|As part of
constructing the South Dakota World War II Memorial, we
want to preserve the stories of South Dakotans during
that period. Please share with us a story of your
experience during that time.
Orville served in Germany during World War II.
He was a Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient.
Albert served from 1941 to 1945 and was wounded in
M. Walseth, Sr. and Russell M. Walseth, Jr.
Both Russell M. Walseth, Jr. and Sr. served in the Navy
during World War II. Russell
M. Walseth, Sr. served from 1943 to 1946 as a Lt. Commander.
Russell M. Walseth, Jr. served from July, 1944 to June,
Merle was drafted and served from the fall of 1941 to the
fall of 1945.
Russell served in World War II from February 10, 1941 to
September 9, 1945.
Larry served in the 27th Infantry Division in
the Pacific. He
also served in Tokyo with General Douglas McArthur’s honor
went into the United States Army on on October 22, 1942,
at Fort Snelling, Minnesota.
Fort Snelling he was shipped to Pittsburg, California. Delmer
was shipped overseas to the Hawaiian Islands and was stationed
in Hawaii for two years. After two years he was shipped to the
South Pacific island of New Britain. He spent time there until a
skin disease forced him to be shipped back to the U.S. He spent
time in the hospital in San Francisco and in Palm Springs,
From there he was shipped to Hot Springs, Arkansas. He was
discharged from the U.S. Army in October, 1945.
Arthur Wollmann grew up in a German speaking family near
Freeman. When he
entered the Army in 1942, he hoped he wouldn't be sent to
Europe. He says,
"I really didn't want to go over there because I still have
relatives in Germany and so I really didn't want to go over
there." Instead, he and the other members of the elite Red
Arrow division boarded ship
for the Pacific theater where he'd spend the next three years
Japanese in New Guinea and the Philippines. The division soon
established quite a reputation in combat.
Wollmann says, " Yes, I guess we were too good
because Macarthur used us quite a bit."
In fact, Wollmann's Red Arrows spent over 600 days in
combat..more than any division
in any war. Wollmann
quickly moved up the ranks and became a platoon sergeant.
Fighting in the Philippine province of Layte was brutal. A full
company of 250 went in. "And we lost 75 in about 15
minutes. Wollmann says, they just cut us to pieces with machine
guns.] Layte was bad, and, of course Luzon. Layte,
where our company by this the time they pulled us out, there was
only 15 men left." It's
hard to imagine enduring constant fire from a well entrenched
enemy. It was while trying to take out a machine gun nest that
Wollmann was wounded the first time. He and five others were
advancing up a hill when he heard the popping grenade pins.
"And I hollered,Wollmann says, grenades and we hit the
ground and one of them rolled underneath my buddy."
Wollmann's friend was killed, he escaped with shrapnel in
the arm and returned to the front lines after a couple weeks but
shaken by the experience. "You know if you're a platoon, he
says, you can't show your scared..even though you are." There wasn't time as the fighting was relentless. He and his
men managed to take and hold an important road..killing many of
the enemy. That operation
led to a Bronze Star for heroic action.
Wollmann won the Silver Star for gallantry after
he single handedly took out 21 Japanese soldiers.
Alone, he stumbled upon 40 to 50 Japanese down a hill. He
got behind a rock and opened fire. After his ammo was gone, he
only had one weapon left; an incendiary grenade and I thought
well, here goes and I threw that. When I did, the grass started
burning. They must have thought I had a secret weapon and they
off. When I got
back to my outfit, I just shook. I never smoked, but I smoked 3
cigarettes in about a half hour.
Wollmann's war came to an end in April of 1945. He was
hit 4 times by
machine gun fire including a bullet through the liver and this
one that wound up in his wrist. His damaged kidney was removed
in a field hospital but, by some miracle, he survived. Like so many other combat veterans from World War Two, Art
Wollmann preferred not to talk about his war experiences when it
was all over. But
now, at age 80, it's time.
