A series following the story of my father in World War II 75 years ago. He was in Europe with the 10th Armored Division's 80th Armored Medical Battalion.This updates the series Following the 10th Armored that I did five years ago.

#52- A Busy Week

    ✓    Company C Morning Report
    ✓    25 February 1945

Left Perl Germany at 1520. Traveled 9 miles via motor convoy to Kollesleuken, Germany. Set up Clearing station. Closed bivouac area 1620. (MR)

▪    25 February: Press Communique
The Tenth Armored completely cleared the Saar-Moselle Triangle in four days of slashing attacks, thus setting the stage for a new offensive east of the Saar.
It appears that Company C remained west of the Saar until the next day, no doubt due to casualties and evacuation of patients.

    •    Monday 26 February
Got up at 10.30. Mrs. B fixed my hair. Gee I am afraid we are going to have a flood.
Diary, Beula Keller Lehman
    ✓    Company C Morning Report
    ✓    26 February 1945

Left Kollesleuken 1620. Traveled 6 miles via motor convoy to Serrig, Germany. Crossed Saar River 1745. Arrived 1800. Set up clearing station and billeted troops. 117 casualties treated and evacuated. (MR)
This is one of the few times that any casualty numbers are given in the Morning Report. I wonder if that was a way of noting that Company C had that number of evacuations on the same day as a company movement. The way it is written would seem to indicate that the evacuations occurred at Serrig after having arrived at 6:00 pm. In cross-referencing with the monthly After Action Report, the whole battalion reports 130 evacuations that day. It is possible that Company C moved when it did because its clearing station was needed. This would also be indicated by the apparent movement past Beurig where they will return the next day.

    ▪    27 February 1945
The 94th Infantry and its engineers had constructed heavy duty pontoon bridges at Saarburg. This gave one continuous bridgehead from Ockfen to Taben. (See map below)

According to Province’s timelines in Patton’s Third Army, all three of the Division’s Combat Commands were active during this period. By the 27th the 10th will be just 6 miles south  of Trier and by the 28th, within a mile.

    ✓    Company C Morning Report
    ✓    27 February 1945

Departed Serrig at 1350. Traveled 3 miles to Beurig, Germany. Set up clearing station and billeted troops. (MR)
27 February- CC B was located on the heights overlooking Trier from the east. Their covering action appears to have been a life saver for many. Part of what CC B managed to do was, through the initiative of Colonel Roberts, "locate and make passable a cut-off that help speed up the attack." Originally the downhill route had to "navigate a sharp left turn and go uphill- all in the face of withering anti-tank fire…. Tiger vehicles, wrecked and burning, were mute testimony to enemy marksmanship." The cutoff with a sudden turn ended up fooling the Germans who were expecting the Division to continue on toward the Rhine. (Nichols)

  ▪    28 February: Press Communique
Tonight the Tenth Armored “Tiger” Division stands on the threshold of Trier- leading elements at a late hour were less than two miles from the city- with four task forces moving steadily along the high ground overlooking this important communications and supply center. Behind the imminent nature of Trier lies a story of bold tactical operation. Eight days ago the division was given the sole mission of clearing the Saar-Moselle Triangle- a mission that was accomplished in two days, catching the Germans so completely by surprise that orders were suddenly issued for the Tenth Armored to cross the Saar…  
Tonight… the entire division is now moving up the southern approaches within striking distance of Trier.
    •    Wednesday, February 28
Got up at 10. Went to the store. Received 3 letters from Buddy of Jan 27 and 28 and Feb 2. The ice went out of the river.
Diary, Beula Keller Lehman
End of the Month
While there are a few more days before Trier is captured, I will pause here to give a quick glance at the end of this month in 1945.

