Veteran’s Testimony – Arthur B. deGrandpré95th Evacuation Hospital
Arthur Batterton deGrandpré was born on May 24, 1909 in Plattsburgh, Clinton County, New York, one of two sons of Arthur Amédée deGrandpré and Alexandrine Batterton. He graduated from St. John’s High School in 1924, and subsequently attended St. Michael’s College in Winooski, Vt., then Georgetown University, receiving his A.B. degree cum laude in 1928.
This was followed by four more years of study at Georgetown University Medical School from which he graduated in 1932. Next, Dr. deGrandpré spent 1½ years at Albany General Hospital completing a rotating internship and an abbreviated residency in Gynecology. He then returned home to Plattsburgh where he completed a five-year preceptorship (1933-1938), a period of practical experience and training, with Dr. Robert S. MacDonald at Champlain Valley Hospital.
In 1938, Dr. deGrandpré started his solo medical practice in Plattsburgh; there he remained, interrupted only by service to his country, retiring from his immensely successful surgical practice in 1989. Arthur often worked with his only sibling, Gérard Charles deGrandpré, also a physician/surgeon; they co-owned the building at 167 Margaret St. and their offices were just a few steps from one another. Arthur worked at the Champlain Valley Hospital which was run by Catholic Nuns. He was greatly respected for his surgical skills and his manner of interacting with staff and patients; in turn, he had the greatest respect for the skill and dedication of the Sisters who operated the hospital and served the needs of the patients. The Champlain Valley Hospital later merged with the Physicians Hospital in Plattsburgh to form the Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital or, as it is now known, the CVPH Medical Center. This facility, now a thriving regional medical center, has numerous specialties and a 500+ bed capacity. Two of the newest medical buildings erected by the CVPH Medical Center are located on DEGRANDPRE WAY, a street named in honor of Dr. Arthur B. deGrandpré for his 56 years of dedicated medical service to the citizens of Plattsburgh, Clinton County, and the surrounding region. Dr. deGrandpré passed away on January 20, 2008.
Note: Gérard Charles deGrandpré was 12 years older than his brother Arthur. Gérard lived and practiced medicine in Tupper Lake, Franklin County, New York and later in Plattsburgh. Gérard and Arthur, and their respective wives, were good friends and socialized regularly. Being a naval reservist and a Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy, Dr. Gérard deGrandpré was called up for active duty in the months following the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.
Marriage and Family:
On January 11, 1936, Arthur married Jane Ann Byrne at the Holy Spirit Church in the Bronx, New York City. During the years that followed, they raised eight children, four boys and four girls, four born before WWII and four following the end of the war. The children’s names are: Arthur, John, Jeanne Marie, Byrne, Christopher, Marianne, Frances Ann, and Joanne. Seven of the eight children still live in Plattsburgh or within a few miles of Plattsburgh; John, the second oldest, lives in Florida.
Dr. Arthur B. deGrandpré volunteered for military service in the Army of the United States, and began active duty as a member of the Medical Corps September 14, 1942. His Army Serial Number was O-1691207 and his classification Medical Officer, General Surgery, Military Occupational Specialist (MOS) Number 3150. He was to serve with the US Army Medical Department from this date until being discharged as a Major in the Medical Corps, at Fort Dix Separation Center, New Jersey, on October 23, 1945.
Initial active duty took the newly-commissioned Medical Officer to Camp Grant, Rockford, Illinois (Medical Replacement Unit Training Center –ed) in September 1942. He was transferred to Camp Campbell, Hopkinsville, Kentucky (Armored Division Camp –ed), where he served for 6 months in a dispensary of an Engineer General Service Regiment. In March 1943, Lieutenant A. B. deGrandpré moved to Camp Breckinridge, Morganfield, Kentucky (Infantry Division Camp –ed), where he was assigned to the surgical staff of the 95th Evacuation Hospital. This Hospital, officially activated August 25, 1942, was being reorganized and completed for a possible assignment overseas.
Following receipt of “alert” orders, the organization was instructed to prepare for overseas movement (POM). After staging at Camp Shanks, Orangeburg, New York (Staging Area for New York Port of Embarkation –ed) and due processing, including some small arms training for the Officers, the 400-bed 95th Evacuation Hospital departed via the Staten Island ferry to its assigned pier to board the USAT “Mariposa,” all set for crossing the U-boat infested Atlantic Ocean, on her way to Casablanca, French Morocco. Departure took place April 16, 1943 with arrival in Casablanca, French Morocco on April 24, 1943. The trip proved uneventful except for one early morning submarine scare, when passengers and crew had to prepare for the worst, but nothing happened! Easter 1943 (April 25) would find the command pitching their tents on the outskirts of Casablanca …
Introduction to the Diary:
My unit was a 400-bed hospital unit brought together at Camp Breckinridge, Morganfield, Kentucky, originally based on the 74th Surgical Hospital, reorganized and redesignated the 95th Evacuation Hospital, Motorized, and activated August 25, 1942. I felt so very fortunate to have been selected and assigned to this Hospital which distinguished itself during World War II in North Africa, Italy, France, and Germany.
The 95th Evac was set up 28 different times at various locations during the war and was awarded 4 miniature battle stars for its service to the United States.
The diary was recorded during my 27 months overseas during World War II. It is dedicated to my loving wife, Jeanie, who wrote memorably beautiful letters to me every single day of the war. Also to my eight children who have always been great and who now are so supportive during my retirement. I must not forget a little Grey Nun of the Sacred Heart of Jesus who presented me with a tiny statue of the Infant Jesus of Prague and admonished me to carry it at all times with the assurance that no serious harm would befall me during the war.
My whole war experience was memorable, survival miraculous, never to be forgotten and hopefully never to be repeated by any human. International problems must be solved by peaceful and diplomatic means; war is now far too dangerous to contemplate. The very existence of mankind is at stake …
(stimulated by a letter from a representative of the 95th Evacuation Hospital indicating a reunion in Kentucky in September 2001, Dr. Arthur deGrandpré thought it was time to resurrect his old diary from WWII, containing his very first entry dated June 12, 1943 – the 95th Evacuation Hospital was then stationed near Oujda, on the Algerian-Moroccan border, in North Africa –ed).
95th Evacuation Hospital
Campaign Credits: Naples-Foggia, Anzio, Rome-Arno, Southern France (400-bed Hospital).
The Diary’s first entry starts in June 1943. At this time, the 95th Evacuation Hospital had barely landed in North Africa, disembarking at Casablanca, French Morocco on April 24, 1943. While the Nurses were on their way to a school to set up quarters, the Officers and Enlisted personnel entrucked for a tented camp about one mile outside of Oujda (situated in the northeastern part of French Morocco some 9 miles from the Algerian border –ed), where they would be housed in pyramidal and pup tents.
June 12 > We sailed on April 16, 1943 (leaving Brooklyn Navy Yard –ed), without convoy, on a ship called the “Mariposa” (launched in 1931, former ocean liner serving in the Pacific with Matson Lines –ed). Our crossing took 8 days. We traveled without escort, although at this time of the war, almost all trans-Atlantic crossings were with destroyer escort in view of the fact that at the time – the month of April – when we sailed, supposedly 500 Allied ships were sunk by the Germans.
We arrived in Casablanca, French Morocco, on May 24, 1943, without incident, attended a “Victory” parade downtown, and met several local residents. We had dinner at the “Excelsior Hotel”, went bathing, were prescribed Atabrine so that we would not develop malaria. We attended a French class, and after spending several weeks in Casablanca, traveled in “40 & 8” boxcars to Oujda (this was a prison train dating back to the first World War). It took us about 48 hours to reach Oujda. We survived on C-rations. We enjoyed the beautiful scenery, saw the snow-capped mountains, and eventually set up in Oujda near an olive grove, and also near an airport. We witnessed first-hand the crash of a commercial airplane at the airport. We found out that our duties were going to be taking care of the physical needs of the 82d Airborne Division (mainly the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion –ed) which was bivouacked very near us.
We set up our hospital and were aware of a little attack of severe bacillary dysentery. We noted that there were several, perhaps 50 cases of appendicitis that appeared following termination of the dysentery outbreak. We witnessed many practice parachute jumps and saw the results. There were 99 casualties in one single day following a practice jump. We noted the high winds, called “sirocco” (southern wind bringing hot and dry air from the Sahara –ed), went to a reviewing stand where we witnessed a demonstration of American air power and military power in general. This was for the benefit of the Sultan of Morocco, whose allegiance at this time was quite uncertain. Several of our patients did not survive, one with an intra-abdominal injury, one with a stab wound of the neck, perforating the carotid artery. Other patients came to us with severe head wounds; one was a penetrating wound to the left eye. Another case was a head wound going through the left ventricle into the parietal region of the brain with following subarachnoid hemorrhage and death. I visited the “Hotel Terminus” and enjoyed some French meals. We attended a restaurant where the proprietor gave us a gallon of ice cream which we promptly took to another restaurant and enjoyed, distributing some to several other customers at the restaurant. We swam at Saidia. My room mates were Bill Comess (Lt. Colonel William Comess –ed) and Lewis Imerman, called “Immy” (Major Lewis A. Imerman –ed). We had bridge games and took showers in the field. While operating, we witnessed more practice jumps by the 82d Airborne, and saw parachutes that failed to open. I remember the bartering with Arabs. Going back to Casablanca we saw the “Jean Bart” (French battleship, sailed from Saint-Nazaire, France to Casablanca, French Morocco, before the Franco-German Armistice was signed, she was hit, severely damaged, and sunk by Allied Air and Naval Forces November 8, 1942, during “Operation Torch” –ed) at Casablanca and a sub that had been destroyed. All the P-38 fighter-bombers coming overhead and then meeting us on arrival at Casablanca. Yesterday (June 11, 1943 –ed) we captured Pantelleria Island (by British Forces –ed). We questioned as to what our next move would be, would it be Sicily?
June 26 > We ate clams at Saidia. We met the Sultan of Morocco and his heir, who witnessed the exhibition of American air power at the old French Army artillery range with the Sultan seated immediately in front of us in a special tent. Followed an exhibition of strafing, demolition engineers working with flame throwers, troops advancing under machinegun and cannon fire, tanks charging. The infantry came in last.
Dinner at the French Officers’ Club with Colonel Joseph I. Martin, one of our leading Medical Officers (eventually became Fifth United States Army Surgeon –ed). General David D. Eisenhower visited us. The weather was 120° degrees in the shade. Water towers were set up for us with water constantly falling over our operating tents drastically lowering the temperature and making life somewhat tolerable. We enjoyed the ice cream at a local ice cream parlor. I have a wounded Arab as a patient with a woman in the adjacent olive grove who has only one eye. Bringing the patient out to see if this was possibly his wife and the unusual way in which he snubbed us and turned up his nose at such a suggestion. “Myrtle the Turtle” – an incident during which one of our Enlisted Men took an x-ray of a turtle which was fertile and had two large eggs inside the shell. We slipped this in along with some x-rays of a patient’s head to the great confusion and bewilderment of our radiologist. Dinner at the French restaurant. We are now getting ready to move.
June 28 > Yesterday, we swam in the Mediterranean, followed by dinner at the French Officers’ Mess. I pay frequent visits to Captain Dukakis, a Liaison Officer stressing the accuracy of the Germans antiaircraft fire. Erroneous shooting up of an Italian Hospital Ship by RAF planes. We also attacked our own tanks with a heavy loss of life. The coolness of the British in battle is apparent; they stop no matter what the situation is at 1630 hours in the afternoon for tea! We developed quite a distinct relationship with the British while in North Africa. Upcoming invasion. On June 3, I received my promotion to Captain having entered the service as a First Lieutenant. Bob Courter (Major Willard O. Courter –ed) gave me his Captain bars. I gave mine to Lieutenant Heywood, except for one sterling set for Jeanie, which I immediately sent home. We all wore oversized cardboard insignia for 24 hours and took a kidding by other members of the staff. The 82d Airborne Division has now gone, where we do not know, but certainly getting ready for an invasion. We had great fun trading with the local population. I mailed a large package home today containing a large hassock, a pair of shoes, some hats, and leather folders.
I have been working on a paper concerning appendicitis and dysentery. Having Charlie Musso assist me will be a feather in his cap as he might be considered after the war as a member of the American College of Surgeons.
We often sing this song “I want to go home! I want to go home! The shrapnel and whizzbangs around me do roar. I don’t want this old war anymore. Send me over the sea where the Germans can’t get me. Oh my, I don’t want to die! I just want to go home.”
There were court-martial cases regarding some personnel of the 82d Airborne Division where the stress of the war prompted some GIs to shoot off their own big toes until this finally became a court martial offense. Later some of these men shot themselves in their hands so they would definitively be declassified and allowed to return home.
Fixed Hospital Sites – 95th Evacuation Hospital
Oujda, French Morocco – April 24, 1943 > July 4, 1943
Aïn-et-Turk, Oran area, Algeria – July 6, 1943 > August 16, 1943 (functioned as a 400-bed Station Hospital)
July 20 > July 7 we moved by train for about 34 hours. We sat up all night eating C-rations and playing bridge. We just couldn’t sleep. Got a cinder in my eye, but one of my friends was able to remove it. I met Howie Berg, whom I knew from intern days in Albany. Also ran into a Mr. Gilbert who was associated with “Hotel Champlain” in Plattsburgh, New York. We went to the American Red Cross Club where we had ice cream, coffee, and sandwiches. Just got inspected by Major General A. R. Wilson (CG Coastal Base Section –ed). Traveled through a tunnel enroute to Mers-el-Kébir. All the ships in the harbor had overhead barrage balloons for protection. When looking into the sky we watched the crossfire of searchlights and ack-ack guns attempting to shoot down an enemy plane.
There’s the story of 2 American soldiers attacking the Major and their eventual court-martial. One soldier saying that his excuse was that he was having an epileptic seizure when striking the Major; the other stating that he thought the war was over, therefore giving him the right to do it! I met a little French boy who speaks five languages. His mother was killed by the Germans. He was born in Paris. The boy was taken to a concentration camp from where he escaped after being wounded twice, became a stowaway on a ship and ended up in Oran, Algeria, North Africa. He became the unit’s mascot. His knowledge of New York slang is amazing.
My job then developed as the mail censor. Some of the humorous letters that some of our men were sending home struck me, such as; “I think of nothing but eating, dear, but also of you, sometimes.”
July 25 > We have captured one third of Sicily. Rome has been attacked. The Soviet Union is resisting strongly. The ”New York Times” issued a statement that the war will be over in three months. Our CO, Colonel Paul K. Sauer contradicts this and says it will last 5 years. Many, many casualties are coming from the ships. There was an unsuccessful effort to draw out the Italian Navy for combat.
My roommate, Immy, traded old shoes, a shirt, and a cotton mattress cover for a cartload of watermelons. The unusual irrigation system in our camp. The broad mindedness of our Chaplain; he seems to be interested in the Roman Catholic faith. His name is Captain Laurence R. Davis. Our discussing Mass, religious mysteries, rosary beads, etc.
July 26 > Benito A. A. Mussolini (Il Duce, 1883-1945 –ed) was arrested by the Badoglio Government yesterday. General Pietro Badoglio (1871-1956 –ed) is in power in Italy now. Enjoyed a drink of bourbon upon hearing the news. Had supper at the American Red Cross Club. We’re now getting ready for an invasion. I did four operations today. Colonel Thaxton is ill and left today for the 12th General Hospital (arrived December 26, 1942 in the MTO –ed). He is a former Urologist from South Carolina who wanted us to mutiny enroute to Salerno. There’s some question as to whether he has a thyroid problem. He will probably be returned to the Zone of Interior. We had another “sirocco” today. Just learned of the disaster at Kasserine Pass and El Guettar, both in Tunisia, where the US took a terrific beating. Today we have captured four-fifths of Sicily. Catania is still holding out. We had our FIRST Coca-Cola yesterday. All the barrage balloons we witness daily. The mail censoring.
12th General Hospital
Campaign Credits > Naples-Foggia, Rome-Arno (1000 / 2000-bed Hospital)
August 3 > Went to Mass and Communion this morning. Mass was said by an Italian prisoner priest. He talked about Italy’s dilemma at this point of the war. We’re all alerted today about a big Allied offensive. There’s also a big battle going on in Sicily at the moment. Had dinner at the 2d Convalescent Hospital (arrived January 27, 1943 in the MTO –ed) last evening. My roommate, Charlie, read his paper on the association of dysentery and ruptured appendicitis. One of the Colonels questioned the accuracy of his statements and wondered if our epidemic was a real attack of dysentery and if so, all hands should be dipped in 2% Lysol before leaving the latrine.
My dear wife, Jeanie, writes me a beautiful letter congratulating me on my promotion to Captain. Just operated on a bad risk case in which all the important structures of the wrist have been severed. The basic setup of the 95th Evacuation Hospital is made up of Receiving, Evacuation, X-Ray, Headquarters, Officers’ Ward, 10 Surgical Wards, 10 Medical Wards, 1 Operating Tent, 1 Medical Supply Tent, a Shock Tent, Kitchen, and Mess tables. There’s no water in the OR. It contains 4 operating tables with lights operated by generator batteries. The operating sets are all made up prior to surgery. Our many defective Steinmann pins, Kirschner wires (often designated K-wires –ed), and hemostats, cause many problems. There are 20 beds to each ward. Center upright poles are staggered. Each bed is supplied with mosquito netting (because of the incidence of malaria). While at Oujda, we had a beautiful cooling tent for the OR initiated by General D. D. Eisenhower (promoted to full General February 11, 1943 –ed). The absence of infection is amazing under such climatic conditions. Thirty percent (30%) of all our German and Italian prisoners seem to have malaria, hence the importance of mosquito nets.