"Maybe we want to get it off our chests since we're
getting old. We kept it in our minds and want to release some of
the pressure." says Wollmann.
When the state passed a law allowing veterans, who left
high school for the war, to receive a diploma, Wollmann decided
to take advantage of it and last month joined with the
graduating class of Freeman. After his war record was read and
his name called, their was applause and a standing ovation. A
moment that meant more than his many medals.
"There were a few tears, says Wollmann, and I was up
there standing just thinking to myself how lucky I am. I knew I
must be appreciated as a veteran."
Eye on Keloland, I'm Doug Lund. 6/8/2001
James served in the Air Force from April 8, 1942 to May
V. Keck, Sr.
James served in the Army as part of the 10th
Donald served in the Army Air Corps in the Pacific
Theater from 1941 to 1945.
John served in the Army Air Corps from 1941 to October
10, 1945. He served
in the European Theater for four years.
Bernard Kampa served in the Army Air Force and was killed
Eugene served in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
Wilbert was killed in action in Germany in 1944.
was killed in action at Iwo Jima during World War
Robert died in Okinawa on April 29, 1945.
William served in the Navy in the Pacific Theater aboard
the USS Kingman.
John was a surgeon who served in the Navy in the South
Pacific until he received a medical discharge due to a heart
problem. He received the rank of Lieutenant Commander.
Kenneth served over four years in the Signal Corps in the
Philip was a Staff Sergeant with the 77th
Division of the 307 Infantry.
It was an Anti-Tank Company.
Vern served in the Pacific Theatre from October, 1942 to
Zane entered the Army in 1944 as a Private and a tank
driver. He saw
combat duty in Italy. He
was promoted ot a First Sergeant in 1946 and as a Military
Police Corps Lieutenant in November, 1946 in Rome, Italy.
He retired as a Colonel in the US Military Police after
31 years of service.
enlisted in the Navy in either Mitchell or Parkston. He was from Dimock.
served in the Air Corps and Marines in the Pacific.
served in the Navy(Pacific).
served in the Army(Pacific).
served in the Navy as a medical corpsman assigned to a Marine
enlisted in the Marines in the Pacific.
joined the U.S. Navy on September 17, 1942 at San Diego Naval
Training Station, further training schools at Texas A&M
College Station Texas, Memphis Tennesee, Yellow Water and
Jacksonville Florida. I went overseas as a Aviation Radioman Gunner 3rd
class petty officer from Goat Island receiving station between
Oakland and San Francisco aboard the Mormactern, of th McCormack
line of San Francisco in September of 1943 after spending
fifteen days in the brig for being over liberty, long story.
The ship was greatly overloaded with aviation gas,
dynamite and amphibious landing tanks and nearly broke up in a
storm at sea. I
kissed the ground at Nomeau, New Caladonia, then was sent north
and west through four of the Islands of the Solomon group,
Russell Island, Guadalcanal and Munda.
While at Munda I received word that my father had
committed suicide and as a result I was given a discharge to go
home and help my mother with the farm.
I was intercepted at Alameda and was sent to Salton Sea
naval station for a brief time, then on to Fallon Navel Air
Station where I was attached to CASU 54 for administrative
purposes but spent the rest of my time in service with Fathead
detachment #2. I will never know why I was discharged other than I cursed an
officer at Alameda for saying that he had lost my orders for
again maybe they had sent so many radioment with my skills
overseas that they thought they needed me.
Thanks to Lt. James Stoner, a former farmer from South
Dakota, I was given leave in the spring and fall for planting
and harvesting. The
part of my service life experience was that I met my future
wife, Frances at Fallon. I
was discharged at Wold Chamberlain Field in Minneapolis
Minnesota, November 9, 1945 on France’s birthday.
served in the U.S. Air Force from 1940 to 1942. Clarence was killed while flying the hump in China as the
pilot of a bomber. He
along with Warren Olien were some of the first casualties from
served in the U.S. Army from 1941to 1945 in Europe. Milo came home so in shock that he could never talk about his
experiences, if he did try he would breakdown crying. Milo died to soon, leaving a wife and at least three sons,
those war years took a great toll of his health.
served in the U.S. Army in 1940 to 1945 in Africa, Italy and
Germany in a Hospital Corp. where they picked up the sick and
wounded from the battle field.