After over a month of waiting, February thrust the full 10th Armored/80th Medical back into war. The 80th Armored Medical Battalion’s end of the month After Action Report shows the change that occurred in battle at the end of February. From 1 February to 22 February the battalion’s clearing stations had 715 admissions with approximately a 40% return to duty. (This is only an approximation.) The last six days of the month saw 1019 admissions with only a 3% return to duty. As would be expected the largest number  of admissions were seen on the 27th and 28th of the month as the Tigers headed toward Trier after clearing the Saar-Moselle Triangle. Hence my comment above on the day Company C arrived at Serrig.

Of the troops of the 80th, three enlisted men were listed as wounded. I am not sure whether any of these were from Company C. The Morning Reports are a little bit unclear and might indicate one such battle casualty. There were no deaths. During the month the 80th received 19 reinforcements- one officer and eighteen enlisted men. Company C reports they received at least 11 of those reinforcements with 9 coming from the 94th Medical Gas Treatment Battalion. This was the battalion that ran the Army Air/Rail Medical Evacuation Holding Unit which was located near Thionville. My guess is that as the Bulge ended, the Allies held more territory, and the war became a more mobile action the ability to evacuate more quickly ended the need for this type of a holding unit.

The recommendations made in the AAR included a call for a “practical system of collecting bodies from the Division clearing stations.” An automated every other day collection by graves registration was suggested. There were 11 deaths in the clearing stations in February. That number would double in March.

Rick Atkinson in The Guns at Last Light, the third in his monumental trilogy of the Second World War, gives us the background of why this concern may have been raised.
As fresh reserves came forward, legions of dead men were removed to the rear. Each field army developed assembly lines to handle five hundred bodies a day; … Innovative techniques allowed fingerprints to be lifted from bodies long buried and for hidden laundry marks to be extracted from shredded uniforms… Reuniting a dead man and his name was the last great service that could be rendered a comrade gone west.
Interestingly one source connected with the Department of Defense says that currently there are about 73,000 still “missing in action” from World War II. That is about 19% of the over 400,000 killed in action. Another source, also using official DoD statistics, lists the number at 10,000 or 2.5% although that may not include those officially listed as “missing in action”, only those as unidentified. There are, for example, no unidentified soldiers from Vietnam and 150,000 from the Civil War in this source. But whether it is 73,000 or 10,000 the loss of life represented in just those numbers is staggering!

Each life is personal. It is hard to think in such large numbers. That “last great service” of Graves Registration can be overlooked in he great scheme of battles fought and wars waged, but to each family whose family member was identified, it allowed closure. Large numbers can numb us to the true nature of war deaths. It is only those we knew personally, or can identify with that bring him the nature of such conflict. That is as staggering for each person as it is in the overall numbers.

General Patton
The 10th was under the direction of the Third Army and therefore the controversial and very famous General Patton. He was either loved or hated! I remember my aunt, Buddy’s sister, speaking in almost reverent tones when she mentioned his name, even twenty years after the end of the war. Stephen Ambrose in Citizen Soldiers: The U.S. Army from the Normandy Beaches to the Bulge to the Surrender of Germany Jun 7, 1994-May 7, 1945 gives a picture of Patton’s almost monomaniacal approach using as an example this period of the Saar-Moselle Triangle and the attack on Trier.
THROUGH February, Patton attacked, whatever the conditions. He was at his zenith. His energy, his drive, his sense of history, his concentration on details while never losing sight of the larger picture combined to make him the preeminent American army commander of the war. …

Patton's worst enemy was the weather and what it did to the roads. The nightly freezes, the daily thaws, and the heavy traffic combined to make them impassable. Patton at one point in early February was forced to turn to packhorses to supply the front line. Still he said attack.

On February 26 elements of Third Army captured Bitburg. Patton entered the town from the south while the fighting was still going on at the northern edge of town. About this time Patton was spending six hours a day in an open jeep inspecting, urging, prodding, demanding. …

History was very much on his mind. In the evenings he was reading Caesar's Gallic Wars. He was especially interested in Trier, at the apex of the Saar Moselle triangle, on his northern flank. The historic city of the Treveri, according to Caesar, had contained the best cavalry in Gaul. Patton wanted Trier. He inveigled the 10th Armoured out of Bradley and sent it to take the city.
We come to the end of February, the re-initiation to battle for the Tigers of the Tenth Armored. They are on the edge of taking Trier and then moving across Germany to cross the Rhine. A great deal will happen in the next 60 days.

