5th General HospitalUnit History

August 1944. Partial view of the main setup of the 5th General Hospital in the vicinity of Carentan, east of the city, at Saint-Hilaire-Petitville.

Introduction & Activation:

The 5th General Hospital was officially activated on 3 January 1942 at Fort Bragg, Fayetteville, North Carolina (Field Artillery Replacement Training Center –ed) by Letter Order (file 320.2) Headquarters, Fort Bragg, N.C., dated 3 January 1942, and pursuant to telephone instructions from the Office of the Surgeon General, Washington D.C., Lt. Colonel Maxwell G. KEELER, O-6620, MC, assumed command.
Further W.D. instructions authorized a 500-bed basis as the Hospital’s capacity, and transferred 228 Enlisted Men from the 66th General Hospital, a training unit stationed at Ft. Bragg (activated 10 Feb 41 –ed). These men had already received six months training as Medical Department personnel. Captain Richard H. B. Dear, O-22279, MC, 1st Lieutenant David M. Cogdell, O-369160, MC, and 2d Lieutenant Herschel A. Saxon, O-301181, MAC, were also transferred from the 66th Gen Hosp to the new unit.

The next few days were hectic ones, the entire organization being on a 24-hour duty status. T/BA equipment, clothing, and supplies were drawn, physical examinations conducted, and the required inoculations and vaccinations started, supplies crated and loaded for shipment. The Hospital unit entrained at Ft. Bragg, N.C., on 9 January 1942 arriving at Fort Dix, Wrightstown, New Jersey (Training and Pre-Staging Center –ed) on the morning of 10 January. The temperature was below zero, the ground covered with snow, and the quarters assigned were without heat due to frozen water pipes.

The Officer and Nurse personnel were supplied by the Harvard University Unit (Boston, Massachusetts, with which the 5th Gen Hosp was affiliated –ed). 44 Nurses and 46 Medical Officers reported for duty on the afternoon of 10 January 1942 and were temporarily quartered at the Station Hospital, Ft. Dix. During the next few days, additional Officers and Nurses reported for duty from the Harvard University Unit, with more obtained from other units. Captain Mark A. Freedman, O-369426, MC, and Captain Parvy Hill, Jr., O-320043, DC, were sent from Ft. Bragg and Captain Walter J. Wenzel, O-278743, QMC, came from Ft. Dix, New Jersey.

Training:

Early August 1944. Men from the 374th Engineer General Service Regiment showing some of the ‘explosive material’ recovered on site. The Regiment, consisting of colored personnel, was actively involved in the preparation of the grounds and site of the 5th General Hospital. The unit was activated 2 August 1943 at Ft. Hood, Texas, arrived in England 28 January 1944, and landed in France 11 July 1944.

During the first days at Fort Dix, New Jersey, it seemed highly probable that the organization would leave for overseas duty immediately, and the issue of equipment to individual Officers and Nurses, obtaining ID Cards, Dog Tags, inoculations, etc. was expedited to the greatest extent possible. Immediate embarkation did however not take place and an intensive Training Program for all personnel, consisting of drill, lectures, and training films was instead inaugurated. Cordial relations were established with the Ft. Dix Reception Center, and approximately 100 particularly desirable Enlisted Men were obtained from that source.

Roster:

On 5 February 1942, the final personnel from the Harvard University Unit reported for duty. The Roster of Officers and Nurses was then as follows:

