Veteran’s Testimony – Harlan S. Byrne 18th General Hospital

Photo of Second Lieutenant Harlan S. Byrne, MAC, O-2048866, following his graduation from OCS-MAC November 17, 1943.

Introduction:

Harlan Smith Byrne was born July 28, 1920 in Laclede, Linn County, Missouri. His parents were Nathaniel Byrne (1875 – 1937) and Emmaline Georgia Fifield (1883 – 1968) who were blessed with 5 children. Harlan had 4 siblings: Robert (born 1914), Howard (born 1915), Frances (born 1917) and Donald (born 1921).
After graduating from the Laclede High School in 1938 Harlan went to study journalism at the University of Missouri (School of Journalism) from which he graduated after 4 years of study on June 9, 1942. Following graduation he joined a local newspaper where he obtained a job as reporter. Harlan’s main occupation as a traveling reporter consisted of covering and handling general local news such as city council, chamber of commerce, and special assignments, for the Hannibal “Courier-Post” from June 1942 until December 1942.

Copy of Notice issued by the Selective Service Local Board No. 1, Marion County, Hannibal, Missouri, dated November 10, 1942 directing Harlan S. Byrne to report for physical examination at one of the local hospitals on November 12, 1942. (Selective Service or Draft).

Enlistment:

After having been called up by the Local Selective Service Board for a physical examination on Thursday, November 12, 1942, Harlan S. Byrne enlisted in the Army of the United States December 10, 1942, eventually ending up as trainee with the US Army Medical Department. He was assigned Army Serial Number 37247468 (indicating a Draftee, from Seventh Service Command, operating under Fourth United States Army jurisdiction, which included the State of Missouri, from where he hailed -ed). He started as a Private and was a member of the Enlisted service from December 10, 1942 to November 16, 1943, where he obtained the grade of Corporal.

He was appointed Second Lieutenant in the Medical Administrative Corps, Army Serial Number O-2048866, November 17, 1943, after successfully graduating from OCS and as a Second and First Lieutenant (MAC) mainly served in the India-Burma Theater with the 18th General Hospital until his Honorable Discharge May 8, 1946. First Lieutenant Harlan S. Byrne was to acquire many different skills while in the service which no doubt helped him throughout further life as a successful journalist and editor.

Group of Trainees while conducting a road march at the MRTC Camp Barkeley, Abilene, Texas (one of the Medical Replacement Training Centers in the Zone of Interior).

Some Qualifications Achieved – Military Occupational Specialist Numbers – Harlan S. Byrne
Administrative Officer – MOS 2120 – August 1, 1944
Military Personnel Officer – MOS 2200 – January 4, 1945
Mess Officer – MOS 4110 – February 23, 1945
Military Personnel Officer – MOS 2200 – June 5, 1945

Training:

Private Byrne received Basic Training as a member of Company B, 102d Medical Training Battalion most probably at MRTC Camp Barkeley, Texas. At the time, training was based on two Mobilization Training Programs; MTP No. 8-5 (2 January 1942) and MTP 8-5 (1 August 1943). Between January 1942 and August 1943 however, two additional programs governed Basic Training at the MRTC; MTP No. 8-5 (issued 15 November 1942) and MTP No. 8-55 (issued 12 May 1943). In essence the overall training cycle returned to a 12-week program, after having been reduced a few times.
Following Basic Training, Harlan Byrne, was to attend some Special Service Schools. Between July 26, 1943 and November 17, 1943, Harlan S. Byrne completed the special instruction (Class No. 26) of the Officer Candidate School – Medical Administrative Corps, at Camp Barkeley, Abilene, Texas (Medical Replacement Training Center & Armored Division Camp; total acreage 69,879; troop capacity 3,192 Officers and 54,493 Enlisted Men, School Commandant; Brigadier General Roy C. Heflebower, Assistant Commandant; Lieutenant Colonel August Groeschel, Executive Officer; Major Miles G. Bell -ed) from which he successfully graduated November 17, 1943, as a Second Lieutenant, MAC, being assigned Officer Serial Number O-2048866.

Camp Barkeley, the third Medical Replacement Training Center to be built (following Camps Grant and Lee), was located some 11 miles southwest of Abilene, Texas. The main camp covered approximately 2,500 acres of land and was situated at an altitude of 1,870 feet. The hills to the south and west, approximately 400 feet higher, contained over 58,000 acres of bivouac and maneuver area, with another 9,400 acre tract for use as a combat range. The MRTC was officially activated 1 November 1941. Following the re-organization of the US Armed Forces in 1942 and in order to accommodate general wartime growth, the capacity of the Center was increased from 4,000 to 7,600 in February 1942. In March 1944, Camp Barkeley once more expanded, this time to a capacity of more than 17,000 trainees. The MRTC officially closed 1 April 1944 -ed.

Left: Yearbook – Class 26 page listing and illustrating the class of 518 Medical Administrative Corps Officer Candidates who took OCS-MAC course at Camp Barkeley from July 26, 1943 to November 17, 1943.
Right: Yearbook – Class 26 page illustrating some of the Officer Candidates, among which Harlan S. Byrne.

