35th Evacuation Hospital 3rd Army

35th Evacuation Hospital 3rd Army

Mary C. (Pickett) Smith - Nurse operating room

The 35th Evacuation Hospital was awarded the Meritorious Service Unit Plaque for superior performance of duty and outstanding devotion to duty, two bronze Star Awards of the Legion of Merit and 19 awards of the Bronze Star. On February 10, 1944 sailed from New-York city on the Queen Mary and landed in Scotland February 18 and then transported to Stone, England June 24, 1944 the 35th Evacuation Hospital landed in France and was attached to General Patton's 3rd Army. We were first to cross the Seine River - the first to cross the Meuse River - the first Unit to cross the Siegfried Line at Echternach, Luxembourg. We went through France, Luxembourg, Germany and Austria. Several times we were shelled with no serious injuries. We were alerted to go to the CBI (China-Burma-India) when peace was declared with Japan. During our tour of duty we treated 27.051 patients. I returned home to Fort Wayne, IN, married and raised six children. I did Industrial Nursing until my retirement in 1982. We are now residence of Yuma, Arizona and enjoying retirement.

Introduction

I Would like to acquaint the reader with an evacuation hospital since he no doubt is unfamiliar with the many diversified units comprising a modern army. An evacuation hospital is a Ground Force organization which is assigned to support a field army in combat. However, if seriously wounded, the man may be sent directly from the field to an evacuation hospital which is located from three to fifteen miles from the front. Here third echelon medical treatment is given. The first definitive treatment is administered here and the problem up front is to evacuate the wounded so that he may be operated within the "four golden hours" thus increasing the success of surgical treatment. The fourth echelon is the numbered general hospitals of the communication zone and the fifth echelon is the named general hospitals in the zone of the interior, pedantically speaking. The evacuation hospital has a 400 bed capacity which can handle a 200 case overload. There are 38 officers, 1 warrant officer, 40 nurses and 217 enlisted men. There is enough equipment to handle and house the patients and personnel. During operations, a five day expendable supply for 25,000 men was carried.

 

The transportation is 4 jeeps, 1 weapons carrier, 20 two and a half ton trucks and (1) 700 gallon water truck, all with appropriate trailers. This is enough vehicles to transport one half a functional hospital at a time. The hospital is completely independent functioning with its own tents, electricity, sterilizers, generators, telephones, and sanitary equipment amounting to about fifty long tons. The organization of a hospital is suggested by the army, but usually follows a pattern that fits the situation. There are twenty wards, an operation room with eight operating tables, x-ray service, pharmacy, laboratory, dental clinic, dispensary, three messes, a chapel, registrar, detachment headquarters, transportation section, and headquarters which make up the functional hospital that gives an unbelievable variety of medical, dental, and surgical service. In combat the equipment and personnel usually filled 75 trucks loads. The hospital could be set up and begin to function completely in six hours. This is by no means to be taken as a dogmatic way of running an evacuation hospital but the way our hospital functioned under the FIRST, SECOND, and THIRD UNITED STATES ARMIES. I am extremely loyal and proud of the achievements of the 35th Evacuation Hospital and if I have written too enthusiastically about the exploits, it is because of my sincere respect of my fellow officers, nurses, and soldiers. Major C.L. Bowers - 1946

 

Winter in Europe

The 35th Evacuation Hospital continued to operate under the XII Corps during the period of 22 September to 2 December 1944. During our stay in Nancy (France) there were sporadic buzz bombs and a railroad piece that went undetected for some time that proved to be a nuisance. General Patton mead several visits to the hospital to visit the soldiers of his Third Army. He was always interested in each soldier and asked how he was wounded, several times awarding medals to the more valiant. Nancy also had several other features, for here the men were able to take their free time on pass to visit the city or attend the G.I. movies. While the Third Army was storming the Moselle and capturing the fortress city of Metz the casualty rate was high and the work was beginning to wear down even the more vigorous. After the front and fighting had moved slowly forward the hospital moved on 2 December to Teting near St Avold into a dismal, filthy, wrecked group of former German Barracks situated right in the Maginot Line. With the aid of the Engineers, windows, doors, and electricity was readied for our occupancy. The 80th Infantry had just fought over the area and the demolition left by the Air Corps left little to talk nice about. Hardly before the rubble was cleared away, the hospital began functioning with the III Corps. The morale of the unit was at its lowest ebb here as the combined discomforts and situation were at their worst. On cleaning up, many dead German soldiers were found and this with the cold bleak weather and long hard hours pulled heavy on mind. A, attempt to make Christmas cheery was completed with trees and decorations when the German breakthrough called for the assistance of the Third United States Army and its components. A mass movement forming a large hinging movement from the Saarland to the Ardennes was accomplished in short order.

The Ardennes Campaign

On 22 December the hospital picked up and moved into Metz, the historic capital of Lorraine. The unit used the "L'Internat de l'Ecole Nationale Professionnelle de Metz which had been stripped by the Nazi when he left. This too, was a cold dismal place, without heat, water or electricity. Soon our ingenious soldiers put the Sibley stoves in place and wired the place and were to sit here for a sad Christmas. The Christmas Dinner was excellent and the soldiers tried to be gay but it was our most despairing day of the war. In the meantime the Colonel was scouting for a building large enough to house a 400 bed hospital plus living quarters for an additional 400 personnel. None was to be found so the situation being urgent we moved into Luxembourg City on the 26th of December. By the 28th all equipment was moved into Ecole de Bonnevoie after removing all their furnishings to make room for the hospital. The hospital opened at 1500 in support of the XII Corps again. This lone building was hardly adequate but the situation demanded immediate operation. The men were billeted in tents and an empty school nearby. The officers and nurses used the old assortment of houses and apartments formerly occupied by Nazi sympathizers. The hospital literally bulged with "BULGE" patients as all available space from the basement to the attic, including the halls were used. Due to the cramped quarters most of the cases sent were surgical thus a turnover. There was no relief here as the long days passed. The off time was spent in Luxembourg City on pass and at the G.I. movies. The people of this small Duchy were very cordial and many friendships were established. When the Germans were driven back in the Bulge, a counter offensive was launched that gained momentum as it crossed the Rhine to the utter defeat of the Nazi Armies. Another first was performed by the 35th when it crossed the Siegfried Line at Echternach in Luxembourg, thereby being the first Third Army hospital established itself at Helenberg, between Bitburg and Trier, using school which was converted into a hospital. The usual evacuation is from the front to the rear, but at this spot the Clearing Companies were evacuating to the front to us. From our position we could watch the artillery shoot and score. Here the great number of patients was due to the large influx of prisoner of war who had a high ratio of severe wounds. Two sections of an ambulance platoon were kept busy evacuating the wounded which can be handled normally with one section. The period of operation here was from the 6th to the 27th Marsh and was a comparatively short time compared to the two months spent at both Nancy and Luxembourg.