2d Convalescent Hospital
Campaign Credits > Rome-Arno, Southern France (3000-bed Hospital)
August 20 > Just alerted for overseas service. We will go in with the first wave. All the dissension in the ranks about current promotions of the Officers. Sicily has now fallen and there’s heavy bombing of Italy and Germany. Major Howard Patterson, 9th Evacuation Hospital (arrived November 21, 1942 in the MTO –ed), is our new Chief of Surgery since the departure of Colonel Thaxton. He comes from “Roosevelt Hospital”, New York City. He gives excellent daily talks. Today there’s a story about a Medical Officer at the 2d Convalescent Hospital who incised an aneurism by mistake with obvious fatality. Another Officer drove a Kirschner wire through a man’s skull for treatment of a fracture dislocation of the neck; the patient seems to have miraculously no ill effects. Also current is the story of our shooting down a German aircraft with a 6-inch naval gun. A hundred of our bombers raid Bizerte, in Tunisia. We had an interesting day at the 21st General Hospital (arrived December 6, 1942 in the MTO –ed), a unit from St. Louis, including cocktails and dinner. We are now packed for our next mission and waterproofing all our equipment. The question remains where the landing will take place. Huge convoys arrived in the area. All the malaria here and about. We take more typhus shots. The German summer offensive is now in reverse.
9th Evacuation Hospital
Campaign Credits > Tunisia, Naples-Foggia, Rome-Arno, Southern France (750-bed Hospital)
21st General Hospital
Campaign Credits > Naples-Foggia (1000 / 2000-bed Hospital)
September 3 > We left our bivouac area for a ship here at Mers-el-Kébir. The vessel is called “Marnix van Sint Aldegonde”, a Dutch ship. It serves excellent food and has a beautiful lounge. Plans are laid for the upcoming operation. The waiters are from Java, Netherlands East Indies.
We sail on September 5. It’s a four-day trip by way of Bizerte Lake and Bizerte. The tremendous convoy is so impressive, and the Germans certainly know of our plans. We have our first air raid. All the flares, the shells, the tracers. We see a plane shot down in flames. Our first casualty comes in – a sailor from a landing barge. I had a pleasant meal with a Royal Navy Medical Commander. His story about England, his wife, raising bees at home, his English law career, how women go after their husbands who are dockworkers on strike, and they break up the strikes by themselves.
September 9 > D-Day, “Operation Avalanche” – the first troops land at Salerno, Italy, at about 0300. There’s no preceding naval barrage, the surrender of Italy having been announced the night before – this is a great mistake. Veteran German troops are waiting for us with machineguns, artillery, and armor. There’s Red, Yellow, Blue, and Green Beach. We land south of the Sele River, the British in the north. Green Beach seems very hard to take. We finally land with the infantry just ahead of us. We see heavy casualties among the assault troops. Our trip is on a landing craft, and some of the boys are very seasick. All the delays.
Three Fw-190 enemy fighters strafe us while we’re landing. We land well ahead of the armored troops. Immy, my friend, forgets his musette bag; I take his in the excitement. We have two nights of living hell on the beach, with all the bombing and strafing that goes on. We live like rats in our foxholes right on the beach. Getting strafed again for the third day. The hot coffee given us by the black Quartermaster boys which we appreciate so much. We finally move to a new area. All my prayers in the foxholes. All the dive bombers. We’re now setting up the hospital (ready for operation September 12 –ed). We are living in ditches near the ancient ruins of Paestum (Temple of Neptune). The amphitheater, the railroad station, the fig trees, running water. A real latrine is installed. We eat C and K-rations for ten days. The terrific confusion among all patients. I have just handled a splenectomy case along with a ruptured kidney, and also a ruptured liver case. All the fractures, the debridement cases. Regular meal hours take place when the enemy begin their air raids. Many raids at night. Trigger-finger Charlie who shoots at birds. Auxiliary fuel tanks. Everything to see but the Germans! The fifth and crucial day – the Germans trap three (3) Battalions and break through our lines (elements of 36th and 45th Infantry Divisions). The 82d Airborne Division is called in as an emergency. Elements land all about us knocking down our tents. They come in at approximately 1100. About 75 friendly bombers arrive to help us. VI Corps burn all its papers. This is the most crucial day since the enemy neared Cairo, in Egypt. The tide has now turned. The British Eighth Army approaches from the north. All the flak.
Our first casualty is one of our Sergeants; he gets a Purple Heart. Bill, Charlie, Immy, and I start to live together.
September 22 > There have been no air raids now for the past three weeks. We have captured Salerno, Eboli, and heights overlooking Naples. Lt. General Mark W. Clark visited us and promised a party on the Isle of Capri. We visited a small, dirty town – Cappachio; on top of a mountain with a beautiful view of the harbor. All the ships; The artificial smoke screens. The fighter-bomber airbase. All the C-47 cargo planes. We ride a 2 ½-ton amphibian truck (dukw) and visit a local museum. The old Catholic church with altars covered with snapshots of Italian soldiers. All the urchins living in the church. The tremendous poverty here in Italy. The dirty washwomen. We all get gastro-enteritis – very poor sanitary conditions.
The 93d Evacuation (arrived April 24, 1943 in the MTO, site of the slapping incident involving General G. S. Patton, Jr. and a patient, which took place on August 10, 1943 at San Stefano, Sicily –ed) the 94th Evacuation (arrived May 11, 1943 in the MTO –ed) and the 16th Evacuation Hospitals (arrived May 6, 1943 in the MTO –ed) are all here. Our Nurses have just been bombed on a Hospital Ship (HMHS Newfoundland, bombed off Salerno September 10, 1943 –ed) and had to return to Bizerte, North Africa. Fighting is very heavy. All sorts of rumors are starting.
93d Evacuation Hospital
Campaign Credits > Sicily, Naples-Foggia, Rome-Arno, Anzio, Southern France (400-bed Hospital)
94th Evacuation Hospital
Campaign Credits > Naples-Foggia, Rome-Arno, Anzio, North Apennines, Po Valley (400-bed Hospital)
16th Evacuation Hospital
Campaign Credits > Naples-Foggia, Rome-Arno, North Apennines, Po Valley (750-bed Hospital)
September 26 > Went to church at Paestum with Charlie. What a funny old church it is! Major Patterson, Immy, Bill, and I go to Protestant services. We sit in the first row and bellow. The locals arrive with live turkeys, dried figs, apples, and fresh eggs. We are to have a party this afternoon.
We make many mistakes during this busy period. Our showers are finally working. We listen to the impressions of the war as expressed by our German PWs. All the artillery fire at night. Soviet forces have now taken Smolensk. We’re getting ready to move on. Our new Officers’ Mess.
September 30 > The Italian Government signed the surrender papers with representatives of the Allies September 29, 1943. Two days ago Major Patterson, Major Baxter, Bill Comess, and I visit Battapaglia and Eboli; both are total ruins. Not a single structure remains undamaged. Nothing but bomb craters. The stench of the dead everywhere. German tanks, trucks, 88-mm guns, by the roadside, and stacks of unused shells. The unopened diary of a German soldier. Empty German beer bottles. Baskets with tomatoes apparently belonging to the German gunner. The water buffalo used here as cattle. We start out for Altavilla but arrive back in Eboli by mistake. All the blown bridges, the blown up tanks and vehicles. All the friendly aircraft over us every day such as P-40, P-38, P-51, A-36, and all the C-47 transports. Stories told us by our German prisoner patients. We had a slight raid today with very light ack-ack. Most of our patients have been evacuated. Amazing to learn of all the different evacuation policies that exist. The confusion of it all. It makes no sense.
October 5 > Received six letters today from my lovely wife, Jeanie. Made me very happy. Visited Salerno yesterday. Very little to see, and no place to eat. We bought some delicious white grapes and visited Salerno Cathedral (Cathedral of St. Matthew), the church where Pope Gregorius VII was consecrated in 1170. Pope Pius IX also visited here during the last century. Beautiful mosaics and gold. All the sandbags for protection. Beautiful paintings. We finally found some rice croquettes and wine at a dirty little place. The beauty of Salerno Bay. The narrow streets and rubble all around us. The trip to Salerno by a 2 ½-ton ammo truck filled with 155-mm shells.
October 7 > We leave for Naples at 1000 hours. The trip is in the rain. Lieutenant Thomas A. Matthews breaks his pelvis in a jeep accident. Our first view of Mount Vesuvius and a beautiful Cathedral at Pompeii. We visit the ruins of Pompeii and arrive in Naples at dusk where we stay at the “23d of March Hospital” for the night. The place is run by the Sisters of Charity. We take over an administration building but are thrown out by the British who themselves want the building. We retake the building on October 9; it has a beautiful marble stairway and a magnificent laboratory. We also occupy the third and fourth floors of another hospital building and hold this in reserve for the arrival of the 8th Evacuation Hospital (arrived November 8, 1942 in the MTO –ed) which lost all of its equipment.
Fixed Hospital Site – 95th Evacuation Hospital
Naples, Southern Italy – October 9, 1943 > November 28, 1943
8th Evacuation Hospital
Campaign Credits > Naples-Foggia, Rome-Arno, North Apennines, Po Valley (750-bed Hospital)
There was a severe air raid the first night spent in Naples. On October 10, 1943, there’s a huge bomb explosion in the old Italian Artillery Barracks occupied by some of our Engineers, killing 23 and wounding 21. Lieutenant Charles A. Behrens gets wounded. Private William H. Greene is burned to death. Another Enlisted Man is badly burned. We suffer many casualties. Their horrible appearance. All the patients are covered with cement, dirt, and blood. We experience great difficulties working and operating on the fourth floor where there’s no water. We have no lights. The x-ray section is out in front of the building under tentage and litter carry remains very difficult.
The beauty of Mount Vesuvius at night! The Naples Post Office blew up on October 7 and cost us many casualties too. It was set off by a time bomb left by the enemy. There’s great anxiety among the soldiers living in buildings. All want to head for the woods. Our present state of confusion is unimaginable.
October 28 > Yesterday we visited the Isle of Capri. We had breakfast at 0630 and left the hospital at 0730. First we traveled to Sorrento across a one-way temporary bridge with about a 500-foot drop and only a couple of boards to support us across the bridge. Took the boat to Capri; many were seasick. We acquired six rowboats and went to see the “Blue Grotto”. Tiny entrance. How you have to duck your head when the tide is out to get in. The magnificent blue hue of the water, how it sparkles! The oars and bottom of the rowboats appear as silver; so does the water when it splashes. Back to the dock and the hotel by rail. The steep incline. I had two martini cocktails, our first in months. We had a fine dinner of ham, potatoes, fresh beans, fish salad, steak, and apples for dessert.
We visited the “Villa San Michele”. The wild ride up the mountain. A blind man shows us in. The mosaic of “Cave Canis”. The pillars resurrected from old Roman baths. All the statues, the beautiful terrace and garden, the sheer cliffs, and magnificent view from this building. The sphinx in its home. Axel M. F. Munthe (1857-1949) is in Sweden during our visit to San Michele. He is blind now (Swedish Physician, Psychiatrist, and author of “The Story of San Michele” published in 1929 –ed). Our wild ride down the mountain. The beautiful ride home. Dinner at Sorrento. Major Patterson buys a Russian icon for himself. Two weeks ago we visited Pompeii, hitched a ride there sitting on gas tanks. We first visited the Cathedral; there’s marble in it from all over the world. The beauty of the altars. The statue over the main altar with $ 20 M worth of precious gems! The figures of the Popes, the Three Nuns (former Queens who relinquished their worldly lives to become Nuns). The magnificent golden organ. All the statues in front of the Cathedral. The ruins of Pompeii have been badly bombed. The amphitheater, marketplace, bakery, arena, baths, private homes, and original murals. Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 BC and destroyed the city. Colonel Edward D. Churchill, Professor of Surgery at Harvard and Surgical Consultant for the Theater, visited us for two days. The 23d General Hospital (arrived October 28, 1943 in the MTO –ed) landed at Salerno today and hits a mine on the beach and sustains casualties. Many, many interesting surgical cases have come our way; ruptured kidney, spleen, colon, diaphragm, etc. The terrible air raids continuer, more particularly on October 21 and 23 (heavy Luftwaffe raid on Mostra Fair Grounds October 21, 1943, which caused many destructions and killed 11 patients and medical personnel in the US Army Medical Center set up on the grounds –ed). We hear one bomb whistle nearby while another goes off near us and breaks many windows in the neighborhood. Dinner at the restaurant in Fenestrella. We have a wild ride in an old Italian taxicab which has neither brakes nor a horn. We finally get a flat tire and have to hitchhike home. We visit Fifth United States Army Headquarters at Caserta, located in the King’s Palace and see a beautiful peacock on the front lawn. All the magnificent paintings and statues in the palace. We are told that the marble table has 124 different kinds of marble in it.
23d General Hospital
Campaign Credits > Naples-Foggia, Rome-Arno (1000 / 2000-bed Hospital)
November 4 > We plan a trip to Ischia and board an old schooner requisitioned by the British at 0830 in the morning. The trip takes two and a half hours. Beautiful shoreline. We pass Fenestrella and all the sunken ships, including an Italian cruiser with torpedo tubes projecting. This is Naples harbor. Suddenly, three fighters zoom by at sea level and almost hit our boat. The straits are only two miles wide. We cross them, go past an old prison building on the left top of a high cliff. The small and picturesque harbor of Ischia is only 25 to 30 feet wide. All the PT boats inside the harbor and the old fishing boats. Joe, our taxi driver, takes us on a trip around the island up to the top of a mountain. All the vineyards there. We watch peasant women carrying bundles on their heads. All the wine carts. We stopped for a drink and sucked wine out of a keg with bamboo straws. The wine cellars are installed inside caves in the mountain. The kegs are so large that they are built inside the caves in sections. All the pillboxes. The story of the 300 Germans who were driven into the sea following the Italian armistice (signed, September 29, 1943 –ed). The little girl who was still pining away for her German boyfriend. We had a chicken dinner and enjoyed the Ischia wine. We return home by 1500 hours. We visited a new military cemetery, attending a ceremony for both American and British dead. Flags are removed from the caskets and the bodies lowered.
Yesterday, November 3, I had a hot bath, the first hot one in Italy, and I also had our first fresh meat! We ate some donuts, and went through a severe raid on November 2 with very heavy antiaircraft fire. Both the United States Fifth and the British Eighth Armies are advancing and have gained some high ground at last. We visit the local “Mostra Fair Grounds” (site of the Prima Mostra Triennale delle Terre Italiane d’Oltremare built in 1940 – First Triennial Exhibition of Italian Overseas Territories –ed) which look like a World’s Fair. There’s a beautiful open air theater with a swimming pool. Many mosaics and statues. Soviet forces have now cut off the Crimea. The Germans made some landings on the Dalmatian Coast threatening to recapture Naples by Christmas. Our optimism is waning a little…
November 13 > Two days ago we visited Caserta and the King’s Summer Palace, it has 3500 rooms! We had a meeting on thoracic surgery. We are told to close our hospital tomorrow and get ready to move north and into tents. Major Patterson has an unusual expression, called “congenital menopause”. His great annoyance over the Chiefs of Medicine of the 17th General (arrived October 28, 1943 in the MTO –ed) and the 26th General Hospitals (arrived February 1, 1943 in the MTO –ed). When asking in one my wards for type A blood, Garrett, who had a fecal fistula, pelvic abscess, and a dehiscence said: “I’ve got type A blood, Major.” I said: “Why, you’re too sick to give blood.” He replied: “Hell, I don’t want to give any blood. I want to get some, and I’ll give 5 dollars for it.” Pruitt is another interesting case; colon resection, nephrectomy, and suture of a diaphragm. He is a singer with the San Francisco Opera company and seems to be getting well. Barrick, the splenectomy case is improving.
17th General Hospital
Campaign Credits > Naples-Foggia, Rome-Arno (1000 / 2000 bed Hospital)
26th General Hospital
Campaign Credits > Tunisia, Naples-Foggia, Rome-Arno (1000 / 1500-bed Hospital)
November 22 > We return from a three-day trip to “Hotel Vittorio” in Sorrento. Excellent beds, hot water, good food, etc. We have Vesuvius Cocktails, which is a mixture of cognac, white vermouth, and a lemon zest. We also enjoy a Stinger, cognac with crème de menthe. Lt. General M. W. Clark appears while we’re at the bar. Immy calls him Captain Clark. The beautiful songs we heard when visiting. “Capri” and “Return to Sorrento”. Spent an afternoon with my friend, Ed Shannon. One of the boys is strafed while returning home from Sorrento. Wonderful view from our hotel room. We can see Mount Vesuvius, Naples, and Ischia on the left. Numerous flowers nearby – Easter lilies, marigold, boungainvillea, wisteria, and all the orange trees nearby. The shops are selling antiques, lace, and inlaid boxes. Had a beautiful letter from my dear Jeanie. She’s making cranberry jam and little Johnny apparently loves it.
November 27 > We leave Naples by motor convoy for Capua (some 16 miles north of Naples –ed), which is just across the Volturno River. On the night of November 26, we have our farewell air raid over Naples – a very heavy one, with flares all around the hospital. Motor convoy to Capua November 28 was uneventful. We cross the new bridge (enemy tries to destroy bridge daily). I should have mentioned a wonderful turkey dinner on November 25, with all the necessary trimmings. We continue our visit to the King’s Palace in the afternoon. Magnificent paintings. The building was constructed in about 1750 and took twenty years to build. Paintings in the main hall illustrate the four seasons of the year. There’s also a miniature picture of the town of Bethlehem. Saw the King’s golden bathroom with mirrored ceiling so that he apparently could see passers by in the streets while bathing. The wantonness of some of our soldiers, tearing pieces of damask off the walls as souvenirs. The chapel has been bombed, but the King’s private chapel remained untouched.