#51- With Skill and Daring

    •    Monday 19 February
Got up at 9.30. Gee it is so lonesome. So I am not doing much. Wrote to Buddy and Dora.
Diary, Beula Keller Lehman

Field orders # 11 and 16 were now implemented. The 10th Armored and the 94th Infantry Divisions were set to make their coordinated attack. The 10th had been at Metz for nine days. The headquarters would not remain that long in any place again until the end of the war. By the 19th were in Apach, FR, just across the French/German border from Perl. They were to take the Saar-Moselle Triangle.

On Monday, 19 Feb 1945: In spite of some of their numbers on furlough in Paris, the advanced troops left at 1800 that evening and some raced as much as 75 miles to begin the attack the next morning at 0700. The 94th had already done its job and all was set for the 10th to roll through.

    ✓    Company C Morning Report
    ✓    20 February 1945

Left Metz, France, at 0001 via motor convoy. Traveled 25 miles to Metrich, France. Arrived 045. Supporting CC B. Billeted troops (MR)
 This movement of Company C was overnight, six hours behind the first troops of the Tenth, in order to be in position. They would be 7 miles from Perl as the attack began at 0700 on 20 February- just shy of three hours after Company C arrived in Metrich.

Nichols in Impact! says:
Now the preliminary rounds were over. In the course of the next few days, the 10th Armored Tigers were to overrun the Saar-Moselle Triangle- one of the most heavily fortified areas in the world- and capture the important supply and communications center of Trier, oldest city in Germany. This battle operation was performed with skill and daring, and it brought praise to the Tigers from all quarters as General George S. Patton, in open admiration, termed this battle “one of the war’s most audacious operations.”
Company C was assigned to Combat Command B (CC B) at this point and much of the first attacks appear to have been made by CC A and CC R. Company C remained at Metrich on the 20th and then moved into Germany the next day.

    ✓    Company C Morning Report
    ✓    21 February 1945
Convoy departed Metrich 1015 and traveled 7 miles to Perl, Germany. Arrived 1325. Entered Germany 1320. Set up clearing station and billeted troops. Roads muddy. Weather clear. Morale of troops excellent. (MR)
Also on the 21st according to Nichols, General Patton visited the Division HQ. He studied the maps and the situation and ordered them to “cross the Saar and take Trier.” Nichols continued

When Patton returned to his Third Army Headquarters that night, he phoned SHAEF and got permission to do what he had already done, in committing the Tenth Armored Division across the Saar.
By the end of the day on 21 February, the Tenth had penetrated “northward almost to the junction of the Saar and Moselle.” The press communique, written originally by Nichols, goes on:
During the two days, the 10th Armored Division has captured 23 towns and approximately 1250 prisoners and has occupied approximately 85 square miles of German soil.
Resistance encountered in the second day of the 10th Armored’s drive consisted of mine, roadblocks, small arms fire, and craters in the road.
    •    Thursday, Feb 22
Got up at 10-. Did not do much. Wrote to Buddy. Ruth called. Baked a cherry pie.
Diary, Beula Keller Lehman

