Short view of WWII Pacific Army Medicine

Buna casualty arrives at the 171st Station Hospital, at Port Moresby, Papua, Dec 42. This 500-bed Hospital arrived at Port Moresby early December and operated together with the 153d Sta Hosp, the 10th Evac Hosp, and a provisional Battalion of the 135th Med Regt. Because of malaria, those patients who, after treatment, were expected to remain unfit for duty more than 14 days, were usually sent to mainland Australia (Townsville or Brisbane).

Every combat Theater of WW2 had its unique medical history, but nowhere did disease pose a greater threat to the American G.I. and to military operations than in the bitter war against Japan!
US Armed Forces faced the dual challenges of fighting and supporting its troops in primitive, largely tropical environments, burdened by severe logistical problems.

View of one of the early Hospitals, located at the Advance Base, Port Moresby, Papua, Aug 42. As military operations in the region increased, basic medical facilities expanded, and by end of 42, new installations including General Hospitals, Field Hospitals, Portable Surgical Hospitals, and a Medical Supply Depot were built.

The first medical build-up was essentially based on expanding medical facilities and depots, constructing new hospitals, and revising medical contingency plans. The next project called for a more elaborate defense of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, under a new command; the United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) under Lt. General Douglas MacArthur.
The war against Japan was fought in an immense area that covered roughly 1/3 of the earth’s surface! Although most of the decisive battles took place on the islands in the Pacific, inevitably bringing American Forces closer the Japanese mainland; fighting also occurred on mainland Asia.

Port Dispensary Tent on Biak Island, New Guinea, Aug 44. The large US Base (Base “H”) opened on Biak in Aug 44 under Col. August W. Splitter, MC. The 28th Hosp Cen operating on the island included 3 Gen Hosp and 1 Sta Hosp. From end Nov 44, evacuation took place by air, and C-54 aircraft carried patients directly to the ZI, via Guadalcanal, Canton Is., and Honolulu.

Distances were enormous, and everything could only be moved by sea or air – climates varied as well as landforms and included cold wind-swept Aleutians, jungle-clad Melanesian islands, palm-fringed Micronesia atolls, damp and tropical heat, volcanic islands, complex landmasses, steep mountain ranges, wooded high plateaus, rain forests, dense jungles – environmental  conditions brought its own characteristic medical consequences involving frostbite, trenchfoot, malaria, fever, and jungle rot … All those elements had to be taken into account by the Medical Department, although none of the diseases were normally fatal, they could nevertheless put soldiers out of action as effectively as combat casualties.

36th Evacuation Hospital, at Palo, Leyte, Philippines, October 44. The 36th Evac Hosp (supporting X Army Corps) was set up in the San Salvador Cathedral. It served, together with the 58th Evac Hosp, in the Leyte and Luzon Campaigns.

Until the very last months of the fighting, the US Medical Department faced immense obstacles – supply lines were tenuous and environmental conditions almost intolerable, malaria epidemics broke out, logistical difficulties beset medical planners, diseases took their toll, medical support often broke down, amphibious medical evacuation had to be revised, and yet altogether death rates from disease were only slightly over 1 / 1000 troops / per year!
New methods of preventive medicine were created, logistics were improved, and recent discoveries were now provided on a large scale, such as Penicillin – Atabrine – and DDT. The ultimate lesson may however lie in the flexibility of spirit and organization shown by medical personnel, who were able to save lives and improve general health conditions during those years of bitter and unrelenting struggle for peace – in those harsh times the Medical Department successfully maintained the ‘fighting strength of the Army’.

