Source National Archives (College Park, Maryland), Rg. 407, 301-INF (16) 6-0.1, "History Medical Det", Box 5931.
Bookmarks: 1941-1942 Fort Devens / Great Britain / Algeria / 1943 Tunisia / Invasion of Sicily / 1943-1944 England / D-Day, Normandy / D-Day casualties / France and Belgium / Siegfried Line to Hürtgen / the Ardennes / 1945 Central Europe
HISTORY MEDICAL DETACHMENT 16TH INFANTRY 1ST US INFANTRY DIVISION UNITED STATES ARMY NOVEMBER 1940 TO MAY 1945
AUTHOR: HERBERT GOLDBERG,
1ST LT. MED. AM. CORPS
I N T R O D U C T I O N
In November, 1940, Reserve Officers were ordered to active duty. The Medical Detachment, 16th Infantry, found itself growing from a skeleton organization to a full scale detachment. Medical Officers found, to their amazement, that they had to learn to be Army Officers and not doctors.
In the autumn of 1940, the Medical Detachment was stationed in Fort Jay, Governors Island, New York. One battalion section, the 3rd, was absent from the garrison duties which were based on the easy-going standards of a peacetime Army. The absent 3rd Battalion was participating with other regiments of the 1st Infantry Division in Puerto Rico. It was at this time that the Army began its rapid expansion, and accordingly, the personnel of the Regiment as a whole was increased considerably. However, the newer members were Regular Army men. The major part of the winter was devoted to the training of the new men.
In February, 1941, the entire Regiment (excluding the 3rd Bn) moved by truck to Fort Devens, Massachusetts. A few days later, the 3rd Battalion, the 18th and 26th Infantry Regiments returned from Puerto Rico and thus, the 1st Division was practically housed “under one roof”. There was considerable activity in Fort Devens at this time. The various regiments were given samplings of the type of fighting that would be required of them whenever the need arose. The training centered on amphibious landings in the vicinity of nearby Buzzard’s Bay. The landings were usually made in battalion strength. The participating battalions would be gone for approximately a week at a time, and four or five landings a day would be made. Immediately following the training at Buzzard’s Bay, the first influx of selectees began to trickle into the Regiment.
In the early part of the summer, the Regiment entrained for Brooklyn, New York, to board the USS Wakefield, to participate in maneuvers off the coast of the Carolinas. The entire Division participated in the strenuous cruise and landing operations. At the time, the majority of the men believed that the 1st Division was sailing for Martinique to intervene in the trouble that was brewing there. However, the rumor was just that—a rumor. Thus, for the major part of the summer, the Division made numerous landings in the vicinity of Parris Island, North Carolina.
Upon returning to Fort Devens after leaving the USS Wakefield, a short period of garrison duty was interspersed with packing and other preparations for the coming ground maneuvers in the Carolinas and Georgia. The entire Division moved to the Carolinas by motor vehicle in November and actively participated in another new type of training—mobile warfare. Thus the Division was now thoroughly prepared to engage in the newer types of warfare that were being used so successfully in Europe by the Germans, amphibious landings and a rapid moving, highly mechanized army. Leaving the South by truck 1 December 1941, the Regiment reached Fort Devens five days later.
On 7 December 1941, following the return to Fort Devens, the men were awakened by the news that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. Everyone had been looking forward to Christmas furloughs, and it was the opinion of all that the furloughs would be cancelled. Yet, the opposite occurred. The men were given furloughs ranging from seven to ten days.
In February 1942, the entire Division left for Camp Blanding, Florida. It was a permanent change of station. A strenuous period of training was the highlight of the Division’s brief, but comfortable stay in Florida. The ability to withstand forced marches under a burning sun inured the men to physical hardships. In May 1942, the Division moved to Fort Benning, Georgia, where the men heard live artillery shells and bombs explode for the first time. The main purpose of the maneuvers in the vicinity of Fort Benning was to acquaint each soldier with the team-work that is absolutely necessary between the Infantry, Artillery, Air Corps, Engineers, etc.
In June 1942, the Division moved to a staging area in Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania and awaited its ultimate shipment overseas. During the last week in June, the forward echelon (2nd Battalion) was segregated from the rest of the Regiment and placed under a strict restriction. There was to be no writing or talking to outsiders. All members of the 2nd Battalion who had business outside the restricted area were accompanied by armed guards. The men of the 2nd Battalion were paid for the last time in the States at one minute past midnight, 30 June 1942, and later in the day, left by train for New York, to board the transports bound for England. Two weeks later, the 2nd Battalion left the transport in Liverpool, England, and proceeded by train to Tidworth Barracks, England. The rest of the Division left the States 1 August 1942, on the Queen Mary, and landed in Grenoch, Scotland, 7 August 1942. On August 8th they boarded troop trains to convey them to Tidworth Barracks.
Once again, the Division was “under one roof”. Passes and furloughs were given the Officers and Enlisted Men to visit London, Glasgow or any other place the men desired to go. During the months of August and September, training consisted chiefly of lectures, litter bearing and marches. In September, the Detachment made a 12 mile march to Stonehenge, where, upon arrival were met by a guide who explained the History of Stonehenge. The Detachment then had coffee and doughnuts served by the Red Cross and lunch was brought to them by jeep.
Our stay in England didn’t last long. In the last week of September, the Regiment moved to Rosenheath, Scotland, on Grenoch Harbor, where amphibious training again started. Three landings a week were made in Battalion strength, with the other battalions coming in as reserve battalions. All of these landings were made in pouring rain—it wasn’t to accustom the men to rainy weather, but because in Scotland it always rains!
On 15 October 1942, the Regiment
embarked on the HMS Warwick Castle and HMS Duchess of Bedford. The 3rd
Battalion and Special Unit Companies less Anti-Tank Company were on the HMS
Warwick Castle, and the 1st and 2nd Battalion plus Anti-Tank Company were on
the Duchess of Bedford. Everyone knew that this was the “real thing”. The
Officers and Enlisted Men were quite enthusiastic about getting into their
first action and everyone was restless. On October 17th, the troops left
Grenoch Harbor and went to Glasgow, Scotland, where they stayed four hours.
At Glasgow each Company was issued two bicycles; the rumors really started
then! At lunch they met the rest of the convoy and started with the trip. On
2 November 1942,the men were finally told where they were going and what
their job was to be; a beach landing on the shores of North Africa at Arzew,
Algeria, with the mission of occupying Oran, Algeria, 25 miles west of Arzew.
CHAPTER 1: NORTH AFRICA
At 0100 hrs, 8 November 1942, the 1st and 3rd Battalions landed at Arzew Beach, Algeria, accompanied by their respective Battalion Medical Sections. Each Battalion Section had two litter squads attached to them from Company A, 1st Medical Battalion. The 1st Battalion upon hitting the beach immediately started moving to the east with the objectives of Port aux Poules and La Macta. The 3rd Battalion moved west toward Oran. At 1400 hrs the 2nd Battalion, reserve battalion, landed at Arzew Beach and moved to Le Grand. It stayed in reserve until the evening of November 9th—when it took over from the 3rd Battalion position, allowing the 3rd Battalion to swing around toward St. Cloud where the 18th Infantry was having difficulty advancing. The final objective—Oran—was taken and occupied at 1000 hrs, 10 November 1942.
