria, as an advance party of the Battalion’s move to a new bivouac area.
On 3 August 1943, 10 Officers and 68 EM of Company C, and Detachment, Headquarters Company, consisting of 1 Warrant Officer and 5 Enlisted Men left enroute to the vicinity of Oran to their new bivouac. Small parties of Enlisted personnel left in separate groups over a period of 5 days to join the Company main body at the new bivouac area (they accompanied the 13th Armored Regiment (Light) and the 16th Armored Engineer Battalion convoys leaving on separate dates –ed).

Between 9 and 17 August 1943, Enlisted personnel and ambulances pertaining to Company B left to accompany  the 27th Armored Field Battalion, 81st Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 69th Armored Regiment (Medium), 6th Armored Infantry Regiment, and Headquarters, 1st Armored Division convoys enroute to the new bivouac.

Finally, Battalion (less Companies A & C) commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Morris R. Holtzclaw, comprising 17 Officers – 2 Warrant Officers – 219 EM – and 54 vehicles left the Rabat bivouac enroute to the vicinity of Oran, Algeria, and to the new Division area. The trip, some 256 miles, brought them to the next bivouac at Guercif. The group reached the new site situated 5 miles east of Ste-Barbe-du-Tlélat, following Company C which already occupied it. Company A joined them at 1630 hours 24 August 1943.

Between 24 August and 9 October 1943, an intense period of unit training was to follow in preparation for an overseas movement. Companies A, B, and C set up a joint Division Treatment Station.

Partial view of Half-Track Ambulance as used by the 47th Armored Medical Battalion.

An advance party consisting of Major Leon D. Beddow and 1 Enlisted Man, Battalion Headquarters, left for Oran, Algeria, on 10 October 1943, on their way to a new Theater. More Headquarters and Companies A and B personnel and vehicles left the following days in convoy for Oran. On 16 October 1943, Captains Otto H. Salsberry and Robert M. Mein, both from Company A, left for duty as Medical Officers on the “Endicott” and “Zebulon Pike” respectively. On 17 October 1943, 6 Enlisted Men from Headquarters Company left for loading on troop transport ship “Orontes”, while Company B personnel loaded on the “Lyon”. At 1630 hours, notice was received that the movement had been delayed for at least five days and that unit baggage and advance details were to return to the unit staging area. On 22 October, Captains Henry K. Montgomery and Gustave N. Brumberger, from Company A, left for duty as Medical officers on the “Pocahontas” and the “Benjamin Goodhue” respectively. In the meantime, additional personnel and vehicles continued their movement to Oran, Algeria. More Officers left to join other units for duty as Medical Officers on board a number of vessels. The next day, a number of men and vehicles left for Algiers for movement to a new Theater; other EM were selected for KP duty on board convoy ships. More men and vehicles from Headquarters, Company A and Company C continued to leave for Oran.
On 24 October 1943, Headquarters personnel under command of a Warrant Officer, and 5 Officers plus 82 EM of Company B, commanded by Captain Armand A. DeVittorio (Company B) boarded the “Lyon” at Mers-el-Kébir. They were followed by a group comprising 4 Officers and 31 EM of Headquarters Company under command of Lieutenant Colonel Morris R. Holtzclaw who boarded the “Orontes” at Mers-el-Kébir. Additional personnel and vehicles joined the first groups on the same vessels. Separate groups of men and vehicles left for Algiers for movement to the new Theater of Operations.
At 0615 hours 28 October 1943, 8 vehicles and 10 Enlisted Men pertaining to Headquarters Company plus 9 vehicles and 11 EM from Company A, and 7 vehicles plus 8 EM, including Captain Roger E. Allen from Company C, also left for Algiers. Company C left for Oran with No. 69 convoy enroute to its new Theater at 2130 hours, followed by more personnel and staff under their respective Officers with convoys No. 70 and 71. More Company C personnel left for Algiers with convoys No. 4 and No. 5. In the afternoon of 29 October, Headquarters & Headquarters Company personnel, augmented by 4 Officers, 2 Warrant Officers, and 19 Enlisted Men from Company A left for Oran for loading on “LST 409” with destination Bizerte, Tunisia.

Evacuation procedure in the desert: the procedure applied by the Battalion was as follows – a few forward ambulance collecting posts (ACP) were established as near as possible to the Regimental and Battalion Aid Stations. Ambulances pertaining to the Medical Battalion’s Ambulance Section would pick up casualties at these points and transport them to the location where the Treatment Station was set up. Distance established behind the frontline largely depended upon the type of combat, the terrain, and the condition of the roads. Seldom, however, were these stations further than 8 to 10 miles in the rear (sometimes even nearer the combat zone). The extreme mobility of the treating stations influenced operations favorably whereby it became possible to have a station in full operation 20 minutes after arrival in bivouac. This was certainly an advantage when providing medical support.

Photo illustrating Major Raymond J. Hodapp, (Division Dental Surgeon), and Lt. Colonel Morris R. Holtzclaw (Commanding Officer), 47th Armored Medical Battalion. Picture most probably taken in Algeria, August-September 1943, prior to the unit’s staging and departure for Italy

Treatment of casualties: casualties that were brought into the Treatment Station were given the amount of treatment deemed necessary after going through triage first. This treatment depended to a great extent upon the proximity of the hospitals to which the Battalion evacuated. Because of various conditions experienced during the early part of the campaigns, the nearest evacuation hospital was often as much as 30 to 40 miles to the rear. Moreover, it could only be reached after traveling over roads that were scarcely more than trails through the desert, extremely rough for a vehicle. In such situation, the amount of treatment required before evacuation was more than if the hospital facility had been established at a closer point. It should be underlined that the organic ambulances of the unit were always insufficient, with the result that extra ambulances had to be placed in support of the 47th to enable the organization to evacuate its patients to the rear.

Casualties: due to the fact that the Germans and Italians definitely respected the Geneva Convention and the Red Cross, there was no time at which the 47th or any part thereof was under direct enemy ground or air attack. This important fact kept casualties down to a minimum. However, when the enemy attacked targets nearby the Battalion’s medical installations, strafing or bombing did occur by mistake. 2 Enlisted Men were seriously wounded on 29 January 1943 when their ambulance was strafed by an enemy aircraft. Six more EM were listed as missing in action during the German breakthrough at Faïd Pass on 16 February 1943. An NCO was slightly wounded by an Italian booby trap on 25 February 1943. One Lieutenant was wounded by a bomb fragment on 30 March 1943. One additional Enlisted Man was wounded by an unexploded enemy bomb when it suddenly detonated on 31 March 1943, and another soldier was slightly wounded when his truck struck an enemy mine on 13 April 1943.

Design & Building of Surgical Truck:
By Letter emanating from Captain Robert B. Armstrong, MAC, CO Headquarters Company, 47th Armored Medical Battalion, dated 10 May 1943, addressed to the Commanding General NATOUSA, Sergeant Wilford C. Brinkley, 38041064, was recommended for award in the  Degree of Legionnaire of the Legion of Merit, for meritorious service.

Wilford C. Brinkley, ASN 38041064, Sergeant, Medical Department, United States Army. Since the advent of his assignment to this organization, Sergeant Brinkley rendered invaluable services of a nature so varied and so unique as to render difficult the selection of any part of these services for special consideration and commendation. During the period June to August 1941, inclusive, Sergeant W. Brinkley was the co-designer and builder of an entirely new type of vehicle, the original model of the Surgical Trucks now a standard part of the medical equipment of this Battalion. Since that time as the vehicles were used in the field and proved in battle, Sergeant Brinkley designed numerous improvements which were incorporated into the construction of the prototypes.
Another of the many occasions on which Sergeant W. Brinkley displayed the resourcefulness and initiative necessary to complete a difficult assignment was upon the arrival after overseas assignment, in May 1942, of the organizational equipment of the Battalion. Due to rough handling, every typewriter had been damaged and rendered inoperative. With no tools or repair parts available except those he himself had thoughtfully brought overseas, Sergeant Brinkley was able, in a matter of hours, to put every machine back into use.  

Special Presentation Ceremony of the “Legion of Merit” to Sergeant Wilford C. Brinkley, ASN 38041064, and other awards recipients of the 47th Armored Medical Battalion.

Under authority contained in Section IV, WD Circular No.  131, dated 3 June 1943, a “Legion of Merit” Medal was awarded in the name of the President of the United States to the following Enlisted Man (ref Letter Hq NATOUSA, APO 534, GO # 85, dated 8 Sep 43, signed by Brigadier General E. L. Ford, GSC):

Text of the “Legion of Merit Award”, authorized by Brigadier General E. L. Ford, GSC, Chief of Staff, Headquarters North African Theater of Operations, US Army, APO 534, dated 8 September 1943.

