Heroes: the Army
"...When Sgt. McDonald had been earlier wounded, I had gone to attend his wounds. I had only gone a few feet forward when German artillery shells began falling all around us -- taking out four men (KIA?) and wounding me in the leg..."
Name Withheld by Request
- Branch of Service: Army
- Unit: Medic, 35th Infantry Division
- Dates: 1942 - 1945
- Location: European Theater
- Rank: PFC
- Birth Year: 1922
- Entered Service: New Orleans, LA
Then the wounded started to arrive
"At eighteen, I worked at Higgins Industries, where landing craft and PT-Boats were built. I resigned to go into the service.
After being inducted I was sent to Camp Backley, Texas, where I received basic training as a medic.
Later I was transferred to Clinton, Iowa, where the 91st General Hospital was being organized.[Note: 27 October 2002 -- See images below of nurses in training.]
There was a full compliment of hospital personnel there.
Then the nurses arrived, they were all officers.
They went on hikes, and field training as we all did.
From there we went by troop train to New Jersey, where we boarded a large liner, the Aquatania, sister ship of the Titanic! There were 18,000 troops on board.
Seven days later we landed in Scotland. (I was sea sick for five days.) Then [on] to Oxford, England, where we settled down as the 91st General Hospital.
The nurses worked six and seven days a week, and twelve hours a day.
Almost every day we saw hundreds of bombers headed for France.
Then one day, there were, waves and waves of planes heading for France, then we had an idea that the invasion had begun. It was D-Day, June 6th.
Then the wounded started to arrive.
Everybody did double duty (cooks, office personnel).
Shortly after that, I received orders to be transferred to the 35th Infantry Division.
This is when I got my first taste of combat.
I took care of wounded G.I.'s and also, German prisoners who were wounded. On December 11, 1944, a sergeant was hit by artillery fire. As I was tending to his wound, I was hit by a round of artillery fire in my leg.
What aggrevated me the most, was caring for the wounded, while shells were falling.
The sergeant and I went back to the first aid station in the same ambulance, with a few other wounded.
Then [we went] to the station hospital, not far behind the lines.
That is where I saw the first nurses, close to combat. They followed the troops.
About two months later after surgery, I returned to my outfit. (February 1945)
There was only one person [that] I knew -- it was our lieutenant. He was now a captain. After that, there was still some shelling -- not as much as before.
Things began to slacken. Then the German prisoners started coming in. There were many.
When the war in Europe was over, my division took over in the army of occupation.
We were on the Rhine River, which was beautiful.
Then back to England, [where] we boarded the Queen Mary -- it was packed.
Five days later we arrived in New York harbor. We were greeted by which seemed to be hundred(s) of boats, playing music and the fire boats were shooting out streams of water. Draped over the side of the ship, was a large banner identifying our division, the 35th Infantry Division.
As we left the ship, we went directly to a troop train and in no time we were headed home.
I received a 45 day leave.
My division was scheduled for the Pacific. Then the war ended.
Then I went to Camp Shelby, Mississippi, and I was discharged on November 6, 1945."
Note: During a follow-up phone interview of 14 August 2001 the subject of our sketch and I were discussing a few details with regards to some of the events described above. The wording is not exact -- but as accurate as I could recall when later transcribing the material and it goes like this:
"I recall a Sgt. McDonald, who had just returned from recuperating from wounds received in an earlier action. The next day, I saw a litter being carried by bearers with a deceased soldier covered by a blanket. After asking who might the soldier be, I was shocked and stunned to hear that the soldier was the very same Sgt. McDonald.
When Sgt. McDonald had been earlier wounded, I had gone to attend his wounds. I had only gone a few feet forward when German artillery shells began falling all around us -- taking out four men (KIA?) and wounding me in the leg. The Germans must have had artillery spotters and they had us zeroed in on our position.
There were occasions when men were killed without a mark on them...by the concussion of the exploding shells. It was hard to believe that they were actually dead.
A lieutenant who had been wounded on a previous occasion was observed by me being carried back, again wounded. He was conscious and told me that he was not going to come back to the lines again. I do not know if he ever did."
-- Pfc.(Name Withheld), Medic 35th Infantry Division
27 October 2002: Images below were from the personal photo album of the subject of this essay and were taken on a hike during training near the Mississippi River in Clinton, Iowa in late 1943. The training, for medics and nurses was conducted at the Schick General Hospital located there.
These images were taken just before they left for overseas and to Oxford, England, where the 91st General Hospital was organized.
The images are casual images taken by the subject of this essay with his Kodak box camera.
Combat Chronicle of the 35th Infantry Division:
The 35th Infantry Division arrived in England, 25 May 1944, and received further training. It landed on Omaha Beach, Normandy, 5-7 July 1944, and entered combat 11 July, fighting in the Normandy hedgerows, north of St. Lo. The Division beat off 12 German counterattacks at Emelie before entering St. Lo, 18 July. After mopping up in the St. LO area, it took part in the offensive action southwest of St. Lo, pushing the Germans across the Vire, 2 August, and breaking out of the Cotentin Peninsula. While en route to an assembly area, the Division was "flagged off the road," to secure the Mortain-Avranches corridor and to rescue the 30th Division's "Lost Battalion," 7-13 August 944. Then racing across France through Orleans and Sens, the Division attacked across the Moselle, 13 September, captured Nancy, 15 September, secured Chambrey, 1 October, and drove on to the German border, taking Sarreguemines and crossing the Saar, 8 December. After crossing the Blies River, 12 December, the Division moved to Metz for rest and rehabilitation, 19 December. The 35th moved to Arlon, Belgium, 25-26 December, and took part in the fighting to relieve Bastogne, throwing off the attacks of four German divisions, taking Villers-laBonne-Eau, 10 January, after a 13-day fight and Lutrebois in a 5-day engagement. On 18 January 1945, the Division returned to Metz to resume its interrupted rest. In late January, the Division was defending the Foret de Domaniale area. Moving to Holland to hold a defensive line along the Roer, 622 February, the Division attacked across the Roer, 23 February, pierced the Siegfried Line, reached the Rhine at Wesel, 10 March, and crossed, 25-26 March. It smashed across the Herne Canal and reached the Ruhr River early in April, when it was ordered to move to the Elbe, 12 April. Making the 295-mile dash in 2 days, the 35th mopped up in the vicinity of Colbitz and Angern, until 26 April 1945, when it moved to Hanover for occupational and mopping-up duty, continuing occupation beyond VE-day. The Division left Southampton, England, 5 September, and arrived in New York City, 10 September 1945.
The proceeding is an exerpt of the Combat Chronicle - 35th Infantry Division 35th Infantry Division
Original Story transcribed from handwritten pages submitted by the subject of this story on 7 August 2001.
Story originally submitted on: 7 August 2001.
Story modified on: 11 June 2002.
September 5, 2002.
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