75TH Medical Battalion After Action Report, August 1944
The following is a narrative report of marches and battles of the battalion by companies.
Headquarters and Headquarters Company, under divisional SOP is a component of the Division Trains and functioned in this capacity on August 1, 1944. At the start of the campaign the Division was in the XV Corps of the Third U.S. Army.
On August 1st, Headquarters and Headquarters Company was bivouaced in the vicinity of St Sauveur. The company then moved to the vicinity of Millieres, about a 40 mile march into an area mined and booby-trapped. It was decided to attach a truck from Headquarters Company for the purpose of supplies to each lettered company. On August 2nd the three lettered companies, less nine ambulances, nine Officers and nine Enlisted Men, reverted to Battalion control. August 5th found the battalion making a move of 51 miles to Ducey, enemy aircraft activity was noticed. A and C Companies rejoined their combat commands at this time. The next day a move to Fougeres of 20 miles was made. At this time B Company joined Combat Command B. One officer from C Company and a detachment of nine men were left at Headquarters to run a treatment section for Division Trains. The billeting party sent from Ducey consisting of the Adjutant, 1st Lt DALE TeKOLSTE, T/5 Ralph L. Heck and Private Horace M. Metcalfe were ambushed at Crosse Le Viven. In the ensuing action T/5 Ralph L. Heck was killed instantly. Lt DALE TeKOLSTE and Private Horace M. Metcalfe escaped uninjured. The ¼ ton truck was demolished. On August 6th, two easy marches totaling 30 miles were made. On August 7th a march of 71 miles was accomplished being subjected to small arms fire on the way. The Company arrived at Maigne 14 kilometers west of Le Mans at 080340. The same day another march covering 20 miles was made arriving 4 miles south of Le Mans. On the 10th the company left at 0330 and arrived at noon at Beaufay, marching 32 miles. The S-4 made two trips to Ducey for supplies a distance of 125 miles, one way, on the nights of the 10th and 11th of August. On the 12th of August the company made another night move covering 36 miles to Le Mesle. The same day, the 12th, the unit moved to Sees, a distance of 12 miles. The night of the 12th, Captain Seney and Lt Garfield picked up a detail of 14 trucks from the 3907th QM trucking company which was attached to the 5th Division and proceeded to Beaufay where they supplied transportation for a platoon of the 16th Field Hospital and escorted them to Sees and the march was subjected to small arms fire. On the 13th of August, Division Medical Supply established a Medical Dump at Sees for the use of the Second French Armored Division. On the 16th of August, Headquarters, accompanied by the 16th Field Hospital, marched to the airport at Dreux, a distance of 71 miles. Here the company was subjected to straffing. The company, accompanied by the 16th Field Hospital arrived 7 miles west of Mantes Gassicourt on the 19th of August, 35 miles covered. The next march totaled 18 miles and was made on the 25th bivouacing at Thoiry. On August 30th, leaving the Field Hospital behind, a march was made through Paris, around the Arc De Triomphe, passing Le Bourget Field and arriving at Baron the same day a distance of 70 miles. On this date the Division was transferred to the V Corps as part of the First U.S. Army. The total casualties treated by the treatment section attached to the company were 411. Evacuation through the month was to the 16th Field Hospital, 103rd Evacuation Hospital, and 39th Evacuation Hospital.
Company “A”, a medical company, armored, habitually supports Combat Command A of the Fifth Armored Division. On the 1st of August, CCA received and began its first mission as a part of the 3rd U.S. Army. As medical support initially, we gave three ambulances, each carrying drivers, aid men and medical officers. It was realized almost immediately that it would be necessary to have the whole medical company in support, on August 5th the remainder of the company rejoined the 3 ambulances in the vicinity of Vitre, France.