Lots of armor is moving up to the front. We expect a big push around November 30. General Bernard L. Montgomery has spoken to his troops about going all the way to Rome. We expect to be there for Christmas 1943. We’re now set up in tents. The mud and cold are terrible. Poor Garrett finally dies of his wounds.
November 28 > Immy, Charlie, and I are trying to grow a moustache on a bet. Just had an interesting case of splenectomy which got ruptured by a concussion. Also had a ruptured liver case and a colostomy. We now have tough fighting ahead of us with SS troops, our Rangers, Nisei, Italians, French, and North African Colonial troops; all are participating in the current struggle. We meet very determined German resistance! December 19 is a very beautiful Sunday morning, and we went to Mass at 0930. We’re still located in Capua, near the Volturno River. Have been very busy with surgery and handled two brain cases yesterday. Bill Comess is getting ready for a Christmas party. We are comparing notes. I received many nice presents from home including a camera from little Art and a new cigarette lighter. Harry Terwilliger came to visit but I missed him.
Fixed Hospital Site – 95th Evacuation Hospital
Capua, Italy – November 28, 1943 > January 4, 1944
December 23 > We were presented with the Ella Logan (1913-1969, Broadway actress and singer –ed) show yesterday. Very interesting.
December 28 > We have a Christmas party. Immy and I have made up extra verses to the song “Pistol Packing Mama.” We exchanged silly presents such as: a lantern for Colonel Baxter, a hairbrush for Lt. Colonel Hubert L. Binkley, chickens for Colonel Paul K. Sauer, panties for one of the Nurses, an icecap for Charlie Musso, a notebook for Captain Beyer, a four-star General’s insignia for First Lieutenant Carrie T. Sheetz, a biretta for Miss Lane. Many funny telegrams are read, one of which is Jeanie’s to me. Having only 4 children at the time, the telegram would read that number eight had just arrived, but not to worry about the war because Jeanie says she needed the rest. Colonel Jarrett M. Huddleston, VI Corps Surgeon, got a telegram stating that “The enemy are at our gates; haven’t got time to talk now. I’ll be back for an enema later on. Best wishes to Paul Sauer.” My own patient’s story of the utter confusion at Salerno where small groups of American doughboys wandered off like bewildered sheep. We hear more and more stories what a close call we had on the night of September 13, when German armor broke through our lines and even clerks at Army Headquarters were given rifles to defend themselves. A massive enemy counterattack drove a deep wedge between British and American salients but was fortunately stopped within three miles of the beach with the aid of naval gunfire and Allied aircraft. Stories of a US Colonel who wanted to surrender, but an EM wouldn’t let him; of a Brigadier General hauling litters down the mountain side. Everybody is working at the front. Our delicious Christmas eggnog, a wonderful Christmas dinner. The situation at the front seems to be stalemate. There’s a typhus epidemic going on in Naples and the city is now off limits to military personnel.
The opera “La Bohême” at Caserta about three weeks ago, and the hilarious last scene when the tremendous heroine is supposedly dying of TB; she gets in bed, her lover beside her. The bed starts to rock back and forth, and has to be steadied by several of the casts because a slat is missing under the mattress. Also there’s a scene where an artist who loves a girl, tries to pick her up and put her down on a table at the restaurant. He tried three times before succeeding.
Our last meeting in Caserta was quite interesting: the subject was head wounds. We had no battle casualties for the past ten days. This really is a rest period for us. So far our hospital treated approximately 2,900 battle casualties, about 11,000 patients, with an operating mortality, as far as we know, of about 1.3 percent (on battle casualties). The latest rumor is that Italy is to be occupied by French and Brazilian troops only. The Fifth US Army is to be deployed elsewhere. The campaign in Italy is about over. There’s great speculation about a Second Front. The Soviets are once more on the offensive. There is also more action in the South Pacific. Our greatest worry at the present time is about being transferred to the Pacific Theater. All of us want to go home. No word from Jeanie in over a week. The children have been ill while visiting New York. Poor Grandma just passed away. God rest her blessed soul.
January 3 > Had too much New Year’s partying last night; fell ill while visiting the CO and also Brig. General Joseph I. Martin. What a life! Had bad luck with the Cecal case yesterday. Patient had acute dilatation of the stomach. Have been censoring gobs of mail today. Two funny letters, in particular. One fellow’s wife has twins, yet he is overseas for twenty-one months. He forgets about the time interval and has a celebration. Also another soldier tells his girl that he loves her from the bottom of his heart and adds; “Yes, my darling, I really do have a bottom, even though you don’t believe it.” Two hundred bombers flew over this morning. Destination???
Our hospital is now closed, Brig. General J. I. Martin said we have another test ahead of us. Amphibious? D-Day? Today’s a beautiful day, like spring; tents blew down and were ripped by a gale wind on New Year’s Day when we experienced a terrible storm. Went to the opera last night and saw the “Barber of Seville”. It was excellent. Immy and I crash the gate, but had no trouble getting in.
January 4 > We close the hospital again. All patients are gone. Story of Vincent, the poor Italian boy who works around the camp. He attended Naval Academy at Brindisi for four years. His mother died when he was an infant. Father was killed by the Germans. One sister lives at Lake Como. He wants to cross the German lines to visit her. Worries about her wellbeing. He wants her to go to America and begs us to take him on our next move, wherever it is. Will work for his keep? Just another sad tale. The meals are now wonderful. They’re fattening us up for something, probably another invasion. Major Patterson just returned from Sicily. His unit has gone off to Egypt and Palestine. His Commanding Officer doesn’t know much about what’s going on. Again approximately 200 bombers flew over our head. Just yesterday, the first B-17 Flying Fortresses we’ve ever seen. They are to raid the Italian Riviera. The Soviets are now ten miles from the Polish border. Lots of fighter activity overhead daily. Plenty of B-25 Mitchells. Tanks are moving up all last night and again this morning. Some tanks are returning. General Dwight D. Eisenhower is now the overall Commander of the Second Front with General Bernard L. Montgomery under him. British General Henry M. Wilson (1881-1964) is now Supreme Allied Commander, Mediterranean Theater (appointed January 4, 1944 –ed). There’s a great wave of optimism circulating. We believe big things are brewing.
Temporary Hospital Site – 95th Evacuation Hospital
Caivano, Italy – January 8, 1944 > January 19, 1944 (Staging area)
January 11 > This is our 8th Wedding Anniversary (Jeanie’s and mine). I just wrote her a letter. I’m very blue today. Now at a small town just south of Caserta. Arrived from Capua on January 9. For staging we are set up in a low, swampy area at Caivano. Lots of poplar and walnut trees, and many acres of grapevines. The 93d Evacuation Hospital, the 33d Field Hospital (arrived September 2, 1943 in the MTO –ed), the 52d Medical Battalion (arrived April 27, 1943 in the MTO –ed), and others are here waiting for the call. We’re all wondering where we will go.
33d Field Hospital
Campaign Credits > Naples-Foggia, Anzio, Rome-Arno, North Apennines, Po Valley (400-bed Hospital)
52d Medical Battalion (Separate)
Campaign Credits > Naples-Foggia, Anzio, Rome-Arno, Southern France
January 13 > Nothing new. We had a surgical meeting this afternoon on shock and hemorrhage. Will see the opera “Tosca” tomorrow evening. Already went to see “La Bohême” and “The Barber of Seville”. There’s a very old church in the neighborhood without a roof. There’s an old man, his wife, and a mule in the back of the church in one room across the road from us. Lots of young girls around are making long strands of fiber from sugarcane. It’s very dusty, dirty, and smelly. The sugarcane is beaten until only the strands remain. The part beaten off is used for fuel. A dead mule, recently buried, was recovered and is now being eaten by the locals nearby. When we first arrived at this site, all the little kids living around the area were called “straccione” (meaning, ragged –ed). They stand in our mess lines waiting to get hold of some food. Terrible poverty here in Italy. Our new amphibious tanks (Duplex Drive) look good. Many “Goums” here – black African soldiers – are stationed about a half mile up the road from us. Story of a fellow buying a brassiere for his wife or girlfriend. Sales girl says: “What size – coconut, cantaloupe, grapefruit?” He replies: “I don’t know, but did you ever see the ears on a cocker spaniel?” This is Sunday morning. Everything has been packed away. Boats are all loaded. Story is we’re traveling on an ammunition ship to whatever destination we have. Some fun! We will soon find out first hand. Many of us have pre-invasion jitters. There’s much speculation. We have been told it’s a very dangerous move. Our second. The Nurses have gone to the Bagnoli staging area. The Enlisted Men are happy and feel that we’re better off without them. Some of them bitterly resent the ANC Officers and would rather work without them. We all dread the cold weather that’s coming. Jeanie’s most recent letters about Catherine Delaney’s breast cancer and artificial crumb buns. She suggests my asking Colonel Sauer to come home to have another angel. Some gal, my Jeanie. If only she knew of our present assignment. Major Patterson gets a promotion and becomes a Lieutenant Colonel. I guess I’m going to be a Captain permanently. Many of the boys are being rotated out into the field units. I just hope it doesn’t happen to me. It couldn’t be much worse than it is. Frank Lavin has just written a poem titled: “My Son, My Son”.
January 19 > Packing yesterday for our second invasion. Destination? It’s about 1330 hours. We’re sitting in a truck aboard an LST. We had a good lunch after an endless wait. We were up at 0530 this morning. Had fried chicken and hot cakes for breakfast. It is very cold and still dark and we ate by flashlight. We’re still in Naples harbor which is filled with all types of ships, including an Italian cruiser – very sleek looking. Over a hundred tons of ammo are aboard our LST. The sun is beaming on the white stucco buildings in the distance. The sea is very calm. There’s very little excitement aboard the ship, rather great speculation. The moon is half full on the waning side. Our accommodation is poor. I’m in a stuffy dark room with three tier-beds or bunks. No mattress, springs, blankets, or linen. We plan to land on D-Day again, God willing (convoy on its way to “Operation Shingle”, the assault landing at Anzio, January 22, 1944 –ed).
Anzio Beachhead – Landing of US Army Medical Units
Miscellaneous Medical Personnel, 3d Medical Battalion, 3d Infantry Division > January 22, 1944
Litter Squads, 52d Medical Battalion > January 22, 1944
Second Hospitalization Unit, 33d Field Hospital > January 22, 1944
Detachment, 2d Auxiliary Surgical Team > January 22, 1944
93d Evacuation Hospital > January 23, 1944
95th Evacuation Hospital > January 23, 1944
56th Evacuation Hospital > January 28, 1944
January 24 > We sailed about 1800 hours on Friday, January 21. We’re all very apprehensive. We’re aboard an LST. We slept with our clothes on last night. Our ship is LST # 163. We had a submarine scare on Friday. Depth charges were dropped, results not confirmed. Friday night was quiet. Saturday morning was beautiful. Destination: Nettuno, east of Anzio. The British are to land north of Anzio which is about 30 miles south of Rome (Anzio and nearby Nettuno were two small resort towns on the west coast; ten miles to the east the Mussolini Canal separated the Anzio plain from the reclaimed Pontine Marshes, while on the northwest, partially wooded farmlands cut by deep gullies, extended about 25 miles to the Tiber River, leading into Rome; north of Anzio were the Alban Hills with Highway 7, about midway between Rome and Naples, while Highway 6, a direct route from Cassino to Rome, flanked the northern slopes of the Alban Hills, coming within 30 miles of Anzio –ed). At approximately 0900 on Saturday there was a very loud explosion and an escort ship used as minelayer blew up just back of us. Large formation of bombers flew over, about 39 of them. The boat, about one quarter of a mile away, sinks in about 5 minutes! Many small ships go to the rescue. There are several air raids during the day. One attacker drops bombs about 100 feet away from us. It shakes the LST we’re on. Members of the crew however sit calmly. One fellow in particular, sits on deck during the sinking of the minelayer apparently reading an adventure story. We remain on the ship on D-Day. Unload on D+1. Transfer onto an LCT and hit the shore very hard. We jump onto an truck and don’t get our feet wet for a change. We stay near the beach as the troops assemble near us for several hours. We reach Nettuno at about 1700 hours on Sunday, January 23. Very little sleep last night because of intense artillery fire. Germans and Americans fire over our heads all night long. Just had an air raid. Enemy planes came over. Two bomb hits nearby result in our first casualties. Lots of antiaircraft fire. We’re in operation by late afternoon of January 24. Beautiful day after a cloudy morning. The British are very cool and back up all the traffic. They stop on highways to visit. We certainly cannot understand how calm they are.
Fixed Hospital Site – 95th Evacuation Hospital
Anzio Beachhead, Southern Italy – January 24, 1944 > January 31, 1944 + extension to February 10, 1944
Anzio/Nettuno, Italy – January 31, 1944 > February 10, 1944 (move to new site some 2 miles east of Nettuno)
All US hospitals within the Anzio Beachhead were located in open low grounds, near the sea, providing a total bed capacity of 1,750; as from February 2, 1944 they included the 56th, 93d and 95th Evacuation Hospitals.
January 26 > Just went through a severe air attack. Already had a bad raid on January 24. Dive bombers and high altitude bombers – they bombed and attacked 3 British Hospital Ships off Anzio, sinking one with Hs-293 guide missiles (HMHS St. Andrew, HMHS Leinster, and HMHS St. David, the latter was sunk with a loss of 96 lives January 24, 1944 –ed). Went through an air raid yesterday while sitting in the latrine with Chaplain Laurence R. Davis. The bomb landed nearby and blew both of us off our seats. Two large chunks of shrapnel landed about 15 feet away. I just did my first brain case here at Nettuno. Patient seems to be all right. Heavy enemy long-range guns (railroad?) are still shooting at us. We had a heavy hail storm this morning, the heaviest I’ve ever seen. Another air raid as I’m writing this. Thunder and lightning all around us. Heavy artillery fire just to the south of us. God-made thunder, and man-made thunder. Yet another air raid. What a life! Our boys just crossed the Mussolini Canal yesterday. We are however giving ground on the main Fifth US Army front. Our fate is in the balance. It is now up to God and God alone! Went to Mass to a nearby chapel this morning. This was formerly a civilian hospital. Our boys shoot holes in the gold candle holders and tabernacle – for some reason – while making their initial attack. My visit to the Nuns. Received a general absolution today. Faith gives us lots of courage. The Nurses rejoin the hospital January 28.
Our new Officers’ Club just destroyed. Some joke! An aircraft was shot down just in front of us. It looked like a Spitfire, which is British, and crashed into the sea. Our forces repel heavy counterattacks.
January 30 > At Anzio, life is one continuous bit of hell (the Beachhead would remain a flat and barren strip of hell for 17 weeks –ed). Innumerable air raids, bombardments, rockets whizzing by at dark, ships blowing up, ammo exploding all around us, bombs falling everywhere. One bomb destroyed a church in the neighborhood, a mere hundred feet away. The Nurses are here. They were sent for by error. All are very jittery. None sleeps at night. A long-range German gun about 18 miles inland between two mountains and well dug in is constantly shooting at us (railroad guns trained on the Anzio Beachhead, such as the “Anzio Express” –ed). A terrific explosion last night when a munitions ship blew up. All our casualties. One guy escaped from a bombed out building only to have another building collapse on him and kill him. My fractured skull cases. Laminectomy, perforated ulcer (duodenal), perforated jejunum. Another case with a bisected kidney and massive liver wounds. Repair of diaphragm in order to close thorax. Patient died of hemorrhage. Another boy standing on top of a building was struck by a rocket. Our foxholes are now directly under our beds. There’s a terrible feeling of desperation to be operating during these severe raids. All the flares at night. Air raids are more frequent now. Soldiers all want to go back to the front where they say it is “quiet”. Our Unit Commendation from Lt. General Mark W. Clark (dated January 17, 1944 –ed). There has been no sleep in almost a week now.
February 1 > Just moved again (this was January 31 –ed) approximately two miles east from Nettuno into a little hospital center situated in an open field along with the 93d Evacuation Hospital commanded by Colonel Currier. The 56th Evacuation Hospital (arrived April 24, 1943 in the MTO –ed) affiliated with Baylor University, Dallas, Texas, under command of Colonel Henry S. Blesse. Also the 33d Field Hospital commanded by Lt. Colonel Samuel A. Hanser and the 52d Medical Battalion. This is a veritable tented city in an open swampy terrain. Lt. General M. W. Clark is here in the area and will visit us soon. This is to be the real front. Right after we left the previous site, the area is showered with fragments of exploding shells which hit a nearby ration dump destroying loads of cigarettes. The big enemy gun has finally been located about 18 miles inland. We have lost two bombers trying to knock it out. This is D+10 and this gun’s shells still whistle over us particularly at night, and we all duck instinctively, but it does no good. A bomb exploded in this area just before we arrived and showered everybody with mud and debris. Intense artillery activity last night trying to rescue a Ranger Battalion which had been trapped in Cisterna (4th Ranger Battalion –ed). There’s an airfield in front of us, about a quarter of a mile away, which makes the Nurses happy but which means we’re in a hot spot again. No mail is going out yet. Poor Jeanie will be very worried. Must write my darling now.
56th Evacuation Hospital
Campaign Credits > Naples-Foggia, Anzio, Rome-Arno, North Apennines, Po Valley (750-bed Hospital)
February 4 > Lots of hard work. Performing a lot of brain work. Had two cases today. Germans counter attacked today. Story of their breakthrough. All are very tense, awaiting future outcome. The four of us are in a latrine when a high wind blows the screens down. We all take a tumble. No B rations have arrived yet. We’re all getting very hungry for some decent food. I now have a ward full of German prisoners; and operated on a great many last night. One is a very interesting little guy born in Shanghai, who speaks fairly good English. He suffered a compound fracture of the tibia and fibula. They all seem like our boys, very nice and friendly. A 18-year old chap is helping with first aid in one of the wards. Everybody seems to be tired of war and as anxious to go home as we, Americans, are. A Lieutenant Chamberlain from Pittsburgh was in the hospital two days ago with a broken leg and inquired for me, but I missed him. No air raids the past nights, but the big German guns keep shooting at us over our heads every night – at least three of them – and scare the daylights out of us.