Decorations/Awards: the following Officers and Enlisted Men were awarded the “Legion of Merit”; Master Sergeant Harlan H. Owens, 6646948, Headquarters Company, 47th Armored Medical Battalion, for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services on 14 to 16 February 1943 during the engagement at Faïd Pass and on 1 March 1943 during the fighting at Kasserine Pass (ref General Order # 84, Headquarters, NATOUSA, dated 7 September 1943); Sergeant Wilford C. Brinkley, 38041064, Headquarters Company, 47th Armored Medical Battalion, for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services during the period June to August 1941 (ref General Order # 85, Headquarters, NATOUSA, dated 8 September 1943); Staff Sergeant Jimmie Blake, 15047341, Company C, 47th Armored Medical Battalion, for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services during the period from 22 March to 25 March 1943 in the vicinity of Maknassy, Tunisia (ref General Order # 85, Headquarters NATOUSA, dated 8 September 1943); Staff Sergeant Edward D. Cooper, 32183872, Company A, 47th Armored Medical Battalion, for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services during the period 29 January to 3 April 1943 in the battles of Station-du-Sened, Sbeïtla, Kasserine Pass and the El Guettar sector (ref General Order # 85, Headquarters, NATOUSA, dated 8 September 1943); Second Lieutenant Victor Kizala, MAC, O-1290436, 47th Armored Medical Battalion, for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services on 24 and 25 January 1943 in the vicinity of Sened, Tunisia, and from 1 February to 14 February 1943 in the vicinity of Sidi-Bou-Sid, Tunisia (ref General Order # 86, Headquarters, NATOUSA, 9 September 1943); First Lieutenant John J. Downes, MAC, O-451855, Company A, 47th Armored Medical Battalion, for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services during the period 14 February to 18 February 1943 in the fighting around Fiad, Sbeïtla, and Kasserine Pass, and from 23 March to 8 April 1943 when in action around Station-du-Sened and Maknassy, Tunisia (ref General Order # 85, Headquarters, NATOUSA, dated 8 September 1943); Captain Armand A. DeVittorio, MC, O-391802, Company B, 47th Armored Medical Battalion, for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services during the period of invasion at Oran, Algeria, and subsequent  operations of Combat Command B in Algeria and Tunisia (ref General Order # 86, Headquarters, NATOUSA, dated 9 September 1943); Captain Gerald E. Geise, MAC, O-306280, Headquarters, 47th Armored Medical Battalion, for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services from 19 April to 22 April 1943 (ref General Order # 86, Headquarters, NATOUSA, dated 9 September 1943).
Technical Sergeant Glenn E. Allen, 35031517, Headquarters & Headquarters Company, 47th Armored Medical Battalion, was awarded the “Soldier’s Medal” for heroism displayed in rescuing a soldier from drowning near Rabat, French Morocco on 25 July 1943 (ref Paragraph 3, General Order # 71, Headquarters, 1st Armored Division, dated 12 August 1943).
The 47th Armored Medical Battalion was cited by the CG, 1st Armored Division for its exceptionally meritorious service in the Algeria and Tunisia campaigns (ref Paragraph 10, General Order # 63, Headquarters, 1st Armored Division, dated 9 July 1943).
Second Lieutenant Ernest D. Chadbourne, MC, O-449344, Company A, 47th Armored Medical Battalion, was awarded the “Silver Star” for gallantry in action near Station-du-Sened on 1 February 1943 (ref Paragraph 1, General Order # 12, Headquarters, 1st Armored Division, dated 23 February 1943).
Company B, 47th Armored Medical Battalion, received a citation for exceptionally meritorious service and devotion to duty throughout the Ousseltia Valley campaign (ref Section IV, General Order # 5, Headquarters Combat Command B, 1st Armored Division, dated 11 February 1943).
All the men previously listed were awarded the “Purple Heart” medal for wounds sustained in combat operations, while serving with the 47th Armored Medical Battalion (official awards were presented by Major General Ernest N. Harmon during a parade formation held on 7 October 1943 –ed).

Column of a Tank Battalion progressing through a destroyed village in Italy. The armed 1/4-ton truck is pulling a trailer with medical supplies (loaded with many litters). Photo taken 19 May 1944.

Overall Strength: 29 January 1943 (46 Off + 2 WO + 476 EM), 28 February 1943 (42 Off + 2 WO + 465 EM), 31 March 1943 (43 Off + 2 WO + 462 EM), 30 April 1943 (43 Off + 2 WO + 459 EM), 9 May 1943 (43 Off + 2 WO + 464 EM).

The Division’s part in winning the campaign in Tunisia, with successes and deficiencies was analyzed by each unit in a report defining combat experience and lessons. Fragmentation and piecemeal use of units, combat misfortunes, some sloppiness in discipline, caused a number of transfers, replacements, and re-organizations. New SOPs were introduced during the summer of 1943 when the 1st Armored Division moved to Rabat, French Morocco. The overland move was uneventful, but the water movement was delayed due to a shortage of ships. Notwithstanding the additional problems, the Division managed to re-group by mid-June 1943. After arriving, it was established in a cork forest south of the town near a lagoon with excellent swimming facilities. An ARC staff and Special Services provided the necessary entertainment and recreation and new summer uniforms were issued.

By the time everyone was preparing for movement to Italy, the Division was ready for battle after weeks of arduous training and issue of new equipment and vehicles although the intense heat and the low humidity in the area had made training more uncomfortable. During the months of August and September, while training in hot and dusty conditions in the fields south of Oran, Algeria, the men had developed new methods of operation and learned to use the new equipment well. It was time to move on …


After a thorough re-organization, the first 1st Armored Division units began arriving in Naples, Italy, on 28 October 1943. It would eventually participate in attacks against the Winter Line in November 1943, flanked the Allied Armies at Anzio in January 1944, and be present during the run on Rome which was liberated 4 June 1944. It would later combat in the Apennines and the Pô Valley until the German Forces in Italy surrendered unconditionally on 2 May 1945.

Group of Company B personnel in Italy. Photo taken in May 1944.

At 0800 hours 28 October 1943, the first vehicles and men pertaining to Detachment, Headquarters Company and elements of Company B arrived at Pozzuoli, Italy! They disembarked at 0845 hours the same day. Around 1800 hours they arrived at the bivouac area some six miles south of Caserta, where Company B established a Treatment Station. Meanwhile, 3 kitchen trucks, 1 maintenance truck, 1 surgical truck, 2 jeeps, and 2 weapon carriers, and 7 Enlisted Men, all from Company B, and 5 EM from Headquarters Company, supplemented by 2 EM from Company A arrived too. At 1300 hours, 30 October 1943, Detachments from Headquarters Company and Company B moved to their bivouac area 4.7 miles south of Caserta, Italy.

Nearly the entire month of November 1943 was a period of movement and assembly as small groups of men equipment, and vehicles left Ste-Barbe-du-Tlélat, Algeria, for shipment overseas to the Italian Theater (in short, Company B left around 24 October 1943; Company A left 29 October 1943; and finally Company C departed 12 November 1943 –ed). The arrival of the Battalion personnel and equipment was spasmodic resulting in a slow and difficult assembly and re-uniting of the unit as a whole. Nevertheless, at least one Treatment Station was in operation at all times. Training during this period stressed physical conditioning of personnel and staff and cleaning of equipment, the latter a difficult process due to the thick mud resulting from continuous rains.
Even though the 47th had not yet been committed in any direct action on Italian soil, 4 Enlisted Men were slightly wounded from falling flak during enemy air raids on Naples. Fortunately no hospitalization was required in these cases (they all eventually were awarded the Purple Heart for wounds received in action by GO # 83 dated 18 December 1943 –ed).

On 22 November 1943 a new mobile Dental Laboratory Truck was placed in operation; the result of a new design by Major Raymond J. Hodapp, former Division Dental Surgeon.
Aggregate strength of the 47th Armored Medical Battalion at end November 1943 stood at 40 Officers – 3 Warrant Officers – and 462 Enlisted Men. A number of Officers were either relieved, transferred, or returned to the Zone of Interior on rotation. Some men were assigned or temporarily attached, while some losses were not compensated.
Throughout the greater part of December 1943 the 47th was established in bivouac 2½ miles north of Capua, Italy. While Companies A and C operated the 1st Armored Division Treatment Station, Company B was inoperative, ready for any movement, in case combat medical support would be required. A command inspection of the entire Battalion was held on 18 December, resulting in a rating of “generally excellent”. Company C then moved from its current bivouac 4.7 miles south of Caserta to the vicinity of Capua on 2 December. On 30 December 1943, Company B was detached from Battalion control and attached to TF Allen (CCB) subsequently moving forward to establish a Treatment Station on the main road 3 miles southeast of Mignano, Italy.
Overall Battalion strength at 31 December 1943 was 41 Officers – 3 Warrant Officers – 451 Enlisted Men (plus 2 Officers and 1 Enlisted Man attached).

Group of Company B men playing dice. Of special interest is the Surgical Truck and Tent at left in the bivouac area (an innovation developed by the 47th Armored Medical Battalion while in training in the Zone of Interior in 1942).

Early January 1944 a new Officer reported for duty. He was assigned to Company B. In order to solve some of the current litter bearer problems, 17 Enlisted Men from Company B were transferred to the 6th Armored Infantry Battalion to act as litter bearers on 3 January. The continued relative high flow of casualties required an additional Treatment Section, so that 2 Sections could be working at all times, and the third resting and in reserve. As a result of this situation, 3 Officers and 20 EM from Company A under command of Captain Julius L. Rosenfeld were supplemented to Company B. Five of the above EM were slightly wounded the day they were transferred, that is, 7 January 1944. In the afternoon, Captain Armand A. DeVittorio received a serious wound in his right arm by an enemy shell which landed in Company B’s area and had to be hospitalized (Captain Wendell A. Kapustiak therefore assumed command). As a result of enemy artillery fire, 2 ward tents, 1 pyramidal tent, and 1 command post tent were rather extensively damaged.
On 10 January 1944, Battalion received word of its first killed-in-action soldier. This was Technician 5th Grade Henry J. Guarnere, 33026746, member of Company B, one of the men on SD with the 6th Armored Infantry Battalion as a litter bearer, killed in action on 6 January 1944 (he was the brother of Sgt. Bill Guarnere, Co E, 506th PIR, 101st A/B Div –ed). The deceased had already been awarded the “Silver Star” for gallantry in action in Tunisia, by General Orders, Headquarters, 1st Armored Division, dated 7 May 1943 –ed).

On 14 January the 1st Armored Division was detached from assignment to II Corps and reverted to Fifth United States Army control, with the exception of CCB, which was detached from proper Division jurisdiction. Starting 16 January 1944, Company A closed its Treatment Section and a group of 9 Officers, 115 Enlisted Men, and 31 vehicles departed for the Division Staging Area at Qualiano where it arrived at 2140 hours. Between 16 and 17 January a number of Enlisted replacements joined the 47th. 24 EM, followed by another 12 were sent to Company B for a short training period. Following their period of intensive training, six of the new men were transferred to Company A; others went to Headquarters & Headquarters Company, and another number were assigned to Company C for duty. Company B left for its own Staging Area at Norta on 20 January (it was detached from the 1st Armored Division –ed), while Company C received an alert order for movement the same day (subsequently postponed to the following day). On 21 January 1944 a group of 6 Officers, 2 Warrant Officers, and 67 Enlisted Men from Headquarters & Headquarters Company, and 8 Officers and 116 EM from Company C, commanded by Major Leon D. Beddow left their Capua bivouac for Qualiano which they reached after traveling 25 miles, at 0745 hours the following morning. Additional personnel followed the same day at different intervals.
On 26 January 1944, Company A Detachment, Headquarters & Headquarters Company boarded LSTs at 1300 hours and left the port at exactly 2200 enroute to the Fifth United States Army Beachhead at Anzio, Italy. Although they already arrived the next day at 1000 hours, debarkation was only completed around 2300 hours, after experiencing two enemy air raids in the harbor area. They entrucked and traveled by road from North Anzio for 4 miles to the east to a point 2.7 miles of the Anzio-Genzano road where the Division Treatment Station was to open.  On 28 January, Company C closed its installation, and first moved to the Palace Grounds, Naples, then continued to No. 3 Staging Area at Pozzuoli, where other men and vehicles joined them. On 31 January 1944, the different groups boarded LST 385 and LST 409 at Naples, both with destination the Fifth United States Army Beachhead at Anzio, Italy.