“Class 26” consisted of 518 Officer Candidates who all had to go through the drill: road marches, map and compass reading, infiltration course, obstacle course, malaria control, general military duties, chemical warfare class, gas mask drill and gas chamber exercises, calisthenics, tests, etc. until Graduation Day, when 340 men came through and obtained a well-earned diploma and gold (2d Lieutenant bars -ed). Class 26 included a Company A consisting of 1st – 2d – 3d – 4th – 5th Platoon and a Company B also consisting of 5 separate Platoons (total output of OCS-MAC Officers graduating in November 1943 reached 632 -ed).

With the rapid expansion of the Officer Candidate program in World War Two, it became apparent that the Medical Department would not be able to fill its requirements for Medical Administrative Officers (the existing OCS-MAC School at Carlisle Barracks only accommodated 750 trainees) without expanding. On 15 April 1942, permission was granted to establish a second School for Officer Candidates at Camp Barkeley, Texas. Based on increased requirements and the limited capacity available, the new School was subsequently expanded for training 1,500 and 3,000 Officer Candidates in June and July 1943, respectively. The average training cycle in July 1943 was 17 weeks. The School for MAC Officers closed on 15 March 1945, when the final class graduated -ed.

With the aim to acquire and improve his skills, Second Lieutenant Harlan S. Byrne, applied for another course which he once more took at the School for Medical Administrative Corps Officers at Camp Barkeley, Texas. Following his transfer from Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, February 22, 1944, he attended and successfully completed the prescribed instruction course for the training of Battalion Surgeon’s Assistant, graduating April 8, 1944.

In fall of 1943, The Surgeon General decided to replace one of the 2 Surgeons assigned to Battalion Aid Stations with a specially trained MAC Officer who would be designated the Battalion Surgeon’s Assistant. At the time, some 1,500 Medical Administrative Officers were in Replacement Pools in the ZI. Beginning of January 1944 successive groups of such Officers were ordered to the newly established School for Battalion Surgeon’s Assistants at Camp Barkeley, Texas. Between January 1944 and January 1945, approximately 2,000 MAC Officers graduated from the course. Since Replacement Pools turned almost empty by March 1944, the School began enrolling recently commissioned Officers. Training was suspended January 1945 -ed.

Candidate Officers training at the MRTC Camp Barkeley, Abilene, Texas. Photos taken in 1943.

Permanent Assignment & First Unit Activation:
Harlan S. Byrne joined a Medical Department Replacement Pool at Fort Leonard Wood, Rolla, Missouri (Engineer Replacement Training Center & Division Camp; total acreage 72,168; troop capacity 2,352 Officers and 43,800 Enlisted Men -ed) where he was stationed from November 27, 1943 to February 21, 1944. He temporarily served as a Student Military Personnel Officer, being occupied with various administrative tasks (standard practice in 1942 provided that Officers destined for Medical Department tactical units were assigned to either a Pool for 100 Officers, or the Medical Field Service School, which was authorized a Pool of 150 Officers. Following a general 4-week refresher course, many Officers were assigned to temporary duty in MD Training Battalions, pending permanent assignment in the Zone of Interior or overseas -ed).
Second Lieutenant Harlan S. Byrne left Camp Barkeley April 16, 1944, and returned to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, the following day. He was back with the Medical Department Replacement Pool until May 28, 1944, where he alternated as a Student Mess Officer and a Casual Officer, awaiting a possible transfer or assignment.

Photographs taken during OCS-MAC Training at the MRTC Camp Barkeley, Abilene, Texas in 1943.

Momentarily a Casual Officer, Second Lieutenant H. Byrne, received his movement orders for an overseas assignment and May 29, 1944 found the Officer enroute to his Port of Embarkation between May 29, 1944 and June 13, 1944. As per Special Orders No. 160 issued by Army Service Forces, Ninth Service Command, Headquarters Personnel Replacement Depot, Camp Beale, California, dated June 9, 1944, a group of 45 Second Lieutenants, MAC, were attached unassigned to ASFPRD, Camp Beale, Marysville, California (Army Service Forces Personnel Replacement Depot & Division Camp; total acreage 86,364; troop capacity 2,107 Officers and 35,228 Enlisted Men -ed) and received transfer orders to proceed to their new assignment, where they were to report upon arrival (destination was not mentioned, only Shipment No. OM-100-FF-(a) was indicated -ed). Camp Beale was to send over 225,000 men overseas during World War Two.
Further documents eventually confirmed Second Lieutenant Byrne’s transfer as a Pool Officer with the 6th Replacement Depot, APO 502, San Francisco, California, where he arrived July 6, 1944 (APO 502 referred to foreign station Nouméa, New Caledonia, in the Southwest Pacific (at this time, his future assignment, the 18th Gen Hosp, was still operating on the island of Fiji -ed)!

Copy of Battalion Surgeon’s Assistant Diploma obtained by Second Lieutenant Harlan S. Byrne after successfuly graduating from The School for MAC Officers, MRTC Camp Barkeley, Abilene, Texas April 8, 1944.