February 6 > News from the Eastern front seems to be very good. Our local news, however, is very uncertain. Mount Cassino has not yet been captured. Stiff counterattacks on our beachhead. So noisy that you can’t sleep at night – so far, mainly in the British sector. Two very heavy air raids last night. Bombs hit nearby. Our area was all lit up with flares. Bill Comess and I take to our foxholes. Betty McGaulley from Plattsburgh, called yesterday; she’s with the 33d Field Hospital. Some change from a Station Hospital, where she served previously. Bob Lavender, a good friend, is ill with angina and returned to Naples; he’ll miss much excitement. A story about our radar machine detecting six tanks the day before yesterday. The Germans have zeroed in on our airstrip. Four Spits took off this morning, and twenty yesterday. Many casualties from the shelling last night. Went to Communion again this morning. This is a good time, as is always, to be near to your Maker.
February 7 > The blackest day in the history of the 95th Evacuation Hospital. About 1430, a German bomber came over being chased by a British Spitfire. The enemy pilot dropped his load of bombs in our area – seven small antipersonnel bombs. Spitfire shooting at him. Two bombs land in our OR. Headquarters, Receiving, X-Ray, Pre-Op and Post-Op Evacuation. Several wards are hit. Colonel Paul K. Sauer is wounded in the leg and shoulder. Major Truman in the knee; Captain Henry A. Luce in the chest; Captain Henry A. Korda in the chest and arm. Al Shroeder is killed with a head injury while sitting at his desk in the Receiving. Lieutenant Kaywood suffers a compound comminuted skull fracture, cerebral herniation and dies promptly. First Lieutenant Carrie T. Sheetz, our Assistant Head Nurse and First Lieutenant Blanche F. Sigman, our Head Nurse, are both killed. Lieutenants Raymond F. Berent, Mallon, and William W. Haiten are seriously wounded. There are about 20 killed. First Lieutenant Marjorie G. Morrow, another Nurse, also dies. Miss Ester Richards, one of our ARC workers, dies of her wounds. Many Enlisted Men lost their lives. Between 40 and 50 are wounded. Twenty-seven ward tents are destroyed. The equipment is gone. Our electricians have all been wounded, and all X-Ray Technicians, except one, are casualties. The Pharmacist is killed. Best figures I can obtain talk about 28 killed, and 50 to 60 wounded. A boy visiting his wounded brother, falls across him to protect him and gets killed. Another Mexican boy with us has his head blown off while hanging out clothes to dry. Chaplain Winter B. Luskett is struck in the face. One of my patients with a fractured skull receives another fractured skull, while being x-rayed and is killed. Numerous German shells explode nearby. Lots of dogfights today. Big counterattacks last night, but all have been repelled so far. Story told us last night by a Captain who came in with the Rangers about our rocket gun ships (Landing Craft, Support (Rocket) –ed) which deliver 500 5-inch rockets in one and a half minutes and blasted a path several hundred yards wide and deep preceding the Rangers’ landing at the three beaches. The noise is terrific, indescribable. Directions are given by British Officers in small boats who advance near the shore, guided by compass only, and shine small lights in order to direct British naval fire.
February 10 > We had innumerable enemy air raids last night. Very hard to sleep. Took Seconal for the first time. In and out of my cold foxhole at least four times during the night. This morning, about 200 of our heavy bombers went over and dropped their loads down the road in front of us causing huge fires. Lots of enemy flak. Saw only one of our planes shot down in a mass of flames that burned for about 30 seconds, continuing right in formation, until it finally exploded. A German shell, a very heavy one, probably from a railway gun, fell about 75 yards in front of our tent near the water tank. Thank God it was a dud, otherwise we’d all be casualties! I’ll never forget the sound of the gun followed instantly by a whine or a whistle, then the huge thud as the shell hit the ground. Rumors are that we are to be evacuated to the rear is sweet music to our ears, if it’s only true and if we’re able to successfully “run the gauntlet”. We certainly need to reorganize after losing so many of our personnel. Saw the CO yesterday. Said he has both leg and arm wounds. First Lieutenant Raymond F. Berent was awarded an OLC, for more face wounds, and loses a finger. Major Jarrett M. Huddleston, VI Corps Surgeon, was hit yesterday by a huge shell standing in front of VI Corps Headquarters and was killed instantly; he was just going to be reclassified and sent home. The radio broadcasts are abounding and declare the bombing on February 7 was all intentional. We all feel it was accidental due to the Spit chasing the enemy plane which tried to unload its bombs near the airstrip. The Germans continue to shell the airfield unmercifully. One American and only four Spitfires took off out of twenty yesterday morning. I met a Lieutenant yesterday whose job was to interrogate PWs. He sits in a foxhole, talks to German captives while shells fly overhead, and the prisoner usually breaks down and tells all. He narrowly escaped death when a German shell hit an ammo truck just in front of him. He scooted by in his jeep just as the truck exploded. Another red alert today. The 15th Evacuation Hospital (arrived February 21, 1943 in the MTO –ed) moves in from above Capua to replace us. We are to return to their area bringing only our individual equipment with us. About 1700 hours, shells start once more to explode all around us. One hits the 33d Field Hospital (the Nurses’ tent). Captain Zachary B. Friedenberg narrowly misses being hit by shrapnel from the flak (a huge dud drops in front of our Headquarters), killing two more Nurses. The Commanding Officer, Lt. Colonel Samuel A. Hanser of the 33d Field Hospital is wounded. He suffers a radial nerve injury. Another Medical Officer is wounded in the thigh. Several patients are wounded. Most probable story is that the shells were fired by an enemy tank that broke through and fired wildly. Approximately 180 friendly bombers dropped their loads in front of us today – B-17s and B-24s. One bomber is hit, smokes, keeps in formation for a while, then explodes bursting into brilliant flames, and falls quickly to the ground. Another goes down. Only six bombs fall on our side of the line for a change. Bad weather this afternoon precludes any further Allied bombing.
15th Evacuation Hospital
Campaign Credits > Tunisia, Sicily, Naples-Foggia, Anzio, Rome-Arno, North Apennines, Po Valley (400-bed Hospital)
February 12 > This is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday (16th US President, February 12, 1809 –ed). Yesterday afternoon we assembled, and entrucked at 1300 hours for a drive to Anzio. Waited there anxiously until approximately 1800. Finally boarded an LST and left around 2000 hours. We are all alone this time – no convoy. We are shelled around 2300 but nothing happens. We have a further quiet, very rough, and very cold night and arrive at a port near Naples at 0800 the next morning, and eventually proceed to our new site, located some 20 miles behind the front, near Triano. Both the US and British sectors were bombed today.
A crisis develops during the night of February 18-19 with the Germans driving for the Beachhead. They’re stopped six miles from the sea. A renewed German advance took place February 28, but was equally repulsed.
February 24 > All is very quiet. We only have a few medical patients. Gradually reorganizing our forces. Getting some replacements too. Having good food, frequent movies. Have visited Naples twice, once to get my watch repaired. Everybody is upset about the publicity given to our bombing at Anzio (February 7 –ed) and the concern it has given our families. Erroneous newspaper reports from the States. Jeanie writes how worried she is. How I hate to have her upset! We have all kinds of troubles with the 15th Evacuation Hospital on the exchange of property. We understand Anzio Beachhead is still a very “hot place”. Colonel Cowan, a Dental Surgeon, said he spent the entire night in a foxhole. We are still fighting for Mount Cassino using mainly British and New Zealanders. Most of II Corps has been taken out of line. Where will they go? Rumors of strong forces in North Africa ready to move. Mr. Winston Churchill gives quite an ambiguous speech at the House of Commons and leaves us guessing about the invasion story. Just heard a funny story about the flood in Virginia and all watching the tall hat floating back and forth. A little boy said; “It must be Grandpa who said that come heel or highwater, he’d mow the grass today.” Had a good session on chest wounds at the 38th Evacuation Hospital (arrived November 2, 1942 in the MTO –ed) stressing intercostals nerve block and intravenous atropine to aid the undesirable sequela of a chest injury. We heard the 23d General Hospital’s Surgical Team is there now.
38th Evacuation Hospital
Campaign Credits > Algeria-French Morocco, Tunisia, Naples-Foggia, Anzio, Rome-Arno, North Apennines, Po Valley (750-bed Hospital)
February 29 > Pouring rain for the past three days. Our second rainy season. All is still quiet. Mostly medical cases. Good food and lots of rest. War news is bad. We are worrying about Cassino and more particularly about Anzio. Heavy casualties on both sides. Met a Captain Shuster yesterday. He’s now with the 34th Infantry Division and said that it is ten times more difficult than when he was serving with the Rangers. Two hundred have been left out of his original Regiment of three thousand. Terrible casualties when crossing the Rapido River. The enemy diverted the course of the River, blew a dam, and flooded our troops. Many soldiers drown. Many tanks are flooded, immobilized, and shot to pieces by air bursts. He describes the bombing of the Monastery on Cassino like a football game with thousands of Americans watching from the distant hills, and everybody yelling: “Give it to them! Give them hell!” That same night the Germans were shooting even more out of the Monastery ruins than ever before. Colonel Patterson is leaving tomorrow for the 93d Evacuation Hospital and back to Anzio. Nobody envies him. The Germans are finally driven back and the battle for the Anzio Beachhead is over by March 5!
March 10 > All very quiet. II Corps is being reorganized and streamlined. The Cassino front is to be entirely in British and French hands. We are to move in a couple of days to the Garigliano sector with the 88th Infantry Division which will become our new area of operation about 15 miles behind the front. The Anzio Beachhead is still sticky. Captain Eugene F. Haverty (Evacuation Officer for the Anzio Beachhead –ed) was killed by artillery at Anzio February 29. Went to a dinner dance last night representing one year in the 95th Evacuation Hospital (Dr. A. deGrandpré joined the unit in March 1943 –ed). Enjoyed a good meal and nice music. Surgical meeting yesterday at the 38th Evacuation Hospital on spinal cord injuries, skin care, and bladder. Morale of patients is poor. Impossibility telling by physical examination whether the cord is severed or not; thus all should be operated if there is any question of a foreign body or compression of the cord by, for example, a shell or a broken bone fracture. General feeling against perineal urethrostomy. Operations on the cervical regions under local anesthesia because of the danger of respiratory failure. Took a good walk this morning. Met a New Zealand Warrant Officer, about 6 feet 8 inches tall. His Major General has just had both feet blown off by a landmine. His intense dislike of the British, he didn’t want to be confused with them. Had tea and biscuits with him. His story of the New Zealand soldiers’ independence. The country only has a million population, being a great land of opportunity. Story that they always shoot about ten times the amount of artillery asked of them. He confirms this and says that at Tripoli one night, the NZ antiaircraft artillery fire exceeded the maximum amount of ammo allotted them by 70 tons. They all like Generals Clark, Alexander, Montgomery, but dislike General Maitland Wilson. Most everyone expects the Second Front will open next month. There is a great Soviet drive going on at the present, and a big air offensive against Germany. Are our figures accurate? Our proposed attack now on Mount Cassino. A four-hour air attack and a three-hour artillery barrage before the dazed German defenders recover. Here’s hoping it works…
March 13 > Moved today about 16 miles due west from the previous area. We’re now near Carinola on the Garigliano front. We are 15 to 20 miles away from the front. On our way here, numerous WP shells land all about us. It is apparently an exercise of some sort put on by the British. It terrifies everyone. The truck in our rear catches fire. Several shells land 20 to 30 feet away setting fire to whatever they hit. Our new site is very nice. We pitch our own tent. It is the best of the lot, called “Anopheles Hollow”. The 34th Infantry Division is to go to Anzio, while the 36th, the 85th, and the 88th Infantry Divisions are to be ahead of us on this front. The Soviets are putting on a big drive into the Ukraine. Even the Germans admit their withdrawals.
March 15 > It’s a beautiful day. There is shuttle bombing of Mount Cassino all morning by hundreds of Liberators, Flying Fortresses, and Mitchells. Plenty of dogfights overhead. Heavy raid on Naples last night. A flare falls nearby. We discover an abandoned aircraft on a mountain side. Go up to investigate and find that it is a three-engine German transport plane. Two bombs just fell across the road this morning, apparently dropped by German planes. Unusual phenomenon this afternoon; a peculiar, rapidly moving air current all over the sky with unusual light areas at the center of the clouds. All looks fluorescent. Just had our first shower at a Quartermaster facility. Obtained a new field jacket. Pouring rain tonight as I write by candlelight. Just fixed up a kerosene lantern which works rather well. Jeanie sends new winter pictures of the boys. Art looks so funny with a tooth missing. I miss them all so much.
March 22 > It’s the second day of spring. The Cassino battle is not going well. The Soviets are across the Dniester River. Just had a short air raid. An enemy plane flying very low and almost overhead; it looked like an Me-109. Small amount of ack-ack. One shell whizzed by and broke up our volleyball game right after lunch. A great eruption of Mount Vesuvius going on, with heaps of molten lava streaming down the mountain side. Nearby villages are being evacuated. The lava overruns highways. Very few casualties at the present time. My latest patient has a hole through his liver and right kidney. He was shot by one of his own guards who didn’t hear him give the password when challenged. .30 caliber bullets went through two packs of razor blades before penetrating his liver. His condition is currently fair. Brig. General J. I. Martin inspects our hospital accompanied by Colonel Paul K. Sauer. The CO introduces me as General deGrandpré to the great amusement of the two Generals. Have been receiving good letters from Jeanie. How I love that girl! We’re all waiting for the Second Front; hope it will take place next month or sooner. Our tents are very comfortable with tarps and new gas stoves. No more dirt or mess with coals and wood. Just heard we don’t eat any more fresh meat for a while and wonder if that is significant.
March 26 > Cassino situation remains bad; it has been partly recaptured by the Germans. My visit with Frank Lavin, a friend, now with the 3d Infantry Division, but on DS. Tells of his great hardships with the division – sleeping beside a dead man after being dumped out at night somewhere near the front. He is seemingly quite agitated, but finally falls asleep, exhausted. He’s accused of being unpatriotic, of absenting himself on frequent occasions, and is being sent to a hospital for psychiatric observation with questions as to his mental state. My trip to Naples with Colonel Sauer. It rained all the way in. Froze all the way back. Mount Vesuvius is quite impressive with huge columns of grey smoke blowing thousands of feet into the air. If the wind changes it will engulf Naples itself. Other towns are being evacuated. A hundred B-25 aircraft are covered with ashes and can’t be used (Pomigliano airfield, northeast of Naples and near Mount Vesuvius –ed). During the great eruption about 79 BC, it was ashes and not lava that buried Pompeii.
My visit with the MPs who knew Harry Terwilliger. They belonged to his company and reported that he had gone to Africa looking for a promotion. Naples harbor is filled with sunken and overturned ships. Stories of all the air raids at the present time. One Military Policeman had to stay on duty beside a ship loaded with bombs. Another took refuge under a truck loaded with ammunition (this he found out later). We visited Frank Mallon, who is a patient at the 21st General Hospital. Also met Tiny, the electrician from our 95th Evac. Had lunch there. One hospital, the 17th General Hospital, was hit. Another housed in a building, suffered a near miss with 600 windows blown out. Germans once more shell hospitals at Anzio on March 29 – 30, shells come down and several men are killed. The 94th Evacuation Hospital arrived at Anzio Beachhead. Everyone is now dug in at Anzio. It is described as the hottest place on earth!
April 3 > I’ve been laid up with a sprained ankle sustained while playing softball. Charlie had 5 dollars bet on the game; Bill bet 3 dollars, we lost. Ankle very swollen and discolored. X-ray shows old fractured fibula. Immy wears a cast on his right thumb just for the game, then won’t use it anymore. Charlie puts it on and is furious because Immy wouldn’t use the thumb during play. He now refuses to take off the cast although Charlie has a large hole in his tooth awaiting a filling by Immy, our local dentist. Our First Anniversary celebrating overseas service is approaching. I’m chairman of the publicity committee; we had our first meeting last month. Captain Charles A. Behrens is put in Receiving, once again changing my team. He’s a fine young fellow. The war news is still very bad.
April 6 > Still hobbling around. Went to a medical meeting today on blood transfusion. Twenty percent of kidneys are examined at the 15th Evacuation Hospital’s Medical Laboratory which shows hemoglobinuria, and two-thirds of these are due to mismatched blood transfusions. This condition is due to: (1) improperly matched blood (2) Black Water Fever (malaria) (3) Sulfa (4) Mushroom poisoning. We’re now starting our own Blood Bank to test all donors to make sure they haven’t had malaria within the last six months. There are three types of blood transfusion reactions: (1) hemolytic (2) thermic (3) allergic (hives). No deaths have occurred if not over one half pint of blood has been given. Give blood very slowly.
Lots of smoke over the Garigliano River today hiding our troop movements. Big activity is expected soon. The peach trees are out. The weather is beautiful. If you have hemoglobinuria you give 30 grams of sodium citrate daily. Use the ampules intravenously. Major Mallory from Harvard is one of the speakers. He’s a classmate of our Chief, Lt. Colonel Grantley W. Taylor. An interesting story told by one of our soldiers about the water well in “no man’s land”, both us and the Germans get water unharmed under each other’s observation as long as you don’t carry a rifle. One boy did carry a rifle one day, and had the water can shot away from him while he was carrying it.