Herman never talked must about his active duty
worked as a mechanic and barber in Lemmon
until he retired. He
died of cancer in November 2000.
served in the U.S. Navy in 1941.
He died as part of crew of a PBY of the coast of
California while on sub patrol.
served as a pilot in WW II.
enlisted into the U.S. Army June 25, 1941, at Fort Crook,
Nebraska. He was
sent to Camp Callan, San Diego, CA, for three months basic training.
He was in the first group drafted from Moody County.
to Dutch Harbor, AL, for one and half years.
All strategic places on Ft. Mears were attacked by
Japanese bombers, fighter planes, and Zeroes.
Arlo was not up on Mt. Ballyhoo with the artillery guns
at the time, but on the beach
on a special project.
Men dug into fox holes and later returned to Ballyhoo to
sleep in their beds, but the others who stayed there slept out
in the hills scared to death.
The United States only had slow moving PBY’s and Navy
AT6 planes then.
another year and half, he and his group occupied several of the
Aleutian islands, the last one being Attu where the Japanese
were finally driven from the area.
He served in the 250th Coast Artillery.
October 1945 he was sent to Camp Hood, Texas, and furloughed;
then was placed in Co. A, 558th Engineers Heavy
Pontoon Bn, Camp Swift, Texas, sent to the Dalles, Oregon, to
build pontoon bridges on the Columbia River and make a training
film so military personnel in Germany could reassemble for
crossing the Rhine River in Germany because all the bridges had
been blown up.
II was over in Germany by them, so Arlo went back to Camp Swift
and was furloughed. He
was separated from the U.S. Army on June 17, 1945, at Fort
Snelling, St. Paul, Minnesota.
received the Asiatic-Pacific Theater Service Medal, American
Defense Service Medal with star, Five overseas service bars,
Good Conduct Medal.
interesting sidelight of this story is that, while he was in
Camp Hood, his younger brother Roay was too; and they were
priviliged to eat Christmas Day dinner together.
Roy was soon on his way to Pacific theater to fight the
Japanese where he was wounded in Okinawa.
Steinbis Davis, R.N.
served from February 1944 to February 1946 in the Army Nurse
Corps, 57th Field Hospital, providing medical support
to the casualties in the European Theater of Operations,
including the Central Europe Campaign, Battle of the Bulge,
Colmar Pocket, Rhineland Campaign, and prisioner-of-war camps.
The hospital received the Meritorious Unit Citation for
its support of combat wounded during the period of the Battle of
is a charter member of the Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge,
has held organizational and executive positions in that
organization, and is presently it Corresponding Secretary.
She is the past president of the Battle of the Bulge
Foundation and now serves as its Executive Officer, providing
administrative assistance in collecting and preserving the
history of the Battle of the Bulge and the development and
dedication of the Battle of the Bulge Memorial Conference Room
at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland.
She has served in American Red Cross leadership
assignments and is the National Volunteer Consultant for Armed
Forces Emergency Services, Director of the Medical Volunteers
Program, and is National Chairman of the 50th
Anniversary of the Korean War Commemoration Committee.
Dorothy Was the first woman to hold the position as
Commander of the General George S. Meade Maryland Chapter of the
Military Order of the World Wars.
Under her tenure, the chapter won the prestigious Memphis
the honors Dorothy has received is the Edith Cavell Nurses Medal
from the Belgian Red Cross for her participation in the care of
the wounded of the Battle of the Bulge.