Reference Special Orders No. 188 issued by Headquarters 6th Replacement Depot, APO 502, dated July 8, 1944, the following change in assignment and duty was confirmed; Second Lieutenant Harlan S. Byrne, MAC, O-2048866 and Second Lieutenant William J. Degnan, MAC, O-2048594, serving with Headquarters 25th Replacement Battalion were assigned to the 18th General Hospital, APO 913 (as per Requirement # 4 for additional Officers emanating from Headquarters 18th General Hospital, APO 913, San Francisco, dated April 21, 1944 -ed). Both Officers were to leave as per first available Government water transport (APO 913 referred to foreign station Viti Levu, Fiji Islands -ed).
Vintage documents indicate that the Officer remained a Pool Officer with the 6th Replacement Depot from July 6, 1944 to July 28, 1944, and only served a short time on Fiji.

Commisions & Promotions – Harlan S. Byrne
Commissioned > Second Lieutenant – November 17, 1943
Promoted > First Lieutenant – February 7, 1945

Background data to Second Lieutenant Harlan S. Byrne’s permanent assignment (18th General Hospital).
During the period preceding America’s entrance into World War Two, the US War Department ordered some prominent teaching Hospitals and Universities to prepare members of their staffs for possible deployment overseas to care for wounded soldiers. One such institution was the John Hopkins University Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland, which was invited to supply enough men and women to staff 2 complete Hospitals.

Nearly 200 Doctors, Nurses, and other medical professionals volunteered, eventually forming the 18th and 118th General Hospitals which would served the US Army Medical Department throughout WW2 (in 1917 the WD sent Base Hospital No. 18 to France to help treat battle casualties, primarily providing surgical care to the wounded and injured -ed). Both new Hospitals were sent to the Far East with only rudimentary training where they served for almost 3 years, providing critical medical care to thousands of uniformed personnel.

Partial view of barracks at Fort Leonard Wood, Rolla, Missouri, Engineer Replacement Training Center, where Second Lieutenant Harlan S. Byrne was stationed in two different periods of time (1943 and 1944) as a member of a Medical Department Replacement Pool awaiting a possible assignment.

At the outbreak of World War Two in Europe, the John Hopkins Hospital and Medical School remained largely untouched by the opening of hostilities. In the winter of 1939-40 however, John Hopkins employees in the Army and Navy Reserves were pressed into active duty and laboratories in the Medical School were appropriated by the military for war-related research. It became clear that the University Hospital would eventually participate in the war effort. In March 1941, the Army Surgeon asked the John Hopkins University Hospital to ready a portion of its staff for deployment overseas, and several weeks later, the institution was told that it would need to part with nearly two hundred (200) men and women to staff not one, but 2 entire General Hospitals (the initial request was to prepare a single 1,000-bed hospital -ed)!

The War Department designated the two John Hopkins units the 18th General Hospital and the 118th General Hospital respectively.

Activation
18th General Hospital – activated April 20, 1942 – embarked for New Zealand May 26, 1942 (it was also to operate in the Fiji Islands, India, and Burma).
118th General Hospital – activated April 21, 1942 – embarked for Australia May 19, 1942 (it was also to operate in the Philippines).

The Pearl Harbor attack of December 7, 1941 brought a period of relative calm to an abrupt end when, following America’s entrance into the War (December 8, 1941 -ed), both John Hopkins units were activated and their personnel ordered to report for active duty.

Preparation for Overseas Movement:

On April 2, 1942, 45 Medical Officers and 60 ANC Officers left Baltimore’s Pennsylvania Station, entraining south to Fort Jackson, Columbia, South Carolina (Infantry Training Center; total acreage 58,653; troop capacity 5,907 Officers and 72,817 Enlisted Men -ed). The aim was to provide the group of civilian Physicians and Nurses with Basic Training in an attempt to turn them all into soldiers for Uncle Sam. After only two weeks of ‘rudimentary’ training, the 18th General was instructed to travel to San Francisco, California, its Staging Area, to be processed for departure to an unknown overseas destination.

Excerpt of Special Orders No. 188, from Headquarters Sixth Replacement Depot, dated July 8, 1944, transferring Second Lieutenant Harlan S. Byrne from Headquarters Detachment, 25th Replacement Battalion (stationed at Camp Beale, California) for assignment and duty to the 18th General Hospital.

Fiji Islands:

May 24, 1942 the 18th General Hospital, consisting of 45 Officers – 60 Nurses – 7 American Red Cross workers, Hospital Dietitians, Physical Therapists – and 275 Enlisted Men, boarded the “USAT General James Parker” (ex-luxury liner S/S Panama, converted and re-designated AP-46 for transportation of troops -ed) and headed across the Pacific Ocean on May 26. The hospital unit was among the 2,000 troops embarking on a convoy with destination the Pacific Theater of Operations and more particularly Auckland, in New Zealand. In the convoy were other ships such as the “USS President Monroe” (attack transport AP-104), the “S/S President Coolidge” (troop transport, which ran into an American minefield at Espiritu Santo on October 26, 1942, and sank after hitting 2 mines -ed) the “USS Tasker H. Bliss” (AP-42; torpedoed and sunk by U-130 off French Morocco November 13, 1942 -ed), the “USAT Uruguay”, the “USS Santa Clara” (Navy transport AP-11 -ed), and the “USS Santa Lucia” (transport AP-73 -ed), part of TF 6429, escorted by a destroyer and one heavy cruiser.