View of Seagrave Hospital (formally activated as the 896th Med Clr Co in Oct 44) treating casualties in the open, near Myitkyina, Burma. The Hospital in fact operated like a mobile Evacuation Hospital, and whenever feasible, severe medical cases were either evacuated by rail or by air. During the campaign to capture Myitkyina, the Seagrave Hospital, supported by personnel of the 42d and 58th Ptbl Surg Hosp and a surgical team from the 25th Fld Hosp, treated American, British, Chinese, Indian, and Kachin wounded (and later also Japanese PWs). Dr. Gordon S. Seagrave was an American medical missionary running a Hospital close to the Burma Road and the Chinese border, his wide experience and organization were very much appreciated by both British and US authorities, and he was therefore sworn into the US Army as a Major in the Medical Corps on 21 Apr 42.

General Hospitals

1st GEN HOSP – 23 Dec 41 Philippines (also designated General Hospital No. 1)
2d GEN HOSP – 5 Jan 42 Philippines (also designated General Hospital No. 2)
4th GEN HOSP – 23 Jan 42 Australia (ex-56th GEN HOSP, activated 1 Feb 41, supplied cadres for other units, 12 Oct 43)
8th GEN HOSP – 27 Nov 42 New Caledonia
9th GEN HOSP – 31 Jul 43 Guadalcanal – 45 Papua-New Guinea (activated 15 Jul 42)
13th GEN HOSP – 5 Jan 44 New Guinea (activated 15 Jan 43)
18th GEN HOSP – 12 Jun 42 N. Zealand – 3 Oct 42 Fiji Islands – Sep 44 Ledo Road (India) – 12 Mar 45 Myitkyina, (Burma) (activated 20 Apr 42) (closed 5 Oct 45) (return to ZI 24 Nov 45)
18th GEN HOSP – 26 May 42 New Zealand – 45 Burma (ex-222d GEN HOSP, activated 16 Jun 41, supplied cadres for other units, 1 Apr 44, redesignated 134th GEN HOSP)
20th GEN HOSP – 19 Jan 43 India – Dec 43 Burma (activated 15 May 42)
27th GEN HOSP – 5 Jan 44 Australia (activated 15 Jul 42)
29th GEN HOSP – 3 Nov 44 New Caledonia (activated 1 Sep 42)
31st GEN HOSP – 18 Oct 43 Espiritu Santo (activated 1 Jun 43)
35th GEN HOSP – 44 New Guinea – 45 Luzon (activated 21 Mar 43) (inactivated 10 Dec 45 in the Philippines)
39th GEN HOSP – 3 Nov 42 New Zealand – 1 Jan 45 New Caledonia – Jan 45 Saipan (activated 15 Jul 42)
42d GEN HOSP – 19 May 42 Australia (ex-215th GEN HOSP, activated 16 May 41, supplied cadres for other units, 15 Apr 43, disbanded 11 Nov 44)
44th GEN HOSP – 25 Sep 43 Australia (activated 15 Jan 43)
47th GEN HOSP – 11 Jan 44 New Guinea – Burma (activated 10 Jun 43)
49th GEN HOSP – 1 Mar 45 Philippines
51st GEN HOSP – 1 Apr 44 New Guinea
53d GEN HOSP – ETO Sep-Oct 45 embarked for the South Pacific (activated 10 Feb 41, also supplied cadres for other units)
54th GEN HOSP – 30 Jun 44 New Guinea
60th GEN HOSP – 18 Jul 44 New Guinea – 2 Apr 45 Philippines (activated 25 May 43 in the ZI, return to ZI 13 Nov 45)
63d GEN HOSP – (activated 10 Feb 41, supplied cadres for other units, 15 Jan 43)
69th GEN HOSP – 45 Burma
71st GEN HOSP – 5 Jan 44 Australia (activated 10 Jun 43, supplied cadres for other units, 24 Jun 43)
105th GEN HOSP – 19 May 42 Australia (ex-203d GEN HOSP, activated 10 Feb 41, supplied cadres for other units, 29 Dec 43)
118th GEN HOSP – 19 May 42 Australia – 44 Philippines (activated 21 Apr 42)
133d GEN HOSP – 25 Nov 44 Leyte
142d GEN HOSP – 26 May 42 New Zealand – 43 Fiji – Nov 44 India (ex-217th GEN HOSP, activated 1 Jun 41, supplied cadres for other units, 28 Feb 44) (new 142d GEN HOSP activated 20 Apr 42)
147th GEN HOSP – 16 Jun 42 Hawaii – 19 Nov 43 Gilberts – 1 Aug 44 Hawaii (activated 1 May 41)
148th GEN HOSP – 21 Mar 42 Hawaii – 31 May 44 Saipan Is (activated 10 Feb 41)
172d GEN HOSP – 44 India – Burma – 45 China (activated 29 Jul 44) (inactivated 30 Apr 46 in China)
181st GEN HOSP – 43 India
204th GEN HOSP – 8 Apr 42 Hawaii – 28 Dec 44 Guam (activated 10 Feb 41)
204th GEN HOSP – 8 Apr 42 Hawaii (activated 10 Feb 41)
218th GEN HOSP – 8 Jan 42 Panama – 1 Aug 44 Hawaii (activated 6 Jun 41)
232d GEN HOSP – 27 Feb 45 Iwo Jima – Mar 45 Saipan
234th GEN HOSP
247th GEN HOSP – 45 Philippines (activated 15 Oct 44, ex-233d STA HOSP)
263d GEN HOSP – 43 India
307th GEN HOSP

