During World War II, troops in a combat operation were not permitted to stop and care for the wounded. All soldiers carried emergency field-dressing kits and, if possible, attempted to treat their own wounds. Wounded soldiers waited for the stretcher-bearers who would take them to a Regimental Aid Post, just behind the lines. Here, a Regimental Medical Officer and assistants cleaned the wounds, applied dressings, and gave injections. When necessary, they were then taken to the Advanced Dressing Station for further treatment and emergency amputation and then moved to the “field hospital”, also known as “ambulances” or “casualty clearing stations,” where needed surgeries were carried out. The function of the field hospital was to operate solely on casualties hit in the chest, abdomen, or large bone of the leg. Other wounds were fixed at the same time, of course, but the idea was to bring a facility to perform major surgery as close to the line as possible. All casualties, treated patients and evacuees were then sent to the evacuation hospital (“evac hospital”) for further treatment and redeployment. Typically, each of a field hospital's three platoons consisted of about 60 enlisted men, six nurses, and about a half dozen surgeons. In the Korean Conflict, field hospitals became known as MASH (Mobile Army Surgical Hospital) units.
During the European, phase of World War II, U. S. Army Field Hospitals supported infantry divisions as they marched across Europe to Berlin after the D-Day invasion. The 67th Field Hospital, in support of the 9th Army, was one such unit. In its support role, the 67th not only treated American military casualties, but civilians and enemy soldiers needing treatment as well.
Brief History of the 67th Field Hospital in World War II
The 67th Field Hospital was officially activated on March 20, 1944 at Camp Ellis in Illinois under the command of Major Benjamin B. Black, AMC. The unit adopted “To Conserve Fighting Strength” as its motto. Many of the members of the 67th were “washed-out, would-be pilots” relieved from further flight training, but given credit for ground service. Eighty-one came from the 60th College Training Detachment (Air Crew Training) stationed in Pittsburgh. Seventeen other non-commissioned officers and other enlisted men were assigned to the 67th from the 1879th Service Unit stationed at Camp Livingston, Louisiana. Still others came from San Antonio Cadet Training Center and a flight crew-training center at Oklahoma A&M University in Stillwater.
On April 20, 1944, the newly formed unit began training to support battlefield surgery at The O’Reilly General Hospital in Springfield, MO. On D-Day (June 6, 1944), the unit was still in training there. On October 12, 1944, the 67th sailed for Liverpool, England from Boston aboard the troopship Wakefield, formerly the USS Manhattan. Upon arriving in Liverpool, they were transported across the English Channel and landed at Omaha Beach on October 25, 1944. The unit bivouacked near the village of Montebourg, on the Cherbourg Peninsula, before being assigned to the 9th Army preparing to move east across Europe towards Berlin.
In its support of the 9th Army, at The Battle of the Bulge, the 67th set up field hospitals and treated the wounded in Hoepertingen Belgium, Valkenberg, Holland. The 67th crossed the Rhine River on March 25, 1946 and set up field hospitals at Suchteln, Beckum, Forderstedt and Rosche in Germany. Shortly after VE Day (May 7, 1945), the 67th treated casualties at Ludwigslust, Burg, Bremen, Arolsen, Bad Nueheim and Fulda in Germany.
The advance of the 9th Army was ordered to stop short of entering Berlin, and assigned to eliminate the small pockets of resistance clearing the way for other units to enter the city. During March and April 1945, three units of the 67th were with 82nd Airborne when it liberated Wobbelin, a hard labor concentration camp located near an abandoned Luftwaffe Airdrome just north of Ludwigslust, Germany. They cared for more than 200 men and women rescued from the piles of many more who had been starved to death by the Nazis. They survivors were treated in aircraft hangar of a nearby Luftwaffe airfield that was converted into a hospital.
The unit was partially disbanded with some members being redeployed back the States and others were assigned further duty at Bad Nueheim and Fulda with the 57th Field Hospital before being redeployed as a “carrier unit” , caring for the wounded on the way home, with the 20th Field Hospital.
The 67th was decommissioned in June 1946.
Years later, members of the unit met at a reunion and referred to themselves as “M*A*S*H ’45.” Further information about this individual or organization may be available in the Special Collections Research Center Wiki: http://scrc.swem.wm.edu/wiki/index.php/Sixty-Seventh Field Hospital.
Internet and Sixty-seventh Field Hospital Collection.