The 18th General Hospital (along with a Division of United States Marines) landed on the Island of Fiji August 3, 1942. Instead of quickly becoming operational, the unit was beset by numerous problems from the very start. First, the Army had not assigned the hospital a location where to set up. After days of delay, the Commanding Officer selected an unassuming site which turned out to be the athletic field of a local boarding school (grounds belonging to Victoria College -ed). Second, the equipment required for the hospital to function properly had not yet arrived (it would not for an additional three weeks -ed). In the meantime, with nothing to do, the personnel of the 18th along with a unit of the Corps of Engineers, began enthusiastically the construction of the hospital’s first facilities (they received the nickname “18th General Engineers”). Notwithstanding the endeavor and goodwill, the organization was unable to receive patients before October 1942. Staff and personnel gradually starting moving from huts with thatched roofs to makeshift hospital buildings and canvas tents. The situation reflected badly on its members who became frustrated that their professional skills went unutilized for so many months.

Photo illustrating the USAT “James Parker” AP-46, part of TF 6429, which carried the 18th General Hospital to the Pacific Theater with initial destination Auckland, New Zealand May 26, 1942.

First Operations
Initial patients received were battle casualties from the Guadalcanal Campaign (7 August 1942 > 21 February 1943 -ed). While the Doctors and Nurses cared for them, Army Engineers and other members of the 18th General rapidly expanded the hospital’s facilities. Ward tents were pitched while cement was still poured for the floors; doors and windows were installed only after the patients had been admitted; carpenters hammered in the surgery wards while surgeons were operating. By the end of the year, and thanks to the combined efforts of all, the hospital had running water, adequate electricity, and cement walkways and floors, all essentially provided by the unit’s own efforts.
After several more months of extra work, the hospital, now known as “Fiji’s Hopkins”, had turned into a sophisticated self sustaining medical installation, complete with a surgery ward and X-ray machines.

Through the first half of 1943, the organization continued to receive a substantial number of patients. The personnel tended to an average of 700 patients, with the census even peaking at 1,000, quite a heavy load for a 500-bed hospital unit. During this period, every bed was filled and many ambulatory patients were housed off site, either under tentage or in native “bure” huts. The great skill of the John Hopkins Doctors and Nurses was readily apparent, as only 11 patients died during the unit’s first year of operation. The number of battle casualties gradually decreased due to the fact that General MacArthur’s island hopping strategy pushed the front lines further and further away from Fiji. Consequently, most of the patients currently coming in suffered from relatively mild ailments, such as jaundice, fungal infections, and other non-battle related wounds and injuries, and those wounded that were received had already been treated and undergone necessary surgery at a medical facility closer to the front, and were thus sent to Fiji Island merely for recovery and rest. By late 1943, the patient census dropped dramatically, and during the final six months of the unit’s stay on Fiji, the average patient census barely reached 100 (from the Northern Solomons Campaign, 22 February 1943 > 21 November 1944 -ed), and eventually battle casualties were no longer evacuated to Fiji. The unit now primarily dealt with cases of malaria, malnutrition, and other ailments, and provided valuable medical care for the Islanders, even accompanying British and native public health workers to remote villages unable to receive adequate medical care (the British Governor, Sir Philip Mitchell, later sent a letter to the Hospital’s CO expressing his gratitude for the services provided to the population of Fiji -ed).

Time for ablutions. Some Nurses of the 18th General Hospital take some time to wash out of steel helmets. Photo taken in the Fiji Islands August 1942.

Due to the lack of professional work, the hospital undertook some measures to boost morale and combat boredom. In 1943, the unit, with support from Army Engineers, built a 500-seat amphitheater, called the “Kava Bowl” which allowed for regular shows and sports for the benefit of patients and personnel. The 18th General Hospital even started publishing its own newspaper “The Fijitive”(first issued March 26, 1944 under the guidance of Sergeant Abe Abramowitz -ed), and organized a “County Fair and Field Day” twice during its stay on the island. Lt. Colonel Richard C. Tilghman, Chief of Medicine and Executive Officer was also instrumental in supporting the many initiatives to strengthen, the bonds between staff and personnel, and avoid the long periods without much activity. He was also active as the organization’s Special Service Officer. Despite all the above, monotony, frustration, and boredom, caused by enforced idleness set in, affecting everyone’s morale. Being stationed in a tropical environment, Medical Officers had time to observe some of the local circumstances affecting treatment of known and less-known illnesses and maladies. Captain Roger Lewis discovered a method of detecting the amount of Atabrine in a patient’s body (the drug used to combat malaria -ed), which was of tremendous help in reducing overdoses to a minimum. This became a vital element in the military’s battle against malaria in the Pacific Theater.

In June 1944, the Army command, recognizing that the 18th General Hospital was in fact underutilized on Fiji, decided to redeploy the unit to the India-Burma Theater. It indeed appeared that the presence of approximately 2,500 beds on Fiji and the high concentration of medical and surgical talent was somewhat wasted. One General Hospital (142d Gen Hosp) with a maximum capacity of 1,500 beds; one Convalescent Hospital with 2,000 beds; and one Station Hospital would be ample to service the Island. This allowed to free the talent of the 18th General Hospital for assignment nearer a combat zone.

Final Operations
The Fiji hospital closed on August 1, 1944, after some 22 months of operation and treating 12,195 patients.