Officers
Lt. Colonel Maxwell G. KEELER, O-6620, MC, Fort Bragg, North Carolina (3 Jan 42 until 10 May 44)
Lt. Colonel Thomas H. LANMAN, O-181142, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
Lt. Colonel Theodore L. BADGER, O-403154, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
Major Edwin F. CAVE, O-400191, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
Major Harold F. CORSON, O-434712, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
Major John E. DUNPHY, O-400232, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
Major Eugene C. EPPINGER, O-400233, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
Major Carlyle G. GLAKE, O-400257, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
Major John B. HAZARD, O-273882, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
Major Stanley KIMBALL, O-400239, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
Major Harold D. LEVINE, O-434711, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
Major Charles D. MAY, O-434471, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
Major Henry N. PRATT, O-402668, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
Major Magnus I. SMEDAL, O-434714, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
Major Moses S. STROCK, O-423087, DC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
Major Augustus THORNDIKE Jr., O-226573, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
Major George F. WILKINS, O-434743, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
Major Robert M. ZOLLINGER, O-400254, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
Captain Arthur D. BALDWIN, O-403469, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
Captain Thomas W. BOTSFORD, O-400332, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
Captain Joseph H. BRAGDON, O-434472, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
Captain Henry J. CARNEY, O-245768, DC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
Captain Thomas J. CAVANAUGH, O-402673, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
Captain Richard H. B. DEAR, O-22279, MC, Fort Bragg, North Carolina
Captain Richard V. EBERT, O-411288, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
Captain Charles P. EMERSON Jr., O-400240, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
Captain Mark A. FREEDMAN, O-369426, MC, Fort Bragg, North Carolina
Captain Joseph R. FROTHINGHAM, O-434755, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
Captain Jeremiah E. GREENE, O-402676, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
Captain Donald P. HAM, O-410362, MC, Harvard university Unit, Massachusetts
Captain John H. HARRISON, O-400252, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
Captain Parvy HILL Jr., O-320043, DC, Fort Bragg, North Carolina
Captain Stanley O. HOERR, O-403470, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
Captain Lee. G. KENDALL, O-2733829, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
Captain Paul KUNKEL, O-314201, MC, Harvard university Unit, Massachusetts
Captain Jack D. MYERS, O-410355, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
Captain John L. NEWELL, O-273837, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
Captain Carey M. PETERS, O-400299, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
Captain Thomas B. QUIGLEY, O-400177, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
Captain Gordon A. SAUNDERS, O-333277, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
Captain Charles P. SHELDON, O-400176, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
Captain Fiorindo A. SIMEONE, O-400993, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
Captain Harry STONE, O-319623, DC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
Captain George A. SULLIVAN, O-402108, DC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
Captain Roy L. SWANK, O-435113, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
Captain Dean W. TANNER, O-402670, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
Captain Richard WARREN, O-385503, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
Captain Walter J. WENZEL, O-278743, QMC, Fort Dix, New Jersey
1st Lieutenant Samuel P. ASPER Jr., O-434713, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
1st Lieutenant Henry H. BREWSTER, O-403471, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
1st Lieutenant Joseph H. BURCHENAL, O-357088, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
1st Lieutenant David M. GOGDELL, O-369160, MC, Fort Bragg, North Carolina
1st Lieutenant Chilton CRANE, O-416842, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
1st Lieutenant Charles L. DIMMLER Jr., O-402672, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
1st Lieutenant Maurice DINNERMAN, O-427962, DC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
1st Lieutenant Richard FORD, O-408548, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
1st Lieutenant Sibley W. HOOBLER, O-410717, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
1st Lieutenant John J. KNEISEL, O-369272, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
1st Lieutenant Edward J. KONISKY, O-426129, ChC, Fort Dix, New Jersey
1st Lieutenant Ralph C. MOORE, O-419552, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
1st Lieutenant Gerald L. O’NEILL, O-369967, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
1st Lieutenant Maxwell L. PERMAN, O-434710, DC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
1st Lieutenant Frederick P. ROSS, O-426122, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
1st Lieutenant Willis R. ROWE, O-424011, ChC, Fort Dix, New Jersey
1st Lieutenant Robert G. SNOW, O-400277, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
1st Lieutenant Robert R. WHITE, O-402635, MC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Herschel A. SAXON, O-301181, MAC, Fort Bragg, North Carolina

July 1944. Temporary Field Depot with supplies and equipment for the installation of both the 5th and 50th General Hospitals in the vicinity of Carentan (the 5th Gen Hosp, affiliated to Harvard University, Boston, Mass., was activated 3 Jan 42, and embarked for Northern Ireland on 12 May 1942 – the 50th Gen Hosp, affiliated to Seattle College, Seattle, Wash., was activated 4 Sep 42, and embarked for England 29 Dec 43).