The Medical Detachment ran into quite a few difficult problems that had not been anticipated, mainly transportation of casualties. None of the Battalion Medical Section vehicles reported in until the morning of November 10th, after the fighting was over! In order to overcome this problem, horses and wagons were taken from the farmers, and some of the Cannon Company’s halftracks were used. One of the men in the 2nd Battalion Section was stepped on by a horse; that was the only casualty in the Medical Detachment. The personnel of the Regimental Medical Section assisted the Chaplain in the burial of the dead at a farmhouse at Fme. St. Mohamet.
Two members of the 3rd Battalion Medical Section, upon landing, moved too far to the west, and were separated from their section. They wandered into Arzew, which was not yet occupied. The French, upon seeing that they medical men, told them that they had some casualties that need treatment and took them prisoners. At 1000 hrs the same day, they were still working on the French casualties when they heard rifle and machine-gun fire. They knew it was the 18th Infantry Troops entering the town. They continued working but when the plaster started falling off the wall in the building, they decided it was time to identify themselves. When the 18th Infantry liberated them, they were told the whereabouts of the 3rd Battalion, 16th Infantry. These two men rejoined their section at 1300 hrs, 8 November.
The total casualties for the Regiment in this action was 69 wounded and 24 killed in action.
Upon cessation of fighting the Regiment went into semi-garrison quarters. The 1st Battalion at Tafaouri Airfield; 2nd Battalion at the Military Barracks in Oran; 3rd Battalion in general area of Fluerus; Special Units in general area of St. Louis.
During the period from 11 November 1942 to 10 January 1943, the Regiment underwent strenuous training and reequipping. Passes were issued to Officers and Enlisted Men to visit Sidi-Bel-Abbes, the home of the French Foreign Legion; Oran and other big cities. The men were purchasing all the perfume they could buy to send home—the Mail Clerk became very busy. In December the 18th Infantry moved to Tunisia and the Regiment knew it wouldn’t be long before it also moved, as the war was far from being over.
On the 16th January 1943, the 1st Battalion and Regimental Headquarters left their semi-garrison quarters and moved to vicinity of Maktar, Tunisia, arriving on the 22nd January. On the 24th January, the 1st Battalion moved into Ouseltia Valley and engaged the enemy. The remainder of the Regiment left their garrison quarters on January 17th and arrived at Guelma, Algeria, January 23rd. On January 27th the 3rd Battalion rejoined the Regiment and took up a position on the right of the 1st Battalion. The 2nd Battalion moved to Robaa, Tunisia on the 26th of January and were under the control of the 36th British Brigade. The 2nd Battalion rejoined the Regiment at Ouseltia Valley on the 3rd of February. At Ouseltia Valley action consisted chiefly of patrolling. Enemy aircraft was quite active and inflicted quite a few casualties upon personnel who were riding in vehicles during the daylight hours. Main enemy activity was mortar and artillery fire. On February 17th, the entire Regiment moved out of Ouseltia Valley and took up positions at the Maktar-Pichon area. Engineers heavily mined and booby-trapped the positions vacated by our troops. On February 19th, the Regiment moved from the Maktar-Pichon Pass by motor convoy and moved to the south. At 0600 hrs all battalions attacked the enemy at Kasserine Pass. This was the first time the Regiment participated in a combined Infantry, Artillery, Tank and Air Corps attack. The enemy at the time was attacking our troops at Kasserine Pass, trying to reach our supply base at Tebessa. Our attack was successful and the enemy was thrown back through Kasserine Pass and heavy casualties were inflicted on them.
During the stay at Kasserine Pass, the Regiment was visited by Under-Secretary of War Patterson.
The Regiment was relieved by the 9th Division, 9 March 1943, and moved to a rest area at El-Meridj where the men were reequipped, showers taken, and recreation given. The 16th Infantry let the rest area at El-Meridj on March 13th and moved to an assembly area at Bou Chebka, Tunisia. On the evening of March 16th, the Regiment moved by motor convoy to a position 6 miles northwest of Gafa, Tunisia. At 0600 hrs, the 17th of March, the Regiment attacked Gafsa and entered and seized the town without opposition. The 16th Infantry remained in the vicinity of Gafsa for the period from 18 March to 22 March 1943.
On March 22nd the 2nd and 3rd Battalion moved into the El Guettar Sector as Division reserve. The 1st Battalion joined them on 24 March 1943. There was a lull in combat until the 27th of March, when the 16th Infantry participated in an attack to gain possession of the mountain, Djebl-Mcheltat which was taken on 1 April 1943.
The terrain, similar in nature to that of the mountains of and near Gafsa, placed tremendous burdens on the Medical Evacuation System. It was necessary to reinforce an already depleted detachment with litter bearers from the Collecting Company. In some instances, assistance was obtained from Line Organizations in the removal of wounded from the battlefield. Ambulance service was provided very efficiently by the Ambulance Platoon of Company A, 1st Medical Battalion. It required approximately 4 to 6 hours to evacuate a wounded man to a rear medical installation.
It can truly be said that any man seriously wounded and capable of surviving the first hour after the infliction of the wound, reached the larger medical evacuation installations in fairly good shape. All credit for this excellent record must be given to the Battalion Surgeons, the Company Aid Men, particularly the litter bearers and other members of the Medical Detachment who performed their duties completely and without regard for safety and personal welfare. As an example, there was no evidence of poorly controlled hemorrhages on those patients seen at the Aid Stations which pointedly demonstrated the excellent first aid ability of the aid men.
A certain phase of the battle, particularly the period 29 March to 1 April 1943, the influx of patients, great enough to overtax a long route of evacuation required miscellaneous vehicles to assist in this work. Two-and-a-half, three-quarter ton trucks and jeeps were used for this purpose.
The period 2 April to 8 April 1943, was quiet, comparatively, and was marked by the progress of the 16th Combat Team to its various objectives. The Medical Detachment took up a bivouac area on 8 April 1943, in the general vicinity of El Guettar.
The 16th Infantry Combat Team went into action against the enemy on the morning of 22 April 1943. Heavy fighting continued during the period 22 April to 30 April 1943. This fighting was in two phases; 22 April to 25 April; 27 April to 30 April 1943. The Battalion Medical Sections as usual were attached to their respective battalions. The Regiment continued chiefly north and slightly east setting up Command Posts at various points. This campaign was not unusual from a medical evacuation viewpoint except for the facts that:
1. The jeep is an indispensable vehicle for the transportation of wounded from exposed combat areas.
2. Litter bearers are still essential for terrain which is as hilly and mountainous as found in Tunisia.
The Medical Detachment and Collecting Company A, 1st Medical Battalion gave their usual continued medical service to the Combat Team throughout the campaign. On 25 April 1943, an incident occurred which unfortunately resulted in 68 casualties. This was reported to the Regimental Surgeon at 0400 hrs, 25 April 1943. By 0600 hrs, 25 April all the patients were treated and evacuated. This excellent work was aided by cooperation of the Infantrymen, who not only acted as litter bearers, but appropriated every available vehicle and used such vehicles as conveyances for the wounded. The Medical Detachment is also proud of the fact that no patient died enroute to and upon the arrival at the hospital, having once been treated at the Aid Station.