Staff – 18th General Hospital
Colonel George G. Finney, MC, Commanding Officer (later Consultant in General Surgery to Tenth US Army Headquarters)
Lt. Colonel Richard C. Tilghman, MC, Executive Officer (later official Unit’s Historian)

Left: Photo of Second Lieutenant Harlan S. Byrne, stationed with the 18th General Hospital on the Ledo Road, Assam, India, from July 31, 1944 to March 1, 1945.
Right: Group of Officers pertaining to the 18th General Hospital while serving with the unit on the Ledo Road, in Assam, India.

Second Lieutenant Harlan S. Byrne, MAC, O-2048866, (once more a Casual Officer) was enroute between July 29 and July 30, 1944, on his way to his permanent station overseas, the 18th General Hospital. As far as known, Second Lieutenant Byrne only joined his unit for a short period thereafter eventually traveling directly to India, via APO 689 (which referred to foreign station Assam, India -ed). He would remain stationed in Assam (Ledo Road) from July 31, 1944 to March 11, 1945, filling in as Administrative Officer – Military Personnel Officer and Mess Officer, respectively, assigned to the 18th General Hospital, but temporarily operating under Headquarters Advance Section Three, Services of Supply, India-Burma Theater, APO 689.

Assignments filled in by Second/First Lieutenant Harlan S. Byrne included following duties:

18th General Hospital
Assistant Detachment Commander, Postal Officer, Native Labor Officer (August 1, 1944)
Unit Censor Officer, Unit Examiner Officer (August 5, 1944)
Assistant Inventory Officer (August 12, 1944)
Class “A” Officer for Payment of Civilian Employees (December 6, 1944)
Army Exchange Officer (December 11, 1944)
Military Personnel Officer, Assistant Detachment Commander (January 4, 1945)
Custodian Officers & Nurses Mess Fund (February 24, 1945)
Custodian Patients Fund (February 25, 1945)

India-Burma Theater:

The 18th General Hospital finally left Fiji on September 16, 1944, accompanied by mixed feelings. Some personnel resented being moved even further from home, while others were hopeful that their professional skills and abilities would finally be utilized to the fullest!
The 18th General Hospital’s next destination was Bombay, India, where upon arrival, it promptly boarded trains heading for a region called Assam. After a week-long trip on uncomfortable and dirty trains, the unit reached their assigned station in the vicinity of the Ledo Road. To their dismay, they found that 2 other hospitals, the 69th General Hospital (located just outside of Ledo -ed) and the 20th General Hospital (established several miles further along the Ledo Road -ed) were already operating in the area and that apparently no plan had been made regarding their use. The hospital was ordered to set up in an abandoned installation on the Ledo Road whose dilapidated structures required almost complete rebuilding. Although the organic equipment had not accompanied the move, the staff was ordered to construct the necessary basic facilities in order to prepare for reception of patients.
Battle casualties from the Burma campaigns received definitive treatment in the Advance Section, which comprised upper Assam, India, and northern Burma (area of the Ledo Road). The first hospitals were already set up in March 1943 in the vicinity of Margherita, Assam, about 8 miles from Ledo and at the head of the Ledo Road itself. These were the 20th General – 48th Evacuation – and 73d Evacuation Hospitals. They were later supplemented by the 14th General – 25th Field – and the 40th – 42d – and 46th Portable Surgical Hospitals which for a short period even operated as fixed hospitals. The group of hospitals provided beds for 3,705 patients (in March 1944, bed capacity would increase to 4,310 -ed). More Portable Surgical Hospitals were set to arrive in Ledo, Assam, India, including the 28th – 32d – 34th – 35th – 50th and 53d Portable Surgical Hospitals.

Left: Lieutenant General Daniel I. Sultan, Commanding General India-Burma Theater Theater, from October 24, 1944 to June 25, 1945.
Right: Partial aerial view of the intricate and dangerous road complex built by US Engineers with support of a large Chinese workforce, designated the Ledo Road, allowing supply convoys to pass from Ledo, Assam, India via Burmese territory to Kunming, Yunnan, China.

Medical Services – India-Burma Theater January 1945
Total bed capacity provided > 19, 772
Active Hospitals > 6 General – 14 Station – 4 Field – 3 Evacuation Hospitals
(75% of the hospitals were established in a rectangular area of approximately 950 x 450 miles)

Professional activity remained low however with the unit almost reaching a form of stagnation. This situation continued for several months, until the CO was notified that all John Hopkins-affiliated members of the unit were eligible for rotation to the Zone of Interior, since they had already been operating for over 20 months in Fiji. In fact an initial request to the WD to rotate all the personnel prior to redeployment to the Pacific had been turned down. It must be stated that at first the Deputy Theater Commander solicited some higher authority aid in attempting to persuade the 18th General Hospital to remain in order to establish a new 1,000-bed general hospital then being built in Myitkyina. (it was also the same Major General Frank D. Merrill, who, appalled at their plight – frustration and boredom – arranged for the unit’s final rotation home -ed).