Nurses
1st Lieutenant Bernice J. SINCLAIR, N-720948, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Anne ARCHAMBAULT, N-722176, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Martha O. SAYLES, N-720983, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Helen L. AIKINS, N-720949, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Bridget, N. EGAN, N-720965, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Dorothy HANCOCK, N-720967, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Katherine C. HOUGH, N-720969, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Doris L. McKEE, N-720972, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Rosamond H. NOYES, N-720974, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Esther L. POWERS, N-720976, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Gladys ROBINSON, N-720979, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Helen G. ROCQUE, N-720981, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Doris E. SHAFFER, N-720984, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Gladys C. SMOLA, N-720985, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Mary E. THOMPSON, N-720986, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Madeline M. TROW, N-720989, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Ruth A. YOUNG, N-720990, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Agnes BROADLAND, N-741319, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Mary E. DOWNEY, N-741320, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Mary S. DUCKWORTH, N-741334, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Shirley M. FAIRBURN, N-741335, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Alberta FRADSHAM, N-741336, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Dorothy L. GOODALE, N-741332, ANC, Harvard University unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Wilhelmina LATHROP, N-741337, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Phyllis G. MERRILL, N-741338, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Ona P. MORRISON, N-741339, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Dorothy F. SMITH, N-741340, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Marjorie E. STODDARD, N-741341, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Helen B. THOMAS, N-741321, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Pauline WHITING, N-741342, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Jane M. WILSON, N-741322, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Helen F. KAZMAREK, N-728235, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Patricia R. BALDWIN, N-720950, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Phyllis B. BELAIR, N-720951, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Veronica F. BLANK, N-720952, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Jacqueline C. BLETHEN, N-720953, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Florence R. BROWN, N-720954, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Mary H. CALVIN, N-720955, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant, Olga CASCIOLINI, N-720956, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Nancy L. CHAPMAN, N-720957, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Emma CHURLONIS, N-720958, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Lucile H. COLCORD, N-720959, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Thelma A. COLE, N-720960, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Barbara A. COLEMAN, N-720961, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Doris R. DAVIS, N-720962, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Mary E. DODGE, N-720963, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Mildred E. DODGE, N-720964, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Helen E. FITZGERALD, N-720966, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Cora F. HENRY, N-720968, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Edwina F. HUSSEY, N-720970, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Helen E. LITTLETON, N-720971, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Harriet P. MORGAN, N-720973, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Dorothy C. PATT, N-720975, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Thelma H. REYNOLDS, N-720977, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Elizabeth B. RINDGE, N-720978, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Hilda M. ROBINSON, N-720980, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Helen G. SAUNDERS, N-720982, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Florence V. THOMPSON, N-720986, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Dorothy THURSTON, N-720988, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts
2d Lieutenant Hilda ZUBICK, N-720991, ANC, Harvard University Unit, Massachusetts

August 1944. Installation work in progress at the 5th General Hospital.

The following Civil Service Technicians were assigned to the 5th General Hospital for duty:

Physical Therapy Aides
Olena M. COLE
Edna M. BLUMENTHAL

Dietitians
Ethel J. THEIS
Myrtle ALDRICH

Dental Hygienists
Helen O. BRIGGS
Alice M. CHAMBERS

Movement Overseas:

On 10 February 1942, the Commanding General, New York Port of Embarkation authorized only 37 Officers, 60 Nurses, and 275 Enlisted Men to accompany the 5th General Hospital overseas with Lt. Colonel Maxwell G. Keeler as its C.O. (official T/O 8-550 dated 1 Apr 42 indicates an aggregate of 56 Officers, 1 WO, 105 Nurses, and 500 EM –ed). The excess Officers were to be transferred to tactical units of the 34th Infantry Division (inducted into Federal service 10 Feb 41 – inactivated 3 Nov 45 –ed) which were understrength in Medical Officers. It was believed that this separation and dispersal of members of the unit affiliated to the Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts, violated the promise made by the Office of The Surgeon General to the unit at the time of organization, namely, that it would be called into service and employed overseas as a single organization. Every attempt to increase the number of Officers authorized to embark failed. However, the transfer of the surplus Officers to the 34th Inf Div was held up largely by bluff and bluster until the Office of The Surgeon General could be informed of the situation, when these Officers were transferred as a group to The Army Medical Center, Washington, D.C., and later used to officer the 105th General Hospital (also affiliated with the Harvard University, activated 20 Apr 42 –ed). The following Officers were in this special group: Major Edwin F. Cave, Major Harold F. Corson, Major Eugene C. Eppinger, Major Harold D. Levine, Major Augustus Thorndike Jr., Major George F. Wilkins, Captain Thomas W. Botsford, Captain Joseph H. Bragdon, Captain Joseph R. Frothingham, Captain Jeremiah E. Greene, Captain Donald P. Ham, Captain John H. Harrison, Captain Paul Kunkel, Captain John L. Newell, Captain Carey M. Peters, Captain Charles P. Sheldon, Captain Harry Stone, Captain George A. Sullivan, 1st Lieutenant Chilton Crane, 1st Lieutenant Maurice Dinnerman, 1st Lieutenant Richard Ford, 1st Sibley W. Hoobler, 1st Lieutenant John J. Kneisel, 1st Lieutenant Ralph C. Moore, 1st Lieutenant Gerald L. O’Neill, 1st Lieutenant Maxwell L. Perman, 1st Lieutenant Frederick P. Ross, and 1st Lieutenant Robert G. Snow.

The 5th General Hospital embarked on 19 February 1942 from New York, the majority of the personnel on one ship. 7 Medical Officers, 28 Nurses, and 14 Enlisted Men, were detached to other ships in the convoy (part of the second increment of “Magnet Force” –ed) to furnish the necessary medical attention enroute. The ship, USAT American Legion, carrying the main body of the Hospital developed mechanical difficulties, fell behind the convoy and later reached Halifax, Nova Scotia, on 21 February 1942, where she remained for ten days, eventually returning to Boston, Massachusetts, arriving there on 4 March 1942, where the unit debarked and proceeded to Camp Edwards, Falmouth, Massachusetts (Antiaircraft Artillery Training Center –ed) in order to wait for space on another ship. Meanwhile, the personnel detached for duty on other ships in the convoy arrived safely in Northern Ireland early in March 1942. While awaiting the arrival of the remainder of the organization, the Nurses were on duty in various British and American Hospitals, and the Officers and EM under the direction of Captain Lee G. Kendall, MC, located and stored the unit’s equipment most efficiently at its intended location, the British Army’s 31st General Hospital, at Musgrave Park on the outskirts of Belfast.
The group remaining at Cp. Edwards continued on a training basis until embarking from New York on 30 April 1942 and arriving in Northern Ireland on 12 May 1942. The Nurses were quartered at the 31st British General Hospital while the Officers and Enlisted Men remained at the Staging Area at Carrickfergus. The personnel who had arrived in March rejoined the unit, bringing it finally to full authorized strength.

End July, early August 1944. Ongoing installation work at the 5th General Hospital. Installation and check of a Field Generator.

United Kingdom – USANIF:

On 24 January 1942, USANIF was created (United States Army Northern Ireland Force) with the aim to control all “Magnet” troops under USAFBI (United States Army Forces in the British Isles). “Magnet” was a large American ground combat force to be deployed to Northern Ireland, and to replace British combat troops there, allowing their redeployment to North Africa. It was agreed that American Forces would take over Hospitals and medical supplies of the redeploying British units, until the U.S. Army established their own facilities in the region.

