August 24, 1945
Near Fritzlar, Germany
Gee, five days has passed now since last writing, but as seems to have been the usual course of events here everything has changed and been re-changed so rapidly that no one knows just what is the score, or if there is a score in the first place. If that first sentence confuses you adequately, then you are about ready to be entered into our classification.
What has happened since then that is tangible and not just pure mixed up orders, rumors, etc.? Well, to begin with, I remember telling you that our area was getting somewhat on the muddy side. Well, I was Surgical O.D. one nite, just which nite that was now I do not remember, but anyway it rained considerably during the nite. Got in a couple of minor cases and then a doubtful appendicitis. Ed Blasdel and I decided that we had to operate on the kid to make sure, because he had plenty of the signs, but one or two peculiar things in his story and physical exam that made us doubt that he actually had it. But we have seen so many screwy cases turn out to have red hot appendixes that we finally opened this boy up shortly after midnite. I did it. He didn’t have appendicitis, but had quite an ileitis.
Well, the following A.M. things looked pretty much the same in the whole area, tho’ there was evidence of a little more mud than there had been. But……at about 1 P.M., we noticed that there was quite a collection of water near the Officers’ Mess tent and it seemed to be wending its way over towards the Pharmacy and Lab tent. Sure enough, it got over there rather rapidly and they had to move the latter tent out completely onto higher ground. What had happened, we soon found out, was that the water had backed up behind a dam in the river alongside of us and it was seeping right up in the soil under us — not coming direct from the river, but coming up in the low spots of our area. (Of course, no one with any sense would have ever selected such an area in the first place, because of it being so low and because the natives warned us repeatedly that the place would be under three feet of water in the winter, as it always had been in the past.)
The C.O. (still Maj. Mello) finally realized that we were in for it, and after doing a lot of frantic phoning, got permission to evacuate our patients to the 44th Evac. and 96th Evac. and to close shop and get out of our area as fast as we could. Well, by the time this sage order came down it was 4:30 P.M., and we had to write up all the charts for evacuation and get the patients ready to move. By this time, too, the water had risen to a startling level. All of the wards had at least six inches of water on their floor, headquarters had about the same amount, and the men’s area was nicely flooded — so that most of them moved up into the two driest ward tents, into Receiving, etc. Surgery was nicely inundated. At that point the officers’ and nurses’ areas were safe and sound.
We got all but 15 of the patients out of the hospital and on the way to the other two hospitals by 9 P.M. that nite. Our bus saved the day for some of the patients for, instead of transporting all the walking patients in the trucks, we were able to take 32 of them in the bus. Clint Green drove over and tho’ Hangar was with us, he was too excited to drive back, so I dood it.
We took the load that went over to the 44th Evac, so we could see some of our old friends – the 44th being made up of the old 93rd gang. When we dumped the patients there, Green and I went in and found that only a few of the old officers were left, some of the nurses were there, but Helen Nelson had left 2 days before to go home. This was quite a surprise to us for Jack had spoken to Helen on the phone just a few days before.
You ask, why was Hangar so excited that he couldn’t drive? Well, just before we took off with the patients, Schmitty had arrived back from the 7th Army Hdq. with the orders for the 105 Enlisted Men to report to the Staging Area in Thionville on the 23rd of August and Hangar, as well as Green and beaucoup others, were on that list – all the 99 pointers and above.
Loads of love,
Watch for more of this letter
August 25, 1945