Following his promotion (February 7, 1945 -ed) First Lieutenant Harlan S. Byrne, MAC, O-2048866, was transferred to another station (APO 218) situated more inland in Myitkyina, Burma, where he arrived on March 12, 1945. He would serve in the jungle along with his unit the 18th General Hospital from March 12, 1945 to September 30, 1945 as Mess Officer, Assistant Mess Officer, and Military Personnel Officer.

On 22 March 1945, the John Hopkins Medical and Army Nurse Officers departed the hospital situated in the jungle, and started their rotation journey home. Return took place on board the “USS General Charles C. Ballou”, AP-157 (Commander M. D. MacGregor -ed) embarking from Calcutta, India – with stops in Singapore, Malaya and Manila, Philippines; and final destination San Francisco, California.

The 18th General Hospital officially closed for operations on October 5, 1945. According to different sources, the men and women returned to the Zone of Interior on board the “USS General W. P. Richardson”, AP-118, embarking from Karachi, India, reaching the United States November 24, 1945.

First Lieutenant Harlan S. Byrne, MAC, O-2048866, received new orders, reference Letter, Special Orders Number 144, dated October 12, 1945, issued by Headquarters, India Burma Theater, Ledo, India, relieving him from duty and assigning him to the 142d General Hospital (he was then enroute to his permanent change of assignment and station, following instructions; APO 465 referred to foreign station: Calcutta – India -ed). Above SO included the following Officers: Major Harold Snyder, Major Edgar F. Corgrove, Captain William G. Beadenkopf, Captain Frank W. Kibbe, Captain Michael M. Karl, Captain James Liebmann, Captain William E. Stock, First Lieutenant Harlan S. Byrne, and Second Lieutenant Roy G. Turner. Two other Officers; Major Ross A. Bannermann and Major John T. Simmons were also relieved from their current duty with the 18th Gen Hosp and transferred to the 181st General Hospital in Karachi, India.

Left: Partial view of a Surgical Ward operated by the 18th General Hospital on the Ledo Road, Assam, India.
Right: Rehabilitation and Conditioning area and Occupational Therapy building on the right. Photos taken taken during the stay of the 18th General Hospital on the Ledo Road, India.

142d General Hospital (personal assignments) – Harlan S. Byrne
Military Personnel Officer (October 17, 1945)
Member Officers’ Promotion Board (October 18, 1945)

Background data to Second Lieutenant Harlan S. Byrne’s new assignment (142d General Hospital).

Activation
142d General Hospital – activated April 20, 1942 – embarked for New Zealand May 26, 1942 (the unit was affiliated with the University of Maryland, Baltimore, Md., and was further to serve in the Fiji Islands and Burma).

Base Section Two, with Headquarters in Calcutta, India (APO 465) contained 1 General Hospital, 9 Station Hospitals, and 1 Field Hospital. The Section served the Calcutta District through which port all waterborne supplies for the IB Theater arrived. Together with the 20th Bomber Command and Air Transport Command installation, it numbered approximately 60,000 men and women.
The 142d Gen Hosp took over an already established installation from the 263d Station Hospital (inactivated in November 1944 -ed). Bed capacity was 2,000 established in modern, well-equipped buildings in the outskirts of Calcutta. The work at first consisted in preparing the staff and personnel to expand from a 1,000-bed to a 2,000-bed unit, under the command of Colonel Murray M. Copeland, MC, a distinguished Surgeon and formerly Chief of Surgical Service with the 142d General. The situation facing the organization more or less reflected what the 18th General Hospital had gone through after operating for over 30 months in the Fiji Islands. Of the 33 Medical Officers serving with the 142d Gen, 22 had meanwhile become eligible for rotation, and of the 83 ANC Officers, 48 were facing the same situation (when it was learned that above 2 hospitals were listed for transfer to the India-Burma Theater, the Theater CG requested the WD to rotate all personnel before redeployment – this was however refused -ed).

First Lieutenant Harlan S. Byrne, MAC, O-2048866, would serve mainly as the Military Personnel Officer for the 142d General Hospital from October 1, 1945 to February 3, 1946, stationed in Calcutta, India, during this entire period. Since the war with Japan had ended (with the enemy’s unconditional surrender signed September 2, 1945 -ed), Lieutenant Byrne expressed the desire to be relieved from active duty with the Army of the United States at the earliest opportunity. As per Circular No. 18, Headquarters USF, IBT, APO 885 (this APO referred to foreign station New Delhi and/or Calcutta, India -ed), dated January 17, 1946; a number of Officers were relieved from assignment to duty with their organization and attached, unassigned, to Replacement Depot No. 3, APO 494 (referred to foreign station, Calcutta, India -ed). They were instructed to proceed from their present station to APO 494, and report to the CO there, for processing and use first available transportation to the Zone of Interior, United States. Above order was confirmed by Letter with Special Orders Number 25, dated January 30, 1946, APO 465, issued by Headquarters Base Section, India Burma Theater. First Lieutenant Harlan S. Byrne was now among a group of 5 Officers from the 142d General Hospital on their way home.
He finally departed Calcutta, India February 11, 1946 arriving at San Francisco Port of Debarkation March 8, 1946. His schedule was as follows: February 10, 1946, boarding “USS General C. C. Ballou”, AP-157; February 11, departing Calcutta, India; February 12, reaching Bay of Bengal; February 15, passing Singapore; February 19, passing Corregidor Island; February 20; anchored off Manila harbor; February 21, departing Manila harbor; February 28, change of course announced, destination San Francisco in lieu of Seattle; March 8, 1946, arrival in San Francisco.