The first medical units to enter the European Theater of Operations consisted of the:

10th Station Hospital (embarked for N. Ireland 14 Jan 42)
136th Medical Regiment, 34th Infantry Division (elements, embarked for N. Ireland 14 Jan 42)
133d Infantry Regiment, 34th Infantry Division (Medical Detachment)
151st Field Artillery Regiment, 34th Infantry Division (Medical Detachment)
109th Quartermaster Regiment, 34th Infantry Division (Medical Detachment)
109th Engineer Battalion, 34th Infantry Division (Medical Detachment)
63d Signal Battalion (Medical Detachment)

A second and third contingent arrived later, including the following units:

7th General Dispensary
109th Medical Battalion, 34th Infantry Division (elements)
47th Armored Medical Battalion, 1st Armored Division (elements, embarked for N. Ireland 11 May 42)
503d Medical Battalion, V Corps
160th Station Hospital (embarked for England 5 Aug 42)

The 5th General Hospital main body reached Belfast on 12 May. Reunited, the organization took over from the British the 31st General Hospital located in Musgrave Park and after having  completely moved in and taken over its operation, it opened its first own wards at midnight 20-21 May 1942 (pursuant to Letter, Headquarters, Director Medical Services, Northern Ireland District, dated 21 May 1942, Subject: Handing Over 31st General Hospital (British) to USANIF, and verbal instructions of Force Surgeon, USANIF, to have the 5th General Hospital assume operation of the 31st General Hospital (British) at 12:01 a.m., May 21, 1942 – ed). The British facility consisted of an old brick three-story building, formerly a Reform School for Boys, and 10 wards of Nissen Hut construction, together with miscellaneous outbuildings. Total bed capacity was 800; the Nissen wards accommodating 500 and the main building 300; the main brick building also included the Operating Rooms, X-Ray, Pharmacy, Patient and Detachment Kitchens, Registrar, Receiving Office, Out-Patient Department, Dental Clinic, Quartermaster Office, Linen Exchange, Central Supply. The Medical Supply, Laboratory, Eye Clinic, Ear, Nose & Throat Clinic, and Post Exchange occupied miscellaneous outbuildings. Considerable alteration was done in all buildings to make them more suitable for American methods and equipment and a vast amount of cleaning and painting accomplished. Quarters for the Medical Detachment were entirely inadequate and a request was made for additional barrack space. Additional wards accommodating 420 patients were requested; also additional personal quarters for Officers and Nurses. Construction only started several months later, but was stopped before completion because the military situation in Northern Ireland had changed sufficiently to make the additional buildings no longer necessary.

US Build-Up in the British Isles – Important Milestones
8 January 1942 – Headquarters, United States Army Forces in the British Isles (USAFBI), activated as a basic element of the Army Ground Forces build-up in Great Britain, under the command of Major General James E. Chaney
24 January 1942 – Headquarters, United States Army Northern Ireland Force (USANIF) activated as a subordinate element of USAFBI, under the command of Major General Russell B. Hartle
24 May 1942 – Headquarters, United States Army, Services of Supply, (USASOS), an element of USAFBI, activated under the command of Major General John C. H. Lee
1 June 1942 – Headquarters, Northern Ireland Base Command, Provisional (NIBC), activated under the command of Brigadier General Leroy P. Collins
8 June 1942 – Headquarters, European Theater of Operations, United States Army (ETOUSA), activated under the command of Major General James E. Chaney (replaced USAFBI)
20 July 1942 – Headquarters, Northern Ireland Base Command (NIBC), redesignated Headquarters, Northern Ireland Base Section, under the command of Brigadier General Leroy P. Collins
20 December 1942 – Headquarters, Northern Ireland Base Section inactivated, reverted to Northern Ireland District, an element of the Western Base Section, United Kingdom Base, European Theater of Operations, Services of Supply