The 47th Armored Medical Battalion operated a Clearing Station in the Anzio Beachhead during February 1944. It was exceptionally located in the British Hospital area about two miles north of Anzio proper during the entire period but suffered no losses during the many bombings. In the 4-month period (26 January 1944 > 22 May 1944 –ed), British Hospitals (including elements of the 47th Armd Med Bn) at Anzio cared for 14,700 patients suffering from battle wounds, injuries and diseases. During the month of March 1944, the entire Battalion (with the exception of Company B) served on the Anzio Beachhead supporting that part of the 1st Armored Division stationed in that area. Company B, still under command of Captain Wendell A. Kapustiak, meanwhile remained on the Monte Cassino front affording Combat Command B medical support under direct control of II Corps. They were ready to be committed on the Cassino front at the opportune time. From 27 January up to 25 March 1944, they remained in the area offering close support. Company B was finally withdrawn on 26 March and moved to approximately the same spot it left two months before, in the vicinity of Villa Volturno, Italy. Finally on 8 April, CCB moved nearer to Naples where they remained until embarking for the Anzio Beachhead. Company B left on LST 210 on 5 May 1944 and joined its parent unit north of Nettuno, Italy, on 6 May, after an uneventful trip.

At that time (after 7 May 1944), Lieutenant Colonel Morris R. Holtzclaw was Battalion CO. He was assisted by Major Leon D. Beddow Battalion XO and Captain Charles T. Van Vliet, Jr. Adjutant and S-1. Captain Robert B. Armstrong, commanded Headquarters Company. The respective Commanding Officers for Company A and C were Captain Lawrence H. Feiman, and Captain Albert M. Wheeler. Company B was commanded by Captain Wendell A. Kapustiak.
The principal Division Treatment Station was jointly operated by Company A and C. These two Companies, operated a small hospital where minor wounds, diseases, and injury cases were treated daily and held until they could be returned to duty. This was a decided advantage, for this way, minor cases could be kept from Evacuation Hospitals which were taxed almost to capacity with the more serious patients.

When operating on Anzio Beachhead, Company A functioned in a normal fashion. All patients were first brought to Company A, where they were given any necessary treatment, after which they were sorted out, those able to return to duty in 7 to 10 days were transferred to Company C for further treatment and hospitalization, and the others sent to the Evacuation Hospitals on site. For the purpose of increasing the Division hospital capacity, Company C was augmented by addition of another ward tent, raising the holding capacity from twenty to forty patients. Besides treating their own sick and wounded, the 47th Armored Medical Battalion handled 61 more battle casualties from other units. The Detachment of Company C remained 4.5 miles east of the Anzio-Albano road to provide closer medical support to the other Division units. The Battalion continued to operate as a Casualty Clearing Station for Fifth United States Army, holding and clearing casualties destined for the Communications Zone.
On 2 March 1944, the 47th was inspected by the Fifth US Army Surgeon, Brigadier General Joseph I. Martin; the VI Corps Surgeon, Colonel Rollin L. Bauchspies (former CO > 16th Evacuation Hospital –ed); and the Commanding Officer of the 56th Evacuation Hospital, Colonel Henry S. Blessé. During the entire month of March, all units of the 1st Armored Division, including its Medical Battalion, were subjected to intermittent enemy shelling and air attacks. Some casualties resulted but remained low, because of the extent to which the units were well “dug-in”. At 1715 hours 23 March 1944 a large caliber enemy shell landed in the Battalion Maintenance Section, Headquarters & Headquarters Company, resulting in 1 man killed, 1 seriously wounded, 1 slightly wounded, and 1 slightly injured by the blast concussion. During March rotation personnel started to leave the Battalion for return to the United States and some replacements were received, which brought final strength at the end of the month to 33 Officers, 2 Warrant Officers, and 347 Enlisted Men (which represented a gain of 2 Officers and a loss of 3 EM).

Members of the 16th Armored Engineer Battalion (1st Armored Division) are clearing mines in preparation for the breakout of the Anzio Beachhead, Italy. Photo taken 24-25 May 1944.

Companies A and C continued to operate the Division Treatment Station at Anzio until 30 April 1944 (Company B remained in the Naples area in support of CCB), at which time Company C closed due to impending movement from this area. Meanwhile the 47th continued to operate as a Fifth US Army Casualty Clearing Station, clearing casualties from the British Hospital zone destined for ComZ. It must be noted that all Battalion areas were subjected to much heavier enemy artillery fire than previously. The majority of it occurring at night, both very harassing and often of barrage nature. 170mm shells landed between the Treatment Station and the road, with fragments tearing holes in the canvas ward tents. Large caliber shells also landed in the Headquarters Company area, causing considerable damage to tentage and installations. On at least four different occasions, the 47th Armored Medical Battalion area was subjected to a heavy artillery barrage, which caused damage to tents and equipment, including Company C’s Surgical Truck and the Medical Supply Truck. Fortunately, only a few minor wounds were experienced, with 4 Purple Hearts being awarded.

Because of the fact that an expected British Hospital desired the area which the Battalion occupied, higher Headquarters ordered the 47th to move to another location. As the new site, still in the Division area, was extremely limited in space, it became no longer possible to operate the hospital setup, but merely evacuate all patients who could not be returned to duty. Notwithstanding the ongoing operations, some EM left the Beachhead for rotation to the Zone of Interior. Orders to move were finally received 3 May, and the Battalion then moved to a spot on a back road from Nettuno to 1st Armored Division Headquarters. All personnel had to complete the holes for their dugouts and vehicles first, which was a most complex and difficult process ever experienced by the Battalion because of the constant danger of enemy fire. Indeed, all works had to be completed before night set in, so that the men could be reasonably safe. It should be noted that the entire move took 3 days (meanwhile constant medical support was provided by Company A, while Company C could install and open its station in the new area). Prior to this movement, Headquarters Company received 15 hits by 100 lb bombs, while 150 AP bombs were dropped in the ward tent and Battalion Headquarters area, causing a lot of damage but no loss of lives. One AP personnel bomb landed inside Company A’s ward tent, damaging it beyond repair and another landed inside the S-2 tent causing damage to the equipment stored in it. After movement to the new area was completed, only 3 shells fell in the new site causing some damage to the vehicles but no casualties.
On 6 May 1944, Company B arrived from the rear area and dug in the Battalion area, although it did not operate its station. Until 21 May 1944, all operations were directed toward preparation for the forthcoming Allied attack!

On 21 May 1944, the 1st Armored Division started moving to the assembly area in the vicinity of Le Ferriere. Company A moved up to a point about 2 miles south of it at 2350 hours. The attack itself started at 0630 hours 23 May 1944, with Company B being kept on alert in case the flow of casualties would become too heavy.  The ALP were kept well forward and the liaison with the Ambulance Platoon Leaders proved essential. The Division attack was coordinated by all units on the Beachhead’s right flank, while the left flank remained in position to hold and stop any enemy counter attacks originating from that direction. The first days’ progress was considerable, and on the morning of 22 May, Combat Command A (CO > Colonel Maurice W. Daniel) continued to the north and Combat Command B (CO > Brigadier General Frank A. Allen, Jr.) turned northeast in a flanking movement around Cisterna. Companies A and B provided the necessary medical support for the remainder of the first phase of the attack, with Company A now gradually moving behind Company B on 25 May 1944 and suffering one minor casualty but considerable damage to tentage. An ambulance pertaining to Company A, while evacuating patients, was caught in a German artillery barrage with shell fragments stopping the engine. The driver immediately went for help but was hit by shell fragments and lightly wounded. The co-driver subsequently transferred the patients to another vehicle and in spite of the continuous shellfire, walked to the nearest unit for assistance to pull his disabled vehicle back to the Company area. It was gratifying to note that the casualties suffered by the Division during the first part of the attack were much lighter than expected, and that a considerable number of the patients treated by the Battalion were enemy PWs. History was finally made on 25 May when elements of II Corps attacking from the south made contact with VI Corps Beachhead forces (at Borgo Grappa). Land communication was now possible to the south of Italy.
The attack resumed the next day with casualties remaining relatively light. Company B was now located 1 mile northwest of Cisterna on Highway 7. Cisterna was now all but encircled and cut off at several points along Highway 7 and the railroad and the next move was prepared against Cori and Giulianello.The action on 26 May would include attacks by elements of VI Corps against Artena, Velletri, Lanuvio, and Campoleone.

Famous War Correspondent Ernie Pyle visits units of the 1st Armored Division during their stay in Italy in 1944. He reported on Allied operations in North Africa, Sicily, Italy and France.