Awards – First Lieutenant Harlan S. Byrne
American Campaign Ribbon
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Ribbon (Central Burma Campaign)
World War Two Victory Medal

Christmas Eve 1944 Show with invitation and program organized by personnel of the 18th General Hospital while serving on the Ledo Road, Assam, India.

18th General Hospital Personnel Roster: (incomplete)

Officers:
Colonel George G. Finney
Lieutenant Colonel Nolan H. Baird (MC)
Lieutenant Colonel Edgar Boling (MC, O-296620)
Lieutenant Colonel Findlay
Lieutenant Colonel Richard W. Graham, Jr. (MC, O-413763)
Lieutenant Colonel Fred R. Sloan (MC)
Lieutenant. Colonel Richard C. Tilghman (MC, O-400578)
Major Ross A. Bannermann (MC, O-355570)
Major Roger Biswell, Jr. (MC, O-333374)
Major Fred C. Brady (MC, O-314478)
Major William D. Buckley
Major David A. Buplingame (MC, O-345285)
Major Edgar F. Corgrove (MC, O-498612)
Major Paul De Grove (MC, O-310132)
Major Alexander W. Freshman (MC, O-477252)
Major Katherine R. Gary (ANC)
Major Milton Kissing (MC, O-503208)
Major Theodore Lidz (MC, O-436896)
Major Junior E. Rich (MC, O-488526)
Major John T. Simmons (MC, O-467038)
Major Harold H. Snyder (MC, O-508489)
Major Halbert H. Stafford (MAC, O-217216)
Major Hayward B. Street (DC, O-407392)
Major Thomas G. Ten Eyck
Major Guy W. Toph (DC, O-342948)

Excerpt of Special Orders No. 144, from Headquarters Advance Section, India Burma Theater, dated October 12, 1945, transferring First Lieutenant Harlan S. Byrne from the 18th General Hospital for assignment and duty to the 142d General Hospital in Calcutta, India.

Major C. C. Troland
Captain William G. Beadenkopf (MC, O-532929)
Captain William D. Buckley (ChC, O-521577)
Captain Eldon W. Burke (DC, O-1700457)
Captain Norman R. Carlson
Captain Ray Caswell (QMC, O-405882)
Captain Joseph E. Donnelly (MC, O-1692357)
Captain Hartwell P. Edwards
Captain William P. Everts, Jr. (MAC, O-1534727)
Captain Charlotte Fischer (ANC)
Captain Michael M. Karl (MC, O-540819)
Captain Frank W. Kibbe (MC, O-528998)
Captain Joseph L. Larmoro
Captain Merlin R. Leishman (MAC, O-1542866)
Captain William Leftwich
Captain Roger Lewis
Captain James Liebmann (MC, O-475378)
Captain Mitchell H. Miller (MC, O-400722)
Captain Joseph J. Oliva (MC, O-482429)
Captain Neal J. Phillips (MC, O-349550)
Captain Amelia Pierson (ANC)
Captain Nicholas J. Romano (MC, O-1547131)
Captain Lawrence L. Russell (MAC, O-1545245)
Captain Maurice L. Silverstein (MC, O-545012)
Captain William E. Stock (MAC, O-1535304)
Captain Jacob B. Weber (MC, O-521494)
First Lieutenant W. Bills
First Lieutenant Charles R. Blackburn (MC, O-444020)
First Lieutenant Harlan S. Byrne (MAC, O-2048866)
First Lieutenant Clyde E. Crusie (MAC, O-1794787)
First Lieutenant William J. Degnan (MAC, O-2048594)
First Lieutenant Hamilton E. Depass (MAC, O-1546569)
First Lieutenant Taphine Doster (ANC)
First Lieutenant Marion Eisner (ANC)

Sketch illustrating the route taken by First Lieutenant Harlan S. Byrne, 142d General Hospital, while traveling aboard the USS “Charles C. Ballou”, AP-157, on her way home to the Zone of Interior.