April 8 > Very little to write about these days. All is quiet. The weather is glorious. Very little fighting. Living well. Food is fine. Playing volleyball, softball, and baseball. Colonel Patterson called last evening. Just got back from Anzio with the 93d Evacuation Hospital which was replaced by the 11th Evacuation Hospital (arrived November 18, 1942 in the MTO –ed). The 56th Evacuation Hospital after being bombed March 29, and hit again April 3 and 6, is also back having been relieved by the 38th Evacuation Hospital. Hope our turn isn’t next. Lots of shelling at Anzio. One shell being used, they tell me, weighs 780 pounds and is 4 feet long. All the hospitals at Anzio are partially dug in now, with excavations to a depth of 3 or 4 feet, earth revetments 3 ½ feet thick, and extra steel stakes, chicken wire, wooden planks, and sandbags. Several incendiary bombs fall in the hospital area and are put out by Enlisted personnel, of whom several are burned. Batteries of our 90mm antiaircraft guns are now being used as artillery against the Germans. A German Officer tells a story that our campaign has been so screwed up that they are confused and don’t know what to do next. He tells another story of our shelling a cemetery with 155mm artillery shells after which he sees 20 Germans going into the cemetery. In the morning 19 come out. He watches 60 German bombers go over in formation; 14 are shot down by our antiaircraft fire. He said it’s the greatest concentration of antiaircraft artillery in the world. Colonel Patterson looks very haggard and worn. Last night, represented ONE year overseas (overseas movement and shipping date: April 16, 1943 –ed). The CO gave a speech. Brig. General Joseph I. Martin made some very witty remarks. Somebody produced 54 dollars worth of flowers. We had the 175th Coast Artillery Corps Band for entertainment.
11th Evacuation Hospital
Campaign Credits > Tunisia, Sicily, Naples-Foggia, Rome-Arno, Anzio, Southern France (400-bed Hospital)
April 29 > Many bombers overhead today. Lots of rumors about what’s going to take place May 9 or 10. Had a volleyball game today against the 93d Evacuation Hospital. We won easily. There are active rumors about our returning to Anzio, although it is very quiet there at the moment. Had a meeting two days ago with the 56th Evacuation Hospital on the subject of malaria. Colonel Paul F. Russell (Theater Malarialogist –ed) gave the talk. He’s a member of the “Malaria Commission”. All should place great reliance on the liquid repellent called “612”. All units are responsible for caring for their own regional areas. The name “malaria” originated in the Pontine Marshes and translate into “bad air”. People thought that mist from the marshes caused the disease. Difficulty with the recurrence is due to the inability to deal with the cryptozoite stage from the moment the parasite enters your body until it appears in the blood. It’s supposed to remain inside the cells, and is thus unaffected by Quinine or Atabrine. Experiments in the Pacific prove Atabrine merely postpones the attack but does not prevent the disease.
May 15 > Yesterday I received my rank as Major. The actual date for my promotion was April 27, 1944. What a thrill. Colonel Paul K. Sauer pins the leaves on himself and says he hopes they’ll soon turn to silver, meaning Lieutenant Colonel. A big blow out in Naples. A bad head case came in today. Quite a few battle casualties too, our first in a long time. We’re still wondering about the next big push and believe it’s going to take place either on May 10 or 11. Had a patient lying in a foxhole. Four Germans approached him, killed his buddy, and beat his head in with a rifle butt. It was only his third day at the front. Poor chap is only 18 years old. Interesting session today at the 56th Evacuation Hospital on the subject of gas gangrene. May 10, Soviet forces just captured Sevastopol. Lots of talk today being the Big Day! Went swimming yesterday at Mondragone Beach, a really beautiful spot. Endless white sand. Only approximately ten miles from the front. Constant air patrols by Spitfires and Mustangs. Plenty of antiaircraft artillery set up all around us. We were able to shower afterwards, then had a hot and dusty trip home, about a distance of 15 miles. Our troops are now building a railroad bridge across the Garigliano River which is two miles from the frontline and under constant smoke protection. We move up our 240mm artillery guns into position. Lots of new troops are coming into the area today. Something important is certainly imminent.
May 17 > Big Offensive began on May 11, 1944 (this was part of the overall drive on Rome –ed). Preliminary announcements were made by Generals Clark and Alexander. The 85th and 88th Infantry Divisions and the French Expeditionary Corps are moving up to the front. The French are going great guns. We’re making wonderful progress. Very busy these days with numerous casualties. Lots of head cases. We work 12-hour shifts for two days, followed by two nights and a day off. The realignment of Allied Armies in Italy made Highway 6 the main support artery for the British Eighth Army while Highway 7 primarily served the US II Corps. All Fifth United States Army Hospitals were now regrouped in the vicinity of Carinola.
May 22 > We have been ordered to move north of Itri, very near the front. We are still advancing. Rumors of the Anzio Beachhead breaking out in an offensive (the drive from Anzio by VI Corps effectively started May 23, 1944 –ed). Had a heavy air raid last night. Seems all so familiar now. All our patients have been evacuated. We hate to leave this area. Germans seem to be exerting a holding action now. They have announced that they’re evacuating Rome. All (enemy) troops have been ordered back to the Anzio Beachhead about three days ago. We saw over 400 bombers last night. Quite an awesome sight! One of my head cases just died. Had a bad tear in the longitudinal sinus. All my other patients are alive and doing well. Transverse colostomy case is doing fine.
May 24 > I’m 35 years old today. We are now located in a new area north of Itri. Start work at noon. Made our move yesterday morning; about a two-hour drive, perhaps 35 miles through Formia, which is completely destroyed. We can see Gaeta in the distance and it seems untouched. We travel north along Highway 7 and follow the coast as far as Itri, which is also in ruins. Then on to a secondary road for about a mile over new area into a valley, completely surrounded by high mountains. Our tents are set up on a terrace. There’s a beautiful monastery in the distance. Armor is still in the area when we arrive. The terrifying echoes made by the shells exploding just a few hundred yards away. All the shell craters in our area. German propaganda pamphlets everywhere. We went by a German first aid station. Saw veterinary equipment, an anvil, some horseshoes, medicine, felt. There’s a large gun emplacement in our location. Dozens of shell casings. The poor peasants who just returned to their homes, or what’s left of them, from the mountains. They apparently have been sheltering up in the mountains for approximately six months. Everything has been taken away from them. We see many ruins. Lots of tanks, 88mm guns, armored half-tracks, Volkswagens, on the way up here. We cross over pontoon bridges. We’re the FIRST hospital this far forward, as usual, between Itri and Pico. Reports of heavy fighting by the Free French near Pico. Unconfirmed reports today of our patrols (II Corps) and Anzio Beachhead parties (VI Corps) making contact with each other on Highway 7. Our artillery is now shelling the Germans from both fronts.
May 27 > We’re still very busy and established near Itri. Beautiful well terraced area. Last night had two head cases and an abdominal case. Also a retroperitoneal wound to the ascending colon. Two nights ago a young girl was brought in with many holes in both her small and large intestine requiring suture, resection, and colostomy. Her condition today is very critical. Yesterday, I climbed a mountain with Imerman and Chaplain Davis. Very steep, very rocky. Saw a German OP. Lots of psywar pamphlets around. Found a potato masher (German handgrenade –ed), burned German helmets, abandoned shoes, and other equipment. We could see the Pontine Marshes from where we were, as well as Gaeta on Highway 7. We could see the sea (Gaeta Gulf –ed) from the mountain top. The marshes are all flooded and have increased our difficulties. Other boys found six enemy and one American, all deceased, with buzzards near them.
June 4 > Two days ago we moved to a new site between Cori and Velletri. Left at 0800 and took about three hours to arrive. Went through Fondi and Terracini. Both badly battered up. Lots of signs of war on the way here – destroyed German guns and American tanks. Pillboxes everywhere. High, rocky cliffs. Destroyed German airfields. Burned out aircraft. Our new spot is a flat hay field. Very hot. Very dusty. Boys are suffering from hay fever. The place is full of bugs and weeds. Air raid last night, just before we got here. Only one tonight. See flares in the distance. We’re back to our foxhole days again, and overwhelmed with casualties. My poor head case with the longitudinal sinus died. Another head case last night, directly over but not injuring the longitudinal sinus. Cases of lacerated liver, perforated stomach, perforated colon, too. Required a resection and colostomy. Another colostomy same night with a perforation of the pelvic colon with pieces of bone driven into the peritoneal cavity.
Cub pilots dropped messages announcing that our tanks entered Rome this morning at 0730 hours. We’re all very enthusiastic. Three vascular cases last night. Inferior epigastric, second branch of the auxiliary artery, and another injury to the brachial artery. Very tired today, but extremely happy with the war’s progress. Still long, however, for my dear Jeanie. One infantry soldier tells me that his company killed at least a thousand Germans. The enemy are retreating in great disorder. Some columns are being constantly strafed. Thousands of disabled vehicles are abandoned on the road (excellent work by the US Twelfth Air Force –ed). Large numbers of PWs are coming in.
June 7 > The Second Front has started (this is D-Day, June 6, 1944, the invasion of Normandy –ed). Just announced this morning while I was doing a head case. Great deal of excitement as you can well imagine. Not as busy today. Was just visiting with a First Lieutenant from the 88th Infantry Division who was in our hospital. Told me the story of his division advancing towards Rome with over 50% casualties in his particular company, not from battle but from exhaustion. Men dropping from hunger and fatigue – walking over cliffs, getting killed, falling asleep while standing. The people are wild in Rome, hysterical over our progress.
June 10 > Two very pleasant days in Rome. Yesterday we left at 0530 and hitched our way about 30 miles. Arrived in Rome at about 0800. Saw the “Colosseum” first, then the “Pantheon” with the high concrete roof open to heaven at the center. Raphael and many Kings and Queens are buried here. Then on to “St. Peter’s”. Saw the “Jubilee Door”, the spot where Charlemagne was crowned, the crypts where Saint Peter and many other Popes are buried, and the magnificent mosaics, the marble pillars from the pagan temples, the dome by Michelangelo and a copy of “The Transfiguration” by Raphael, the original being in the Vatican. The “Transfiguration” is supposedly the greatest painting in the world. Can see the spot where the spear pierced our Lord and the relic of the true Cross. Then on to see the Pope (Pius XII –ed) and receive his blessings. Then lunch. Shopped in the afternoon, but the prices are too high, so we came home for supper. Went back to Rome again today. We saw “Villa Umberto” in the morning. Drove around and watched the beautiful oleanders, both pink and white. Visited the “Villa Appia” this afternoon. We stopped at “Quo Vadis Church” first and saw the supposed footprint of Christ, where He and Peter met. Then followed the “Church of Saint Sebastian” which was built in the 4th century by Emperor Constantine. Down below to the Catacombs and the homes of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. The crypts, the bones, the dark tunnels, etc.
June 13 > We move by Quartermaster trucks to Montalto about 100 miles north of Cisterna. First to Rome, by way of Nettuno and Anzio. We saw our old area. Very bumpy and dirty ride. Bridges blown. German guns still in position with their camouflage nets up. “Achtung Minen” signs scattered about. We are advancing rapidly now. Lots of strafing along the roads. Moderate amount of German equipment all the way up. We refuel at a gasoline dump which was almost completely destroyed by the explosion of a 5-gallon gas can. We see a destroyed airport by the sea. Then Civitavecchia where MG fire makes us all sit up and take notice. This is a nice area near the sea by Highway 1 (running along the Mediterranean coast –ed). Too dangerous for swimming yet.
June 16 > Report that Tokyo, Japan, was bombed by our new B-29 Superfortresses. We continue to advance. Stalin is now attacking Finland.
June 21 > First day of summer. Beautiful day over here. Hospital is full of medical cases. Had an interesting talk with Colonel Frederick R. Hanson (Theater Consultant in Neuropsychiatry –ed) and Major Champ Lyon (Theater Consultant in Wound Infections, Chemotherapy, and Penicillin Therapy –ed) about penicillin which may revolutionize medicine and surgery. Using now in all cases in lieu of sulfa. Do not use both penicillin and sulfanilamide together. Following this is a long dissertation on Major Lyons’ talk which is of no clinical interest at the present time.
June 22 > Lt. Colonel Baxter just received orders to fly back to States. He will become a member of an advisory council for Evacuation Hospitals along with Colonel Daniel J. Berry, Chief of Surgical Service, 9th Evacuation Hospital. What a break! We were just told by our Chief of Surgery that up to date, we have had 175 casualties among our own command, that’s either killed or wounded, and this includes prisoners and patients. Rather a sizeable number! Oh, to be home with my Jeanie and our gang! The war news is good. We’re finally preparing for the final assault on Cherbourg, in France. Big naval action in the mid-Pacific, east of the Philippines.
June 25 > It’s a beautiful Sunday morning. Went to Communion this morning. Saw Betty McGaulley at church. She still serves with the 33d Field Hospital. She was at Anzio for 4 months and is now getting ready for another adventure by boat (ending up in the South Pacific). She looks very well. Just met a young Yugoslav aviator who’s fighting with the RAF. He’s a wireless operator in a light bomber. Said that Tito and Mikhailovich are both fighting the Germans despite all the propaganda. They have great political differences, and fight each other. More Yugoslavs are killed by other Yugoslavs than Germans are killed by Yugoslavs. He believes that a civil war is inevitable and imminent. There are 3 million Muslims in the country. Believes there will be no more Yugoslavia after this war. He flies in an aircraft nicknamed “The Baltimore” which carries flares, 12-pound bombs, 15-pound bombs, and 500-pound bombs. It further has ten .303 caliber MGs on board as well as two .50 caliber heavy ones. There are not enough Yugoslavs to even former one squadron. He escaped in an Italian plane which was going to Greece. Then he jumped on a boat to Egypt, where he eventually received his training. He had 1200 hours before being able to join the RAF.
July 3 > Just heard that the Leaning Tower of Pisa has fallen (nothing but a rumor –ed). Probably knocked over by bomb concussions. Our boys are now only 15 miles from Leghorn. Normandy seems to be quiet and the Soviets are exerting a pincer movement north and south of Minsk with a frontal assault directed at the city. Heavy fighting on Saipan. Lots of rumors about our future. All are pointing towards another invasion for us. Could it be Southern France or Yugoslavia? We expect to be transferred to Seventh United States Army soon. Are presently very inactive. Maj. General Norman T. Kirk is expected to visit us today. We visited with some P-40 pilots yesterday. They were telling us about shooting down 74 enemy aircraft during the evacuation of Cape Bon, about the perfect timing of the attack, and the chagrin of the big shots who didn’t believe anything of this, and as a result, didn’t even go out for the big event to celebrate, and delegated nothing but Second Lieutenants (this incident most probably refers to the presence of the famous Tuskegee African-American airmen, pilots of the 332d Fighter Group “Redtails” –ed). Had a party for Lt. Colonel Hubert L. Binkley two days ago who received a cancellation of his transfer orders the morning of our party. We had the party anyway! I visited with Colonel Perrin Long from John Hopkins yesterday and had a good time.
July 5 > Traveled to Rome again yesterday and visited the “Sistine Chapel”, Raphael’s room, and the room of the “Immaculate Conception”. Also took a last look at “St. Peter’s”. Workmen were taking down all the red drapes and moving from pillar to pillar via ropes suspended about their waist, swinging wildly in midair. Finally being guided by other ropes from higher up, swinging to the next pillar. Had lunch at “The Hotel Continental”. Visited the “Mussolini Forum” in the afternoon and had dinner at “Broadway Bill’s” (Bill Scully from New York City). Got a flat tire around 2000 hours while enroute home. No spare tire, no jack. Bill Comess, finally persuaded a Second Lieutenant passing by on his way to Rome to lend us his spare tire. He even changed the tire for us! We’re back on our way and arrive home around 2200. Minsk has fallen to Soviet forces, and we are preparing for something else in the way of an invasion and something very soon.
July 14 > Bastille Day – will anything happen today? Enjoyed a nice picnic yesterday near a lake some 27 miles from Montalto-di-Castro, where we are now stationed. This is a beautiful inland lake area. Had a nice lunch today, bought and traded some fish for C rations. A local lady cooked the fish after we saw the Mayor and visited him in our bathing suits. We got permission to purchase some olive oil which is rationed. Returned home for supper. We are now under control of Seventh US Army and moving to the rear tomorrow for staging (the 11th Evacuation – 93d Evacuation – and 95th Evacuation Hospitals were withdrawn from Fifth US Army and transferred in view of “Operation Dragoon”, the invasion of Southern France, to Seventh United States Army –ed). I guess we’re on our way to France. This will be a real tough one.
July 17 > We are at Sparanise. Lots of mosquitoes. Millions of locusts, all singing constantly and casting their exoskeletons all over the tents and beds. Keep me awake at night. Last evening we went for a swim at Mondragone on a beautiful sandy beach. Our barracks bags were packed yesterday, then unpacked. This is what we call a dry run. Rumors are rampant. Many now talk about Western France to relieve Normandy. It looks like a real big move. It’s well veiled in secrecy. Nobody knows anything. Apparently a much better kept secret compared to Salerno. Stalin’s forces have now captured Grodno, one of Germany’s last bastions before East Prussia. We now have a new APO which is 512. Our move is imminent. We’re now attached to AFHQ, later on to subdivision before being reassigned to Seventh US Army.
July 20 > Yesterday we went to Amalfi, Ravello, and returned home by way of Sorrento. Had dinner at Ravello high in the mountains. A wonderful dinner of fish, spaghetti, an omelet, fresh vegetables, salad, fruit, and cognac anisette. Then visited a beach at Maiore where the Rangers landed unopposed. Continued on to Scali up in the mountains reached only by foot, the oldest village in the Amalfi Republic. Magnificent view. Where Wally and Edward (ex-King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson –ed) lived with the English Lord, who is the owner. All the cypress trees. Relics of Pompeii are there. Monastery of Saint Francis of Assisi. Saint Andrew is buried there in the crypt right at Amalfi. Saw beautiful beaches. Amazing curves and twists in the high roads. Tunnels. Roadside stands selling fruit and drinks. One Italian Princess from Brooklyn has a large megaphone. The entire territory is British-occupied. It’s a Rest Center for the Canadians. We’re refused admittance to the area without a pass, so we write our own. Numerous areas where the road guard has been broken down with hundreds of sheer nothingness below. Little pots of blue flowers growing on the mountainside surrounded by nothing but rock. The overhanging grape arbors. Had dinner at “Velda’s Restaurant”. Went to Naples on the way home which is loaded with ships of all kinds. Our trucks are being waterproofed. The next move is near at hand.