Upon arrival at Musgrave Park, where the British RAMC operated a 660-bed Hospital, only 3 wards were open, holding 47 patients. The remaining wards were filled with crated medical supplies and equipment which had been shipped from the United States; i.e. complete equipment for a 500-bed Hospital. Within two weeks, 12 wards were open to care for a minimum of 400 patients. In June of 1942, it became evident that the Hospital capacity would soon be exceeded and arrangements were made with the Northern Island Base Section Surgeon to open a 900-bed convalescent section in a newly almost completed British Hospital at Waringfield (former EMS, Emergency Medical Services, British Hospital –ed), a distance of only 20 miles. Personnel for this installation were supplied by the 5th General Hospital and the 53d Medical Battalion and later by men of the 2d General Hospital (activated 31 Jan 42 –ed) who arrived with a Detachment from Oxford, England, and extra personnel of the 2d Evacuation Hospital (activated 22 Jan 42 –ed). Lt. Colonel Thomas H. Lanman, MC, became the Commanding Officer and handled a difficult situation in a highly efficient manner. Waringfield was operated as a convalescent ward of the 5th and as such all reports, returns, records, and paperwork was handled by the 5th General Hospital staff.

A peak census of 1,500 patients was reached on 25 August 1942, this being the combined census of Musgrave Park and Waringfield. It decreased very slowly until 1 December when 549 patients were evacuated to the Zone of Interior. The Waringfield section was also closed at this time. During its operation the Hospital had supported some 60,000 U.S. and British troops and provided training as well as medical care. While stationed in Northern Ireland, the patients cared for by the unit totaled 7,487.

August 1944. Signal Corps personnel are installing the necessary communication wire at the site of the 5th and 50th General Hospitals. Location is Saint-Hilaire-Petitville, east of Carentan.

Moving:

On 12 December 1942, the 5th Gen Hosp, transferred the hospital structures, together with the 361 remaining patients to the 10th Station Hospital (activated 10 Feb 41 –ed) and prepared to move to a new location near Salisbury, England.

On 8 December, an advance party of 5 Officers and 43 EM traveling in 18 vehicles left Northern Ireland for Odstock, England, to prepare that installation for the reception of the main body which were expected to arrive ten days later. It was impossible at this time to secure rail and/or water transportation for the main body and arrangements were therefore made for air transportation. Except for the advance group and its motor convoy and the rear guard party with its personnel of 4 Officers and 42 trucks with heavy baggage and equipment, all personnel were moved by air requiring several trips. 31 Officers, 66 Nurses, 268 Enlisted Men, 11 female civilian employees and assigned Red Cross personnel were transported by air without incident, including 50,000 pounds of personal luggage, medical equipment and records.

The plant at Odstock was of the standard British brick and Nissen Hut type as used for the EMS installations. Originally planned for 600 beds, it was expanded to a 1,000-bed capacity. There were twelve standard brick construction wards with a normal capacity of 32 patients each; in addition, there were two large Officers’ wards, one isolation ward, and six other wards which were to be used for TBC, EENT, PT, Nurses, and patients requiring observation. There was also a block of three buildings intended for a VD section. Under existing conditions, it seemed wiser to utilize the area for the treatment of NP patients. The available space could meet the needs of a 1,000-bed General Hospital. Space for the operating suites was adequate, as it was for the X-Ray, Linen Exchange, Pharmacy, Central Supply, Laboratory, Dental Service, Administration, Medical Supply and Utilities. No major deficiencies were noted in supply and equipment and practically all was American. Quarters for Officers, Nurses, and Enlisted personnel were good, as were the messing facilities. The necessary space for religious, recreational, and Red Cross activities, as well as for occupational therapy, physical therapy, and library was available.

The most urgent needs were repair of leaking roofs. It was found that the facility had neither heat nor running electricity. Living quarters and washing space were both impaired to a considerable degree by water drainage. Better heating facilities were absolutely needed for the Nurses’ living quarters. Installation of 110V current was necessary before much of the American hospital equipment could be used. Hard surface roads and walks had to be constructed in the newer Nissen areas to provide better means for fire protection, moving bed patients, delivery of coal and medical supplies, and collection of garbage and waste. Outside corridors between wards needed to be enclosed. Gas provision was needed for Laboratory, Pharmacy, Central Supply and the Dental Clinic. Hospital personnel and American Engineer units augmented the overextended British labor force at most construction sites. Medical personnel engaged in other activities, including roofing of outdoor walkways, pouring concrete foundations, painting, brick laying, and even installing of wiring and plumbing.