One Army notable also received treatment at a Medical Detachment Installation. On 23 April 1943, Lt. General Lesley W. McNair, Commanding General, Army Ground Forces, was wounded in the 16th Infantry Sector and was given initial medical treatment at the 2nd Battalion Aid Station by Captain Samuel Morchan.
During the El Guettar Battle, on 29 March 1943, the 3rd Battalion Aid Station received two direct artillery hits, killing 5, and wounding 7 and one missing. Personnel from the 1st and 2nd Battalion Aid Stations were sent to replace the casualties at the 3rd Bn Medical Station.
The 16th Infantry continued the attack chiefly north and slightly east until going into a reserve position at Douar, Tunisia. The Regiment remained in this position until the evening of May 5th, when it proceeded eastward to another reserve position in the vicinity of Matuer, Tunisia. On 15 May 1943, the 16th Infantry left Matuer, traveled by both motor convoy and train to the general vicinity of Oran, Algeria; arriving there 18 May 1943. The battalions took up semi-garrison positions they left in January. From the period 22 May to 26 May 1943, training on amphibious beach landings was stressed. Everyone was wondering—where to now?
The 16th Infantry left the vicinity of Oran by boat on 11 June 1943. The 1st Battalion and Special Units embarked on the USS Stanton; the 2nd and 3rd Battalions on the USS Thurston at Oran Harbor. Left Oran Harbor on 12 June 1943, and arrived at Algiers Harbor, 15 June 1943. All the troops disembarked and went by motor convoy to the general area of Staoueli, Algeria, where pup tents were set up and a semi-permanent camp was built.
The total casualties for the campaign
treated by the Medical Detachment, 16th Infantry from 8 November 1942 to 13
May 1943, was 1082 wounded. Casualties for the Medical Detachment during
this period was 35 wounded, and 12 Killed in Action, plus two Prisoners of
Rumors started going around that the Regiment would be leaving Staoueli, Algeria, sometime around the end of June, where the destination would be just a guess. The 3rd Battalion, 16th Infantry, on 27 June 1943, left their bivouac area at Staoueli, boarded LCI’s at Algiers Harbor and on the 28th of June left Algiers for an unknown destination. Everyone was under the impression that the 3rd Battalion would be back in a day or two, but when a week passed and nothing was heard from them, it became quite evident that something was up.
On 4 July 1943, everyone was restricted to their bivouac area and on the 5th of July the 1st Battalion and Special Unit Companies moved to Algiers and boarded the USS Stanton. The 2nd Battalion boarded the USS Chase. The men still didn’t have the slightest idea of where they were going, but from talking with crew members they knew it wouldn’t be too far, as there wasn’t much of a supply aboard ship. The afternoon of 6 July 1943, the Regiment sailed from Algiers—destination unknown. On the morning of July 8th, guide books to Sicily were given out and in the afternoon everyone was briefed on what was going to happen. Assault beach landing of Sicily, 5 miles southeast of Gela, Sicily. On the evening of July 9th a group of LCI’s joined the convoy and we found out that it was the 3rd Battalion. They had gone to an area in the vicinity of Tunis and bivouacked there until July 8th, when again they boarded the LCI’s.
At 0001 hrs, 10 July 1943, the first troops left the transports by assault crafts. The men wondered if this would be as easy as the landing at Arzew. No one was allowed on deck, but at about 0230 hrs, we heard aircraft above, machine-gun and artillery fire. No, it wasn’t like Arzew. The first troops hit the beach at 0245 hrs, and seized its objective on the beach and started moving inland. Throughout July 10th, it was comparatively quiet, except for enemy air activity. On the morning of July 11th, the enemy made a strong bid to push the invaders back into the sea using tanks, infantry, and artillery. They did not succeed. The men held their ground, even though the enemy tanks had broken through and were in the rear of their lines.
During the attack, the Regimental Aid Station and Company A, 1st Medical Battalion, were located at the same place and worked hand in hand. The Regimental Aid Station had quite a few casualties brought into their station but were unable to evacuate them to the beach, because of enemy tank fire covering the evacuation route and the beach. The patients were held one hour and then evacuated; using two-and-one-half ton amphibious trucks, jeeps, and ambulances. The following newspaper article was written by S Sgt Ralph G. Martin of the Stars and Stripes:
It all started when 1st Lt. Fred Thomas walked into the front-line aid station and told S Sgt Earl Wills, “There are two wounded American soldiers and one badly hurt Jerry in a house a couple miles behind the German lines. But I can take you right where they are. Can you come with me?”
Twenty-two year old S Sgt Willis, Cahoes, New York, with four years of Regular Army behind him, looked up at the looey for a long minute, “Yeh, sure, I’ll go,” he said.
He came up with three other medics piled into two jeeps: T/4 John Packard, Highland Falls, New York; T/5 William Larson, Story City, Iowa; Private Robert Holden, Rochester, New York.
They raced along the road, far in front of our advanced troops, the Red Cross flags flying, and finally the looey said, “This is the place.”
Turning left off the highway, they came into a courtyard of a big, old house and when they approached the open door, the four medics stared, blinked, stared again. Inside the big front room there were eighteen paratroopers and two Germans, all of them armed, drinking wine and eating chow served by an Italian civilian, laughing, and having a wonderful time.
When the four open-mouthed medics looked at the looey, he smiled and then motioned them into a back room. In the room there were three wounded soldiers, two Yanks and one Jerry. Still slightly bewildered by the whole thing, the two medics dressed one Yank’s shattered arm, another bullet’s wound, and also fixed up the Jerry’s shrapnel wounds in his arms, legs and stomach. They were loading the patients into the litters when the looey came up to Wills again. “Wait a minute,” he said. “You guys are in a pretty hot spot.”
The looey smiled again. “There are two German Mark VI’s parked in the orchard right in front of the house, with their 88’s covering the exit. I have to get their ok before we can leave.”
Before Wills could close his mouth, the looey had gone outside. In the other room the Jerries and Yanks were still drinking vino, still smiling at each other and kidding the Italian civilians.
But a few minutes later, the party was over, and the German soldiers trooped into the back room to say goodby to their comrade. They made sure that he was comfortable, reassuring him that everything would be alright, and then motioned to the Lt.
“It’s ok now,” said the looey to S Sgt Wills. “You can put them into the jeep. And in case you’re stopped by any German patrols, the password is “German-Lisso.”
With a wild look in his eyes, Wills walked up to the looey. “What the hell goes on here, Sir?” he asked. “Who’s crazy?”
And so the looey explained.
That morning the paratroopers had brought their two wounded buddies to this Italian villa and they were chowing up and figuring out their next move. Suddenly, without knocking, a German soldier opened the door, walked in and politely informed them that there were two Mark VI’s hidden in the brush outside, with their guns aimed on the door, so would nobody please try to take a walk that afternoon. Then he proposed a “gentlemen’s agreement”.