July 22 > We’re still established at Sparanise. Rumors of the biggest amphibious movement in history are abounding. Signs of great unrest in Germany. There was an attempt on Hitler’s life July 20, 1944. Yesterday we went to the opera, “La Bohême”. Last night we saw Lily Pons (1896-1976, opera soprano and actress –ed) and André Kostelanetz (1901-1980, popular orchestra conductor and music arranger –ed). Today it was “Madame Butterfly”. All the British discrimination against us. Last night trying to keep us out of the opera. Also refusing our Red Cross worker. President F. D. Roosevelt has been renominated. Senator Harry Truman is his running mate.
August 4 > This is Johnny’s birthday. We’re staging. Rumors of the next invasion being twice postponed. Two new replacement in our hospital – Captain Sydney W. Stringer, a GYN man from Syracuse, and Captain Silverino V. DeMarco, recently with the 83d Chemical Battalion. He was on an LST which was bombed and sunk. An entire company with him was trapped below deck. High explosives and WP shells shot all over the ship. He managed to jump overboard and floated around for three and a half hours, passed out, but was eventually rescued.
August 7 > Walter Lappley returned last night after a long stay in the 12th General Hospital in Rome. He shipped out looking for us. He was sent to Orbitello, and Piambino. Went through several Replacement Depots looking for our organization. Returned to Naples on a Liberty ship, loaded with 1st Armored Division troops. The French and Italians are all intoxicated on French Army cognac and wine reserves which the soldiers broke into. Lots of air raids going on. Back in Naples he was told that the location of the 95th Evac was a secret. He could not find out from Fifth or Seventh Army Headquarters. Finally a GI told him to try 3d Infantry Division Headquarters. They knew where we were and directed him to us. The story about the Officer from the antiaircraft artillery outfit who spent 6 weeks looking for his unit and made 4 round trips from Naples to Piambino and back. Walter Lappley tells us that the soldiers told him that we are to land east of Toulon. He’s very bitter about everything. First Lieutenant Adeline Simonson is to be married today to a Captain Marvin Williams (34th Infantry Division –ed), first in a civil, then in a military ceremony in Naples. There will be a reception later at the “Orange Club”. It will be our first wedding. The war news is excellent. We’re now on the outskirts of Brest and St. Nazaire, France.
August 9 > We entruck at 0930 and drive to a little town. Board LCI # 235 and sail for Salerno at 1435. There are about 200 troops on board, our Officers, plus 175 reserve and Enlisted Men from the 3d Infantry Division artillery. Terribly crowded quarters. We’re sleeping on 4-tier bunks. I’m on top, just to the right of the stairs. Water is being rationed – one half helmet and one canteen daily. Between 0700 and 0800 nobody can use the latrine; and neither can we between 2000 and 2100 hours. Nothing but C rations and a little fruit we buy on board. We’re all holed up on the upper deck. Our EM are traveling on LCI # 188. We leave Salerno Saturday, August 12, 1944. We go swimming off the side of the ship, the water is filthy and we have no bathing suits. Saturday night we got very hungry and finally stood in line for some macaroni, leftovers from the kitchen, just like Italian “straccione”.
August 13 > Just returned from Mass and Communion. We’re now between Corsica and Sardinia, in the straits, which are about ten miles wide. After some 36 hours, we are to continue to Southern France, about 35 miles east of Toulon. We’re told there are three Beaches – Red, which is on the left and which will be our landing Beach, supporting 3d Infantry Division in the Bay of Cavalaire. The 36th and 45th Infantry Divisions are on our right. Our beach, we are told, is heavily mined with lots of barbed wire and many coastal guns. H-Hour is 0800. French Commandos go in the night before we land. They are to capture Cap Nègre and Pointe de Trayas, while the First Special Service Force attack Port Cros and Levant. We have supporting battleships and aircraft carriers. Airborne troops will be dropped inland around Le Muy behind the landing beaches. The enemy supposedly have 500 planes, 2 submarines, and 1 destroyer in Toulon plus many E-boats.
August 14 > We’re in Ajaccio harbor, Corsica (R-V for the convoy was off the west coast of Corsica –ed). Tremendous anchorage filled with ships of all types. Tomorrow is D-Day. The Air Forces are softening things for us.
Operation Dragoon – Medical Elements of “Alpha” Attack Force
Ten (10) Surgical Teams, 2d Auxiliary Surgical Group
3d Medical Battalion, 3d Infantry Division
First & Third Hospitalization Units, 10th Field Hospital
52d Medical Battalion
95th Evacuation Hospital
181st Medical Battalion
376th – 377th – 378th Medical Collecting Companies
Headquarters & First Platoon, 616th Medical Clearing Company
682d Medical Clearing Company
Forward Distribution Section, 6703d Blood Transfusion Unit (Overhead)
August 15 > 0800 hours. Our trip was uneventful. A few flares were reported. Terrific bombing followed by 6,000 rockets and a naval barrage. Eight waves precede us. Five LCIs hit mines in the water. We land about 1630 (H+8½ hours) during a red alert in water up to my waist and poor Immy’s neck. A mine goes off ahead of us and another one just after we land. All the fields are mined. Many are ablaze. Mines are exploding frequently while we all march inland. We’re in a nice area now, about a mile and a half inland. Small air raid tonight around dusk. We have been unloading all night. Few casualties so far. Artillery is all German. The infantry is second rate. French partisans put up caution signs for “mines” to help us. One Medical Officer just captured 16 Germans. Some 88mm shells land near us in the harbor. We steal grapes, figs, blackberries and wash our clothes in a nearby well while on bivouac. I met a civilian who said the invasion was the work of an artist. It didn’t even kill any of his cows! A truckload of PWs just went by. I’ll never forget the food during this invasion.
August 18 > We’re located near Cogolin since yesterday (together with one Hospitalization Unit of the 10th Field Hospital –ed). Today we took a trip to a very small, quaint, French town famous for its cognac. We watch endless streams of Free French troops, African “Goums” (carrying their barrack bags on their heads, totally disorganized). The people sing and cheer and scream at the enemy prisoners. There’s much activity of the resistance fighters who are carrying German rifles and take care of all the snipers for us. They also capture German supplies. Eleven barrage balloons were hit by lightning last night. An amazing sight! One of our EM, Technical Sergeant Richard R. Russell, captures 2 Germans by himself. The front is now 565 miles from Paris, on the outskirts of Cannes and Toulon. Today, we moved to a new area to set up for the first time. We are now approximately 6.2 miles from the front. A Captain from the 2d Auxiliary Surgical Group hits a mine and is badly hurt.
10th Field Hospital
Campaign Credits > Tunisia, Sicily, Naples-Foggia, Rome-Arno, Southern France (400-bed Hospital)
August 20 > We are at Gonfaron since August 18, established in an olive grove, near the base of a mountain. Lots of patients. Had a French civilian with a bullet wound in the frontal region of his skull. Went through one of the ventricles in his skull some 23 days ago. Has what is called a cranial airocele with a slight headache. The battle for Toulon is now raging. Lots of artillery fire. The area is noted for its aluminum. Les Baux-de-Provence are nearby, the home of bauxite discovery. Two hundred of our folding cots were just stolen, so now we have to sleep on the ground. Lots of enemy casualties. Also many French casualties. There are many cork and almond trees in this area. The Nurses arrived by Hospital Ship August 19 (USAHS Marigold –ed). Great rivalry between the 93d and the 95th Evacuation Hospitals to see which Nurses set foot in France first! The photographers grind it out. We’ve had about a thousand patients since arriving in this location. Four liver cases one night, perforated gall bladder, perforated stomach. A little Italian girl with perforated rectum and ruptured spleen. Flying Sergeant who captured a German Kriegsmarine soldier is now with us. He was shot down, baled out, initially cared for by the resistance, and later by the Germans. He’s now staying with us with a broken leg. John Moriarty is one of our Officers. Very strange – he’s medicating and scheduling cases that Lieutenant Dunn did in the morning. Also writes cases up before he really does them. Just had a case with a torn auxiliary artery; he’s doing well. Took my first bath today in two weeks. Am wearing new fatigues. Great work on the part of the resistance in the area. They volunteer their services here in the hospital and distribute grapes to the patients.
August 27 > We had dinner of rabbit stew last night at Pont d’Argens. Two old gals who run the inn seem to be delighted. My seeing and asking Colonel Taylor if his intentions were honorable with these two old girls. One of them understands English well and replies in French: “Je suis trop vieille pour ca”, which means “I’m too old for that sort of thing;” Had fish for dinner tonight with good wine. Fréjus is the richest city in France because “l’Argens se jette.”, meaning the Argens River (argent, correct spelling, means silver and/or money) flows into the town.
August 31 > Visited Cannes yesterday. Beautiful city, like New York – high prices and everybody seems well dressed. Dinner with a Polish patriot,, a well-known maquisard. He pretended he’s number 7 in the Polish Army. The story of a hundred maquisards who were ambushed by 1,500 Germans; and the enemy cutting of the hands of their captives before killing them. Children have been shot in Cannes. Women have had their breasts cut off too. “Nancy a torticolis.” meaning “Nancy has a wry neck.” That was a password tipping off the invasion of Southern France. This was preceded by a week of absolute silence. Met Immy in Cannes. He took a picture of a blank wall with the words “Cannes – Nice,” which attracted a crowd for some reason. The French cannot understand us; they think we’re all crazy. We come and invade their country with cameras and fishing poles. We put salt in our wine and on our tomatoes. We eat tomatoes and jam on the same sandwich. On our way back from Cannes, we see two great viaducts which have been destroyed by the Germans. We attempted and failed many times to destroy them by bombing. This is a great mineral region. Beautiful villas have been destroyed. Tremendous fortifications. We see five collaborators (French women) in a jail in Fréjus with their hair shaved off. Also some male prisoners in another section of the same jail. We then walk five miles back to camp.
September 2 > We go to Toulon. Visit the “Hotel Victoria”. Stop at the bar. Meet a young girl whose sister’s husband was a German sympathizer. She acted as an interpreter for the enemy and was arrested by the FFI while we were talking to her. The FFI are now getting out of hand. It is largely communist. There’s increased armed violence. The older members are to be dismissed and the young men to be enrolled into the French Army. General Wilson makes a triumphant march into Toulon. We also visit Marseille. The port is badly beaten up by our bombing. Over 1700 people have been killed in a single raid (May 27, 1944 –ed). The Germans did a great job in sabotaging and destroying the harbor, including the “Vieux Port area. It will be very difficult to repair it. Our wild rides with a young French couple. We’re driving 75 miles per hour; the car is shimmying. Little girl in the front who keeps waving the sun shield up and down and puts a flower vase on the driver’s nose (and the French think WE are crazy). We see the battleship “Dunkerque” (French battleship, badly damaged during the British attack at Mers-el-Kébir, refloated and partially repaired to return to Toulon for comprehensive repairs. She was scuttled by the French November 27, 1942, to prevent her capture by the Germans, and subsequently seized and partially scrapped by the Italians and the Germans. Her wreck remained in Toulon, Southern France –ed) in Toulon, badly hit. Story of the flying jackass of Gonfaron and the Mayor reversing the tube when inflating the jackass.
September 6 > We are at Saint-Amour, north of Lyon, after three days of travel northward, about 380 miles through the French Alps. The first night we stayed with the 9th Evacuation Hospital (arrived August 25, 1944 in S. France –ed) Very cold. The following night we were housed with the 11th Field Hospital (arrived August 15, 1944 in S. France –ed). We crossed the Durance River, then the Isère River, and finally the Rhône River on pontoon bridges. Very hospitable French population. We see the Mont Blanc; it’s beautiful and snowcapped. We taste some delicious Gruyère cheese. Very few patients so far. The front is in fact many miles ahead of us; and it’s hard to keep up with it. We are far to the north of Lyons and also to the north of Bourg which was only recently evacuated by Germans. They burned civilian homes while retreating and slaughtered many innocents. The front is everywhere now near the Franco-Swiss border. Belgium has been liberated. We are situated near Arbois where Louis Pasteur (1822-1895, French Doctor, Chemist, Microbiologist, lived in Arbois from 1827 to 1838 –ed) went to school.
11th Field Hospital
Campaign Credits > Sicily, Naples-Foggia, Rome-Arno, Southern France (400-bed Hospital)
September 9 > We’re very busy once more. Was out for lunch yesterday with Dr. René Baudry, the Mayor of Saint-Amour and spent some wonderful time. He lives in a beautiful home made originally from a barn. We have a taste of absinthe, eat chicken, lamb, and drink some white Alsace wine, rosé wine, sweet wine, Champagne, coffee, and cognac. The we visit the Veterinarian to see his sick pigs. The amusing scene when one pig gets away after being injected with a hypodermic syringe. To hear the animal squeal! Then we visit the Chief Terrorist’s home (or Maquis leader –ed). The butcher with three tons of munitions in his basement. We have more to eat and drink. Got home at 1900 for an evening of work.
September 11 > In the afternoon, we visit a swimming meet at Saint-Amour. We watch various contests and listen to music. In the evening, we’re invited for dinner at Monsieur Parbel’s; he’s the President of the local Red Cross. Has 2 delightful refugee children. We have mushrooms, duck, chicken, potatoes, salad, and ice cream. Also some white wine. Our host offers burgundy wine, champagne, and chartreuse. Also a cherry brandy. Home about 0100 in the early morning.
September 12 > Had a party at the hotel last night with Colonel Paul Sauer. Lunch with soup, poulet à la crème, crêpe Parmentière, escargots, white wine, red wine, Champagne, and cognac. Very nice indeed. While eating someone steals the Colonel’s flashlight and windshield. Tonight we’ll have dinner at Dr. Grebot, he’s the Veterinarian who treats the pigs for “Le Rouge” (nickname “The Red” or “Commie” –ed). Tomorrow we will have dinner with the grand terrorist, again. Thursday once more with the Mayor. Friday, lunch with Dr. Baudry and Friday night, dinner with Mr. Languil, Mr. Bisson, and Madame Boucher.
September 13 > Dinner at Dr. Grebot’s – soup, squash, salad, chicken, and coffee ice cream. Excellent wine and Champagne. The CO desired to go to the “salle de bain” (bathroom) and wants to go unnoticed. Asks me to arrange it quietly with our host who sits next to me. Madame Grebot finally opens the door and announces to all present that the Colonel has to go to the bathroom. Is my face red! Today we join the terrorist for lunch. We have sausage, ham, liver pâté, stuffed veal, wild hare, chicken, and chocolate pudding. We were there from 1200 to 1700 hours. What a week of eating well! My trying to tell stories in French which really fall flat. The terrorist asks me to tell him when to laugh. Tomorrow we’re going back “chez le Maire” (at the Mayor’s –ed) again.
September 16 > Had another grand dinner wit the Mayor. Tells me all his exploits as chief organizer of the local Maquis. The roof signals for helping out our aircraft. His escape into the mountains for a year and a half. The Germans who stole 50 thousand liters of gasoline from him, which he had hidden for the resistance. But they couldn’t find the ammo he had. All the stories about his German girl, Christine, whom everybody eyed with suspicion. Talks about the wealthy engineer that he knows who owns three large factories in France. Saturday night, we are at the Maury’s, the sausage maker of Quiseneaux. Spent another wonderful evening! All sorts of good food and drink. Our earlier visit to his factory, where we watch the cattle being butchered (they’re hit over the head and then bled). We also see the Maury’s beautiful home which was burned by the Germans. I have a nice trip to Chalon-sur-Saône to visit a wounded American Lieutenant. Take many detours in order not to get lost. All the ordinary bridges have been destroyed. I see a submarine pen, a canal with many sunken barges. The clinic of Dr. Vachey who is a prison doctor. There are 4,000 German prisoners there. All the guards are dressed in German uniforms and armed with enemy weapons. The FFI (Forces Françaises de l’Intérieur –ed) just brought in 4 new PWs, recently captured.
September 17 > We had lunch at the hospital with all our French friends. Said farewell to many of them today. This evening once more dinner with Dr. Baudry. Monday we visited Lyon. All the stores were closed. We go on to Ars, a little town with a beautiful Basilica – home of the Curé d’Ars (Jean-Marie Vianney, 1786-1859 –ed). The story is that that the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to him several times and he performed many miracles. We saw his unembalmed and undeteriorated body; only his face is covered by a mask. His skin has darkened much. We also saw his heart, his uncoagulated blood, his vestments, bedroom, altar, confessional, belt with all the nails embedded on the inner side. His body, we were told, was underground for 43 years before it was exhibited in the Basilica. Saw his statue.
September 19 > We moved 100 miles north of Besançon, to Vesoul, and about another 2½ miles north of Saulx situated some 25 miles northeast of Rioz, where we opened September 18 (at the time the 95th Evacuation Hospital was the most forward Seventh US Army hospital in the region –ed). Last night, we saw artillery fire for the first time in many weeks. I guess the war is still on. Had a pleasant trip in Bill’s jeep. We bring our own lunch. People are not so friendly here. This territory was originally occupied by Germany and is very barren.