Command & Staff – 47th Armored Medical Battalion (31 May 1944)
Lieutenant Colonel Morris R. Hotzclaw, MC, O-348716 (Battalion Commanding Officer)
Major Leon D. Beddow, MC, O-23646 (Battalion Executive Officer)
Captain Charles T. Van Vliet, Jr., MAC, O-452326 (Battalion Adjutant, S-1)
First Lieutenant  John J. Downes, MAC, O-451855 (S-2)
First Lieutenant Bertrand N. Beaudet, MAC, O-452329 (S-3)
Captain Robert B. Armstrong, MAC, O-425673 (Headquarters Company Commanding Officer)
Company A – 47th Armored Medical Battalion
Captain Lawrence H. Feiman, MC, O-369291 (Company Commanding Officer)
Captain Henry K. Montgomery, MC, O-345147 (Treatment Section Leader)
Captain Julius L. Rosenfeld, MC, O-405015 (Treatment Section Leader)
Company B – 47th Armored Medical Battalion
Captain Wendell A. Kapustiak, MC, O-416560 (Company Commanding Officer)
Captain Alan L. Smith, MC, O-436376 (Treatment Section Leader)
Captain Merton T. Waite, MC, O-462067 (Treatment Section Leader)
Company C – 47th Armored Medical Battalion
Captain Albert N. Wheeler, MC, O-309110 (Company Commanding Officer)
Captain Morris Siegel, MC, O-418521 (Treatment Section Leader)
Captain Thomas A. Carrigan, MC, O-403263 (Treatment Section Leader)

As per paragraph 89, General Order # 24, Headquarters, 1st Armored Division, dated 1944, Private First Class Norman Hartstone, 11045988, Company B, 47th Armored Medical Battalion, was awarded the “Soldier’s Medal” for heroism not involving conflict with the enemy in Italy in 1944, by saving a fellow soldier from serious gasoline burns and bringing him to safety. A “Purple Heart” medal was awarded to Private Maurice J. Sheets, 35272955, Company B, 47th Armored Medical Battalion, for wounds received in action in the vicinity of Monte Lungo, Italy (ref General Order # 12, Headquarters, 1st Armored Division, dated 26 March 1944). First Lieutenant Bertrand N. Beaudet, MAC, O-452329, Headquarters, 47th Armored Medical Battalion, was awarded the “Bronze Star Medal” for meritorious service as Division Medical Supply Officer from 1942 to 1943, demonstrating ingenuity, resourcefulness, enthusiasm, and unwavering devotion to duty to supply the 1st Armored Division at all times with medical supplies and equipment (ref General Order # 17, Headquarters, 1st Armored Division, dated 1944). “Purple Heart” medals were also awarded for wounds received in action to 1 Officer (Company A) and 2 EM, from respectively Headquarters & Headquarters Company, and Company C. Additionally, the “Bronze Star Medal” was awarded to Staff Sergeant Everett J. Jacoway, 39076760, Company C, 47th Armored Medical Battalion for meritorious service from 15 December 1942 to 9 May 1943 in North Africa (ref Paragraph 3, Circular # 26, NATOUSA, dated 6 March 1944), and Staff Sergeant Ernest W. Schibi, 38002484, Company C, 47th Armored Medical Battalion, for meritorious service from 15 December 1942 to 9 May 1943 in North Africa (ref General Order # 27, Headquarters, 1st Armored Division, dated 26 April 1944). Another 4 “Purple Heart” medals were awarded to 4 Enlisted Men (Co A, Hq & Hq Co, and Co C) as per General Order # 28, Headquarters, 1st Armored Division, dated 24 April 1944).
During the same month the “Legion of Merit” was awarded to Captain Lawrence H. Feiman, MC, O-369291, Company A, 47th Armored Medical Battalion, for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services from 8 April 1942 to 25 March 1944 by improving and developing new techniques and instruments for medical treatment in the field (ref Section II, General Order # 38, Headquarters, NATOUSA, dated 8 May 1944). The “Bronze Star Medal” was awarded to Corporal Charles B. Peeler, 15068463, Company A, 47th Armored Medical Battalion, for meritorious achievement in connection with actions against the enemy at Anzio, Italy, between 5 and 11 February 1944, for having constructed on his own initiative, while under enemy fire, a practical and essential piece of equipment out of waste material, which proved successful and became an outstanding contribution to the Medical Department (ref General Order, Headquarters, 1st Armored Division, dated 1944).

The Division Psychiatrist, Captain Joseph F. Zigarelli, MC, O-423638, was attached to Company B during the operations in the north, opening up a Psycho-Neurosis Clearing Station. All “exhaustion cases” admitted to any of the Companies were sent to him for treatment and disposition. The patients could however not be held at the Treatment Station for any length of time, because of the rapid movement of the Company and the lack of sufficient transportation. This resulted in a few of the cases seen being returned  to duty.

On 27 May, Company C moved to a RV point 3 miles northwest of Cori to support CCB’s attack toward Valmontone, Italy. Further attacks took place, but by 29 May 1944, enemy resistance became increasingly more severe, resulting in small gains only but with considerable casualties. The Germans were indeed defending their lines stubbornly trying to hold their last defenses barring the Allies from Rome. Between 23 May and 31 May 1944, 690 Division battle casualties passed through Companies A and B, with disease and injury cases only numbering 63. Many patients from other units were also treated, of which 345 battle casualties, 138 disease-injury cases, and 36 exhaustion cases. May 1944 was the heaviest month in the census of patients received and treated by the 47th, with a grand total of 2,165 admitted. Company A alone treated 256 wounded in a single day!
By the end of May 1944, overall Battalion strength stood at 42 Officers, 3 Warrant Officers, and 465 Enlisted Men (plus 2 Officers and 1 EM attached).

Clearing Station operated by Company A, 47th Armored Medical Battalion in the Apennines, Italy, September 1944.

The month of June 1944 saw the 1st Armored Division in combat, except for a short period (1 – 2 June) when the unit was withdrawn for rest and maintenance. The battle for the Anzio Beachhead breakout was still on with the advance continuing against extreme opposition between the “Factory” and Albano. Company A and one Section from Company B were set up 2½ miles east of the Factory and Company B (less one Section) was established west of the Factory. Company C detached from the Division was still operating with TF Howze ( CO > Colonel Hamilton H. Howze) under direct control of II Corps. Due to the rapid withdrawal of the enemy following the successful breakout, it was difficult to keep the Treatment Stations far enough to the front. On 3 June, Company B moved further north to the vicinity of Campoleone while Company A advanced up to Genzano on 4 June. For the final drive to Rome CCA was expected to move through Albano to Highway 7; CCB would push from nearby Campoleone to reach the city from the south, while Task Force Howze (now under command of the First Special Service Force, CO > Brigadier General Robert T. Frederick) still operating independently of the Division was to come up Highway 6. Rome was reached 4 June 1944. After the breakthrough and the capture of Rome, only rear guard action was encountered which reduced the number of casualties.
On 6 June Company A moved through Rome and established a Treatment Station north of Vatican City. It would progress another 35 miles to set up north of Oriole Ramona. Company B was split into 2 Sections on 7 June; one Section moving 28 miles northwest of Rome near Lake Bracciano at Vigna di Valle, and the other Section continuing north on Route 1 to set up south of Civitavecchia, an important port. The whole Battalion was expected to assemble on the shores of Lake Bracciano (it did on 8 June) and occupy a former Wehrmacht Hospital there (former resort and seaplane base) with modern buildings, near a large lake, and a restful atmosphere. The 1st Armored Division was withdrawn from combat on the night of 9-10 June 1944 with all elements returning to the Lake Bracciano area (including Company C) and went temporarily into Fifth United States Army reserve.
Captain Morris Siegel left for the 7th Station Hospital and was eventually replaced by Captain Silvio A. Mattucci, MC, O-505999 as Section Leader in Company C. Captain Otto H. Salsberry (Company A) was transferred to the 43d General Hospital. Two new Officers were assigned to the Battalion as replacements.

The next attack was planned for 22 June 1944 with the Arno River as its main objective (the forward assembly area was Grosseto). Combat Command A attacked abreast with Combat Command B, with TF Howze in reserve. Company C was to provide support to CCA, Company A would support CCB, and Company B remained in reserve. It was soon evident that progress through the mountains was going to be slow, not only because of the terrain, but mainly because the enemy made full use of demolitions and roadblocks. Casualties were therefore considerably higher than the advance beyond Rome. On 23 June, Company B left bivouac and started moving in order to serve TF Howze during its advance between CCA and CCB. All Companies progressed steadily opening temporary Treatment Stations along the advance which was to last until 10 July 1944 in front of the steepsided ridges and mountains south of the Cecina River. During the month of June, 456 battle casualties passed through the Treatment Stations. Four Enlisted Men received the “Purple Heart”, and 2 EM were reported missing.
A small number of Officers and Enlisted personnel departed from the Battalion, being rotated to Base Hospital installations, while others were transferred to other medical units, such as the 43d General and the 7th Station Hospitals. At the end of June, the 47th (together for the first time since the start of the Anzio Beachhead breakout) consisted of 39 Officers, 2 Warrant Officers, and 454 Enlisted Men (supplemented by 3 Officers and 1 Enlisted Man attached). The new Division assembly area was in the vicinity of Bolgheri, Italy, near the coast.
1 July 1944 found the 1st Armored Division attacking on three main axis; CCB advanced to Voltera from the west, TF Howze attacked Voltera from the east, and CCA attacked in and around Casola d’Elsa. Company A supported CCB, Company B supported TF Howze, and Company C moved in support of CCA. The roads were the poorest the Battalion had marched on since arriving in Italy, and although the distance from the Battalion Aid Stations to the different Treatment Stations was very short, the narrow, dusty, and mountainous roads made evacuation very difficult. In addition the nearest Evacuation Hospital was 38 miles away which necessitated a 12-hour round trip. Many of the casualties received in the different Treatment Stations came from the 88th and 91st Infantry Divisions.
The Division was in combat from 1 July to 8 July 1944, after which period it was relieved by the 88th Infantry Division and withdrawn for a complete re-organization. Mid-July, the Battalion was called upon to operate a 60-bed hospital but since it was impossible to obtain authorization for the necessary medical supplies and hospital equipment this could not be done. Company A did however establish a Division Treatment Station.

Lieutenant Colonel Morris R. Holtzclaw (CO > Battalion) attended a meeting of the Unit Commanders at Division Headquarters on 13 July in order to discuss the forthcoming re-organization in accordance with the new T/O & E. During the following rest at the Bolgheri assembly area, a training schedule was initiated including close order drill, map reading, personal hygiene, and physical conditioning. From 1200 to 1700 hours each day, time was devoted to organized athletics including swimming, softball, and volleyball, with all personnel and staff thoroughly enjoying the recreation.

On 20 July 1944 a drastic re-organization took effect (due since 15 September 1943, but postponed due to the wide distribution of Division elements at that time –ed), with a new T/O & E being adopted for Armored Divisions. In July 1944, with the enemy at the Arno River, the Division needing a rest, and a new CG to relieve Major General Ernest N. Harmon (new CG > Major General Vernon E. Prichard, appointed 17 July 1944 –ed), the time for the big change was at hand. In short the new T/O cut an Armored Division from an assigned strength of 14,620 men to 10,937 – quite an important reduction.
The different Division units were instructed to start re-organizing, with a first contingent of 4 Officers, 1 Warrant Officer, and 43 Enlisted Men relieved from assignment to the 47th Armored Medical Battalion and transferred to the 2d Replacement Deport. The following Officers departed, as being over age, in accordance with the new T/O; they included Captain Wendell A. Kapustiak (Company B), Captain Albert M. Wheeler (Company C), Captain Julius L. Rosenfeld (Company A), Captain Robert B. Armstrong (Headquarters Company), Captain Charles T. Van Vliet, Jr.  (Battalion Adjutant & S-1), Captain Kenneth E. Drown (Battalion Dental Officer), and Warrant Officer, Junior Grade William H. Moore. Three other Officers were transferred out of the Battalion to other Division units. Two new Officers were assigned to the 47th. They were: Captain Ramon F. Wender, DC, O-432715 (on 24 July 1944), and Captain John S. Chorozak, DC, O-509772 (on 30 July 1944).
Two Officers and 11 EM also departed for the Zone of Interior as part of the July rotation quota. By 31 July 1944, the authorized Battalion strength had been reduced to 32 Officers, 2 Warrant Officers, and 377 Enlisted Men, representing a net loss of 7 Officers, 1 Warrant Officer, and 77 Enlisted Men.