Sternberg GEN HOSP – Philippines
Tripler GEN HOSP – Hawaii
GEN HOSP No. 1 – Limay, Philippines
GEN HOSP No. 2 – Cabcaben, Philippines
Malinta Tunnel GEN HOSP – Corregidor, Philippines

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Current News –   25 June 1950-2020  –  Korean War 70 years ago today

News: Governor David Ige proclaimed June 25, 2020 as “Korean War Remembrance Day”

Remains of 147 South Korean Soldiers From the Korean War Return Home

https://www.defense.gov/Explore/News/Article/Article/2228429/remains-of-147-south-korean-soldiers-from-the-korean-war-will-return-home/source/GovDelivery/

 

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Military Medical Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Leo Agnew – Clinton, MA; US Army, Korea, RHQ/187th Reconnaissance Combat Team

Stephen Bertolino – UT; US Army, Iraq, SSgt., KIA (Haditha)

Ian Holm-Goodmayes – ENG; British Army / actor

Korean & Vietnam Wars Memorial, Monroe, MI

Jim Jarvis – Uniontown, OH; US Navy, WWII, USS Indianapolis survivor

Carman Kyle – Swathmore, PA; WWII, US Army Air Corps, Co. E/152th Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Dame Vera Lynn – Essex, ENG; Civilian, WWII, ENSA troop entertainer, Egypt & CBI

James L. Quong – OK; US Army, Korea, MSgt., Co. D/1/32/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

Charles Ridgley – Baltimore, MD; US Army, Afghanistan, Captain, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, KIA (Nangarhar)

Francis J. Rochon – WI; US Army, Korea, Cpl., Co. C/1/23/2nd Infantry Division, KIA (Changnyeong, SK)

Woldgang K. Weninger – Concord, OH; USMC, Raider, Sgt.

 

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on June 25, 2020, in WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 109 Comments.

  1. My father contracted malaria while in the Philippines. I’m not sure much about it or how it was treated. He was a young man and I wasn’t born yet. Also, he never talked much about it. I’m glad you are able to share so many facts about those days with us. Thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. An inspiration for us during the current health crisis. I had not seen the headline about Korean War dead returned only now.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Such a great of piece of information

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A great post GP. Kind of you to pay tribute to Dame Vera and I didn’t know that about Ian Holm. I wonder if you noticed a medal in my ANZAC Day post? We owe a great deal to those hospitals. Stay safe.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post. I was a Medical Service Corps Officer and did a lot of field time, thank God not in the damned jungle. I would have been great with the Afrika Korps but stunk up the works at Guadalcanal, New Guinea or the Philippines.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. And the medical personnel are still providing front-line service while risking there lives to do so, often under trying conditions, doing everything they can to save lives. Hard to imagine just how difficult it was during WW II, G, but every so many lives were saved in comparison to earlier times, like the Civil War for example.
    I read Linda’s comments about her experiences in Liberia. She was there just a couple of years after me. And the work she was doing was critical, as well as dangerous, with very few resources to work with. –Curt

