Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Following the 10th Armored (23): March Ends

This is part of a series following my father's 10th Armored Division in World War II seventy years ago. He was a medic with the 80th Medical Battalion assigned to the 10th Armored, part of Patton’s Third Army.

After Action Report
80th Medical Battalion
10th Armored Division
1 March - 31 March 1945

There were 32 officers and 367 enlisted men. During the month none of the battalion was killed and three were wounded while one was reported missing. Thirty-five reinforcements were assigned.

At all three clearing stations of the battalion in March 1945 there were:

2741 admissions
355 were returned to duty
23 died in the stations
2381 were transferred and
5 remained in station on 31 March

These numbers were significantly higher than February. Since we don't have After Action Reports for December and January, the months of the Battle of the Bulge, we can't compare to that period, but the high activity in March including the final capture of Trier, clearing the Wittlich corridor and the Race to the Rhine caused significant more activity on certain days. Overall, they had over 1300 admissions from 1 March to 9 March (145/day)and 357 on 21 - 22 March. These 11 days accounted for more than 60% of all admissions for the month.

Than an Army Ambulance Company be attached to each Armored Division to insure constant, continuous and efficient third echelon evacuation at all times. An Armored Division such as this one can expect to be transferred between Corps of an Army and between Armies such as we have been during the past six months. Each such transfer has resulted in a confused third echelon evacuation system for several days after the transfer.

Fredrick D. Loomis
Captain, MAC.,
Battalion S-3

This recommendation, of course, was based on the several changes between the Third and Seventh Armies by the 10th Armored Division as well as working with other corps within the Armies. That old problem of the "fog of war" is one that is hard to overcome. In the heat of action and quickly changing situations, the ability to be efficient is obviously seriously impacted.

For me, as a lifelong civilian, that is part of what we seldom see in the movies or on TV. I keep referring back to last year's excellent WW 2 Movie, Fury, which was set in these late months of World War II with an Armored Division like the Tigers. The other great WW 2 movies such as Saving Private Ryan, The Longest Day, The Guns of Navarone and Clint Eastwood's two-parter, Flags of Our Fathers and Letters From Iwo Jima also do a very good job of showing the agony and horrors of war. But with my Dad's involvement with the 10th Armored, Fury had an immediate reality for these days for me.

While April would have its share of fighting, as we will see, on 31 March 1945 there were only 45 days left on the official days of World War II. There were six-months behind them and now, just a little less than six-months left until the Tigers would return home. But that is, as I have said before, our hindsight. I would assume the daily grind of war, the wear and tear of facing casualties, attacks and counter-attacks along with the uncertainties of what was going on beyond them had exacted a toll.

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