Province, in Patton’s Third Army, lists the work of the 10th during this time:
2/22 Reducing Moselle Triangle and destruction of German artillery
2/23 Expanded bridgeheads
2/24 Building bridges and increasing size
Both CC A and CC B managed a quick crossing at Taben, in essence bringing the Saar-Moselle Triangle to an end. In his communique on 25 February Nichols told the press:
The Tenth Armored completely cleared the Saar Moselle Triangle in four days of slashing attacks, thus setting the stage for new offensives east of the Saar.
Halted temporarily at Ayl, above Saarburg, where enemy fire repeatedly prevented construction of a pontoon bridge, the Tenth Armored nevertheless resumed its offensive. Elements of age Tenth were ferried across the Saar Thursday night [22 Feb], under heavy artillery, machine gun and sniper fire. … During the late afternoon and night on Saturday, [24 Feb] three armored infantry battalions of the Tenth had been transported across to the vicinity of Ockfen.
More action will occur as the Tenth heads to capture Trier over the next several days. The Tenth was in Germany and would remain there for the rest of the war.

    •    Saturday, Feb 24
Got up at 9.30. Went to the store. Did not do anything all day.
Diary, Beula Keller Lehman

#50- Back to the War

Since mid-January, the 10th had been in reserve in Third Army territory. The Third Army was made up of III, VIII, XII, and XX Corps. It was mostly in a “mopping up” role from the Bulge. Meanwhile, planning had been in progress to resume the drive toward the Rhine that had been stalled with the German attack in the Ardennes. Patton was worried that his Third Army might be left behind. Nathan Prefer in Patton’s Ghost Corps says that one thing Patton did not want to do was “follow any other Army into Germany.”

The XX Corps was the only one of the four corps of the Third Army that was not engaged. They were the corps who, prior to the Bulge, had been significant in clearing the way into the fortress city of Metz and gave Patton a much-needed boost of ego. It was during that time that they came to be known as “The Ghost Corps.” The name came from POW interrogations where the  German prisoners referred to them in that way. As Prefer reports it, they “moved so fast and so often that the Germans couldn’t keep track of them.”

Now in early 1945, the XX Corps was made up of the 90th and 95th Infantry Divisions and the unattached 10th Armored sitting in reserve for refitting and regrouping after their rough time in the Bulge. To use the 10th as part of the XX Corps, approval was needed from SHAEF, Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces, i.e. Eisenhower. If they were to take the Saar-Moselle Triangle, much convincing would need to be done.

The Triangle was a small portion of the old German defensive line known as the Siegfried Line. A change was made in this area from Tier in the north down the triangle formed by the Saar and Moselle Rivers. The movement of war had formed the triangle and Patton needed to break it and capture Trier.

Throughout early February there were some skirmishes, attacks, and counter-attacks by other units. Due to being somewhat under-armed and understaffed, they were unable to bring the full resources to bear. Little significant progress was made. Nathan Prefer in Patton’s Ghost Corps says  “what gains were made was thanks to the skill and daring of the infantry, engineers, and artillerymen.

By mid-month decisions were being made both at SHAEF and in the Third Army. XX Corps would be going into action. The Tigers of the 10th Armored would be going with them. It was time to move back toward the war.

Company C of the 80th Medical will be assigned in support of CC B all month. They had been in Eschwiller since January 20. The Division had been in the territory of the Seventh Army. On 9 February they were ordered to move back to Patton, the Third Army and the XX Corps.

    •    Saturday February 10, 1945
Got up at 9.30. Went to the store. Did not feel so good. Came home and did not do anything
Diary, Beula Keller Lehman

    ✓    Company C Morning Report
    ✓    9-10 February 1945

9 Feb: Left Eschwiller at 1900. Traveled 39 miles via motor convoy enroute to Metz, France. Weather fair.
10 Feb: Convoy arrived Solgne, France at 0035 and billeted troops.
Departed Solgne and traveled 17 miles to Metz. Arrived 1250. Set up clearing station and billeted troops.

    •    Tuesday, February 13, 1945
Got up at 9.30. Did not do much. Called a taxi and went up and had my hair washed It is snowing.
Diary, Beula Keller Lehman

This movement was meant to be a stealth move for the Division. Company C left Eschwiller at 7:00 in the evening, were billeted just after midnight and started out again about 12 hours after arriving. Nichols, in Impact! reports that the return to Metz was surrounded by secrecy to keep the Germans from being aware of the movement. They removed all ID from the tanks and troops. When the leading forces arrived in the city which they had helped conquer in November they found a French boy with a sign:

Welcome back to Metz 10th Armored Tigers. 