Command & Staff – 47th Armored Medical Battalion (1 August 1944)
Lieutenant Colonel Morris R. Hotzclaw, MC, O-348716 (Battalion Commanding Officer)
Major Leon D. Beddow, MC, O-23646 (Battalion Executive Officer)
First Lieutenant Glenn E. Allen, MAC, O-2066127 (Battalion Adjutant, S-1, S-2)
First Lieutenant  John J. Downes, MAC, O-451855 (S-3)
Captain Bertrand N. Beaudet, MAC, O-452329 (Headquarters Company Commanding Officer)
Company A – 47th Armored Medical Battalion
Captain Lawrence H. Feiman, MC, O-369291 (Company Commanding Officer)
Captain Henry K. Montgomery, MC, O-345147 (Treatment Section Leader)
Captain Gustave N. Brumberger, MC, O-425829 (Treatment Section Leader)
Company B – 47th Armored Medical Battalion
Captain Alan L. Smith, MC, O-436376 (Company Commanding Officer)
Captain Merton T. Waite, MC, O-462067 (Treatment Section Leader)
Captain Robert H. Linn, MC, O-463358 (Treatment Section Leader)
Company C – 47th Armored Medical Battalion
Captain Thomas A. Carrigan, MC, O-403263 (Company Commanding Officer)
Captain Silvio A. Mattucci, MC, O-505999 (Treatment Section Leader)
Captain Roger E. Allen, MC, O-463489 (Treatment Section Leader)

Early August 1944 found CCB moving to an assembly area south of Capannoli, Italy, where they were attached to TF Ramey. Company B followed them and set up 1 mile south of the area. Headquarters & Headquarters Company, together with Companies A and C remained at their location 1 mile west of Bolgheri, Italy.
While stationed in a defensive sector on the Arno River around Pontedera in August, the following action took place. When Battalion learned that Pontedera’s main hospital was still occupied, Company B’s Ambulance Section was ordered to evacuate the 300 aged and invalid Italian patients still in the frontline town. For three days and three nights, the ambulance drivers and stretcher bearers worked steadily to remove the civilians. Although the Germans frequently shelled the vehicles as they ferried to and from the town, only one ambulance was hit, but no one was hurt. Some of the patients had to be littered for a distance of over 2 miles and under shell fire. They were later evacuated to Livorno (Leghorn) and Voltera. Companies A and C were to join Company B and the rest of the Battalion at a new site some 2½ miles east of Lari, but the move was delayed because of torrential rains. In general casualties were very light but the Companies were kept very busy evacuating civilians from the forward areas. A moderate number of casualties were treated in August, including 21 battle casualties (received by Company A), 85 battle casualties (received by Company B), and 13 battle casualties (received by Company C). On top of this, 6 British casualties and 10 civilians  (were received by Company A), 25 British casualties, 1 German PW, and 20 civilians (were received by Company B), and 18 British casualties, and 15 civilians (were received by Company C). Furthermore 281 diseased/injured (were received by Company A), 367 diseased/injured (were received by Company B), and 351 diseased/injured patients (were received by Company C) in the course of August 1944. The 47th Armored Medical Battalion ended the period with an overall strength of 33 Officers, 2 Warrant Officers, and 375 Enlisted Men.

The battle along and across the Arno River was still on in September, with the Allies continuing to advance toward Pistoia and Lucca. Company A (supporting CCA) was established 2 miles southeast of Ponsocco; Company B (supporting CCB) was 1 mile northeast of Palaia; and Company C and Headquarters Company (supported Division Reserve and Division Trains) set up 2½ miles east of Lari, all in Italy. Due to continuous rainfall on 8 and 9 September 1944, the Arno River rose to such a point that all pontoon bridges and fords were washed away, rendering evacuation across the river impossible, so all patients had to be held for a period of at least 12 hours.

Whitewashed 1/4-ton trucks and whiteclad men in operation in Italy December 1944-January 1945. Lieutenant Luther L. Converse and Private Arbie Clark originated the idea of whitewashing Division vehicles for effective camouflage during the snow season.

During the Apennines campaign (10 September 1944 > 4 April 1945 –ed), led by IV Corps, the 6th Combat Team of the Brazilian Expeditionary Force was supported by a Collecting Company and a Clearing Company of the 1st Brazilian Medical Battalion; the 370th Regimental Combat Team was medically supported by a Collecting Company and a Clearing Platoon of the 317th Medical Battalion; and Combat Command B was cared for by Company B, 47th Armored Medical Battalion.

Due to Fifth United States Army plans to retain a large part of the Division as a mobile armored TF for use in the Pô Valley, divisional elements were split once more. On 20 September 1944, Company A, 47th Armored Medical Battalion, CCA, transferred control of its sector to the 370th RCT; while on 25 September, Company B, 47th Armored Medical Battalion, CCB, turned over its zone to TF 92 (CO > Brigadier General John E. Wood –ed). After 26 September the Division was relieved from IV Corps control and attached to Fifth US Army. The 1st Armored Division (minus CCB) was located in a new assembly area some 7 miles north of Florence. Notwithstanding the limited number of casualties, the task of evacuation was a hard one due to the mountains, hills, demolished bridges, and swollen streams. In the end the Treatment Stations had to move quite often in order to provide as close support as possible. On 29 September, CCA left for operations with II Corps to which it was now attached. The major stage of breaking through the Gothic Line had now passed on to IV Corps
A number of Officers were relieved from assignment and transferred to other units, with new replacements being received by the Battalion. At the end of September 1944 total strength stood at 33 Officers, 2 Warrant Officers, and 370 Enlisted Men.

Early October 1944 Combat Command B was operating under control of the 6th South African Armoured Division striking north of Pistoia, and continuing its drive toward Bologna, Italy. CCA plus Division Reserve were bivouacked north of Florence, in the vicinity of Prato, Italy. Company B was located in the town of Pistoia; Headquarters & Headquarters Company, together with Company A, and Company C set up near the town of San Donato, Italy. Because of the mountainous terrain it was difficult to find a suitable area large enough to establish a decent Treatment Station in such area. Heavy rains and overflowing streams in the sector occupied by the 47th caused necessary evacuation of patients which fortunately were very light at the time. Another condition affecting operations was the defective state of the tentage which had become very muddy and wet, requiring a search for some building large enough to house the Treatment Station. A suitable location was found south of Valdibura, into which Company B moved to set up a Treatment Station. The place allowed to billet all personnel in a dry and comfortable surrounding. Individual movements took place between 9 and 18 October 1944 over dangerous mountain roads often blanketed with mud and fog. Due to the lack of Medical Officers in the Division caused by casualties and sickness it became necessary to place Medical Officers of the 47th on DS with combat units. This situation created quite a burden upon the Medical Officers pertaining to the Battalion.

During the month of October 1944, following decorations were awarded to staff and personnel of the Battalion.
Captain Ramon P. Wender, DC, O-432715, Company A, 47th Armored Medical Battalion, was awarded the “Bronze Star Medal” for meritorious services in support of combat operations in Italy from 1 January 1944 to 28 July 1944 (ref General Order # 88, Headquarters, 1st Armored Division, dated 20 October 1944). Technician 4th Grade William J. Nelson, 33032259, Company C, 47th Armored Medical Battalion, was awarded the “Soldier’s Medal” for saving a fellow soldier’s life whose clothing had been drenched in gasoline and caught fire, his prompt and heroic action saved this soldier from more serious burns and possible death (ref General Order # 88, Headquarters, 1st Armored Division, dated 20 October 1944). An “Award of Citation” was made to First Lieutenant Grosby W. Alley, Company B, 47th Armored Medical Battalion, and 23 other Enlisted members of this unit, for meritorious service from 12 August 1944 to 21 August 1944 in Italy, when the Company’s Collecting Platoon was called upon to evacuate all the aged, sick, and wounded Italian civilians from the area, disregarding their own safety and welfare, the men accomplished the task evacuating  a total of 233 civilians of which 34 were litter cases. (ref General Order # 89, Headquarters, 1st Armored Division, dated 23 October 1944).

On 29 October Company A was cut off from forward troops by heavy rains which had washed out the Bailey Bridge north of Campiano. However, a foot bridge was constructed with patients now littered across instead of being evacuated by ambulances. Evacuation and communication remained very difficult due to terrain, heavy rainfall, fog, slippery roads, and swollen streams. 186 Division battle casualties  and 847 Division diseases and injuries passed through the various Treatment Stations during the month of October 1944. Some Officers and NCOs departed for the States as part of the September/October rotation. The Battalion lost a number of Officers but also gained a number of replacements. Numerous problems arose during the past three months with regard to communications, procurement and exchange of equipment, and maintenance, requiring some improvisation.  The number of Officers remained unchanged during October. However, the number of Enlisted personnel was reduced from 370 to 359 men.

Italy October 1944. First Sergeant Wilford C. Brinkley, in front of the Headquarters Company CP, near Futa Pass.

