75th Medical Battalion After Action Report, April 1945
The following is a narrative report of marches and battles of the battalion, by companies, for the month of April, 1945.
Headquarters and Headquarters Company on the first of April crossed the Rhine River bridge at Wesel and arrived in Dulman at 0900, a distance of forty-five (45) miles being covered since midnight. The next day the company moved to Appelhusen, a short march of thirteen (13) miles. On the fourth day of the month the company crossed the Dortmund-Ems Canal and bivouaced near Werther, covering a distance of sixty (60) miles. On the fifth of April the company moved to Herford, a distance of eighteen (18) miles. The 13th of April found the company making their longest march during combat action, covering one-hundred and forty-five (145) miles in thirteen (13) hours, arriving at Kekerbeck for a short stay. A 2-1/2 ton truck, driven by Tec 5 Kelly Anderson, was destroyed by an enemy tank in the vicinity of Voitze while in convoy on detail for the Administrative Center. This incident took place at approximately 0830 on the 16th of April. The company then moved to Wilsche, a distance of forty-seven miles, where they took over the military government of that town and the adjacent territory. Seven (7) German soldiers dressed in civilian clothes were picked up and sent to the Prisoner of War Enclosure. Division Medical Supply and Battalion Maintenance functioned normally, supporting the lettered companies.
Company A, attached to Combat Command A, crossed the Rhine River at Wesel about 0100 the 1st of April. By morning they had reached bivouac area near Darup where they paused long enough to rest and refuel. By late afternoon they were on the road again and reached Senden that night. On the march the combat command was put in Corps reserve. At this point, while attempting a crossing of the Dortmund-Ems Canal, heavy artillery fire was received and the bridge was successfully blown. When airbursts were received within one-hundred (100) yards of the company they were ordered off the road for the night. Our artillery located enemy gun positions and were successful in counter-battery fire. By morning the engineers had bridged the canal and we started on the move again. By nightfall advance elements of Combat Command A had reached Herford and Company A spent the night in Warendorf as elements of the 84th Infantry Division passed through on the road to Minden. Given road priority on the 4th, the company closed in bivouac in the vicinity of Herford and remained here in reserve until the night of the 10th. On the morning of the 11th Combat Command A relieved Combat Command B and took off from vicinity of the Weser bridgehead. By the night of the 13th elements had reached the Elbe River at Tangemunde. By the 16th, Germans had crossed into the divisions rear sector from the pocket between the American XIII and British VIII Corps. Half of Combat Command A was dispatched to the vicinity of Brome while the remainder stayed at Calvorde. Company A had a detachment with both combat teams. On April 21st Combat Command A was given mission, with Combat Command R on the right flank, of driving Germans out of the pocket between American XIII Corps and British VIII Corps. The mission was accomplished within forty-eight (48) hours with Combat Command A reaching the Elbe River northwest of Danneberg. The Combat Command was relieved by the 29th Infantry Division and Company A moved to Fallersleben. The present campaign is reminescent of the halcyon days of the French campaign with the combat command making drives of twenty to seventy miles in twenty-four hours. Much of the treatment has been done at the roadside itself, particularly during daylight hours. In the drive from the Weser to the Elbe Combat Command A had only two combat casualties, both resulting from enemy straffing. One of these was Pfc Murray of this company, making our first casualty since Hurtgen Forest. However, the last kilometer in Tangemunde saw over thirty (30) casualties in the command, many serious. Enemy air was more active than we have ever seen him before. We were straffed in column and in bivouac on an average of once an hour during daylight from the 11th to 13th of April. Casualties were very light though. On the 8th of April, near Hannover, the company was shelled twice within four hours, first by 88s and then by a
heavy concentration of nebelwerfer fire. Fortunately, cover was handy and no casualties were inflicted. Our biggest problem was the evacuation of casualties to the rear. Ambulances were making round trips up to two-hundred miles through territory filled with by-passed enemy troops. Normal T/E equipment proved adequate throughout the month.