They were the only Division remaining from the first assault on the Saar-Moselle Triangle in November-December 1944. This time, Nichols says, they would “set a model for tank-infantry teamwork.”

Charles Province in Patton's Third Army: A Chronology Of The Third Army Advance In World War II, described this time for the Division as :
12 Feb 1945- The 10th closed into the area around Metz
15 Feb 1945- The 10th continued rehab and training
18 Feb 1945- The 10th began movement to near the front to an assembly area
Prefer reports in Patton’s Ghost Corps that the decision was made by 16 February that the Allies would bring their full strength against the Germans on the morning 19 February.  This was issued in Field Order # 11. The 10th Armored would be used together with the 94th Infantry Division (which had replaced the 95th Infantry Division) as ordered in

Field Order#16- Clear the triangle!

The 10th was ordered to move and assemble at Perl on the left flank along the Moselle River. They were given three different plans depending on such items as advances, weather, and the development of bridgeheads. Be there and ready by 20 February. Since the 10th had been resting for less than a week behind the lines, they actually had a number of their troops on leave in Paris. They had to be quickly rounded up to return.

They were about to go back to war.

    •    Sunday, February 18, 1945

Got up at 9.30. Got dinner. It was a nice day. Ruth and I had a nice time. She left at 6. Called at 9.00 from the station
Diary, Beula Keller Lehman

#49- Surprises In the Earlier Story

We are about to enter a very busy period in the activities of the 10th Armored Division and the 80th Medical Battalion. This post, though, is a momentary jump back to before they were in Europe and the uncovering of more mysteries from my dad's army years. I should have known there would be more. There are many skirmishes and battles in the whole of Buddy’s war.

Since I have been digging into things that happened before I was born to people who have been gone for over 55 years, there are more than enough unknowns to fill several volumes. I have no letters, one person’s diaries, hardly any pictures from the time before the war. There are a couple from my dad’s high school, a profile in a college yearbook, bits and pieces of the family story. But nothing else of any substance.

Even from the years I am covering through my grandmother’s diary there are so many blank spots, most big enough to drive a Sherman tank through. But as has been said, one does not know what one doesn’t know. Which is why I still dig, still keep looking for new information.

I did some of that through a researcher in St. Louis who was recommended to me from a mentor. I wondered what might be in the National Archive in St. Louis from back there in 1942-43 that I had not yet discovered. The unit Morning Reports for the companies of the 80th Armored Medical Battalion were out there. Was my dad in there somewhere?

I was shocked when some things were found. In these I found information that I hadn’t seen any hints of in Beula’s diary entries. Maybe I should have.

This series of events started at Christmas, 1942. Buddy was in Georgia with the 80th Medical. It was only a few months since he had been activated in August and assigned to the 10th Armored at Fort Benning, GA. Then that December Beula says in her diary that she was “looking for” him on Christmas Eve. Did he say he was coming home? Just that one little statement.

    •    Looking for Harold

The next day, Christmas Day, she reports that she

    •    Looked for Harold. I am disappointed.”

He didn’t show up. When I first read that a couple years ago I just assumed it was a mother wanting to see her son who was now in the Army- wishful thinking that he would come all the way from Georgia for Christmas. But with no advanced warning? It didn’t make sense because it didn’t say she missed him being home or that she wished he was there. There was action in it- she was looking. I passed it by.

In the information from St. Louis, however, I found something intriguing that may be connected. The morning report for 24 Dec 1942 from HQ Company, where he was assigned at that time, for T/5th Lehman:

    •    DY to Hosp. (Duty to hospital.)

What? It looks like he was one of five from the company who went from duty to hospital in a five day period that month.