By 1 November 1944 the 1st Armored Division was once more widely scattered; CCB was striking north toward Bologna, CCA was advancing north toward the Monterumici hill mass, and Division Trains and Division Reserve were located in areas in the vicinity of Calenzano and Sesto.
The drive to Bologna, Italy, had become bogged down due to the continuous rains, fog, snow, and mountainous terrain. Company A, in support of CCA, was located near Campiano; Company B, in support of CCB, was in Valdibura, and Company C plus Headquarters & Headquarters Company were 1 mile north of Rozzano and in support of Division troops in this area. Movements were still limited due to a stalemate which existed and also because of a lack of suitable bivouac areas. On 11 November the relief of certain units of CCB was effected by units of the Brazilian Expeditionary Force (BEF); those units were immediately placed in a rest area around the town of Sesto. The first melting snow fell on 11 November, furthermore, following sleet and cold rains, it raised the Arno River and its tributaries to flood stage. Tracked “Weasel” vehicles and pack mules (almost 4,000 of them were still in use in Italy –ed) carried supplies over the muddy trails and steep paths to the men fighting in the mountains. One Section, consisting of 4 Officers and 53 Enlisted Men from Company B moved by infiltration to an area in the vicinity of Calenzano on 12 November. The remainder of Company B continued servicing the other units of CCB. Quite a burden was created for this Company when they had to accept casualties from the BEF which had not established a Clearing Station in their sector. In order to shorten the route of evacuation, Company A was eventually moved to Highway 65 to help with evacuation of patients. The building of roads and bridges was a continuous task to assist divisional units in crossing the mountainous terrain. Sesto eventually became a new assembly area where it was possible to house the members of Headquarters & Headquarters Company and Company C. Being now quartered in buildings tended to increase the unit’s efficiency. Company C was later tasked with establishing a VD Clinic for the Division. The period would end with Headquarters & Headquarters Company, Company B, and Company C, all located in the Sesto area; and Company A stationed 6 miles north of Monghidero, Italy. While at the area, an extensive training program was initiated, starting 26 November 1944 in which were incorporated: drill, calisthenics, first echelon maintenance, orientation lectures, and first aid.

Italy October 1944. First Sergeant Wilford C. Brinkley, in front of a 1-ton trailer.

On 16 November 1944 Lieutenant Colonel Morris R. Holtzclaw, MC, O-348716, was relieved of command of the 47th Armored Medical Battalion and appointed Division Surgeon. He was replaced by Lieutenant Colonel James O. Gooch, MC, O-383647.  Other changes involved Company A, where Captain Gustave N. Brumberger was appointed Company Commander, and Captain Robert M. Mein, MAC, O-487171, joined the Company as new Section Leader.

Transfers, replacements, assignments, continued to take place, influencing authorized strength which reached 35 Officers, 2 Warrant Officers, and 362 Enlisted Men (plus 4 Officers and 20 EM attached) by 31 November 1944.

At the beginning of December 1944 Company A was in support of Combat Command A, and Companies B and C were in support of Division Trains and Division Reserve located in the Sesto area. On 3 December Combat Command B moved into the line north of Monzuno. One Section of Company C, commanded by Captain Thomas A. Carrigan, consisting of 4 Officers and 34 Enlisted Men moved into Monzuno to establish a Treatment Station in support of CCB. During this move the unit was subjected to intense enemy shellfire with several ambulances being hit but no personnel casualties. On several occasions the Battalion was alerted to furnish litter bearers. 26 December orders were received from Division Reserve to send out a billeting Officer for the Battalion and to alert all Companies for movement to a new area. At 1500 hours, 27 December 1944, Company A, commanded by Captain Gustave N. Brumberger moved by infiltration near Lucca, Italy, and closed in that area at 2000 hours the same day.  At 0800 hours, 28 December, one Section from Company B, under the command of Captain Alan L. Smith, moved by convoy to a new site in the vicinity of Le Querce, Italy. Meanwhile the Section from Company C which supported CCB in the Monzuno area, moved back to Sesto where it joined the rest of the Company, in preparation for movement to a new location. At 0800 hours, 29 December, the remainder of Company C moved by infiltration and joined the Company in the vicinity of Le Querce too. On 29 December, Company C, commanded by Captain Thomas A. Carrigan, moved by infiltration from the Sesto area in the vicinity of Lucca. Companies A and C were now set up in adjoining areas, with Company B joining them at 1300 hours, 30 December 1944. The last group comprising Headquarters & Headquarters Company reached the new area in the vicinity of Lucca, Italy, at 0800 hours, 31 December. All these units were now held in reserve. During the month of December a total of 1,026 patients were treated by the different Battalion Companies. Training during early winter was mainly devoted to physical conditioning and maintenance. Units were rotated from the front to the Sesto area and given a period to clean equipment and vehicles. One hour daily was reserved for drill and calisthenics. Some orientation lectures were also incorporated in the training period.

Captain Alan L. Smith, MC, O-436376, Company B, 47th Armored Medical Battalion, was awarded the “Bronze Star Medal” for meritorious service in combat from 1 August 1944 to 15 November 1944 in Italy.
Captain Gustave N. Brumberger, Company A, Commanding Officerwas relieved from duty and transferred to Detachment of Patients, Fifth United States Army, 29 December 1944. He was eventually replaced by Captain John C. Straub, MC, O-380298 who joined the Battalion from the 103d Station Hospital following orders dated 8 December 1944. An important change took place whereby Companies A and C were restricted to a single Section. Captain William D. Varner, MC, O-422447, joined Company A as Section Leader following orders dated 23 December 1944. Captain Bernard S. Goffen, MC, O-539071, joined  Company B as Section Leader
By end December, Battalion strength was down to 30 Officers, 2 Warrant Officers, and 357 Enlisted Men (some Officers were on rotation to the US and others had meanwhile been transferred to other units, and only partly replaced –ed).

Bailey Bridge built over the Reno River, in the Riola area, Italy (a repeated target for enemy bombers and artillery). The bridge was built in November 1944 to supplement Highway No. 64 and was strengthened by using ties and rails recovered from an adjacent railroad line.

During the entire month of January 1945 the 1st Armored Division was held in reserve in the Lucca area in view of the ever present threat of a German breakthrough in the Serchio Valley (the only units committed were the 13th Tank Battalion and the 68th Armored Field Artillery Battalion, both supported by Corps medical units, who remained attached to the Brazilian Expeditionary Force on Highway 64).  No battle casualties were admitted to the Treatment Stations during the first month of the year. Being held in reserve an extensive training program was carried out by the Battalion Companies with particular emphasis placed on the following subjects:


  • All vehicles were given a 6,000-mile check
  • Daily parks formations were held as well as inspections by Division Inspection Teams
  • All generators were either reconditioned or replaced
  • Particular stress was placed on first echelon maintenance

Communication classes for all radio personnel were held on Tuesdays and Fridays each week from 0830 hours to 1130 hours in which the following subjects were incorporated:

  • Calling and answering procedures
  • Operation of telephone switchboard
  • Use of prescribed telephone code names
  • Security in radio telephone communication
  • Care and cleaning of all radio equipment

Training Program & Training Films

  • News centers and bulletin boards were established in each Company
  • One hour per week was devoted to current war events
  • The following Training Films: “Divide and Conquer” – “Battle of Britain” – “Battle of China” – “Prelude to War” – “Map Reading” – “AWOL and Desertion” – “SNAFU” – “Military Courtesy” – “By Your Command” – “Don’t Talk” – “First Echelon Maintenance” – “Personal Health in Snow and Extreme Cold” – “Loading, Trouble Shooting, Reporting and Vehicle Abuse” – “Invasion of Crete by the German Army” – “Liberation of Rome” – “Liberation of the Netherlands” were shown

Ceremonies & Inspections

  • Retreat formation was held once a week by each Company
  • A showdown inspection was conducted in all Companies during the period 9-13 January 1945; all shortages were requisitioned and all surplus turned in to the Battalion S-4
  • A formal inspection of all personnel in Company formation was held each week by the respective Company Commanders

Military Courtesy

  • Special emphasis was placed on the manner of saluting and the proper wearing of the uniform
  • Training film entitled “Military Courtesy” was shown to all members of the Battalion

Drill, Calisthenics, and Physical Conditioning

  • Thirty (30) minutes each day was devoted to close order drill and calisthenics
  • Road marches, organized athletics and work details were held daily and a high peak of physical conditioning was reached and kept
  • Lectures on personal hygiene and physical inspections were held on a regular basis

Medical & Surgical Training

  • All medical and surgical equipment was cleaned and inspected and all defective equipment replaced
  • Litter drill was held in each Company two (2) hours each week
  • Instructions were given in the application of Thomas Leg Splints, administration of morphine and drugs, and advanced first aid
  • Classes were held covering sterilization technique and splint application

A small number of Officers were transferred and others assigned to the Battalion. Based on instructions dated 5 January 1945, eleven Enlisted Men were relieved from assignment and transferred on rotation to the 7th Replacement Depot for transshipment to the Zone of Interior. At the close of January, the 47th Armored Medical Battalion only numbered 26 Officers, 2 Warrant Officers, and 364 Enlisted Men (with 3 Officers and 20 EM attached).

The Division (minus the 2 units still committed in combat) remained in a reserve position until 16 February 1945, when things started to move again. Company A, B, and C moved to new areas in the vicinity of Prato to furnish medical support to the Division in its new area. The total distance traveled from Lucca to near Prato was 54 miles. On it went one Section of Company C moving to Castiglione on 21 February, followed by the other Section to Lagaro on 28 February, sustaining no casualties but suffering some damage caused by enemy shell fragments to an ambulance and a 2½-ton cargo truck. At the closing of February, the 1st Armored Division, with the 135th RCT and the 178th Medical Regiment, attached, assumed command of the 6th South African Armoured Division sector and completed the relief without incident. The unit, thus reinforced, patrolled aggressively and protected the left flank of II Corps.

During the winter stalemate, preparations were made for the “last” Allied offensive. Mixed German and Italian units attacked in different sectors trying to delay any Allied advance but never really got near to Leghorn. Nevertheless, they succeeded in spoiling Fifth US Army’s intended resumption of the offensive toward Bologna, Italy. Both the Allies and the enemy were suffering from an ammunition shortage which kept them from resuming any large offensive operations. Moreover, both sides re-organized and transferred large units to other Theaters, though the overall scheme was to hold all possible German forces on the Italian front. Fortunately the Allies were happily strengthened by arrival of the 10th Mountain Division from the Zone of Interior, and by the return of the 442d Regimental Combat Team (Nisei troops) from southern France. A 473d Regimental Combat Team was organized from surplus Antiaircraft Artillery units. The Badoglio Government (now a co-belligerent force –ed) put 4 British-equipped Italian combat units of about 9,000 men each into Allied service. In March 1945, 6 Battalions of US Field Artillery also arrived in Italy, and together with an overwhelming air superiority, it was now felt that the time was ripe for a resumption of the offensive at the end of March 1945.