It seems that the two tank crews were one of the last few Nazi patrols in that sector and everybody was pulling out that afternoon. Both tanks were out of order (except their guns, which worked perfectly) so the German crews were going to blow up their tanks and leave earlier on foot. But one of their comrades was wounded and needed immediate attention, and their first aid station had moved way back, earlier that morning. If the Americans would send someone to bring back transportation to take their wounded comrade to an American hospital, the Germans would go their way and let the Americans go theirs.
There must be no funny business, the Germans added. Everybody must give his word of honor as a soldier and a gentleman. Just to make sure, of course, the Germans would hold the seventeen paratroopers as forfeit.
And that’s just what happened.
When Wills told the story to Captain John Lautan, Youndale Glendale, California, the Captain smiled indulgently. “You’ve been working too hard, Sergeant,” he said. “These shell-shock cases are beginning to affect you. That sort of thing just doesn’t happen.”
But the sergeant insisted, and the Captain started checking up.
First stop, when the Americans pushed forward, was to drop in at the villa. Sure enough, there were two Mark VI tanks, both turrets and guns thoroughly demolished. After that, the Captain hunted up the paratroop Lt.; questioned the German prisoner. Everything checked and double checked.
But still, when the Captain told his story, he scratched his head. “Isn’t it crazy?” he asked.
S Sgt Wills, at the time of this incident, was a member of the Medical Detachment, 16th Infantry, and with the other aid men mentioned, were working in the 1st Battalion Aid Station.
On 13 July 1943, the Regiment gained its initial objective, Niscemci and continued the attack against the enemy, going north seizing Mazzarino, Enna, and Villapirola.
On 23 July 1943, about 7 miles south of Villadore (an enemy occupied village) a patrol from A Company, 16th Infantry, reported by radio that they had enemy resistance and had suffered one casualty. Would a litter squad be sent? Immediately, the Battalion Surgeon, Captain Anderson, called for a litter squad of 8 men who were to go with T/4 J.K. Packard and T/5 E.F. Bruhn from the Aid Station. The litter bearers were from the 1st Medical Battalion. The group started out over rugged terrain and caught the platoon from Company A which was going to relieve the first patrol that was in Villa-Priota. They climbed several ranges of hills and walked through dry river-beds, finally approaching a farm house about 2 miles from Villa-Priota. At this point, the patrol stopped to organize for an attack on the village.
The litter squad waited at this point. While waiting, a number of people came streaming from a large farmhouse. It seemed that the litter squad were the first Americans they [had] seen since we had landed on the island. One old man spoke English and told them that he had three sons in the USA, and that he himself had lived there for 30 years. The people offered us bread, cheese and water. By this time, the patrol had reached about a half a mile out of Villadoro. From the farm house, we could watch the patrol working its way up to the town.
All this time snipers’ bullets were ricocheting around and over the farmhouse. Leaving the four litter bearers at the farmhouse, they started working their way up behind the patrol. An occasional sniper’s bullet would sing over their heads, fortunately the sniper wasn’t very accurate.
As they approached the village, they could determine where the patrol was by the sound of the 60mm mortars being fired. They entered a grape orchard where they found machine-guns and mortars set up. All the men were kept busying concealing themselves under the rocks and in the ditches. They located a Staff Sergeant and inquired as to where they might find the casualty reported. The Sergeant pointed in a vague direction out ahead and told them that he was out around the corner of one of those buildings.
They were not sure which building or which corner. Anyhow, they advanced through a chicken-wire fence (which they cut down) and came onto a road. Someone yelled to get “the hell off the skyline”; and when they looked to see why, they discovered that the enemy was straight down the road on the left. Within a couple of seconds they were behind a building and out of sight. However, by this time, the Jerries had spotted them moving about and they let loose with several machine-guns. All hell seemed to break loose. There was no danger except for ricocheting bullets. By this time, they had located the wounded who had a hole through the right side coming out near his spine. They started back for the farmhouse unmindful of the fire, since they [had] what they had come for. By this time one of the litter bearers, Private Prulhorn, showed up with a captured German. The German was about 21 years old and tough. He had just tried to take a gun from the Officer who was leading the patrol. The men had help carry the litter.
The men arrived at the farmhouse and picked up the other men and left two men there as contact men should there be more casualties. They then proceeded over the mountain route back to their own lines. Darkness fell quickly and it was not long before they had to operate by compass. They made a bypass of one mountain, thus going about 3 miles west and south of their route. They therefore had to check their course and went southeast, finally reaching some known landmarks.
The prisoner was very calm by this time. The work had taken the starch out of Hitler’s Superman. The men finally arrived at the Aid Station well exhausted after having carried the patient 9 or 10 miles over mountains and through valleys. The patient was in shock due to prolonged exposure. Captain Anderson gave the patient two units of human blood plasma and the patient’s condition improved. He was finally evacuated by ambulance in the early hours of the morning. This litter haul was the longest and most tedious the 1st Battalion has encountered so far in all its battles.
On 24 July, the Regiment started the attack toward the east, jumping off from Gangi with the objective of Nicosia and Troina. Nicosia was taken on July 28th. On the 29th of July a foot inspection was held of all troops and 500 cases of Macerated and Athlete’s Foot was found. The men had walked the whole distance from the beach without a change of socks. On 2 August 1943, the Regiment continues the attack to seize Troina and the objective was taken on August 6th.
At Troina the Regiment was relieved on August 7th and reequipping of the men began. The men were told that they had finished fighting in Sicily. Those were very sweet words, as the men were absolutely fatigued. They had been on the line continuously for 38 days and fought every day.
During the Sicilian Campaign the Medical Detachment treated 434 wounded of the 16th Infantry. The Medical Detachment casualties were: 14 wounded and two missing in action—believed captured.
On August 14th the Regiment moved to a reserve position at Randazzo where a bivouac was set up and movies were shown. Ball playing and other forms of recreation began. The Regiment departed from Randazzo by motor convoy on the 20th of August, and traveled 165 miles to a bivouac area, two miles east of Di Palma. A semi-garrison camp was set up. The first week at Di Palma was devoted to cleaning of clothing and equipment, and bringing all units up to T/E. After the week of reorganization an intensive training program started. Training was carried out in the morning only, the afternoons being devoted to athletics and recreation.
On 27 September 1943, two Officers and 24 Enlisted Men went on a three day recreation trip to Palermo, Sicily, where they all had an enjoyable time except for one thing; it rained during their stay and all of their equipment was soaked when they returned to Di Palma.
On or about the 15th of October, rumors started going around that the Regiment would be leaving Sicily. Some had it that it was going to Italy, others to the States. Neither of the two came out true, but the rumor that the Regiment was leaving was correct. The Regiment started painting and crating boxes, and making up sailing lists. On October 13th, all of the Detachment vehicles were driven to Palermo and turned in. Surely the Regiment couldn’t be going to Italy without transportation! Vehicles and drivers were given to the Regiment by the 9th Division for the remainder of their stay in Sicily.
On the evening of October 20th,
the entire Regiment moved by motor convoy to Augusta Harbor, and on the
morning of October 21st, embarked on the HMS Maloja. The HMS
Maloja sailed from Augusta Harbor, Sicily, on the 22nd of
October, and pulled into Algiers Harbor, Africa, 25 October 1943, where food
and supplies were picked up. The HMS Maloja sailed from Algiers Harbor on
the afternoon of October 27th. Aboard ship with the Regiment were
British civilians and it was through them that the Regiment found out that
the destination was England.