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for contributing your story and your feelings on these people – and of course, Linda. I met her when she contacted me to contribute her father’s WWII stamp sheet for my collection. I’ll be forever in her debt.
      My nephew-in-law is now a Navy corpsman assigned to the 1st Marines. I’m quite proud of him.

      Like

  7. Hi GP

    I am fascinated by the fact that field medical support in World War I was about the same as it was during the American Civil War. A few years later, however, combat medicine had leapt ahead in technology and procedure so that the difference between field medicine in World War I and World War II was like night and day. War is a terrible thing, as we all know, but the result of such events was modern medicine, which most people take for granted. American military surgeons were the forefathers of the best medical care available anywhere in the world. And then the Congress gave us Obama Care. Dopes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • MASH unit doctors were considered top of the line, eager to experiment and try whatever it took to save their patient. Many would be otherwise KIA without their confidence, ingenuity and determination.
      What changed was, what you know yourself – politics entered into the picture.

      Like

  8. Very interesting information, especially the logistic part. One sometimes forget, there need to be medical help too.I always remember reading the stories of Mary Smith’s time in Afghanistan. Horrible how the normal people have to live there. Thank you, GP! Have a beautiful weekend. Michael

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Wow I enjoyed reading this and seeing these pictures. Their hospital was in a tent. I take care of a lot of vets some are centurions so I can see what they went through to serve our country

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I couldn’t help but think of M*A*S*H as I read this. Incredible what they had to bring in to build and supply these hospitals.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. This sentence still is relevant: the “ultimate lesson may however lie in the flexibility of spirit and organization shown by medical personnel.” During my years in Liberia, I was involved in maternal/child health clinics back in the bush. Occasionally we could fly in, using a Cessna STOL, and sometimes we walked in from the road: hours-long treks and overnight stays. Figuring out ways to serve people was complicated in a variety of interesting ways, and that experience certainly gives me a deeper appreciation for what you’ve described here. There weren’t any 24 hour clinics in their world, either!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Right you are. You probably experienced pretty much what these people did. Rugged terrain, different cultures,all sorts of supply problems, etc.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yep. Communications, too. If we wanted to talk to someone in the States, there weren’t any cell phones. Once a month I’d go down to the radio shack and our pilot/HAM operator would get in touch with a fellow in North Carolina, who would do a phone patch to my parents. We got 10 minutes, or maybe 15, and that was it. Anyone who thinks there’s no reason for HAM radio any more is… naive.

        Liked by 2 people

        • I did a WWII post about the assistance of ham radio operators and I was surprised by the amount of current readers I heard from who were operators or knew of someone. Especially in times of emergency, they are quite necessary!!

          Liked by 1 person

  12. Hlw sir new blog uploaded. The content Is all about saving it would we quite helpful for everyone hope u visit https://anentrepreneur.business.blog/

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I enjoyed the combat medic rules. Those men are so brave and they must save an enormous number of men with that bravery.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. So many hospitals for so many sick and wounded. Amazing that there were still men left to fight. Bless all those medical personnel who handled these problems.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. The Medical Corps had many challenges to overcome.
    How many wounded and diseased own their lives to these men and women?

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Interesting post! One of the hospitals set up in New Zealand was in the Hutt valley, north of Wellington, and the story I heard was that Don Adams was there for an extended period duiring the war after being wounded on Guadalcanal. I don’t have any other details though.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Oh! God bless the doctors, nurses, medics, etc., who gave care to the troops! Heroes in my book!