Move forward to January 14 and Beula comments in her diary that she has received a letter from Harold and that he

    •    might be home soon.

Two weeks later, 28 January, the Morning Report records that

    •    T/5 Lehman hospital to DY.

Apparently he was in the hospital these entire five weeks.

Okay, he’s back to duty? But there's more.

Also on January 28, when he went from hospital to duty, Beula says in her diary that Harold is in Atlanta, which is two hours north of Fort Benning. She says that he is traveling home and

    •    Gee, I’m nervous.

On the 29th she says that he is
    •    delayed in Washington

and then on the 30th that he arrived home. I do not have the Morning Report pages for January 29-31 so I do not have confirmation of “duty to furlough” at this time. But on 12 February I find in the Morning Report that

    •    Tech 5th grade Lehman fur to DY.

That correlates with Beula’s diary from the day before,  February 11, that he left to return to Georgia.

Once again, he’s back on duty? Once again, it appears not to have been the whole story.

    •    MR for 13 Feb 43
Tech 5th grade Lehman duty to abs in hands of civil authorities.

Six weeks later:
    •    Beula’s diary entry for March 23 1943
Harold called. Gee, I was glad to hear from him and to hear everything was O.K.

Then, after about 40 days:
    •    MR for 25 Mar 43
T/5 Lehman fr conft in hands of C Auth to dy.

So here I am today, mere months from the end of the war in Europe and I am quickly transported back to Dad’s first six months in the battalion. In that period he has been promoted twice, from Private to Private First Class to Tech 5th Grade, a specialist rank equal to corporal. But he has also been in the hospital for over a month followed immediately by furlough for two weeks and then immediately absent into the hands of civil authorities, obviously for confinement for over six weeks.

Is there no end to the surprises?

To be clear, I do not have all the diary entries in front of me. All I have are the ones I entered into the timeline that at the time seemed different or out of the ordinary. I will have to wait to get home to look these dates up and see what else was around them. But let me do some reflecting and ask a whole set of questions, in addition to “What the hell is this all about?”

Here goes.
  • Why was Beula “looking for Buddy” to come home on that Christmas Eve when I am aware of no indication that he had said he was? That needs to be verified, of course. That this is the day he goes to the hospital is interesting.
  • Why was he in the hospital? That there were four other members of the company in the hospital at the same time may be an indication of some flu or other bug going around. Since I do not have all the morning report pages, just the ones that mention Buddy, I don’t know when the others went back to duty.
  • He wrote to Beula, obviously, it seems, from the hospital, and she mentions it at almost exactly the half-way point in his hospital stay. No apparent mention in his letter about even being in the hospital.
  • His return to duty from the hospital seems to be on the same day Beula gets a call from him in Atlanta. Was that where he was in the hospital?
  • Was he delayed in Washington the very next day? He is most likely on furlough since he returns from furlough, according to the Morning Report, on February 12. It is unlikely that he was AWOL. I may just be missing the pages that might give some hint.
  • One tiny bit of intrigue from his furlough at home was that there was one night when he didn’t come home. That was, of course, an old pattern of his as I have mentioned in earlier posts from that time period. Was this perhaps Buddy’s last “fling” before the next issue arises a few days later?
  • But then the big surprise, his being in the hands of “civilian authorities” for what would later be called “conft”, confinement. It does not say where this confinement was. One assumes in nearby Columbus or further? No hints, no family lore, nothing to go by in anything I have or have ever heard. Beula seems relieved when she hears from him again in March a few days before he is returned to duty from civil authorities. She was “glad… that everything was ok.” What role might have this played in who Buddy became? It didn’t seem to have an impact on his status in the Army.
Maybe we can call them skeletons in the old closet, or maybe I have overlooked something, or maybe it is hidden in some now unavailable letter or report. Time will tell.

When one digs into the unknown, there are always things of interest that pop up.