On August 6th the Combat Command marched over 50 miles through lightly held enemy territory and near Craon, France, we received our first casualty. We bivouaced that night between Craon and Chateau Goutier and were cut off from our combat elements by German patrols. They circulated freely about the area but made no attempt to interfere with evacuations or treatment of casualties. From Chateau Goutier to Ballon the Combat Command moved very rapidly with few casualties. We were unable to get supporting evacuation from Army and our own ambulances evacuated not only from the front, but for 4 days, August 6 to 10, to the rear , as well. Our drivers making round trips of up to 250 miles and then returning immediately to the front. At Ballon we met our first heavy German resistance and casualties were heavier than before. We were faced by elements of the 9th and 10th Panzer Divisions. Here, several of the ambulance drivers participated in acts of unusual heroism for which 4 of them later received the Bronze Star. The enemy was dispersed in a 2 day running battle and Le Mans was captured by the Corps. On the outskirts of Le Mans, vehicles of the company were fired upon by enemy for the first time, but no casualties resulted, although several vehicles were damaged. We marched on Sees, as the Argentan Gap became a reality and here we were met by stronger forces of Germans than any previously met. We also handled many French and German casualties. Casualties averaged about 50 a day for 2 days, but at no time were we unable to adequately care for them. As we marched on Argentan, 2 more of our ambulance drivers distinguished by acts of heroism for which they were later decorated. From Argentan we marched on Dreux and on the way at St Martin on the 16th of August, the company area was shelled intermittently for 90 minutes by rocket mortar shells. Three of our men were seriously wounded, one dying the following day. Two others were lightly wounded and two were evacuated because they showed signs of combat exhaustion. The company behaved magnificently in their first direct shelling and continued treating casualties (about 20 of them) while under direct fire from the enemy. The following day at Dreux the bivouac area was straffed by 2 M 109’s, but no damage or casualties resulted to the company. At this point, about August 18th, we headed for the Seine River in an effort to trap troops of the German 7th Army. On August 20th we were treated to the most terrific artillery barrage we have ever witnessed, with over 20 battalions of artillery firing on a German concentration near Pacy-Sur-Eure. On the 23rd of August, the Combat Command reached its objective, Douviers on the west bank of the Seine. At this point we were relieved by troops of the British 30th Corps and returned to the vicinity of Mantes for a 4 day rest period. Fighting was hard all the way and the Combat Command was in contact with the enemy for 25 straight days. Fighting was continuous and many marches were made all through the night. The Combat Command received a commendation from General Montgomery, who remarked that they had travelled farther, moved faster and hit harder than any armored unit in history. Casualties were light, however, and we never had any difficulty in either treating or evacuating patients. On the 29th of August we joined the First U.S. Army, the company passed through Paris and crossed the Seine River. By the end of the month we had reached the Forest of Compiegne and on the morning of the 30th, saw our first flying bombs. At least one exploded in the near vicinity but no casualties occurred. During this period because of the lengthy marches, it was necessary to leap frog our two treatment sections, always keeping one mobile and one set up at all times to receive casualties. This method proved very satisfactory at all times. The total casualties treated by the company were 402. Evacuation through the month was made to the 104th Evac. Hospital, 106th Evac. Hospital, 101st Evac. Hospital, 34th Evac. Hospital, 45th Evac. Hospital, 96th Evac. Hospital, and 13th Field Hospital.