CHAPTER 3: ENGLAND
The 16th Infantry Regiment aboard the HMS Maloja docked at Liverpool, England, 5 November 1943. The first to disembark were the civilians, then the sick. On the afternoon of November 5th, the entire Regiment left the ship and boarded trains. The 1st Battalion moved to Lyme Regis, the 2nd Battalion to Bridport, the 3rd Battalion to Litten Cheney and the Special Unit Companies to Beaminster. All of the Regiment arrived at their destination on November 6th where garrison organization was started.
The month of November was devoted chiefly to the reorganization of the Detachment. Vehicles were drawn from the Regimental Supply Officer, and given to Battalion Sections. The two Dental Officers made trips to the Battalions daily to hold Dental Clinic. A change in the T/O for the Medical Detachment came, authorizing nine Technician Third Grade ratings. The Detachment Commander held classes and at the end of one week gave a test. Those men with the nine highest marks were given the ratings. The subjects covered on the test were: minor surgery; material medica; anatomy and physiology; first aid; supply, company, and medical administration; and handling of personnel. There were 27 men from the Medical Detachment chosen to take the test. These men were picked by the Battalion Surgeons and Detachment Commander.
During the period of 8 February 1944 to 26 February 1944, the entire Regiment went to the US Assault Training Center at Braunton Camp, Devon, England, where intense training on amphibious operations began. The training consisted of lectures, demonstrations, and actual participation of the Regiment in the demonstrations. While at Braunton Camp, the 16th Infantry put on a demonstration for some Russian generals.
The Regiment made two practice assault landings while in England. One at Slapton Sands, England, 11 March 1944, and the other at Torrivoss, England, 4 May 1944. Everyone was “sweating out” what unit would spearhead the European Invasion; but after receiving the training, there wasn’t much room for doubt. The only question was “when and where”.
In April, 6 sand bags per vehicle were issued to the Detachment, also special waterproofed units containing medical supplies, with instructions on how they were to be stored and not used. In May, waterproofing material for vehicles was issued. Instructions were received to sand-bag the vehicles and on 16 May 1944, all jeeps and trailers were “combat loaded”. On May 17th, the Detachment made a permanent change of station and moved to Marshalling Area D-10 in the vicinity of Martinstown, Dorset, England. At D-10 assault gas masks were issued in place of the lightweight gas mask; all money over ten shillings was turned into the Camp Finance Officer for conversion to invasion money. All medical kits were waterproofed and complete gas-impregnated clothing was issued, also 50 assault jackets. At 0001 hrs, 25 May 1944, the camp was “sealed in”. No one was allowed to enter or leave. On May 26th all Officers and Enlisted Men were “briefed” and told what was going to happen. Assault landing of Normandy, France, in the vicinity of Colleville-Sur-Mer, spearheaded by the 16th Infantry! The Camp Finance Officer returned the money that was turned in for conversion—French Francs.
The Detachment left Camp D-10 and moved to Camp D-4, 28 May 1944. At D-4 the Officers and Enlisted Men were briefed again and the medical evacuation plan was gone over thoroughly. Life preservers, and one days “K” and “D” ration, and 7 days’ PX supplies were issued.
On 1 June 1944, the Regiment left the Marshalling Area and moved by motor convoy to Weymouth, where they embarked on the USS Chase, the USS Enrico, and the HMS Anvil. The Regimental Medical Section and 1st Battalion Section were on the USS Chase, the 2nd Battalion on the USS Enrico, and the 3rd Battalion Medical Section on the HMS Anvil. On 5 June 1944, the men were briefed again and orders were issued that impregnated clothing would be worn. At last, the day that everyone was looking forward to was coming; the INVASION of the CONTINENT! At 0415 hrs, 5 June 1944, the convoy moved out of Weymouth Harbor.
CHAPTER 4: THE NORMANDY INVASION
The convoy arrived at a position nine miles off the coast of France in the vicinity of Colleville-Sur-Mer at 0300 hrs, 6 June 1944. The 2nd Battalion and 3rd Battalion, the assault battalions, disembarked from their respective ships into LCM’s at 0445 hrs and landed on the coast of France at 0630, 6 June 1944, in the vicinity of Colleville-Sur-Mer. The 1st Battalion, reserve battalion, disembarked from its ship at 0515 hrs, 6 June 1944, and landed at 0740 hrs in the vicinity of Colleville-Sur-Mer. The Battalion Medical Sections accompanied their respective battalions ashore. The Regimental Medical Section left the USS Chase at 0600 hrs, 6 June 1944, descending nets into LCM’s. The sea was rough with a sizeable ground swell and the craft rolled, pitched and tossed. Many men were seasick within 15 minutes after boarding the assault craft. The LCM approached the beach to the east of Easy Red, but obstacles were not cleared and machine-gun bullets were hitting the boat. The coxswain pulled off and made a landing on the extreme western end of Easy Red Beach. Machine-gun bullets were still hitting the boat and striking the water all around the boat. The ramp was lowered immediately and the men jumped into waist-deep water. The time was now approximately 0815 hrs.
The group made its way ashore through the tetrahedral and log obstacles, a distance of about 75 yards. Despite the heavy machine-gun fire, all of the Section reached the shore without a casualty. Upon reaching the beach the 1st Sgt. told the men to follow him and to drop out only to treat casualties. The Section then followed the lead of Colonel Taylor, the Regimental Commander, who was going east along the beach. While going east, the whole Section became separated as there were many casualties in dire need of aid.
The Engineer Shore Brigade Medical Personnel, unfortunately, were not functioning. The Regimental Section Medical Personnel were working hand in hand with the medical men of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Battalion Medical Sections, who were at work pulling wounded from the surf, dressing their wounds and placing them in the best available cover. The fire; machine-gun, rifle and artillery was heavy along the beach at this time. Fighting was uncertain and movement through the shale, complicated by the number of men all over the beach, was slow, difficult and laborious.
A halt was called 300 yards up the beach and the only members of the Regimental Section together were the Detachment Commander, Major Tegtmeyer, and the 1st Sergeant, Sergeant Goldberg. The rest of the Section dropped out enroute to help the wounded. Major Tegtmeyer and Sergeant Goldberg continued treatment of wounded in the immediate vicinity of the area. At this point, Colonel Taylor issued instructions to Battalion and Company Commanders and then started out again in search of the beach exit. The 1st Sergeant became separated from Major Tegtmeyer at this time as he was treating wounded. The Detachment Commander went along with the Colonel and enroute picked up the members of the Regimental Medical Section. The exit was located and the group left the beach and set up an Aid Station on the slope of a hill about 25 yards west of the Regimental CP. About an hour later the 1st Sergeant located them. The only one missing at that time was Captain Tierney who reported in about 5 hours later. He had been on the beach in the 116th Infantry Sector treating their wounded. All of the portable equipment and medical supplies were intact, in fact, the men had picked up two more litters and additional supplies on the way from the beach. The Battalion Sections were instructed to bring their wounded to the Regimental Aid Station as it was unwise to take them to the beach, which was under intense artillery and mortar fire. Only the 1st and 2nd Battalions brought their wounded to the Regimental Aid Station, the 3rd Battalion Section being too far to the west. At 1400 hrs, T/3 Bailey and T/3 Friedenberg volunteered to descend the hill to the beach to render aid to a man who had stepped on a mine.