#48- In the Greater War

While the 10th Armored and 80th Medical Battalion were refitting and recuperating from mid-January until mid-February, there were other events happening. Here are some of them. (Link)

75 Years Ago
January 1945
    19: Hitler orders that any retreats of divisions or larger units must be approved by him.
    20: The Red Army advances into East Prussia. Germans renew the retreat.
        : Franklin D. Roosevelt is sworn in for a fourth term as U.S. President; Harry Truman is sworn in as Vice President.
    25: The American navy bombards Iwo Jima in preparation for an invasion.
    30: The Malta Conference (1945) began with Winston Churchill meeting with the Combined Chiefs of Staff on the Island of Malta in the Mediterranean to plan the end of WWII in both Theaters, and to discuss the ramifications of the Soviets now controlling most of Eastern Europe. President Franklin D. Roosevelt would join the Conference for one day on 2 February 1945; both would fly to Yalta on 3 February for the Yalta Conference with Stalin.
    31: The Red Army crosses the Oder River into Germany and are now less than 50 miles from Berlin.
        : A second invasion on Luzon by Americans lands on the west coast.
75 Years Ago
February 1945
    1: Ecuador declares war on Germany and Japan.
    2: Naval docks at Singapore are destroyed by B-29 attacks.
    3: The Battle of Manila (1945) begins: Forces of the U.S. and Philippines enter Manila. The Manila massacre takes place during the fighting.
      : Heavy bombing of Berlin.
    4: The Yalta Conference of Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin begins; the main subject of their discussions is postwar spheres of influence.
      : Belgium is now cleared of all German forces.
    9: The Colmar Pocket, the last German foothold west of the Rhine, is eliminated by the French 1st Army.
    13/14: The bombing of Dresden takes place; it is firebombed by Allied air forces and large parts of the historic city are destroyed. [Note: the future novelist Kurt Vonnegut was an American POW in Dresden at the time. His novel, Slaughterhouse Five was based on his experiences there during the bombing.]
    14: The 1945 Bombing of Prague: American planes bomb the wrong city.

#47- The Hardest Job?

In a hard war theirs may have been the hardest job of all. But together with Army doctors and Army nurses, [the medics] worked something very close to a miracle in the European theater.
— Stephen Ambrose

Stephen Ambrose in his book, Citizen Soldiers gives a whole chapter to the medical corps, "Medics, Nurses, and Doctors" Buddy was a surgical tech, which I assume meant he was not at the front but behind it in the field surgical hospitals, the forerunners of the M.A.S.H units. Overall, though, the work of all the medics was almost that of miracle workers. Here are some of the reflections from Ambrose.
It wasn’t any different getting killed in World War II than in the Civil War, but if the shrapnel, bullet, or tree limb wounded a GI without killing him, his experience as a casualty was infinitely better. The medical team, from the medics in the field to the nurses and doctors in the tent-city hospitals, compiled a remarkable record. More than 8 percent of the soldiers who underwent emergency operations in a mobile field or evacuation hospital survived. Fewer than 4 percent of all patients admitted to a field hospital died. In the Civil War, it had been more like 50 percent.

Wonder drugs and advanced surgical techniques made the improvements possible, but it was people who had to get the wounded into a hospital before it was too late for the nurses and the drugs and surgeons to do their work. Those people were the medics. (P. 311)

At least to some degree, there were soldiers assigned to the medical units because of a desire to be non-combatants, often “conscientious objectors,” usually for religious reasons. While this was obviously not a common occurrence since the Army had clearly recruited for the medical corps, it still had an impact on some of the impressions of the troops concerning the medics. While Buddy was not, to the best of my awareness, not a conscientious objector, he may have had to face some of this prior to the war. As a trained pharmacist, though not doing that work, he no doubt was assigned to the medical corps for his training. Ambrose addresses this.
The medics had gone through the same training as any infantryman, except for weapons. In training camp, they had been segregated into their own barracks and kept away from the men they were learning to save, apparently for fear of contaminating the real soldiers. The rifle-carrying enlisted men and the medics developed little mutual camaraderie. One lieutenant confessed that he and his platoon “mildly despised” the men of the Medical Corps for being conscientious objectors. Their mere presence cast a moral shadow over what the infantrymen were training to do. The nascent medics were ridiculed, called such names as Pill Pusher, and the tourniquets and bandages they put on imagined wounds in field exercises were joked about. So was their only real work, treating blisters and the like.