She was also selected as an Honorary Fellow and Curator
by the U.S. Army Military History Institute, has twice been
presented with the Clara Barton Hornors Award by the American
Red Cross for Meritorious Volunteer Leadership, and was recently
awarded the Patrick Henry Gold Medallion for Patriotic
Achievement by the National Commander, Military Order of the
World Wars. In 1995, HRH King Albert II of Belgium awarded to her the
decree of the KNIGHT OF THE ORDER OF THE CROWN for her service
in the Battle of the Bulge, December 19, 1944 – January 25,
1945. In 2001 the
American Red Cross Honored Dorothy by naming a nurse’s award
for her, to be known as the “Dorothy Davis Spirit Of Nursing
Award” to be presented to a Red Cross Nurse each year.
was married to the late Colonel William V. Davis and accompanied
him on assignments in the United States as well as Japan,
France, and Germany. She
has three daughters and two granddaughters, and lives in
57th Field hospital began operating with combat units
on November 21, 1944, supporting various Infantry Divisions. One of the greatest of moves, made necessary by the rapid
advances of the divisions supported.
Many difficulties were experienced, especially the short
time alloted for the movement, the lack of adequate
transportation, the necessity of leaving holding units to care
for nontransportable patients and the distances from one point
of operation to the next. All
moves were completed under strict blackout conditions, and in
practically every instance, the unit moved, set up for
operation, and commenced the admission of patients within a
maximum period of twenty-four hours.
Buildings utilized during these operations were generally
full of debris and refuse, caused by heavy shelling and former
occupation by combat units; because of the close proximity to
the front lines, it was necessary to maintain complete blackout,
requiring considerable ingenuity in preparing the building for
the operation of the hospital.
This phase occurred during the winter months, when
constant rain and snow hampered operations.
The total number of moves accomplished by this unit from
November 21, 1944 to February 22, 1945 was twenty eight.
second phase of the 57th
Field Hospital’s operation with the Seventh Army was
air evacuation of combat wounded and recovered Allied Military
Personnel. This was
under the supervision and control of the Operations Section,
Surgeon’s Office, Seventh Army.
During the period of March 27, 1945 to May 21, 1945 units
of this organization operated as far East as Munich and
evacuated a total of 12, 864 patients.
unit achieved and maintained a high standard of discipline and
military courtesy. As
nearly as possible under field conditions, a neat, clean and
soldierly appearance of all personnel was maintained through
efficient use of the organizations shower unit, washing
machines, and continued use of the
unit tailor and barbers.
Appearance of installations and equipment brought
favorable comment from supported units and inspecting officers.
Serviceablility of equipment was assured by daily
Davis spent 19 months in a field hospital caring for those
wounded in World War II. Two
weeks ago , she returned to Europe for a much more joyous reason
to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the end of the
Davis, junior vice commander of the Fort George G. Meade Chapter
of the Military Order of World Wars, was one of seven veterans
from around the country selected to join the U.S. Secretary of
the Army in London;
Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic; and Moscow.
Moscow, the delegation met with President Clinton and
accompanied him to Red Square where he laid a wreath at the tomb
of the Unknown Soldier.
in Europe on the golden anniversary of Victory in Europe Day,
May 8th, was “just a marvelous experience,” said
Ms. Davis, who served two years with the Army Nurse Corps, 57th
seven veterans selected to participate in the European
commemorations represented all branches of the service including
the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Army Air Corps, Coast Guard and
Army Nurse Corps.
whirlwind European tour started May 5 with a flight from Andrews
Air Force Base on the Secretary of the Army’s plane.
Among the activities in which the group participated were
a ceremony at the Cambridge American Cemetary, which was
presided over by Vice President Al Gore; an “unforgettable
service” at St. Paul’s Cathedral; a meeting with Czech
Republic President Vaclav Havel; two parades; several
receptions; and a visit to a new war museum that recently opened
in Moscow, Ms. Davis said.
“Everything was really well-organized down to the
minute,” she added.
is beautiful, and travelers enjoyed walking through the capital
city and over a bridge in the evening while the buildings were
lit up, Ms. Davis said. Highlights
of the visit to Prague included signing autographs in a square
and watching a parade from a balcony of the National Theater
there, she said.
the delegation went, they had an opportunity to meet with
veterans of that country. The
foreign veterans were cordial and many had fond memories of
meeting Americans during the war, the former Army nurse said.
