July 13, 1945
No. 41 (continued)
Yesterday afternoon I spent out hunting for buildings. Not very successful. Came home at 9:30P.M. to find a party in full swing – so celebrated my birthday that way. Pretty good party at that. [July 12, 1945 was René’s 30th birthday.]
Of course all sorts of rumors have been rampant of late – for instance:
1) The gang that went home: Greene, Gerbode, etc. — after their leaves are over, are going to be assigned to the Veterans’ Administration. Wouldn’t surprise us a bit if true.
2) The 59th as such is scheduled to hit the staging area in a couple of weeks and be home in September and then re-outfit for the C.B.I. [China, Burma, Indonesia Theater] This seems to be pretty much the straight stuff, but we still don’t know for sure.
There is one good sign, however, and that is that tho’ we are here in a Class 4 outfit (i.e. to be eventually disbanded), they are still taking some of our men out to go home, i.e. enlisted men – Dinsmore, Steinnes, and Davidson leave in a few days, apparently at the same time as a big gang from the 3rd Division takes off for home. So, you’ll be seeing that blue and white patch around S.F. soon, no doubt, for a lot of those boys are California kids.
We’re pretty short-handed here, what with men away at school, and only a small number of nurses coming up here, etc. And, by golly, we suddenly got a big load dumped onto us — we’re servicing five different divisions for some reason or other. Besides the 3rd, we’ve got the 78th, 5th Armored, 69th and one other. As a result we’ve had beaucoup to do. The boys still insist on playing with guns they know nothing about, and there isn’t a day goes by but more than one accidental shooting comes in. Luckily none have been too serious, though we have had chest and belly wounds among them.
For a while I tho’t I was going to be Supply Officer, since none of our doctors know anything about Supply, but since they are also short of doctors they first had me down as another anesthetist. Then I was about to decide that I would rather be Supply Officer than do just anesthesia. I spoke to the Chief of Surgery and found that the anesthetist gets to take Surgical O.D., in turn with the others, and consequently gets to do some surgical work. Well, anyway, he knew my sentiments regarding anesthesia and that very same nite when the existing surgical wards got filled and they had to open up another one, he decided that I should take that ward and not do any anesthesia at all. Sooo, actually, for once I got a break.
The way things are here now, Jobe is Supply officer, with Gough (a 108th man) as Ass’t Supply Officer, Chatley as Detachment CO and Motor Pool Officer, Kiernan as Registrar, Gough as PX and Special Services Officer, Dunlap as Adjunct and Bishop (when and if he arrives) as Exec. Bish has been bothered by a lousy fungus infection of his feet, and in the last two years they have gotten worse and nothing has helped him – including x-ray. So he figured this was a good time to try to get something done, so he has gone to one of the General Hospitals in Paris to see what can be done. I think, too, he is trying to fineegle to get home – he has 105 points and might stand a fair chance.
The Medical Service consists of Col. Burlinghof as Chief, Charlie Stone as Ass’t Chief, and Pete Joseph and Bill Newsom as other ward officers. Blasdel is Receiving Officer, Knox Johnson x-ray Officer, and the surgical ward officers are Westdahl, Capt. Sherman (108th man) and myself. The majors don’t have wards, but Lou Huff is Ass’t Chief of Service and the 4 majors rotate being on call for the day to make decisions and to do major cases.
It’s a screwy system, but gradually the 59th innovations are getting put over, particularly in the wards where our boys arranged things the 59th way and get things done – training their nurses in the right way, etc. It’s sort of a ticklish situation all around, but is working out better daily. Our majors, at least, have been pitching in and helping in Receiving and on the wards, while Maj. McKee sits around and hasn’t done anything as far as any of us can tell.
On the books, this outfit has done a lot of work, but then one finds out that a great deal of the time they had Auxilliary Surgical teams attached, even had as many as 5 teams attached for a considerable period of time. When one hears more about them, one realizes why they had to have these teams. It seems that there were only Lt. Col Weeks, Maj. McKee and one other man capable of doing any real major surgery – i.e. more than simple debridements. Those three were the only ones who could go into a belly or a chest – compare that to our list of capable General Surgeons – Mattie, Greene, Cohn, Cressman, Huff, Armanini, Blasdel, Westdahl, Gerbode, Schwartz and Smart. Klein and even Carroll Russell could be put in that group. In fact, Carroll is and has been for weeks, down at the 54th Field Hosp. on detached service until they get someone in who is a surgeon. He has been doing all sorts of things there, for what they have as a surgeon is an ENT man. Klein is at the 11th Field and should be returning to us here soon.
Anyway, as I said, I did get a break — got to do an appendectomy, doing it with Lou Huff assisting me, a couple of nights ago, and today I helped Ralph do a chest and did several smaller cases besides. Keeping mighty busy, but enjoying it — though we all bitch about the set-up and the whole deal in general.
Loads of love,
Watch for more of this letter
July 14, 1945