October 9 > We’re now some 5 miles southwest of Epinal in the Vosges Department, Province of Lorraine. Absolutely nothing happened at Saulx. Went out to have dinner once. Took a dessert once. We procured butter, cheese, eggs, and meat for the Officers’ Mess. We had a pleasant visit with a neighboring Curé. His kidding Captain Mario C. Gian about not being an “homme” but an “omelette” (which sounds about the same in French as it does in English)! And also for not participating in imbibing Eau de Vie or Kirsch, which is made from cherries, or marc (pomace brandy), made from raisins, or another liquor made from prunes. We have a new roommate whose name is Captain Joseph L. Gottesman who buys a brassiere, thinking that he was purchasing a handkerchief. Immy and I travel to Luxeuil-les-Bains, founded by St. Columbus in the 8th century, also known for its famous Roman baths. We visit Vesoul and find nothing of interest. It’s going to be a very cold winter here with lots of mud and fog in evidence. Our first enemy air raid in many weeks. While in Saulx, a German aircraft was shot down. There’s plenty of artillery around us. We have pleasant evenings playing bridge with Chaplain Laurence R. Davis. Had duck for dinner at Epinal which was very good. Epinal has been ruined. Had two popliteal artery cases both with bad results. Very discouraging. My new team now consist of Captain Sydney W. Stringer, Captain Joseph L. Gottesman, Captain Charles A. Behrens, and myself. The old team included Moriarty, Dunn, and Riner. Before that, it was Goslen, Lappley, and me. Goslen is now in Italy with a bad neck and a bad back. Our two most recent replacements are older fellows who pretend that they had been looking for us since May of 1944. This is already October! They went from one replacement pool to another.
October 15 > Last week was real quiet. There’s news of a big push starting today. Lots of casualties are coming in. The story of Generals George C. Marshall, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Alexander M. Patch and company touring the front. Our artillery is firing incessantly. After inspection, we were rationed to 2 shells per gun, per day! Everybody in the parade is a three-star General Officer or better. The only two-star General is the driver. A full Colonel is an MP who leads the procession on a motorbike. Went through two small air raids today. Saw the wreckage of a 4-engine British bomber. We found a good place to buy veal and beef steak. Also to enjoy decent meals. Received 8 letters from my darling Jeanie today. My, how I love her! It looks as though we will continue through the winter. Took a 5-mile hike today, the first exercise in a long time. There are now rumors of three new Divisions coming in to help us. Our boys are getting very tired.
November 9 > Nothing of interest to note. Still near Epinal. Daily rain, mud, and cold. Everyone feels terribly depressed. President F. D. Roosevelt is in again. No great election interest here. We’re quite busy. Local gains only on the front. Feeling poorly. Passed a kidney stone two days ago with pretty severe pain. Still not feeling right. Getting very tired of this life. The Soviets are now near Budapest, Hungary. Heavy fighting in Holland. V-2 – what is it, if anything? The enemy are making great claims for it. It looks like a winter campaign is going on.
Heavy fighting on Leyte Island in the Philippines.
November 16 > Had another severe attack of kidney colic yesterday. Second one in just a week. They’re sending me to the 23d General Hospital tomorrow.
Fixed Hospital Sites – 95th Evacuation Hospital
Golbey, France – November 20, 1944 > December 2, 1944
Mutzig, France – December 6, 1944 > January 4, 1945
Sarrebourg, France – January 8, 1945 > March 23, 1945
December 7 > Long time and no notes. X-rays show a kidney stone. Beat the doctors by passing the stone before they could cystoscope me. Now feeling better. Returned from the 23d General Hospital to a new setup in Epinal, old military barracks. Nice location. Made a trip to Dijon with Immy and met Mr. Morin. Have been buying wine with authorization for the hospital. Also mustard. Spent 1400 dollars on wine. Visiting the wine cellars and sampling the different vintages. We stayed at the “Central Hotel”. Met Sid Wilson and visited with several other members of our staff. Went to a beautiful performance in the evening of December 4 – was on DS to the 11th Evacuation Hospital. Colonel C. P. Ward from Atlanta, is their CO. Lt. Colonel Harold L. Wilson, from New York City, is the Chief of Surgery there. Nice setup. Beautiful Operating Room. Pre-op is in a former insane asylum. Charlie Musso and Charlie Behrens, Bert Friedenberg, and myself, stay only 48 hours. We were recalled to Mutzig, our most recent location. Just heard of a new anesthetic called Pentothal. Lots being written about it. Sometimes, the patients receive laryngospasm. Our present site is not good. We are housed in a dirty old German barracks recently abandoned by the enemy. There’s a big bazooka right outside the door and two German tanks. A roadblock nearby and a large Maginot fort in the back of us. It was captured only two days ago with about 100 Germans.
December 14 > We’re still in Mutzig. Sally H. (First Lieutenant Sally J. Hocutt –ed) had a wedding this evening, followed by a reception in the mess hall. Couldn’t attend as I am on first call in the OR. Reverend Larry Davis is the officiate. Colonel Paul Sauer has loaned the young couple his car for a week in Paris. Charlie Musso is on detached service with the 132d Evacuation Hospital set up at Phalsbourg, which is a very much screwed up outfit filled with GYN, OB men, and Pediatricians. The Chief of Surgery is Lieutenant Colonel Stacey, an OB man who comes visiting us the first night they open. Tells us what madhouse it is at his hospital. Still spends the evenings visiting with us and tells us: “Let them see their own mistakes for themselves.” Colonel Myron P. Rudolph (Surgeon, Seventh US Army –ed) inspected us today. Finds Captain Charlie H. Lynch asleep on a litter in the pre-op ward holding a chart in his hand. He is amazed when Charlie suddenly jumps up with a “Good morning Colonel! I have permission to visit Saint-Amour for Christmas!” This should be very pleasant. Interesting day today. Visited the Natzweiler-Struthof (opened October 1943, larger part evacuated October 1944, and liberated by US forces November 23, 1944 –ed) and Schirmeck-Vorbruck (opened August 1940, partly evacuated August 1944, closed November 22, 1944, and liberated by US forces November 24, 1944 –ed) Concentration Camps today. The former is on a mountain top which held up to 52,000 prisoners. There are double rows of barbed wire. The inner one is electrified. Large numbers of German dogs in between. About 22,000 men and women have been killed there by forced labor, poison gas, shooting, or beating to death, and were then cremated. Fifteen to twenty inmates are gassed at a time, they’re first stripped and have their hair shaved. Very few ever escaped alive. The camp is run by the SS. We saw the tiled floors in the gas chambers. Lots of blood on the floor. Many inmates worked in the nearby pink granite factory. Captain Anthony J. Pellicane slips on the ice, falls down hard, while trying to take a picture of the incoming German prisoners. They are much amused by this and have a good laugh. We then visited the camp at Schirmeck which initially held approximately 25,000 inmates – including many different nationalities such as Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Germans, Poles, Rumanians, Soviets, Scandinavians, French, Belgians, and others, who had to perform hard labor. Many were held in solitary confinement. We are shown around by an FFI, a former prisoner at the camp where he remained for 15 months. The women are baking black bread, peeling potatoes and turnips, and cooking horsemeat. There are long lines of women passing pieces of wood along to one another; The beds are three-tiered bunks. Very, very crowded place.
132d Evacuation Hospital
Campaign Credits > Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace, Central Europe (400-bed Hospital)
December 27 > Spent a wonderful five-day holiday; Three days in Saint-Amour with Dr. and Mrs. Baudry. Breakfast in bed, fresh eggs, hot water. More meals at Dr. Morey’s and other homes. One home was at the Rollins (he was the “great” Chief Terrorist I mentioned previously). All are now terrified by the current German counteroffensive (Battle of the Bulge). Parachutists are being rounded up everywhere. Eighty of them were in an adjacent small town. All German parachutists speak perfect English, wear American dog tags, and drive commandeered vehicles. They are questioned by our Military Police with queries such as: “Who’s Baby Snooks?”(comedian Fanny Brice –ed) “Who won the last World Series?” Questions that the enemy cannot answer (there was indeed a big scare and wild stories about enemy circulating everywhere during this period –ed). All our local friends are certain that the Germans will be returning soon. We’re back at Mutzig on December 23. Had a grand party on Christmas Eve. Colonel Sauer makes some eggnog for us. We are entertained by the 3d Infantry Division Band. All kinds of good food are at hand. Lt. Colonel Grantley W. Taylor is Santa Claus, has too much to drink, and staggers in, being held up solely by the weight of his sack filled with toys. He’s crying: “For God’s sake, ring ‘em bells!” Charlie Musso leaves before the presents are distributed and goes home to get tight. Immy and Staple (my roommates, Major Lewis A. Imerman and Major Oscar S. Staples) see him during the evening. He’s alone in the room. We all return home together about 0145. I bring home his present (Musso’s present from Captain Thomas O. Matthews). It’s a rope with macabre remarks about Charlie. It says; “Nooso Musso; Ropo Dopo.” Charlie lies dead on the floor when we arrive, shot in the head with his .45 pistol. The horrible shock of it all! Investigation all night.
Mass and Communion on Christmas Day. Nice Christmas dinner. A turkey was assigned to each table of six. We arranged for a Mass to honor Charlie Musso last night. What a tragedy! The German offensive is rolling on.
January 3 > We are now set up at Sarrebourg, Alsace. We traveled from Mutzig to Epinal at night, and then back to Mutzig, all in the same day. Reached Sarrebourg January 6. I developed atypical pneumonia on January 3 and was sent to the 116th Evacuation Hospital January 7. Returned to the 95th Evac on January 17.
The German offensive has finally been stopped and the Soviets continue their advance. They’re now only 200 miles from Berlin. A lot of snow here. We’re living in an old barn of a building; it’s very cold and drafty. Maj. General Paul R. Hawley (ETOUSA Chief Surgeon –ed) had just inspected our hospital, walked into the post-op ward, saw a PW who had been operated on and who speaks good English. The General started shaking hands with the patient thinking he was an American GI. He asked; “What outfit are you from, soldier?” The German’s reply was; “I’m from the 17th Panzer Division, sir.” The General pulled his hand back as if it had been burned.
116th Evacuation Hospital
Campaign Credits > Ardennes-Alsace, Central Europe (400-bed Hospital)
February 12 > Just completed a mission at “St. Bartholomew’s Church” in Sarrebourg; it was pleasant and fruitful. Immy had just left us. Returned home February 9. An emergency leave because of his mother’s illness. The war news is exciting. Soviet forces crossed the Oder River. Making huge progress. There is great optimism about the end of the war. We’re not very busy now which pleases everyone. Captain Russell was up and visited last night. I’m now living with Major Oscar S. Staples and Lt. Colonel Grantley W. Taylor these days. Both are very pleasant fellows.
February 26 > Not much to write about. All very quiet. First and Ninth United States Armies are involved in a big drive across the Roer River. Weather is mild. Lots of air activity. Colonel Grantley W. Taylor just got back from Dijon. His story about the old eccentric aunt of the Morin’s who had all the bidets in her home. Even one that belonged to Marie-Antoinette. Some of Joséphine’s belongings are scattered throughout the house, mainly over the fireplace. She lives in a renovated mill; there’s water running under the living room at all times. Sounds like continuous flushing of a noisy toilet. Story of the plague, around 1859, with the destruction of all the burgundy grapes so that the French had to get their young plants (vines) from California to start their wine industry once again. These young plants had been shipped some years earlier from France to California. The French wine seems to be better than the American because of the limestone deposits and other ground factors.
March 6 > All is very quiet. Very little work to do. Steady First, Third, and Ninth Army advances in the north near Cologne. Stalin’s forces have reached the Baltic. Lt. Colonel G. W. Taylor tells us about Charlie Pava’s letter home which was sent back by the censors. For example; “My dearest, how is your Uncle Net? I like Tunofish very well. Please note the spelling, darling. Do you get?” And all this before our Anzio-Nettuno adventure! Also about his calling Lt. Colonel Taylor in to OK one of his diagnosis before discharging a patient. “Is it alright, Colonel, to diagnose FUO (fever of undetermined origin) or should I write NYD (not yet diagnosed)? I really don’t know which is right. I like the work here, only I can’t stand the blood. If I don’t see any blood, I really am all right!” Major Maurice Gershman is now gone with kidney trouble. He’s in a replacement pool and may not be back under the new system which affects Medical Officers and Chaplains. Colonel Taylor’s story about the fellow ordering a fancy cake from the baker with the letter “S” on it. Calls for it in several days and says he’s terribly disappointed because it’s a capital letter and not written in script. The baker makes another one and again in several days, he calls for it. He’s however highly pleased this time. The baker says; “Will you take it with you, or shall I deliver it?” to which the man replies, “Oh, don’t bother, I’ll eat it right here.” Third Army is driving toward Coblenz. First Army is now near Bonn.
March 31 > We’re now in Germany. We just crossed the Rhine River at Worms. After staging two days near Kaiserslautern, which is a huge marshaling yard with thousands of destroyed railroad cars. Worms has been almost destroyed by explosions and fire. As the bridge was completely destroyed we crossed the Rhine on a pontoon. Very busy now. Great progress. Peace is near. We are presently located near Bensheim.
April 5 > The big rush is temporarily over. We’re now getting near the end of this notebook, so I hope, and also, reaching the end of this war.
Great air activity all day long. Occasional air raids at night. Trying to bomb the bridge at Worms, about 12 miles away. Lots of German PW patients. Many think Germany can still win the war. My friend, Captain Gilet, is off to Paris to buy cognac. He’s equipping his own hospital for the reconquest of Indochina which is probably expected this summer. His English is very amusing. He tries to say something about one of his girlfriends, and says; “She’s in big shape.” This evening the weather is cold, but we now have lights and heating in our tents. Ten beautiful letters came in from my honey today. Some treat! The Enlisted Men go out hunting and kill three deer so that the CO can have venison on the menu. Much wine is retrieved from the basement of the Cathedral in Worms. Five million DM are stolen from a bank in Hamburg. It is exchanged for French Francs in Alsace and then sent home by certain soldiers. Pure vandalism! The traffic in Francs is terrible. It is forbidden but much money is made. We are now at Kist, near Würzburg. Very busy again.
April 12 > FDR died of a cerebral hemorrhage. Our troops are approaching Berlin. My visit to a real Nazi Captain today. He has no religion. Loves the Führer. Is certain we will fight the Soviets soon. Said they are Asians, without any culture, and that Germany has no designs on the United States, but admits that it’s because Germany doesn’t have enough ships. All the Champagne and cognac in Würzburg. All the looting that’s going on. The war is certainly near over.
April 22 > Just got back from Mass. It’s cold and rainy today. Still very busy. Many PWs are coming in, ages 14 to 16. All the prisoners look happy, but poor in health. Great weight loss. One Frenchman, a Prisoner of War since Dunkirk (May-June 1940 –ed), pretended the Germans were stupid people. Made him beat anthills with a huge wooden maul; he told me one story of being incarcerated for telling a German housewife to get green goggles for the cows in order to make the hay look green so that the animals would eat better and produce more milk. The housewife sent to Paris for the goggles. The prisoner had to put goggles on the cows himself, with the result that they all got sick. Hence, the incarceration. His tale of being beaten by the Germans, the last one in line on the way to forced labor was always beaten. The story by the 45th Infantry Division doughboy about cutting wires of a fence at night, bivouacking for the night only, to hear weird sounds during his sleep. When waking up in the morning, he found out that he had slept in a zoo with all kinds of animals running around loose. A Military Policeman in Hitler’s baby factory, where mass savage and immoral reproduction took place (Lebensborn program initially started in Germany in 1935 –ed). Stuttgart, Nürnberg, and Bologna are now ours. Stalin’s forces are in Berlin and about to join up with us. Our assurance by Maj. General Albert W. Kenner and Colonel Henry S. Blesse that we will go home when this is over and possibly be discharged from the service. We are still near Würzburg. Lots of antiaircraft fire at night. Bed-Check Charlie is still strafing us regularly. My last patient is one of his victims. He killed a Dental Officer nearby during the same attack. He flies very low over our hospital nearly hitting the tents. No German aircraft during the day. Hundreds of our bombers and cargo planes are now going along totally unescorted. Had no mail today in over two weeks. Some service! Meals are excellent. Fresh eggs every morning and fresh meat frequently. Just had a good laugh over Bert Friedenberg’s (Captain Zachary B. Friedenberg –ed) most recent package he’s trying to mail home. It’s a compass of a German jet plane, which looks like a mine. It will certainly frighten the censors; they’ll probably call out for the bomb disposal unit. One guy tried sending home a small German automobile piece by piece, but the censors caught on to him when a fender came through the mail. To date, we have had ten thousands of patients.
April 28 > Getting ready to move to our new site, which will be only 2 miles away from the Danube River, and 118 miles from Würzburg. Its is near Augsburg. Yesterday I took a trip to Rothenburg, a beautiful historic city half destroyed by a three-minute bombing on March 31, 1945. “St. Jacob’s Church” is a Gothic building built in the 13th century. The three types of Gothic architecture. Seats where the knights sat. There’s a wooden altar supposedly holding a drop of Christ’s blood. Beautiful organ. Picture of Martin Luther (1483-1546, Protestant Reformer –ed) on the wall. The boxes broken into by the Soviets which contain broken vessels and chalices. Many were stolen. All the beautiful arches. The wall around the city. The refuges near the Rathaus (Townhall –ed) where the play is put on each year (historical play: “The Master Draught” by Adam Hörber –ed). The etchings. Our first purchases in Germany. Rothenburg lies on the Danube River (Tauber in German –ed). Beautiful trio. Good roads lined with fruit trees. Many workers are busy in the fields – all women. No billboards in sight. The clock, calendar, and sundial on one side of the building. People seem very friendly. Little children even wave to us. The hospital tentage is now down. Interesting and amusing thoughts about all our informality. People eat while giving anesthetics in the OR. Somebody else is pressing clothes in the operating room. Others sleep there. Our forces are now across the Danube, 35 miles from Munich. Regensburg is captured. Berlin is surrounded. Potsdam has been captured. Soviet forces and Americans link along the Elbe River. The war is nearly over. Genoa is captured. Hermann Göring has fled. Adolf Hitler is in Berlin? Benito Mussolini has been captured (April 27, 1945 –ed).