“Soldiers are soldiers no matter what nationality,”
Rockville resident received a particularly war welcome when
translators told the foreign veterans that she had been a nurse. “So many were injured and needed nursing care.
When they learned I had been a nurse, they’d take my
hand and kiss it,” she said.
the Army Nurse Corps, Ms. Davis was one of the 15 nurses
assigned to the 57th Field Hospital.
The hospital was close to the front lines and its staff
cared for the msot seriously wounded soldiers who could not
handle a trip to a hospital further away from the fighting.
the hospital was so close to the front lines, the staff
frequently heard artillery and were bombed at times, Ms. Davis
said. The facility also moved frequenlty, about every four or five
days to keep up with the troops.
V-E Day itself, Ms. Davis recalled she was outside Dachau,
Germany, where prisoners of the Nazi concentration camp were
evacuated by air.
from South Dakota, Ms. Davis was recruited for military service
by the Red Cross shortly after she graduated from the University
of Minnesota’s School of Nursing and served in the Army Nurse
Corps for two years.
Ms. Davis is the National Volunteer Consultant for Armed Forces
Emergency Services for the American Red Cross.
She is also the executive officer of the Battle of the
Bulge Historical Foundation, providing administrative assistance
in collecting and preserving the history of the battle and
developing a memorial conference room at Fort George G. Meade.
on her service, she was selected for the trip by Secretary of
the Army Togo D. West Jr. upon the recommendation of Lt. Gen.
Claude M. Kicklighter, executive director of the Department of
Defense 50th Anniversary of World War II
for the sick and wounded during the hostilities in the ETO
during 1944-1945 proved to be a demanding and exhausting task,
and frequently placed the hospitals and staff in close proximity
of enemy fire. There were not only the wounded from the outgoing battle
situations, but also casualties from trench foot, frostbite, and
other cold-related injuries caused by the intense cold and snow.
During only 40 days of the Battle of the Bulge, there
were 81,000 casualties, including 19,000 killed.
share with you some of the experiences of the 57th Field
Hospital, in which I served as an Army Nurse. In preparing
this paper, I studied the histories of other hospitals in the
ETO. Several similar experiences were noted:
Everyone complained about the never-ending mud—be it in
France, Belgium, or Luxembourg. Also mentioned in each
history was the firm belief that the extensive training received
in the States enabled the units to meet their responsibilities
in the most
adverse and grueling of conditions.
Third, the sense of camaraderie and family that developed
within the units provided emotional and physical support to the
hospital personnel tasked with the responsibility of caring for
the battlefield casualties.
some of you may know, the Field Hospitals were small mobile
units that included 13 physicians, 3 dental officers, 5 medical
administrative officers, 18 nurses, 183 enlisted men, a
chaplain, and 2 Red Cross workers.
This number was then divided into a headquarters and
three smaller units. These
units were known as platoons or detachments.
Each unit was equipped to serve as a separate and
complete hospital. Most
of the patients were those who were too severely wounded to
withstand an ambulance ride further to the rear.
Small teams of specialized surgeons, nurses, and enlisted
technicians would be assigned to the units to provide the
surgical skills needed.
57th Field Hospital was activated in February 1944 at
Camp Crowder, Missouri, and by the end of May it was fully
staffed, including the 18 nurses—I was a brand new Second
Lieutenant who found it a great adventure!
Many of the members of the 57th were from the
Midwest, giving us some common roots, such as having gone
through the Great Depression and the dust storms of the ‘30s. Must of the strength came from the experienced leadership of
the hospital staff. The
Commanding Officer was a physician from Iowa and had served as a
medical officer in the CCC Camps, and the Chief Nurse had held a
responsible health care position with telephone company in
Omaha, Nebraska. The
Adjutant was from Illinois and had been in the Army since
1938—having survived the bombing of Pearl Harbor, he therefore
had experiences in combat situations.