After completing the majority of the required repairs, modifications and adaptations, the 5th General Hospital formerly opened on 1 March 1943, remaining in operation until 12 May 1944. During this period the organization cared for a total of 10,004 patients. A network of ”specialized” Hospitals took shape in the British Isles. Certain General and Station Hospitals were designated to receive severe cases of particular types from other hospitals. In addition to its normal functions, the 5th General Hospital established special facilities for care of soldiers suffering from ‘combat fatigue’.

France:

The FIRST General Hospital to reach Normandy was the 5th which stood down from operations in Britain on 7 May 1944. Lt. Colonel Maxwell G. Keeler’s organization, the initial unit of its type to enter the European Theater in 1942, staged at Tidworth on 3 July 1944, waiting for its embarkation to the continent. After embarking at Southampton, England, the unit’s 58 Officers, 102 Nurses, and 500 Enlisted Men, with their vehicles, came ashore at Omaha Beach on 6 July 1944 (one month after the Invasion –ed). Unfortunately, it landed without its hospital assembly, sent from England on a different vessel. Beachhead dumps were searched to no avail, until it was discovered that the equipment scheduled to be landed at Cherbourg had been held on shipboard awaiting discharge at one of the landing beaches. On the other hand, the Hospital’s assigned location at St-Lô was still in German hands. On 10 July it was decided to look for another site and a low-lying field was selected near Carentan. The 5th Gen Hosp spent the next twenty-one days bivouacked with the 7th Field Hospital at Osmanville, waiting for Engineers to complete construction of its facility. In the meantime the unit detached surgical teams to First United States Army Evacuation Hospitals and sent most of its remaining Medical Officers, all its Nurses, and approximately 100 Enlisted Men to help the 12th Field Hospital with cleaning and repairs at Cherbourg.

August 1944. A Medical Officer assisted by a Nurse is cutting away a patient’s plaster cast in order to verify the condition of the man’s wound.

Construction of the 5th General’s tented plant near Carentan (in fact the place was Saint-Hilaire-Petitville, a little east of Carentan –ed) had started on 14 July, but the unit had still not received its equipment assembly. On 22 July the ADSEC Supply Division released a hospital assembly that had arrived in Normandy for another organization that had not yet landed. This action resulted in the opening of the 5th on 31 July 1944. With initially less than half its beds in operation, it enabled the organization to start operations. In the vicinity of Carentan, it began operations, close to the 50th General Hospital, its neighbor, while still partly under construction, receiving patients before it had either electric lights or running water. The hastly chosen, poorly drained site was infested with mosquitoes, and turned into a quagmire with every downpour. Eventually the Hospital expanded beyond its rated capacity, even attaining 1,500 beds.

Under a First United States Army – ADSEC (Advance Section –ed) agreement signed on 1 August 1944, the 5th Gen Hosp, besides acting as an Area Station Hospital, was to admit lightly wounded returnable to duty within 10 days. This relieved other Army installations of these patients ensuring their retention on the continent, a measure to conserve manpower. The 5th, located near the frontlines also became a collecting point for combat exhaustion patients and for soldiers suspected of self-inflicted wounds. By 15 August 1944, the Hospital census was 1,400 patients; during the month of August a total of 4,238 patients were received.

Campaign Awards
Normandy
Northern France
Rhineland


This Unit History was based on vintage reports generously provided by Lynn F. McNulty. As the original NARA documents only partially cover the World War 2 service years of the 5th General Hospital, the MRC Staff are still looking for additional data covering the latter part of 1944 and early 1945, as well as a complete Personnel Roster. Any information is welcome. Thank you.

This page was printed from the WW2 US Medical Research Centre on 23rd June 2018 at 19:53.
Read more: https://www.med-dept.com/unit-histories/5th-general-hospital/