May 9 > Yesterday, PM W. Churchill gave a speech. V-E Day is here! All firing has ceased. No great enthusiasm around. Captain Evelyn E. Swanson (Chief Nurse –ed) gave a speech, followed by Colonel Paul K. Sauer, and Sergeant Stanley J. Polanski. Our future remains uncertain. We’re all happy to go home. We went to Munich two days ago with Bill Comess. The town is badly destroyed. Across the blue (not so blue) Danube, back by way of Dachau, the infamous Concentration Camp filled with typhus and tuberculosis cases. Two WACs are now held there. You can’t get in without a pass from the Commanding General, 45th Infantry Division. We saw ten loads of emaciated smelly bodies being carried down the street. The procession was preceded by a group of Germans, each truck being guided by a driver wearing a gas mask, because the smell was so bad. All the boxcars on the tracks near the hospital previously filled with dead bodies, now with only clothing and food. The home of hundreds of prisoners. All the inmates wear striped uniforms, and some wander around the countryside aimlessly.
May 18 > Young Art’s birthday has come and gone. Yesterday I had a nice trip with Bill Comess to Augsburg and Oberammergau (named for the Ammer River). Visited “Schloss Linderhof” which was once the home of King Ludwig II (1845-1886) of Bavaria (his Godfather was King Louis XVI of France –ed). Then went to Garmischpartenkirchen and on to Innsbruck, the capital city of Tyrol. Saw the elevator to the base of the mountain, the basket lift up Hafelkar Mountain, from the tip of which you can see Italy. Skiing on the top of Hafelkar. Had lunch at a lake near Garmischpartenkirchen where’s a hospital for Luftwaffe amputees. All the jet propelled aircraft destroyed near Innsbruck. The “Passion Play” at Oberammergau ‘since 1634 –ed). We saw the costumes, the way Christ is suspended for 23 minutes from the cross, the false-tipped spear filled with red paint rather than blood which stabs Him in the side. Had supper at “Anton Lang’s” workshop. Home at 2200.
May 24 > Cold and dreary. Just finished reading “Philosophies at War” by Monsignor Fulton Sheen. Excellent book. No news about our future. Hear we may move to Heidelberg. Some of our Nurses are on TD at KZ-Dachau. Still full of tuberculosis and typhus. Most of the patients are Jewish, although there are other nationalities too. They only receive German food, two meals a day, complain bitterly about it, fight over portions, and behave like children. Sleep two to a bed. When one dies, the body is pushed out and another patient moves in. Sometimes they lie dead for days before the bedfellow reports it. They’re all sprayed daily with DDT. So are our medical personnel entering and leaving the ward. Planned to go fishing with the CO today, but it was too cold. Caught 5 nice trout the other day, all over one pound each – 3 speckles and 2 rainbows – a total of 20 fish for the day.
June 3 > To Konnersreuth, a 360-mile trip to see Therese Neumann (1898-1962, Roman-Catholic stigmatist –ed) by way of Regensburg where we stopped and visited the beautiful Gothic Cathedral built around 1300. We met Bishop Michael and obtained his permission to visit Therese. We had lunch on the road. Thousands of DPs on the roads – all nationalities using all sorts of transportation. Horse-drawn carriages loaded with young and old, carrying their own fodder. People on crutches, using wheelchairs, bikes, pushing carts, and baby carriages. Through Weiden all decorared for the “Corpus Christi” annual celebration with evergreen wreaths; trees out in front of all the homes (usually white birch). We stop at Waldsassen to visit a beautiful church which is very ornate – tabernacle, silver globe, huge golden sanctuary lamps. There are four small altars on each side of the main altar, each containing relics of supposedly the Saints from the Catacombs. All dressed in very rich clothing. The casualty list at the rear of the church, practically all killed on the Eastern Front. Over 200 priests from the Regensburg area were drafted into the Wehrmacht and not as Chaplains! (out of a thousand priests in the area). We arrive at Konnersreuth about 1500 hours, present our credentials, and to Therese Neumann’s home. It is very simple. Large stuffed red sofa on the left, several straight back chairs, large ornate green hot air heater on the right, almost as high as the ceiling. Her brother speak fairly good English and acted as our interpreter. Therese enters dressed in a black flowing dress with a little white bonnet, seems to be in her forties, has very clear skin, blue eyes, has a touch of grey protruding under her cap. Looks very healthy, quite a stout appearance. Puts on bifocal glasses in order to write. Is most friendly, and has a very pleasant smile. Shakes our hand. Says she’s sorry to have to wear glasses, and I assure her that I have to wear them, also. Has a little white dog that looks like a fox terrier. It was recently given to her by some GI.
The story is that in 1926, Therese Neumann suddenly found herself with the stigmata of Christ, seeing visions of His passion. Her wounds would bleed every Friday during Lent and on Good Friday, she would go through His agonies, bleeding from both hands, feet, head, left shoulder, and heart. Her eyes also could bleed. For 19 years now she has had no food or drink, only daily Holy Communion, the food for Life. She loses no weight except after a day of agony when she will lose several pounds, all of which are regained by the next day. She has no physiological functions. For two weeks she was controlled by a combined Catholic and Protestant commission composed of Doctors and Nurses who observed her for 24 hours each day and during that time. She lost no weight. We saw pictures of her taken last Good Friday, bleeding profusely. We saw her blouse and cap stained with blood. The cap showed stains, strikingly arranged like the wounds made by a crown of thorns. We witnessed the wounds on her hands, the scabs on the back of our hands, adhesive tape on her palms, because she works in the garden picking flowers and getting her hands dirty. According to the Bishop, her being a “supernatural” agent is still a matter of dispute. She certainly is not hysterical, and I am convinced most are deeply impressed by her saintliness and general demeanor. Before the war, about a thousand people used to visit her daily. Now visitors are restricted to a very few. Therese gave us a signed holy picture and just as we were leaving , her brother ran down to our jeep to ask us for a tire patch to fix his bicycle. We also gave him a loaf of bread which pleased him no end. He tells us how very convenient it was not to have to feed Therese, particularly on long trips before the war. The SS tried to destroy her house before retreating, but only hit as close as the next house. The Americans never fired on the town. Therese said the Waffen-SS were bad people and that she very much disliked them. We return home via Nürnberg, see the Nazi Stadium, go by way of the Autobahn, then down Route 2, and home again – a most interesting day. Must write Jeanie and tell her all the above. Captain Stett visits us. He is an Air Observer, an old friend of Lt. Colonel G. W. Taylor, from Carinola, Italy. He completed 400 missions, 700 hours in the air, has won an Air Medal with 12 OLC and a Silver Star. Had some funny stories to tell about directing the fire of a destroyer against shore batteries in Southern France, about the radio conversation when the destroyer began getting shot at by counter battery fire and suddenly took off. His directing the very inaccurate fire of the Free French Battleship “Lorraine” (disarmed by the British in Alexandria, North Africa and recommissioned in 1942 for service with the Free French Naval Forces, provided gunfire support during “Operation Dragoon” –ed) with its 13-inch guns which killed some of our own troops by firing short. All about the winter spent in Nice, which he called the “Champagne Campaign”. All about Pozit fuzes (new proximity fuze or Variable Time (VT) fuze, first effectively used in the ETO during the Battle of the Bulge –ed). Landing on the new airstrip at the end of which were many German mines requiring a so-called ground loop. About the pilot, Bauer, going up to 15,000 feet with a hangover and passing out, and he, having to club Bauer over the head in order to wake him up, while the aircraft is in a dive for the ground.
June 5 > Still sitting around. Had a visit from Major Ray Hirsh yesterday, my CO earlier during the war. He said that for two years, he was labeled as a black Officer and consequently was in colored units and couldn’t get himself a promotion. He told of 500 Soviet prisoners dying from drinking fuel from a V-1 buzz bomb (our experience with 26 dying from drinking wood alcohol). We swim and play bridge every day, otherwise doing nothing.
June 14 > We’re in our new site near Heilbronn, a town completely wiped out following a night raid by British bombers on December 4, 1944 causing the death of 6,500. We moved here yesterday, it’s a nice spot near a canal full of sunken Rhine barges, including a sunken gunboat. We have a wherry, it’s like a shell, and went rowing last night. No swimming or fishing here. We now have two fawns as pets besides six dogs and a monkey. Story of Chuck Lynch (Captain Charles H. Lynch –ed) suffering three flat tires on a borrowed jeep, all on the left rear wheel. Story of his filling Bill Comess’ gas tank with oil and Bob Courter getting stuck in a fishing stream 35 miles from camp while Staples froze with his clothes off after falling into the river. Bert Friedenberg borrows our wherry with the aid of a local 14-old Hitler Youth boy who speaks perfect English. He tells Bert to act like a soldier, not to ask for things but to take them. He orders several people around to get the boat for Bert.
June 27 > So far 2 Officers, Captains Charles A. Behrens and Thomas B. Payne, are on their way home plus 11 Enlisted Men. Captain Edward D. Riner was called but being on leave missed his chance to return home. We are now afraid to leave the area for the same reason. Have been having good fun at the swimming pool almost daily. It’s a beautiful spot and serves all the coffee and donuts you can eat. Our last fishing trip netted 54 nice brook trout measuring 8 to 16 inches, so we had a fish fry for all the Officers and Nurses. Private Ernest Poindexter drowned last evening at supper time while trying to swim across the river near the hospital. Two German girls tried to rescue him, but were unsuccessful. The river was dragged all evening but to no avail. It is questionable whether they will ever find the body. Rosie, one of our dogs, has been run over by a truck. Captain Sydney W. Stringer applied a body spica cast and Rosie seems to be doing all right. The CO is very concerned about our future and his future. We are definitely a Category 2 unit, which means transfer to an active Theater of war, but remain hopeful of getting back to the good old USA first. My brother, Gérard, apparently is on his way to the Pacific.
July 2 > Colonel Paul Sauer has a meeting with all the Officers, Nurses, and Enlisted Men to discuss the organization’s future. The 95th Evacuation Hospital is a Category 2 unit. All high point personnel will definitely be transferred to the 102d Evacuation Hospital and will be exchanged for low-pointers. He said that if we get transferred to a Category 4 unit, and the 102d Evac is one of those, we have no chance of leaving for home until following April. Everybody is discouraged. The CO added, he would take volunteers, that the 95th is going home very soon to train and may be held in a strategic reserve in the Zone of Interior. Everybody is furious with him. Twenty of the ANC Officers have signed the ASR card by unwittingly signing “yes” which automatically removes their name from any hope or chance for Redeployment. Captain Thomas O. Matthews volunteers to stay because of his fractured hip. Second Lieutenant Richard C. Seymour is staying. Captain Charles A. Behrens will also stay. Major Oscar S. Staples, Captain Max Ehrlich, and Captain Michael C. Malke will be the only ones left. No Doctors have volunteered. Three EM did. One guy, a real screwball, whose name is Leemaster, expects to get out because of his age also because he has many debts. We all prepare to leave July 9, 1945, for the 102d. Our new home is located at Gießen, which is north of Frankfurt (about 150 miles north of us). According to reports it is a good unit.
102d Evacuation Hospital
Campaign Credits > Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes-Alsace, Rhineland, Central Europe (400-bed Hospital)
July 6 > This is a red letter day. We now all have orders to fly home along with Major James W. Fouche. He was previously retained as essential to our unit because he was classified as a Chest Surgeon. Colonel Sauer promised Jim the job of Chief of Surgery as well as eating at his table. Major Willard O. Courter, Captain Edward D. Riner, and Captain Silverino V. DeMarco have already joined the 102d Evac. Captains Sydney W. Stringer and Henry A. Korda (recently married to ANC First Lieutenant Marcella G. Schlemma) – 8 of us in all – will go the 14th Replacement Depot at Thionville, France, on July 9, two months following V-E Day. What a thrill! Will write Jeanie, my love an express letter – no cable – as I don’t want her to become too nervous. Imagine flying across the Atlantic to see my gang this summer, yes, this month! The CO is completely floored. I bet he won’t ask Jim Fouche to continue eating at his table anymore! Staples and I celebrate. We have a plum pudding at 0130 in the morning, but it tasted so good.
July 8 > We are very busy packing. We are all allowed 40 pounds of personal luggage, mailing home all kinds of packages. Some job, but it is worth it! It probably means a job in the States but a leave first (usually 30 days –ed). A thousand Officers are going home on a “Green Project” flight (return of military personnel to the Zone of Interior by air transportation –ed).
July 11 > We are now with the 103d Battalion, 14th Reinforcement Depot situated in an old French barracks, at Thionville, and under the jurisdiction of the Oise Intermediate Section. We have been oriented and processed and are ready to go. Are awaiting orders from Paris and Marseille and good flying weather. The place is swarming with Medical Officers, many high-pointers, many high rankers, of which some may be discharged before long if the reports from the States are correct. How happy am I not to have been on a trip, to have missed the occasion as some Doctors have done! We’re all sitting around playing bridge, ping-pong, wasting time and waiting… waiting for the eventful day. Max Ehrlich has been assigned to the 6th General Dispensary in Marseille. Only Bill Comess and Colonel Paul Sauer are left to go to the 102d replacement area (of the original staff of the 95th Evac). Talbot, a new man, was transferred out to the 36th General Hospital. His girlfriend arranged this against his wishes.
This is getting near the end of the notebook and let’s hope near the end of Dr. A. B. deGrandpré’s Army career!
36th General Hospital
Campaign Credits > Naples-Foggia, Rome-Arno, Southern France (1000 / 2000-bed Hospital)
July 15 > We are staying at “Le Magasin Dufayel” (former Grands Magasins Dufayel opened in 1895, designated – Palais de la Nouveauté – closed in 1930, eventually converted into lodgings –ed) in Paris, near Montmartre and Pigalle. We sleep in double deckers. A tremendous amount of thefts going on. This is following a dusty 8-hour trip by truck from Thionville to Paris, through Verdun, and the Argonne Forest. Across the Marne River. We go sightseeing in Paris. The “Arc de Triomphe”, the “Champs Elysées”, “Café de la Paix”, and “Place Vendôme”. We see the “Eifel Tower”, “Les Invalides”, “Notre-Dame”, “Sacré Coeur”, la “Bastille”, “Le Louvre”, “Jardin des Tuileries”, the “Bois de Boulogne”, and the “Opéra” which is the biggest in the world. Yesterday, July 14, was “Bastille Day” in Paris. Tremendous throngs on the street. General Charles de Gaulle speaks. Parades and fireworks. All the drunken GIs. My visit with Mr. and Mrs. Boucher in Neuilly. We meet Bert Friedenberg who’s taking a medical course in Paris. Had a pleasant evening at the “Fifth Avenue Club” with Rusty Erickson and his wife. The Arab Band is out in front playing native music all evening. We are home by 2330. Take a subway before 2330 which is the closing hour. Went to Mass at 0830 the following day. Our flight number is # 202. We are alerted to be at Orly Airfield (near Paris) at about 1100 hours. Have donuts and coffee there. Get our money changed into US currency and leave on a beautiful C-54 (better suited aircraft for long overwater flights –ed), number 2714, around 1245. We cruise at about 8,000 feet, and go 200 miles an hour. The aircraft’s capacity is 32 with a crew of 5. Our briefing on safety precautions and ditching procedures. We all wear a Mae West in case of an accident. We are taught how to behave on a life raft; regarding water consumption, catching fish, signaling with mirrors or flares; the use of dye during day, and repair of the life raft. The weather is beautiful. Our first sight of land is the Azores at approximately 1930 in the evening.
Had a very nice supper at the ATC (Air Transport Command –ed) restaurant. Off again at 2100. The northern route is bad, that is by way of Newfoundland; it’s 1700 miles from the Azores, so we fly via Bermuda, which is 2200 miles from the Azores. I sit on the floor of the plane. Three passengers are left back at the Azores in order to take on enough kerosene to make the trip. We reach McKinley Field, near St. George’s at 0700, July 16, 1945 – i.e. Bermuda time. Again we turn our watches back another hour. Had a delicious breakfast of cereals, fresh milk, fresh eggs, bacon, juice, and coffee. Now we’re off to Wilmington, Delaware, and arrive about 1130 in the morning. Watches are once more turned back one hour. The trip is uneventful, one of the best ever over the Atlantic. The first round trip for plane number 2714. Had a good steak dinner in Wilmington.
July 16 > First call to Plattsburgh, New York. What a thrill to talk to Jeanie, the children, and my father! Will leave Wilmington – that’s the Newcastle Air Force Base – about 2000 hours for Camp Kilmer, Stelton, New Jersey (Staging Area for New York Port of Embarkation –ed). Sleep between sheets for the first time in many months.
July 17 > Last entry. Just called my Jeanie again. We’re sitting around the barracks awaiting our next – hope our last – leg of this journey to Fort Dix, Wrightstown, New Jersey (Training and Pre-Staging Center –ed), where we expect to receive a leave for 30 days. My honey is coming to New York to meet me…
Service Overview – Major Arthur B. deGrandpré
Entry on Active Service > September 14, 1942
Campaigns > Naples-Foggia, Rome-Arno, Southern France, Rhineland, Central Europe
Awards > Europe-African-Middle East Theater Campaign Ribbon with Arrowhead
Departure for Overseas Theater > April 16, 1943 – Arrival April 24, 1943
Return to Zone of Interior > July 15, 1945 – Arrival July 16, 1945
Separation from the Service > October 23, 1945
We must express our most sincere thanks to Michael deGrandpré, grandson of Major Arthur B. deGrandpré (O-1691207), 95th Evacuation Hospital, who kindly allowed the authors to use numerous entries of his Grandfather’s WW2 Diary. Quite a number of photographs were retrieved from the Diary as well, and thus helped with illustrating this individual Testimony. Many thanks for your kind assistance.