(And, as a personal note, after the war he became my
husband and we had 30 adventuresome years together in the Army.)
The SGT/Major of the Hospital had served as an 18 year
old doughboy in France in World War I, had much wisdom, a great
sense of humor, and had the distinction at age 44 to be the
oldest member of the hospital.
After the war he wrote the history of the 57th
Field Hospital from the morning reports and other records.
July 24, 1944, the hospital left the USA for Scotland.
We staffed a holding hospital at the airport in Prestwick,
Scotland. Many of
the patients were those who had been wounded during the invasion
of France and were now, at last, being air evacuated back to the
States or to England for further treatment.
Our task was to provide needed medical and surgical care
to these patients who were waiting to be evacuated.
Depending on the weather and the availability of
airplanes, their stay at the tent hospital would be from 6 to 72
hours. During the
period of this assignment, August 12 to September 15, we cared
for 5,934 patients. Another
duty of the hospital at that time was to operate a blood bank.
This blood bank received blood
coming from the United States by air and would reship it
by air to the Continent. During
the war, the American Red Cross collected, from volunteer
donors, 13.4 million pints of blood to be shipped to the
military services all over the world.
the completion of the assignment in Prestwick, the hospital was
sent to a staging area in England, where equipment and supplies
for service on the Continent were received.
On October 5, 1944, we began the trip across the English
Channel in an LCI in what the Frenchmen described as the worst
storm of the century. Three
day later, on October 8, with all of us horribly seasick, we
were finally able to land at a broken down dock at Isigny,
57th first assignment on the Continent was in support
of U.S. Seventh Army Armored and Infantry Divisions in the vicinity of Baccarat, France.
We set up a hospital in a badly shelled building that was
within sight and sound of gunfire and fighting aircraft
overhead. From that time, October 1944, until we departed French soil
for Darmstadt, Germany, on April 1, 1945, the 57th
operated continuously as three separate units, frequently within
close proximity of enemy fire, as we crisscrossed the icy and
snowy Voges mountains and Alsace area.
The hopital units moved 40 times within that period.
Usually, these moves took place during the night in
blackout conditions so that the roads would be available for use
by the tanks, infantry, and the Red Ball Express during the day.
Our patients were those who were critically wounded and
needed extensive nursing care.
time was also spent in moving.
Patients had to be prepared for arduous travel conditions
to a hospital in the rear, equipment packed and loaded, and then
preparations made for the journey to a new location.
If possible, a schoolhouse or a large building would be
selected for the hospital by Army headquarters.
These sites had served for either German or Amercian
troop billets and were often in deplorable conditions, so energy
had to be spent just cleaning the area so that patients could be
care for. Trying to
heat the patient care areas during the bitter cold was always a
major challenge. Frequently,
patients on litters would be waiting when we arrived at a new
location, so the nurses and doctors were busy preparing patients
for surgery (which included cutting off all of their clothing to
better examine them for injuries) while enlisted men were
setting up the generator for electricity and assembling an x-ray
unit, operating rooms, and post-op ward areas.
we were not assigned to the specific Battle of the Bulge Area,
we were on the “French rim” of it and many of the wounded
from that battle were cared for in the 57th Field
these winter months, the 57th detachments were
assigned to the 3rd, 45th, 75th,
100th, and 103rd Infantry Divisions, the
12th and 14th Armored Divisions, and the 2nd
French Armored Division. However,
we cared for any military wounded in the area (Some wer 87th
Gls. Ed.). In early January 1945, Detachment “B” moved to
Saurrebourg, France, where we were immediately overwhelmed with
the critically wounded. Later,
our Commanding Officer informed us that, at that time, our small
detachment had been supporting 24 battalions of troops!
hospital units were bombed several times in January 1945, during
the Battle of the Bulge, and on several occasions units were in
grave danger overrun by the Germans.
Rapid retreats were necessary, requiring us to hasitly
prepare the wounded for travel.