At 1900 hrs, a count was made and there was a total of 80 wounded men at the Regimental Aid Station. The Regimental Section Personnel dug fox holes for those who could not dig their own. Of the 80 wounded, 5 were serious, 3 of whom died during the night from shock and exposure—despite the use of blood plasma and blankets. Lt. Colonel Corley, 3rd Battalion Commander, 26th Infantry passed the Aid Station and asked how things were. He was told that blankets were needed. One hour later the Aid Station had 100 blankets. Colonel Corley had blankets taken from the bed-rolls of his men.
At dusk, 2100 hrs, all the walking wounded were taken down to the beach so they could be put aboard the LCVP’s bringing in the 26th Infantry. 15 litter case were taken to the Naval Beach Station, although no Naval Medical Officer was present. Evacuation stopped when the enemy began to shell the beach again.
At 2230 hrs, Captain Ralston, Collecting Company Commander, brought up 12 litter bearers which were sent to the Battalion Sections with whom contact had been made by runners. Early on the morning of June 7th, 10 additional litter bearers were brought up, which were sent to the 3rd Battalion Aid Station, which had quite a few casualties.
On the morning of June 7th, at 0700 hrs, all casualties remaining at the Regimental Aid Station were evacuated to a Collection-Clearing Company, located 1000 yards to the east.
The Regiment continued the attack inland until 17 June 1944, when ordered to hold up upon reaching the Caumont Sector, in the vicinity of Cormalain. The casualties throughout this period were very light.
On June 19th the Detachment was notified that the 16th Infantry had received the Presidential Unit Citation.
The Detachment Commander and T/4 Appleby received the Distinguished Service Cross from General Eisenhower at Division CP, 2 July 1944.
On 13 July 1944, the Regiment was
relieved by the 5th Division and it moved to a rest area in the
vicinity of Columbieres, France.
CHAPTER 5: FRANCE and BELGIUM
The 16th Infantry remained in the rest area at Columbieres, France, from 13 July 1944 to 20 July 1944, with activities consisting mostly of reorganizing, reequipping, washing of clothes, showers and recreation. Reinforcements were also trained at this time.
On July 20th, the Regiment left Columbieres and moved 16 miles by motor convoy to a Division assembly area in the vicinity of Thiegaut, in preparation for a large scale attack against the enemy. During the morning of July 25th, 1800 heavy, medium and fighter bombers bombed the enemy positions in front of our lines. This was part of the preparation for the attack. Everyone knew this was going to be a BIG THING!
At 0700 hrs, July 27th, the Regiment moved to a position 3 miles north of Marigny. At dusk of the same day the 1st and 3rd Battalions pushed through the 18th Infantry who had just taken Marigny, and swung to the southwest behind the enemy lines, until they arrived at their objectives 6 miles northeast of Coutance at 0400 hrs, July 28th. The 2nd Battalion, the reserve Battalion, rejoined the Regiment at 1000 hrs, July 28th. The 1st and 3rd Battalion Medical Sections called for additional litter bearers, litters and ambulances, to evacuate an estimated 100 casualties; 25 at the 1st Battalion and 75 at the 3rd Battalion. Enemy artillery and mortar fire was very active and caused the casualties. Major Tegtmeyer and his driver, T/4 Selfridge, went to the 3rd Battalion Aid Station to assist in the treatment and evacuation of the wounded. Collecting Company A, 1st Medical Battalion, set up a provisional station two miles behind the Regimental Aid Station, which was located at La Chappelle. The Collecting Company was having difficulty in evacuating to the rear as all their ambulances were not present. A request for ambulances was sent to Clearing Company D, 1st Medical Battalion, and after much discussion and “red tape”, finally came, but all the casualties had been evacuated before their arrival, by the use of jeeps, three-quarter and two one-half ton trucks.
The Regiment left positions 6 miles northeast of Coutance, July 30th, for a Division assembly area in the vicinity of St. Dennis De Gast, south of Coutance. On August 1st, at 0010 hrs, a large enemy air force bombed the assembly area in the vicinity of Gavray, in an attempt to hold up the Allied drive. Moderate casualties were inflicted on the troops, but the enemy attempt failed.
The Regiment continued the attack against the enemy in a southeasterly direction with its objective Mayenne, France. Mayenne was entered on August 6th. The Regiment remained in the vicinity of Mayenne until the 12th of August. During the stay at Mayenne, requests for voting ballots were given to Officers and Enlisted Men. Men went swimming and generally got cleaned up. The Regimental Aid Station evacuated 28 civilians from the civilian hospital at Mayenne because the hospital did not have facilities to take care of them.
On August 12th, the Regiment was relieved at Mayenne and moved to attack the enemy in a northeasterly direction with La Fert Mace and surrounding towns as its objective. The Regiment took its objective St. Maurice Du Desert, north of La Fert Mace on the evening of August 14.
The Regiment remained at St. Maurice Du Desert until August 25th, at which time it traveled 154 miles by motor convoy to a Division assembly area at Lardy, France. On August 27th, the Regiment started to attack in a northeasterly direction with St. Pierre Aigle, a small town just southwest of Soissons, as its objective. St. Pierre Aigle was taken on August 30th.
The Regiment continued attacking to gain the objective of Mons, Belgium which was taken on September 3rd. In the afternoon of September 3rd, the Regiment ran into an entire German Corps trying to get back to the Siegfried Line and was held up temporarily. Our Air Force bombed and strafed the enemy and prisoners were taken by the thousands. On September 4th, two extra Medical Officers were sent to the 2nd Battalion Aid Station to assist in the treatment of more than 400 German wounded. All the enemy troops surrendered on the condition that the wounded would be cared for. Our casualties were light. The Regiment had a grand total of 7 wounded.
On September 7th, the Regiment left Mons, Belgium, and attacked the enemy in an easterly direction to gain bases for an assault against the Siegfried Line. The 1st Battalion was at Auenhof, Belgium; the 2nd Battalion was at Verviers, Belgium; the 3rd Battalion was at Havset, Belgium, all on the 11th of September. The Regiment was now prepared to assault the Siegfried Line and enter Germany.
Casualties treated in the Regiment for
this period by the Medical Detachment were 392 wounded. Medical Detachment
casualties were 8 wounded and 3 killed in action.
CHAPTER 6: SIEGFRIED LINE TO HURTEGEN FOREST
On 11 September 1944, the 16th Infantry launched an attack from bases in Belgium against the Siegfried Line protecting the German Border in the vicinity of Aachen, Germany. By October 10th, the Siegfried Line was breached and held by units of the Regiment. During this period the various battalions and companies of the Regiment have been repeatedly counterattacked by forces of enemy infantry, and tanks. They were heavily shelled, strafed and bombed from the air.