The rest period enjoyed by the Battalion (and the Division) enabled the Staff to prepare a number of awards which were officially presented to some members of the Battalion Command and the Enlisted personnel, as illustrated below:

Map detailing operations in the Pô Valley which started 21 April 1944. 1st Armored Division elements drove across the Pô Valley between 21 and 26 April 1945, engaging the enemy which was finally defeated by this last major Allied offensive in Italy. The Campaign officially ended 8 May 1945, although the German Forces in Italy already surrendered 2 May 1945.

Under the provisions of Section I, Paragraph VI, War Department Order # 345, dated 23 August 1944, the 47th Armored Medical Battalion, 1st Armored Division, United States Army, was awarded the “Meritorious Service Unit Plaque” for superior performance of duty in the accomplishment of exceptionally difficult tasks in Italy during the period 1 March 1944 to 31 May 1944.
Under the provisions of Section I, General Order # 12, Headquarters, 1st Armored Division, dated 1945, Lieutenant Colonel Morris R. Holtzclaw, MC, O-348716, formerly Battalion Commander, 47th Armored Medical Battalion, was awarded the “Bronze Star Medal” for meritorious service in combat during the period 22 June 1944 to 12 July 1944, in Italy.
Under the provisions of Section I, General Order # 9, Headquarters, 1st Armored Division, dated 1945, Master Sergeant John C. Cogley, 35153040, was awarded the “Bronze Star Medal” for meritorious service in combat during the period 1 November 1943 to 20 January 1945, in Italy.

Battalion strength: the month of February 1945 started with 27 Officers, 2 Warrant Officers, and 347 Enlisted Men, and ended with 26 Officers, 2 Warrant Officers, and 372 Enlisted Men (plus 4 Officers and 12 EM attached).

Following February 1945 the positions of the Companies were as follows: Headquarters & Headquarters Company were at La Pista, Company A was located ½ mile of Le Querce, Company B was also located ½ mile southwest of Le Querce, while Company C was stationed at Castiglione, with one Section set up at Lagaro, Italy. During the entire month Company C furnished the necessary support to all units of the Division in the forward area and Company A was supplied with laboratory equipment for diagnosing and treating, with penicillin therapy, all cases of gonorrhea from the Division (91 cases were treated). A total of 1,088 patients of all types passed through the different Treatment Stations of the Battalion.
The 47th received several new ¾-ton ambulances which was to save considerable maintenance trouble in the future leaving the Battalion with only a few “battle weary” vehicles on hand, which were also to be replaced shortly. Due to the static condition of the frontlines, wire communication was established between all points required, with radio nets opened mainly for listening watch. Three men were sent away to attend MTOUSA Radio School. Training continued for all units (less Company C) in an effort to correct all defects known to exist in technical subjects, maintenance problems, and administrative procedures and re-assignment of personnel in the 3 Companies to positions where their skills were most needed.

By authority, Section II, General Order # 25, Headquarters, Fifth United States Army, dated 14 March 1945, the 47th Armored Medical Battalion was re-organized effective 19 March 1945 under a new T/O & E 8-78, dated 21 November 1944.

As per General Order # 1, Headquarters, 47th Armored Medical Battalion, dated 23 March 1945, the presentation of 112 “Motor Vehicle Driver” and “Mechanic” awards took place, followed by the formal award and presentation of 342 “Good Conduct Medals” as per General Order # 2, Headquarters, 47th Armored Medical Battalion, dated 26 March 1945. As per Section II, General Order # 20, Headquarters, 1st Armored Division, dated 14 March 1945, Major Leon D. Beddow, MC, O-23646, Battalion Commanding Officer,  was awarded the “Bronze Star Medal” for meritorious service in support of combat operations during the period 22 June 1944 to 18 July 1944, in Italy. An “Award of Citation” was given to Captain Thomas A. Carrigan, MC, O-403263, Company C Commander, for outstanding service in combat during the period 3 December 1944 to 28 December 1944, in Italy (ref Section III, General Order # 19, Headquarters, 1st Armored Division, dated 9 March 1945). The “Soldier’s Medal” was awarded to Private Elmer C. Bradley, 38027834, 47th Armored Medical Battalion, for heroism not involving actual conflict with the enemy on 26 January 1945 in the vicinity of Lucca, Italy, for saving a fellow soldier from more serious injury and possible death, by dashing into the flames covering the operator of an exploding stove, bringing him outside the ring of fire and wrapping him in a blanket thus extinguishing his burning clothes (ref Section IV, General Order # 23, Headquarters, 1st Armored Division, dated 23 March 1945).

An important change of command was effected when Lieutenant James O. Gooch, MC, O-383647, was relieved from assignment and re-assigned to Headquarters, 1st Armored Division, following Paragraph 2, Special Order # 59, Headquarters, 1st Armored Division, dated 2 March 1945. He was replaced by Major Leon D. Beddow as Commanding Officer of the Battalion (who had recently been awarded a Bronze Star Medal for meritorious service in Italy). During March, Company B was also limited to a single Section (as Companies A and C –ed).

The Battalion ended the month of March 1945 with an effective strength of 29 Officers, 2 Warrant officers, and 378 Enlisted Men (plus 5 Officers and 13 EM attached).

North Africa May 1942. Buck Sergeant Wilford C. Brinkley, Headquarters Company, repairs a portable typewriter. Note the pup tent covering his foxhole and the liner worn by the soldier.

As the Allied Offensive resumed in April, the 1st Armored Division made many heavy attacks and important advances reaching all the way from the area south of Bologna to the Swiss border. The effort was split among the 7 different US Divisions comprising the 1st Armored Division – 10th Mountain Division – 34th Infantry Division – 85th Infantry Division – 88th Infantry Division – 91st Infantry Division – and 92d Infantry Division. Strung from west to east  IV Corps was located between Bagni di Lucca and Highway 64, and II Corps, established from Highway 64 to Idice.
On 4 April 1945, the Battalion received 4 new ¾-ton weapon carriers, and all Companies successfully moved to the rear for a short period of rest in preparation for the forthcoming Allied attack. Company A was now to operate the VD Clinic and furnish medical support for all units still in the vicinity of Prato, where the Tank Battalions, Ordnance and Maintenance personnel, the Medical Battalion, and Division Rear Echelon were stationed. A general briefing for all Battalion Officers was held on 8 April, and between 9 and 10 April, each Company was instructed to make a complete check of the equipment on hand and turned in all excess items that were originally necessary for operations in cold weather but not needed since the days were growing warmer (this was to save loading space). Company B then moved from Lucca to a new bivouac area near Riola by infiltration and at a rate of 4 vehicles per hour beginning at 800 hours, 11 April 1945. Headquarters & Headquarters Company, Company A, and Company C also left their bivouac by motor convoy and after closing in at 1400 hours 12 April, they received warning that D-Day was to be 13 April 1945 (postponed to 14 April because of bad weather –ed). The Companies received orders to follow up and leapfrog and avoid making any fast moves. The plans however remained very fluid depending altogether upon the success and speed with which the Combat Commands moved out after the initial attack. Company A would support CCB, Company B would service CCA, and Company C would be held in reserve. Between 18 and 20 April all Companies were re-assembled northeast of Tole.
Beginning around mid-April 1945, unit movements became increasingly frequent. Clearing Stations moved daily, Collecting Stations sometimes changed locations twice a day, and some medical units were so close behind the retreating enemy by 20 April that they passed through still burning villages running the gantlet of artillery and sniper fire. As the rout developed medical units were sometimes ahead of the enemy, with armed Germans surrendering with increased frequency to unarmed American medics. It went so far that by 25 April 1945, German ambulances and trucks were bringing in their wounded to US medical installations! A new bivouac was established 2 miles southeast of Castelfranco, Italy. At about 0900 hours, 21 April 1945, infantry rode into Bologna on tanks pertaining to the 752d Tank Battalion. On 23 April Headquarters & Headquarters Company arrived near Modena. Following reports from Italian Partisans, all Companies were instructed to remain cautious and move forward to obtain protection from the advancing Division troops. Only Company C which was about to leave Castelfranco stopped all movements when an ambulance load of casualties came in. Before all the patients were treated, more ambulances arrived bringing American and German casualties and wounded Partisans. When the Company was finally ready to move, approximately 40 patients had been treated at the roadside including an Italian boy who had lost a leg two weeks before during an air raid.
The unit moved at 1300 hours arriving at a roundabout 1 mile east of Campagaliano, having covered a distance of 36 miles. Partisans informed Company C that enemy infantry was advancing into the area from the southwest, and as a result the men packed immediately and moved further to bivouac on the outskirts of Coreggio. Combat Command A meanwhile began preparing to cross the Pô River, while CCB  drove parallel to Highway 9 and south of it to reach the eastern bank of the Secchia River, finally cutting the Highway between Castelfranco and Modena. IV Corps used the 1st Armored Division to cover the western flank of the advance across the floor of the Pô Valley in order to cross the river, which took place on 22-23 April (the Division completed its crossing on 26 April 1945 –ed).

On 25 April 1945 a special Section of Company C, consisting of 3 Officers and 25 Enlisted Men was selected to support a “flying column” under Colonel Hamilton H. Howze which was to advance to Piacenza. This Section under command of Captain Thomas A. Carrigan left at 0830 the same day. The rest of Company C was to stay in the rest area until the action was either completed or stopped, but when the column ran into difficulty at the starting line, it was necessary to bring them in to relieve the strain caused by the enemy. The multiple advances and stops extended the mileage to such an extent that an average of 534 miles per Company was reported for April alone.
In nearly all bivouacs, except for Company C which was operating with TF Howze, all installations were in canvas tents. It was indeed much easier to put up a tent than to find a suitable house or building with a good location, enough space for tent pitching, and space to park the vehicles. The houses available were mostly former German or Italian barracks and were too filthy to bother cleaning for a bivouac that would last one day. In the case of a “flying column” such as TF Howze, it was much easier to set up in a house because of the added protection from small arms fire. The Division passed through from the Bologna area to the border with Switzerland in only 10 days. Of course, it was necessary to bypass nearly all the large groups of PWs along the way in order to secure the objectives. This inevitably caused ambulances to continually pass through sectors still under enemy control. Fortunately no Battalion personnel or vehicles were captured during the period.
Combat Command A bypassed Mantua encountering its first enemy resistance at Casteldolo, then approaching Brescia, and advancing toward Bergamo, Ghedi airfield, Como, and Lake Como northward as far as the Swiss border. Combat Command B turned west after leaving Castiglione, passed through Ghedi, stopping near Verdello, south of Bergamo. Along the different routes Division armored elements gathered hundreds of willing prisoners. In total over 7,000 German and Italian PWs a day were turned into the Division cages between 29-30 April. Sometimes a handful of Americans received the formal surrender of hundreds of Germans, and sometimes these surrenders involved the liberation of GIs previously captured by the enemy. Some tales described enemy columns waiting patiently for someone to capture them. A special group containing units from each of the countries represented in IV Corps was sent to Milano on 30 April to check whether the city had indeed been liberated by the Partisans on 28 April 1945 (another reason was to verify the islands of the enemy in and out of Milano awaiting American capture –ed). Lieutenant Colonel Edwin A. Russsell, Jr. (Division G-3) succeeded in arranging a formal surrender of Germans holed up in 16 different places of Milano.