Adequate transportation in these situations was always a
several occasions, we moved into a building that was still being
used by a German Army Hospital.
The German medical staff were allowed to care for their
wounded and evacuate their patients as quickly as possible.
the Battle of the Bulge, the 57th was assigned to the
75th Infantry Division to provide medical support for
its activity in the Colmar
Pocket in France.
early March, the entire 57th Field Hospital was
assigned to Toul, France, to care for 355 Allied national
patients, mostly Russian, along with a few Yugoslavian, Serbian,
and Polish nationals who had been liberated from the Germans six
weeks earlier. These
few were the remainder of 20,000 prison laborers who had been
forced by the Germans to work in the lime mines near Metz,
suffered from tuberculosis, osteomyelitis, mine injuries, and
all sorts of nutritional diseases.
Our task was to improve their health status sufficiently
so as to make it possible for them to withstand the trip back to
hospital and our living quarters were in the old French Caserne
Known as the Quartier Fabvier.
Also quartered in this Caserne were Navy and Engineer
personnel enroute to the Rhine to Assist the spearheads of the
Third Army across the Rhine River.
When the 57th was preparing to move to a new
assignment, the Russian staff ( a warrant officer and a few
enlisted men) decided to throw a party for us in appreciation
for the care they had been given.
They went through the town of Toul and procured chickens,
eggs, and fresh food and did, indeed, make a feast for us,
complete with a three-piece “band” to play dance music!
March 27, 1945, we began the move from Toul through Saarbruken
and on into Germany. The
devastation and destruction, particularly of German vehicles and
implements of war, were such as could scarcely be imagined.
Most of the vehicles were abandoned due to mechanical
difficulties from warfare use or from lack of available fuel.
The roads and mountainsides, in many places, were
littered continuously for miles with these evidences of
destruction and of headlong flight.
The crumbled ruins of the cities of Ludwigsshafen and
Mannheim were brought particularly to our attention, since it
was at this point that we made all our crossing of the Rhine
River on the bridges made by General Patton’s Third Army
inside Germany, we were stationed at a number of airstrips to
again serve as air holding hospitals as the wounded were air
evacuated back to the States as soon as they were physically
able. At one point,
we were stationed only a few miles from Dashau Concentration
Camp when it was liberated.
Even from a few miles away, the stench was overwhelming.
One of our doctors, who was Jewish, and several other
doctors went to the camp. They
found a woman who was in labor and brought her back to the 57th
to have the baby. That
was a unique experience for us!
On Easter Sunday of 1945, we received some of the first
American POWs to be freed.
The Commanding General who had greeted them told them
they would have clean sheets, all the food they could eat, and
nurses for Easter. I
don’t know where we obtained the sheets (we had been using
only G.I. blankets), but we stayed up part of the night getting
sheets on the cots. The
cooks were up early and by the time the former POWs arrived, we
were ready to give them a great welcome.
They were so very thin and malnourished.
They gorged themselves on the pancakes and syrup prepared
by the cooks, would go outside the tent and throw up, and then
line up in the chow line again for more pancakes!
Many of the patients commented that the American Red
Cross POW food packages had helped them survive their
the war, 27 million food packages were assembled by volunteers
and shipped by the American Red Cross to the International Red
Cross Storage centers in Geneva, Switzerland, for disbursement
to U.S. and Allied prisoners of war.
entire hospital continued with the air evacuation assignment
until early June, and then moved to Schloss Horneg, and old
castle/sanitarium on the banks of the beautiful Neckar River in
Gundelsheim, Germany, where it staffed a Station Hospital for
the remainder of 1945. In
October 1945, the hospital was awarded the Meritorious Service
Unit Plaque for superior performance of duty in the
accomplishment of exceptionally difficult tasks from 21 November
1944 to 22 February 1945 in France, “by command of Leiutenant
mid-December 1945, most of the original staff and nurses of the
57th Field Hospital were returned to the
States—with memories and friendships that would last a