Company “B”, a medical company armored, under divisional SOP, supports CCB of the Fifth Armored Division. On August 1st CCB received and began the first mission as part of the Third United States Army. Initially, 3 ambulances, three medical officers, and 3 first aid men were the medical support. On August 6 the remainder of the company rejoined the original 3 vehicles in the vicinity of Vitre. Here German infantry shot out the lights of one of our trucks and the column was subjected to sniper fire. The first casualties of the campaign were treated here, however most of the men were Germans. On August 7th we crossed the Mayenne River traveling 20 miles. Capt. Jewett and Lt. Dursi captured 9 Germans in the vicinity of Spay. They were
Turned over to the MP’s. After a night march on the 10th, we arrived at Beaufay. At this time “C” Company was loaded with patients and we assisted in the evacuation and treatment of CCR patients throughout the day. In the next two days CCB moved to the vicinity of Sees. We left Sees on the 15th of August and marched to an area south of Dreux. This was our biggest single advance through enemy territory to date, the majority during blackout. CCB marched in two units, each supported by a surgical section. The remarkable thing about the march was the fact there were no casualties. Four ME 109’s passed about 20 feet over the company without firing a shot. One 88 mm shell landed in the area. Moderate number of casualties treated when CCB captured Dreux. Evacuation up to this point was at all times up to 100 miles one way from clearing station to evacuation or Field Hospitals. On the night of the 18th a night march of 36 miles was made to Hommage. On the 22nd CCB’s column was straffed and suffered 8 casualties. The new bivouac area was in the vicinity of St Pierre De Bailley. The next day we proceeded by road and cross country to the vicinity of Champenard. On the night of the 24th a march of 38 miles was accomplished, bivouacing early in the morning in the vicinity of Boinville. The company rested the next four days and was visited by General Oliver, the Division Commander, who presented Bronze Stars to Sgts. Smith and Bacon. On the 30th the Fifth Armored Division being relieved from the Third Army and joining the First Army, CCB proceeded thru Paris and arrived at Senlis, a distance of 62 miles. CCB passed thru the 28th Infantry Division to spearhead the attack. Total casualties treated by the company were 459. Evacuation thru the month was made to the 103rd Evac. Hospital, 39th Evacuation Hospital, and 16th Field Hospital.
Company “C”, a medical company, under Divisional SOP, supports CCR of the Fifth Armored Division. On August 1st, CCR received and began its first combat mission as part of the Third United States Army. Three ambulances, three medical officers, and three first aid men were initially the medical support for CCR who had a mission of repelling a counter attack by the enemy in the Avranches area. August 5th found the entire company (less a detachment of one officer and nine enlisted men to Headquarters Company) together in the vicinity of Vitre. On the 7th of August near Craon, Captains Benny and Guyton performed an arm amputation on a civilian assisted by technicians from the company. During the operation some Germans came into the area and surrendered. On August 10th we experienced our first heavy casualties, a total of 84, near Beaufay. One clearing station was sent forward to speed up the medical service. When we resumed our advance the next day it was found that due to the rapid spearheading, several German pockets were left behind, necessitating fuch fighting on the march by the trains in the rear of the column, particularly north of Mamiers. Tanks closed in on Mamiers as soon as the combat command had passed thru. One surgical section under Capt. Benny had remained behind to receive patients being transferred from ambulances and on pulling out was followed on the road by a German tank, but was unmolested, the tank subsequently turned off. On the 12th while the company was temporarily bivouaced near Le Mesle, three ambulances under command of Capt. Allington were dispatched to pick up casualties at Belleme. The ambulances headed thru Mortagne, believing it to be in allied hands. It was not. They were held prisoners for two and one-half hours and then left behind by retreating Germans to await arrival of Americans. The company arrived at Nonent-Le-Pin on August 13th and CCR’s mission was to help close the Falaise Gap. Here heavy shell fire was experienced. The morning of the 14th, two German medical soldiers surrendered voluntarily and assisted during the balance of the night in treating German casualties. On August 16th, the Division’s mission was to take Dreux, mission accomplished within 24 hours, included road march of 85 miles. While bivouaced outside the town, 23 ME 109’s straffed the company, no casualties were suffered. On August 30th the company drove thru Paris on its way to the Forest de Compiegne. The total casualties treated by the company were 355. Evacuation thru the month was made th the 13th and 16th Field Hospitals, and 101st, 109th, 103rd, 106th, 34th, 39th, 107th, 45th, and 96th Evacuation Hospitals.
GORDON B. CAREY
S – 3