    I think, especially, about how they gave such loving care to those who were dying so far away from their families.

    This blog is great, GP, and makes me think of the TV show M*A*S*H.
    (((HUGS)))
    PS… the Motrin meme is funny. Reminds me…in college it seemed the nurse only handed out one pill…a pain reliever like aspirin, I’m sure…but us kids would laugh about the fact that whether you were a female with severe menstrual cramps, or a boy with Athlete’s foot she’d hand out the same darn pill. Ha. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Amazing amount of information and a great read 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Under the most trying conditions, these medical corps did a fabulous job during the Pacific War. I remember reading the story of the Battling Belles of Bataan where they worked in an open-air hospitals (Gen Hosp #1 & #2) which they set up in Bataan and just before the Fall of Bataan, they got transferred to Malinta Tunnel in Corregidor when it was a different kind of “hell” for them. Great post. I love the humor.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Terrific, GP. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Great Post, GP. A vital side of winning a war often overlooked. It is often ignored that many significant advances in medicine have come directly from lessons learned while treating injured service members during combat. While I did not always like the slant, it is one of the reasons I enjoyed the television program MASH for so many years.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I like the combat medic rules!

    I had to look up Atabrine, and see that is an antimalarial. My father contracted malaria during the war. DDT was certainly effective, although they did not realize the environmental persistence and long-term consequences to human and animal life of that insecticide.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Again … unimaginable for me to fathom in any way what these folks endured. And triumphed. But even after the last bullet has been fired the injuries, illnesses, traumas can last a lifetime. War is indeed Hell. And doesn’t end for many upon Victory (?) And we often have no idea how incredibly profoundly this affected those that went through it. My father never talked about his experience – unless we prodded him – and I can still only guess how this affected him.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You speak the truth of so many who suffered in silence. A far cry from today’s non-military sons. Ever since Korea though, the military has had far too much political interference.

      Like

  24. It is amazing what they did in impossible circumstances, GP. And loved the humor!

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Thank you for your Great job

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Often overlooked, the medical branch had brave people serving close to the front, combat medics under fire, and large numbers of staff working in both field hospitals and evacuation hospitals. You have given them a much-deserved tribute, GP.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much, Pete. With all that’s going on in the world today, I don’t want the memory of these people who fought for these freedoms to go by the wayside and be forgotten.

      Liked by 1 person

  27. And all this without computers! Probably why it worked so well!
    Napoleon’s army surgeon in chief Larrey, who imposed the system of triage and ambulance evacuation from the battlefield, would be applauding them all the way..

    Liked by 1 person

    • That French Army surgeon did wonders with his innovations to help save lives. many a soldier owes him a debt of gratitude. Thanks for the reminder, Helen!

      Like

  28. One more reason why a posting to the Japanese war must have been terrifying.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. What an amazing list of all those hospitals.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There were still field medical areas as well, but like the title said, I was giving the reader an idea of the logistics. In doing research for another author, I accumulated so much data, it took a lot to trim it down.

      Like

  30. Fascinating read – as always. Thank you, GP!

    Liked by 1 person

  31. My dad had malaria in the Philippines (of perhaps Nee Guinea) so he probably spent some time in one of these. Thanks for this post, GP.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Well done, GP. The words and images powerfully brought out the harsh conditions they endured. It makes anything in the day of most people seem like a very minor inconvenience. It’s so important to learn from history. Hugs on the wing.

    Liked by 2 people

  33. Fascinating as always 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  34. Wonderful post, GP. Most of been difficult to synthesize so much material into a single post. God bless the Combat Medics and Corpsmen. I ‘m sure their patients do.

    Liked by 2 people

  35. People used to think that malaria came from eating watermelon, as it grew in a wet environment- along with mosquitoes.

    Liked by 4 people

  36. Thank you for helping me to honor these people, Steve!

    Like

  1. Pingback: Short view of WWII Pacific Army Medicine | The Inglorius Padre Steve's World

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