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WWII 32nd Station Hospital | WWII Africa to Caserta Italy | Willard O. Havemeier WWII
MY ON-SITE MEDICAL EDUCATION



MY ON-SITE MEDICAL EDUCATION

Although I was assigned to a army medical unit as a clerk/typist it became necessary for me to become very familiar with medical terms. We had to type up the final reports on all disposition documents for the patients whom we treated. We had a medical dictionary beside our typewriters to check the correct spelling of all the unfamiliar terms. It did not take long for most of us to know the correct name of almost every part of the human body. I could name all the bones and many of the main blood vessels in the body and knew how to spell their names while on this duty.

I attended autopsies under the direction of captain Ridden Britt. He was a surgeon from an old southern town and always bragged about how a good mint julep was his favorite drink. Even though he was an officer and I was an enlisted man, we were friends. I would take notes while various parts of the body were examined and then type the notes up for the final report for our registrar's office.

COMBAT VETERANS' PROBLEMS WITH FRATERNIZATION

Our troops were not well liked in many of the countries we occupied during WWII. The saying was " those Americans are over paid, over sexed, and they are over here". There was a lot of truth in this statement.  We were paid more than any other foreign troops.   Almost all military personnel received roughly ten weeks basic training in places where there were few available females. After completion of basic these men would usually go overseas into combat. The isolation of the men was essential to keep knowledge of troop movements from the enemy. We were quarantined from the moment we got our overseas orders, which meant no visitors, phone calls, letters, or passes outside the military complex. Our 32nd Station Hospital was alerted at Fort Benning, Georgia, to "ship out" overseas.  Immediately we were, restricted to quarters.  When we got on the train to New York we had to keep the shades pulled down so onlookers would not see that a troop train was passing. From then on, until we got to North Africa, five weeks later, we saw no females, or for that matter heard women's voices.  After being "cooped up" in a smelly troop ship for two weeks we finally landed in Oran, Algeria, where we got a first look at some of the nurses. I never was so pleased just to hear a female voice. It was like music. We were very fortunate to have females in our unit.

 That was not the case for most units. For example, the invasion of North Africa in November, 1942, required a lot of combat troops. Most of these men had a longer period of basic training than I did, and when they landed they immediately were shipped to the Tunisian front where they were in combat until May. Then they were retrained in the rear areas of Algeria for further combat in Sicily and Italy. That is when "all hell broke loose" with the local French women. After all this time living and fighting with only male company, I do not think anyone can blame the boys for being "over sexed".

PSYCHIATRIC SERVICES

Another problem with our combat troops resulted from very rough duty in Tunisia. Our hospital received many patients with "battle fatigue" and when they were released, some were difficult to handle. Many went overboard drinking all types of wine, liquor, and beer.  Some of these men came back to us as psychiatric patients.  Some of the more aggressive had to be physically restrained with straight jackets.  Severe cases were given "the cold treatment". That involved wrapping them from head to toe in bed sheets and immersing them in a bath tub filled with ice and water. In those days there were few medications we could use to calm the patients down.  

 

 

 

 
 
 



 


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WWII 32nd Station Hospital | WWII Africa to Caserta Italy | Willard O. Havemeier WWII
WWII 32nd Station Hospital | WWII Africa to Caserta Italy | Willard O. Havemeier WWII

 

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