The 1st Battalion Medical Section jumped off to the attack with their battalion from Auenhof, Belgium, 11 miles southeast of Aachen on September 11th. During the pitch black night in the Aachen State Forest, September 11th and 12th, this Section, despite the inclement weather, the thickly wooded and muddy terrain, heavy enemy fire directing on them from a determined, strongly emplaced enemy and a large number of seriously wounded men, carried on with their mission in a superior manner. In the strongly held and defended German city of Stolberg, this same section has done a superb evacuation job in the vicious street fighting that had taken place.
The 2nd Battalion Medical Section jumped off with their battalion from Verviers, Belgium, on September 11th, across open terrain against a determined enemy in camouflaged concrete pillboxes. They entered Germany on September 13th, and breached the first line of enemy pillboxes on September 14th. They accompanied the Battalion in its forward push to the breaching of the enemy’s final line of pillboxes in the vicinity of Eilendorf, Germany. The two medical men killed were members of this section. They were killed by enemy shell fire while evacuating wounded. Several members of this section have been wounded while evacuating casualties in plain view of the enemy, in the vicinity of Eilendorf, Germany.
The 3rd Battalion Medical Section accompanying their battalion, left Herve, Belgium, on September 11th, and accompanied their battalion to Hauset, Belgium, at the edge of the Aachen State Forest. The Battalion determinedly assaulted the Siegfried Line in the State Forest. Many casualties were inflicted upon the Battalion by fanatical, determined enemy, who were firmly entrenched and fighting with machine-gun and 88’s from well-concealed pillboxes of concrete and steel in the dank stygian darkness of the Forest. In a superb manner, the men of the Medical Detachment carried out their mission despite the enemy, rain and mud, plus a great number of casualties. They continued functioning in a superior manner until the last line of the Siegfried defenses were overcome in the vicinity of Brand, Germany, and have evacuated and treated numerous casualties suffered in the defense of this hotly contested sector.
The Regimental Medical Section accompanying Regimental Headquarters left the vicinity of Herve, Belgium, on September 11th, vicinity of Henri Chappelle, Belgium on September 12th, and vicinity south of Hauset, Belgium on September 13th, 14th, and 15th. On the breaching of the forward Siegfried Wall the Detachment went forward and set up and aid station in the Standfort Barracks, Brand, Germany, the night of September 15th. This area was in plan view of the enemy and was shelled almost continuously by mortar and artillery fire until the night of September 28th, when the site was abandoned. During this period, the Regimental Section rendered aid and evacuated men hit by enemy fire in the Standfort Barracks area. Evacuation was carried out under the continuous fire and the building in which the aid station was set up received over 25 direct artillery hits in this period, several of which entered doors and windows. The night of September 28th, the aid station was moved to Steinbruck, Germany, and continued to operate from that site.
While the Regimental Aid Station was located in the vicinity of Brand, Germany, a supplemental aid station was set up in Brand where a daily sick call was held for the civilian population.
On October 21st, nine Enlisted Men were transferred from the Medical Detachment to Collecting Company A, 1st Medical Battalion and the Medical Detachment received nine of their personnel in return. This was supposed to be the start of “rotation” within the Division, but it never went further than this one time.
The Regiment moved from its position in the vicinity of Brand, on November 10th, to an assembly area in the forests near Vicht, in preparation for an attack against Hammich, Germany, and other neighboring towns. On November 16th, Allied Aircraft bombed and staffed the positions to the Regiment’s immediate front, as the aircraft finished their mission the Regiment attacked the enemy. Fierce fighting was encountered and many casualties were inflicted upon both sides. Despite the casualties encountered, all objectives were gained by November 26th. During this fighting each battalion section had 40 attached litter bearers, all of whom worked continuously. The 3rd Battalion Medical Section had both its jeeps put out of action by enemy artillery fire. Two ambulances, in the form of jeeps, were borrowed from the 18th Infantry, until replacements could be obtained.
From the 27th of November to the 5th of December the Regiment remained in the general area of Heistern. Activity was limited and casualties light. On December 5th the Regiment was relieved by the 60th Infantry of the 9th Division, which came from a quiet sector in the vicinity of Rotgen. The 16th Infantry took over the 60th Infantry position on the same date. The stay at the Rotgen Sector was confined to defensive action and casualties were light. On the 12th of December, the Regiment was relieved and went into Army Reserve at Dison, Belgium.
The total number of casualties treated
by the Medical Detachment was: 1288 wounded. Casualties sustained by the
Medical Detachment were: 56 wounded and 5 killed in action.
CHAPTER 7: THE ARDENNES SECTOR
Upon arrival at the rest area at Dison, Belgium, the Regiment set up a semi-garrison and reorganization and equipping of the men began. Everyone had been told that they could expect to be at Dison for at least three weeks. It certainly sounded good to the men, but actually they didn’t believe it.
On December 17th the Regiment was put on a one hour alert. Everything was packed and combat loaded immediately. Soldiers were running all over Dison trying to get their watches, pens and clothes they had put in for repair. The Junior Officers and Enlisted Men were not told what was up, and where they would be going, as a result, when the Regiment did move out on the evening of December 17th, everyone made sure they kept up with the vehicle in front of them. Upon arrival at the destination, Sourbroudt, Belgium, on the morning of December 18th, everyone found out what had happened. The Germans had put on a drive in this sector and had broken through. The entire 1st Division was pulled out of the rest area in the Leige Sector to plug up the breakthrough and to drive them back.
On the afternoon of December 18th, three enemy bombers dropped 3 bombs, believed to be 100 pounders in the vicinity of the Regimental Aid Station at Sourbroudt. Concussion knocked all the glass out of the windows in the aid station, wounding one of the aid station personnel. The bombs also inflicted approximately 30 casualties among members of the Regiment and other units in the area.
From the period 18 December 1944 to 16 January 1945, the Regiment actively participated in attacks against the enemy to regain the ground lost during the German offensive in the Ardennes. The weather was extremely cold and it snowed almost daily. On January 18th, eight toboggans were issued to each Battalion Medical Section for easing the transportation of the wounded through the deep snow. These toboggans were constructed by the 1st Quartermaster Battalion upon request from the Division Surgeon. On January 16th two medical half-tracks were borrowed from the Medical Detachment of the 745th Tank Battalion, for use at the 2nd Battalion Aid Station in the evacuation of the wounded. The 2nd Battalion had broken out of their holding position at Waimes, Belgium, and went into one of the worst attacks of the winter. At nightfall the first jeep ambulance loaded with patients came through the snow-choked road from the front. This was the start of a long hard night for the personnel of the 2nd Battalion Aid Station. From 1800 hrs, 16 January 1945 to 0400 hrs, 17 January 1945, the men of the aid station worked continuously treating the casualties, over 75 in number. 80% of these were seriously wounded and suffering from long exposure. The Regimental Aid Station made 3 trips with medical supplies to this section during the night.
The 1st Battalion was attacking Faymonville and was engaged in a fierce battle. The casualties were high, and evacuation was difficult due to the extremely bad weather and lack of transportation. The only way evacuation could be carried out was by carrying the litters by hand. In the deep snow, carrying a wounded man on a litter was a very tiring and exhausting job. A new idea was put into effect at this time. A toboggan, made from sheet metal, was used to get the wounded back to the aid station. German PW’s were also made to help carry the wounded. The PW’s were taking a dim view of this because the Germans were shooting at their own men. A German major thought he was above the others and had a weird idea that he didn’t have to help in the evacuation. After a few moments of the right kind of talking, he saw the light and was only too glad to help. Later at the PW enclosures, the major turned out to be a sergeant in the Engineering Corps of the Wehrmacht.