Group of Company B personnel pause for the photographer. Picture taken during a lull in the fighting during the Pô Valley Campaign, some time in April 1945.

The Germans had been trying to negotiate an honorable surrender on satisfactory terms since early February 1945, but progress was slow. After some interruptions the long drawn out negotiations ended at Caserta, Italy on 29 April with the signing of formal surrender documents by German representatives, implying hostilities to cease on 2 May 1945 (Italy had already signed the Instrument of Armistice & Surrender of Italian Forces 8 September 1943 –ed).

Captain Alphonse F. Tipshus, MC, O-542106, joined Company A as Section Leader, followed by Captain Robert H. Linn, MC, O-463358, who took over as Section Leader in Company B as per orders dated 7 April 1945.
Battalion strength at 30 April 1945 stood at 27 Officers, 2 Warrant Officers, and 379 Enlisted Men (plus 4 Officers and 18 EM attached). 1st Armored Division sources indicate 28 Officers, 2 Warrant Officers, and 363 Enlisted Men.

Following the unconditional surrender of the German Armed Forces in Italy, there was not really anything in the way of operations to report. The Division was busy collecting prisoners from various localities, which was carried out without difficulties.

The position of the different Companies at the beginning of May 1945 were as follows: Headquarters & Headquarters Company, stationed near Brivio, Company A, near Dalmino, Company B near Como, and Company C near Brivio. The first to move was Company A which sent a detachment to Milano, Italy to set up a Treatment Station. The group left at 1445 hours, 1 May 1945, and arrived at their destination at 1650 hours, the same day having traveled a distance of 31 miles. The remainder of Company A reached Milano at 0630 hours the next day. Headquarters & Headquarters Company left Brivio at 1400 hours, 2 May, and moved to Vercelli, but as some British troops had already occupied the empty buildings, another move was necessary. A group of former German barracks were located 1 mile east of Vercelli and the Company moved into these at 2110 hours the same day. Company A left Milano 2 May 1945, and advanced to Novara where it established a VD Clinic and Treatment Station. Company B having left Como in the afternoon of 2 May reached Vercelli at 2030 hours, preceded by Company C which had traveled from Brivio and already arrived at 1945 hours.
While Headquarters & Headquarters Company and Companies B and C were set up together 1 mile east of Vercelli, Company B left the same area on 12 May 1945 to travel to Salussola, Italy. This move was made to provide medical support to Division troops who were evacuating PWs from the Lago Viverone area. Company C left its bivouac and moved to Alassio on 18 May to furnish medical support to a Fifth US Army Rest Camp in that area. A small Detachment from Company B moved to Aosta in support of CCA stationed in that area. Headquarters & Headquarters Company traveled to a new site near San Secondo on 29 May which it reached at 1415 hours.
During the month the Battalion set up 19 different Pro-Stations in various cities and towns in the general area controlled by the Division (7,310 prophylactic treatments were given in May alone –ed). The shortage of personnel available to the Companies for regular duties was seriously affected by the decision to distribute men over such a large area. During May, part of the Battalion Command was housed with Italian Partisans in former German garrisons.

Five (5) Officers and 54 Enlisted Men were returned to the United States on rotation during the same period. May had started with 27 Officers, 2 Warrant Officers and 379 EM, but was now down to only 22 Officers, 2 Warrant Officers, and 335 Enlisted Men.

The End:

The end of the fighting in Italy came earlier than expected. The enemy laid down arms and surrendered unconditionally on 2 May 1945. The events were greeted with jubilation and with a sense of relief and good fortune, but the men were bone weary. They were now thinking about getting home! On 8 May 1945, when the world radios brought word of the final German surrender (V-E Day), some units in Italy were already engaged in rest, maintenance, redeployment, and they merely continued what they were doing with less concern as the general feeling was one of gladness “there would be no more fighting here …”

The end of the war in Italy was followed by a swift transformation of personnel by the process of Replacement and Redeployment which completely altered the unit’s wartime appearance. High-pointers disappeared, newcomers joined, and some men were assigned based chiefly on administrative and demobilization considerations. Readjustment and Redeployment were important as well as the application of the Point System which was supposed to determine a man’s way of returning home for discharge. The earliest departures went to a Replacement Depot near Pisa for shipment by air via Port Lyautey, Dakar, and Puerto Rico, back to the ZI.
June 1945 became a period of attrition. It saw the almost complete dissolution of the Division and many of its units in the wake of its last and victorious engagements with the Germans on the plains of northern Italy. Virtually all of the eldest troops, some Veterans of five or more campaigns were nominated for return to the Zone of Interior. This left the 47th Armored Medical Battalion with a bare ¼ of its normal strength to undertake its final mission as part of the Occupation Forces in Germany. Early June total Battalion strength was only 24 Officers and 335 Enlisted Men. It would dwindle by 30 June 1945 to a mere 16 Officers and 80 Enlisted Men!

Portrait of Private Francis E. Clark, during training at Cp. Grant, Illinois (Company B, 32d Medical Training Battalion, January 1942).

Command & Staff – 47th Armored Medical Battalion (31 May 1945)
Major Leon D. Beddow, MC, O-23646 (Battalion Commanding Officer)
Captain Lawrence H. Feiman, MC, O-399710 (Battalion Executive Officer)
Warrant Officer, Junior Grade Charles R. Black, USA, W-2109232 (Battalion Adjutant, S-1)
Captain John J. Downes, MAC, O-451855 (S-2,  S-3, Headquarters Company Commanding Officer)
Chief Warrant Officer Robert E. Beardsley, USA, W-2110151 (S-4)
Company A – 47th Armored Medical Battalion
Captain Robert M. Mein, MC, O-487171 (Company Commander)
Captain Alphonse F. Tipshus, MC, O-542106 (Section Leader)
Company B – 47th Armored Medical Battalion
Captain John C. Straub, MC, O-380296 (Company Commander)
Captain Bernard S. Goffen, MC, O-439071 (Section Leader)
Company C – 47th Armored Medical Battalion
Captain Thomas A. Carrigan, MC, O-403263 (Company Commander)
Captain James V. Lorenzo, MC, O-406268 (Section Leader)


On 25 June 1945 the first Division elements successfully moved to Germany as part of the American Occupation Forces. The Battalion was split into two convoys; one consisting of Headquarters & Headquarters Company and Company C, the other comprising Companies A and B. The convoys reached Germany 28 June 1945 after four bivouacs finally stopping 9 miles north of Landsberg. The 47th Armored Medical Battalion came under USFET control on 25 July 1945.
Major General Roderick R. Allen succeeded Major General Vernon E Prichard in September 1945, who was himself superseded by Major General Hobart R. Gay, Jr. in February 1946. It was the latter who would bring the Division home as its last overseas Commander.

Photograph of Captain Thomas A. Carrigan, MC, O-403263, who served as the Commanding Officer of Company C, 47th Armored Medical Battalion.


The 1st Armored Division returned to the Zone of Interior, arriving at the New York Port of Embarkation on 24 April 1946. It was officially inactivated at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, 26 April 1946. Almost simultaneously, some principal units were re-organized and re-designated as elements of the United States Constabulary in Germany, with some elements being kept operational until 7 March 1951 (after which all units were re-assigned to “Old Ironsides”), following the Division’s re-activation at Fort Hood, Texas.

Additional Notes:

The Division, including its organic elements received the following awards for their significant war service record:

Official Campaign Awards – 47th Armored Medical Battalion
Algeria-French Morocco
North Apennines
Pô Valley

Meritorious Service Unit Plaque – 47th Armored Medical Battalion
(GO # 8, 1st Armored Division, dated 3 February 1945)

Members of the 47th Armored Medical Battalion rejoice at hearing the news of the unconditional surrender of German Forces in Italy, 2 May 1945.

At the end of the war, the unit’s personnel obtained 93 Medical Badges. A total of 5,836 Purple Hearts were earned by Division personnel.

The unit’s last Commanding Officer was Lieutenant Colonel Leon D. Beddow, MC, O-23646. Effective strength of the 47th Armored Medical Battalion, at 31 May 1945 was: 22 Officers – 2 Warrant Officers – 335 Enlisted Men.

The organization of the Armored Medical Battalion as per T/O & E 8-75, dated 1 March 1942 provided for an aggregate number of 43 Officers – 3 Warrant Officers – and 456 Enlisted Men.
Authorized strength as per T/O & E 8-75, dated 15 September 1943 indicated 33 Officers – 2 Warrant Officers – 382 Enlisted Men.
The amended T/O & E 8-75, dated 12 February 1944 (and corrected up to 10 July 1944) authorized an aggregate strength of 31 Officers – and 233 Enlisted personnel. According to data of 10 July 1944, the Armored Medical Battalion included the following type and number of vehicles: 10 ¼-ton trucks (aka jeeps) – 45 ¾-ton weapon carriers – and 23 2½-ton cargo trucks

The authors are still looking for additional data relating to the Battalion’s World War 2 service years, as well as a list of all personnel. The majority of the pictures used with the texts are courtesy of Francis Clark, son of Cpl Francis E. Clark, (ASN:16052306), who served with Company B, 47th Armored Medical Battalion, in North Africa and Italy. We also very much appreciated the extra data and illustrations provided by John Brinkley, son of First Sergeant Wilford C. Brinkley (ASN: 38041064) who was awarded the Legion of Merit for co-designing the Surgical Truck which became standard equipment of the 47th Armored Medical Battalion. We are still looking for a complete personnel roster, if available. Thank you.

This page was printed from the WW2 US Medical Research Centre on 20th May 2024 at 22:30.
Read more: https://www.med-dept.com/unit-histories/47th-armored-medical-battalion/