First Lieutenant Mary Geddes (ANC)
First Lieutenant Jean Hayes (ANC)
First Lieutenant Michael W. Karl (MC, O-540019)
First Lieutenant Kathleen Lewis (ANC)
First Lieutenant Elizabeth McLaughlin (ANC)
First Lieutenant Elizabeth McNamara (ANC)
First Lieutenant Elizabeth Miller (ANC)
First Lieutenant Ethel Niemi (ANC)
First Lieutenant James J. Partica (MAC, O-1994497)
First Lieutenant Emma Pedri (ANC)
First Lieutenant David O. Rosbash
First Lieutenant James J. Simon (MAC, O-889520)
First Lieutenant M. R. Stanley
First Lieutenant Emma C. Burch Terrell (ANC, Chief Nurse)
Second Lieutenant Helen Brownhill (ANC)
Second Lieutenant Elizabeth Cornwell (ANC)
Second Lieutenant Yadvika H. Davidson (ANC)
Second Lieutenant Doyle W. Gardner (MAC, O-889462)
Second Lieutenant Anthony F. Gizzie (MAC, O-1547307)
Second Lieutenant Olga Gostovich (ANC)
Second Lieutenant Virginia W. Griffey (ANC, N-777974)
Second Lieutenant Evelyn Hamilton (ANC)
Second Lieutenant Van T. Harris (SnC, O-2043097)
Second Lieutenant Louise Heenaham (ANC)
Second Lieutenant Betty L. Heuther (ANC)
Second Lieutenant Marion Hollenbeck (ANC)
Second Lieutenant Ila M. Kidd (ANC)
Second Lieutenant Albert E. King (MAC, O-2059855)
Second Lieutenant Mary Ann Koontz (ANC)
Second Lieutenant Sam W. McCracken (SnC, O-929475)
Second Lieutenant Ethel Olney (ANC)
Second Lieutenant Margaret M. Schafer (ANC, N-786047)
Second Lieutenant Joan Shea (ANC)
Second Lieutenant Dorothy W. Shepherd (ANC)
Second Lieutenant Grace Sterns (ANC)
Second Lieutenant Roy G. Turner (MAC, O-889568))
Second Lieutenant Leona R. Wolf (ANC)
Second Lieutenant Hayvis Woolf (MAC, O-1545768)

Miss B. Tuller (ARC)

Photo of the USS “Charles C. Ballou” AP-157, subsequently acquired by the US Navy for transportation of troops and supplies during WW2; eventually transferred to the US Army; and finally reacquired by the US Navy for further service. Served in World War Two and Korea.

Enlisted Men:
Technical Sergeant H. Gardner
Technical Sergeant G. Harrington
Technical Sergeant Tinsley A. Norris (14007678)
Staff Sergeant F. Baust
Staff Sergeant Bernard L. Kopycinski (20822726)
Technician 3d Grade A. Mayhew
Sergeant Fred C. Agner (7085160)
Sergeant E. Brechtlein
Sergeant Al Weber
Technician 4th Grade A. Abramowitz
Technician 4th Grade B. Alsip
Technician 4th Grade Frank E. Casey (38396601)
Technician 4th Grade Albert J. Detman (36439721)
Technician 4th Grade J. Eberwein
Technician 4th Grade N. Higbee
Technician 4th Grade T. Jones
Technician 4th Grade M. Kehoe
Technician 4th Grade M. Lemish
Technician 4th Grade D. Olsen
Technician 4th Grade A. Row
Corporal A. Axelrod
Corporal Clint E. Brumlay (38015290)
Corporal J. Jamieson
Technician 5th Grade R. Adkins
Technician 5th Grade N. Berg
Technician 5th Grade James A. Branum (38046580)
Technician 5th Grade Mike Ferchak (33144693)
Technician 5th Grade W. Greso
Technician 5th Grade George W. Harris (7024331)
Technician 5th Grade R. Hedberg
Technician 5th Grade B. Lerch
Technician 5th Grade J. Miller
Technician 5th Grade J. Richardson
Technician 5th Grade J. Robertson
Technician 5th Grade V. Ruggiero
Technician 5th Grade N. Schroeder
Technician 5th Grade Buford L. Scott (37248322)
Technician 5th Grade John P. Updegraff (35515011)
Technician 5th Grade John C. Wilson (34165705)
Private Libby G. Bouchard (31450048)
Private First Class J. Cannon
Private First Class W. Clark
Private First Class Henry B. Collins (34724443)
Private First Class W. Cook
Private First Class Herbert B. Crandell (32840521)
Private First Class William G. Dougall, Jr. (39588830)
Private First Class Leroy Hammond (35730382)
Private First Class William L. Helwig (32931892)
Private First Class Clive E. Hornback (37677370)
Private First Class G. Jimenez
Private First Class James H. Long (35599089)
Private First Class F. Loveless
Private First Class B. Maples
Private Morris Mason (32810715)
Private First Class A. Memolo
Private First Class Kenneth W. Olsen (36703509)
Private First Class F. Peralta
Private First Class Joseph Smith (35093201)
Private First Class Erwin R. Supple (39044547)
Private P. Allen
Private Newt B. Chapman (34705624)
Private Edward E. Claywool (35707436)
Private Manuel S. Cortez (38554558)
Private Chester D. Bennett (31132726)
Private I. Letner
Private D. Linaman
Private Stephen J. Majewski (36673107)
Private Robert L. Mullins (38232752)
Private W. Parsons
Private T. Porter
Private Kenneth F. Spillman (39209581)
Private S. Stoianoff
Private A. Turici
Private A. Twardowicz
Private N. Valdivia
Private Theodore A. Whooley (31463894)

General map illustrating US Army Hospitals stationed in India, Northern Burma, and China during the first half of 1945.


The MRC Staff are very much indebted to Loretta Schumacher, daughter of First Lieutenant Harlan S. Byrne, MAC (O-2048866) who served with the 18th General Hospital (and briefly with the 142d General Hospital) in both the Pacific and the India-Burma Theater. This Testimonial could not have been edited without her generous assistance. We are still looking for a complete personnel roster.

 

This page was printed from the WW2 US Medical Research Centre on 26th May 2019 at 01:31.
Read more: https://www.med-dept.com/veterans-testimonies/veterans-testimony-harlan-s-byrne/