The month of April saw Combat Command B, which Company B supported medically as in the past, move east across the Rhine to the Elbe River and then back to a rear area to act as an occupation force. Casualties for the whole operation were remarkably light considering the distance covered and the number of enemy encountered. Large numbers of Allied prisoners of war were liberated by our advance. Aside from some difficulty in evacuation back to the Evacuation Hospitals because of the great distances, medical support was relatively simple. On the 31st of March the company moved from vicinity of Kempen, crossed the Rhine bivouaced near Darup, covering a distance of seventy-five (75) miles. On the 2nd of April the Company followed Task Force Anderson which had fallen slightly behind Task Force Dickinson during the previous night. Movement was generally east and northeast, following secondary roads and meeting only scattered resistence. At Sassenberg, one treatment section split from the company and followed the advance of Task Force Anderson, which paralleled the other task force to the south. One quarter mile to our rear, at 1800, four gas trucks and a peep were ambushed by snipers. Two light tanks and ambulances were sent back to dispose of the enemy and evacuate the wounded. The company finally closed in temporary billet near Borgholzen, having gone fifty-two (52) miles. At the time, near midnight, there were quite a large number of American and German casualties that had to be kept overnight because of lack of ambulances and the poor road net. The next morning two trucks were obtained and approximately twenty-five American wounded were evacuated to the rear, led by one Army ambulance. An attempt was made to obtain more ambulances, but it was unsuccessful. Evacuation was difficult because of the poor roads and muddy terrain. On the 3rd of April the company, still following Task Force Dickinson, move at 1100 and moved all day. Mission was to move east to the Weser. The mission was accomplished this day and the company bivouaced at Gohfeld. Five prisoners were captured while looking for a billet. All bridges over the Weser had been blown and the advance had to stop temporarily. During this drive the section with the other task force had only three casualties. On 11th of April the company crossed the Weser at Hamelin and moved all night and closed in bivouac at 0800 the next morning at Stederdorf, a move of ninety-seven (97) miles. Again the same day, a thirty (30) mile move was made to Grussendorf. During this march there were several stops for fighting troops to clear the way. The following day the company moved another forty (40) miles to Thuritz and on the 13th of April they moved to Osterburg, a distance of twenty-five (25) miles. During this march from the Weser to the Elbe, Combat Command B was theoretically in Division reserve and was protecting the advance of Division Headquarters. On the last two days, Combat Command B left Division Headquarters and advanced east to the Elbe between Combat Command A and Combat Command R through virgin territory. The whole advance was remarkable in the lack of casualties, and medical service was no hard problem. There were tentative plans for supporting a crossing of the Elbe at this time but the mission was changed. After remaining in Osterburg on the 14th and 15th of April, the company moved west to Gr. Apenburg with the mission of protecting the rear areas. At this time the German division von Clauowitz attacked to the Division rear and destroyed supply vehicles on the MSR. Combat Command B was sent to meet this attack. The company moved on 17th of April nine (9) miles to Tangeln where it remained until the 20th of April. During this time, the tanks and infantry, aided by artillery and airplanes, virtually destroyed the aforementioned German division, with very few casualties of American soldiers. On the 20th of April there was another change of billets to Zasenbeck, where the company remained until the 27th of April. On this day one surgical section moved to Bomenzien, near the Elbe River, to support the Division Artillery which was prepared to resist any crossing by the enemy. This section stayed at Bomenzien under Division Artillery control until the end of the month. On the 26th of April the remainder of the company moved to Ehra, with the mission of supporting the combat command during its occupation of
German territory. It has remained at this location until the end of the reported period.
On the 1st of April, Company C, still in support of Combat Command R, continued its march east of the Rhine, moving from Senden to the town of Venne and the next day on to Jollenbech during very bad weather. The casualties were surprisingly light. On the 4th of April, Company C moved to Exter and the following day to Hohenhausen where it stayed until the eighth, then taking to the road again with overnight stops in Hasperde, Bledeln, Peine, Blotzhagen and Bretsch. On the 12th of April the combat command was finally stopped by the Elbe River after its advance across Germany. Two days later the company set up in Osterburg to support Combat Command R and attached units in an attemped crossing of the Elbe. However, the crossing was called off and, on the 16th, the company moved to Dewitz, then to Winterfeld, and, on the 18th, moved to a hospital at a German airport on the outskirts of Salzwedel, from which place it supported the Combat Command during its drive north to the Elbe River. One week later, having attained its objectives, the division was relieved and ordered back to the rear, the company setting up in another German Luftwaffe hospital building southwest of Wesendorf. Here a hospital ward was set up in order to retain the patients and return them to duty without necessitating their evacuation to the rear.
R. J. WINKLER
Major, M. C.