The total casualties treated by the
Medical Detachment was 366 wounded. Casualties sustained by personnel of the
Detachment was 10 wounded and 2 killed in action.
CHAPTER 8: ROER RIVER TO CZECHOSLOVAKIA
The Regiment remained in the general vicinity of Waimes, Belgium, until 5 February 1945, with activity limited to defensive action and patrolling. On February 6th, the Regiment moved 40 miles by motor convoy in a northeasterly direction and took over positions occupied by the 8th Division on the west bank of the Roer River, in the vicinity of Gey, Germany. From February 8th to February 24th, the Regiment was preparing for an assault crossing of the Roer River. On the morning of February 25th, the Regiment attacked across the river and gained a foothold on the eastern bank in a town of Kreuzau, Germany. The Regiment continued the attack, pursuing the enemy in an easterly direction until the city of Bonn was taken on March 8th. During the drive toward Bonn, the 3rd Battalion Medical Section jeep hit a mine, destroying the jeep, killing the driver and two litter bearers and wounding Lt. Keuchler, the MAC of 3rd Battalion Section. The jeep was on the way back from picking up a casualty from Company I at Vettweiss. Casualties for this period were moderate in the Regiment.
On March 10th, the Regiment left Bonn and took up a defensive position in the vicinity of Bornheim with companies spread out along the west bank of the Rhine River. Men took showers, baths, washed clothing, went to the movies and were reequipped. On March 17th the Regiment moved by motor convoy over the Rhine River and occupied positions in the vicinity of Honnef. During the next 13 days the Regiment attacked the enemy in an easterly and northeasterly direction until it arrived at Buren on March 31st. The plan was that the 1st Division would move northeast to cut off the troops trapped in the Ruhr Valley. The first 10 days of fighting was fierce and against a determined, fanatical, firmly entrenched enemy. The Germans counter-attacked strongly against the 2nd and 3rd Battalions on March 24th with tanks and infantry, but were unsuccessful and were thrown back. At 1400 hrs, March 24th, the 3rd Battalion Forward Aid Station received a call that there were 2 casualties at Company L. The men of this group had just come over the road from Company L and immediately started back with the ambulance jeep. About 50 yards from Company L CP, to their amazement, they were met by two burning, knocked out German tanks, a Mark V and a Mark VI. These tanks were not there a half hour before. They had gotten behind L Company and were knocked out, one by an M4, and the other by a 57mm anti-tank gun.
The Regiment remained in the vicinity of Buren until April 6th. The Regiment was in a defensive position prepared to meet a possible counterattack from the Germans in the Ruhr Pocket. On April 6th, the Regiment moved to positions on the west bank of the Weser River in the vicinity of Amelunxen in preparation for a crossing. The 8th of April, in mid-afternoon, the 1st and 2nd Battalion s made the crossing of the river. The 1st Battalion objective was the town of Furstenberg which was located on a very high plateau overlooking the whole valley. The tactical plan was to cross the river, 2 miles south of the town, and attack it from the southern flank. The assault went off very well. The Germans weren’t putting up too much resistance due to the lack of equipment and the confusion caused by the Ruhr Pocket being overrun.
The first vehicle across the Weser River was the 1st Battalion Medical jeep, and upon reaching the east side, a forward aid station was set up and prepared to handle the wounded. When word was received that there were wounded men in the town of Furstenburg, the jeep driver with litter bearers set out with the jeep to bring them in. On the way to the town, a lot of small arms was heard and caused everyone in the jeep to wonder what was going on up ahead. Three German half-tracks were coming through the battalion lines. One was knocked out by a bazooka and the other two received quite a welcome from the small arms fire. The two half-tracks got through the town and were going down the same road the jeep was on. When the three of them met, the driver of the jeep stopped in the middle of the road and prevented the half-tracks from passing. The Germans fired approximately 100 rounds of machine-gun ammunition, but didn’t hit anyone. The Germans were just as scared as the medics were. The two half-tracks crashed, one into the bank on the side of the road and the other into a tree. The Germans in the half-track came out shooting and ran up the hill, trying to make it back to their own lines. Due to their lack of knowledge of the situation, they ran into Company B positions and were taken prisoner.
The Regiment continued the attack against the Germans and on April 10th the 3rd Battalion moved out with a Calvary Group. The remainder of the Regiment attacked the Germans in the Harz Mountains from the east. The 3rd Battalion and the Calvary Group attacked the Harz Mountains from the south, approximately 50 miles east of the rest of the Regiment.
The 3rd started the attack into the Harz Mountains from the town of Sulzhayn, immediately meeting heavy small arms fire which inflicted about 12 casualties. As soon as the attack really got underway, the objectives were taken. During the fighting at Sulzhayn, the forward aid station used German medical personnel as litter bearers, obtained from a German hospital 100 yards behind the front lines. This hospital was fully equipped and had a complete staff of doctors and nurses. All seriously wounded were taken to the hospital, as the rear aid station was on the move and would not able to set up for several hours. The German doctors were only too willing to take care of our casualties and did a fine job. Five patients were left at this hospital overnight and the next day were evacuated to an American hospital.
Throughout the fighting in the Harz Mountains, the enemy put up strong resistance, but fortunately the casualties were light.
At 0500 hrs, the 16th of April in the Harz Mountains in the vicinity of Tanne, the 3rd Battalion Medical jeep was bringing back three wounded men from Company I and ran head-on into an enemy self-propelled gun with infantry protecting it. The Germans could not depress the barrel of the gun far enough to fire, but the infantry did. One of the patients was killed and the driver and one litter bearer wounded. The men jumped off the jeep and started running back to Company I, about 500 yards away. The Germans did not fire as they noticed the jeep was a Medical jeep and therefore everyone else got back. While on the way back, an explosion was heard, the men thought it was the jeep, but they found later that the Germans had blown up the self-propelled gun.
Upon reaching the town of Rubeland and neighboring villages on April 19th, the Regiment stopped and set up defensive positions.
Five days later on the 24th of April, the Regiment was relieved by the 8th Armored Division and traveled 57 miles by motor convoy to the town of Holdenstadt and surrounding towns. Here the men had an opportunity to take baths and wash clothes. It was rumored that the 1st Division had finished fighting, but again it was just a rumor. On the 27th of April the Regiment traveled 152 miles by motor convoy to Selb, on the Czechoslovakian border, where defensive positions were set up. On May 5th the 16th Infantry moved to Franzenbad, Czechoslovakia, in preparation for an attack against the enemy. On May 6th the Regiment started the attack and at 0930 hrs, 7 May 1945, orders were received to cease fire and all forward movement. No reason was given but everyone was sure the war was over. For once a rumor was true. Orders were issued on May 8th that there would be no more blackout after 2400 hrs on that date.
The total casualties in the Regiment treated by the Medical Detachment from 23 February 1945 to 8 May 1945, was 910 wounded. Casualties sustained by the Medical Detachment were 24 wounded and 7 killed in action.