But once in combat they were loved. “Overseas,” the medic Buddy Gianelloni recalled, “it became different. They called you Medic, and before you know it, it was Doc. I was nineteen at the time.”

On countless occasions when I have asked a veteran during an interview if he remembered any medics, the old man would say something like “Bravest man I ever saw. Let me tell you about him.. . .” (P. 312)
 Something I had not known was mentioned by Ambrose. As non-combatants, there were certain limitations beyond not carrying any firearms.
To preserve their non-combatant status under the Geneva Convention, the War Department did not give any medics combat pay (ten dollars extra a month) or the right to wear the Combat Infantryman Badge. This was bitterly resented. In some divisions, riflemen collected money from their own pay to give their medics the combat bonus. As for their right to wear the badge, five enlisted medics in the European Theater of Operations (ETO) were awarded the Medal of Honor, and hundreds won Silver or Bronze Stars. (P. 313)
 Overall it seems very clear that the army was bound and determined to keep their GIs alive, even if they weren’t going back to battle.
The remarkable rate of recovery for wounded GIs was based on mass production assembly-line practices. How well it worked, from the medic to the aid station to the field hospital to England, can be judged by the reaction of the men of the front line, who were almost certain to get caught up in the process, with their lives depending on it. As one lieutenant put it, “We were convinced the Army had a regulation against dying in an aid station.” (P. 321)
While Ambrose is referring to the doctors at the end of the chapter, I would guess that the attitude, training, and support of the other medical personnel were as critical to the mental health “treatment” on and near the front lines.
The doctors had to be shrinks as well as surgeons. Some of the patients— as many as 25 percent when the fighting was heavy—were uninjured physically but were babbling, crying, shaking, or stunned, unable to hear or talk. These were the combat exhaustion casualties. It was the doctors’ job to get as many as possible back to normal—and back to the lines—as soon as possible.

In the field hospitals, the American doctors treated the men as temporarily disabled soldiers rather than mental patients, normally categorizing them with the diagnosis “exhaustion.” For the sake of both prevention and cure, the doctors tried to treat such patients as close to the line as possible. Typically the doctors at battalion level kept the exhaustion cases at their aid stations for twenty-four hours of rest, often under sedation. The men got hot food and a change of clothing. For as many as three-quarters of the cases, that was sufficient, and the soldier went back to his foxhole.

Good company commanders already knew that to be the case. Captain Winters of the 101st commented that he learned during the Bulge “the miracle that would occur with a man about to crack if you could just get him out of his fox hole and back to the CP [command post] for a few hours. Hot food, hot drink, a chance to warm up—that’s what he needed to keep going.”

Men who needed more than a quick visit to the CP or battalion aid station were sent back to division medical facilities, where the division psychiatrist operated an “exhaustion center” that could hold patients for three days of treatment. The bulk of these men also returned to the line. Those who had not recovered went on to the neuropsychiatric wards of general hospitals for seven days of therapy and reconditioning. The extreme cases were air-evacuated to the States.

The system worked. Ninety of every hundred men diagnosed as exhaustion cases in the ETO were restored to some form of duty—usually on the line. As they had done with the men wounded by bullets and shrapnel, so the medics, nurses, and docs did for the exhausted casualties: under the worst possible circumstances, superb medical care. (pp. 329-330)
All quotes from-
"Medics, Nurses, and Doctors." Citizen Soldiers by Stephen Ambrose (also online at American Heritage as Medic!)