Near Bourg [Bourg-en Bresse] we could see the western-most mountains of the Alps – impressive, rugged and beautiful. The architecture, even of the barns, took on an alpine appearance with carved, thatched roofs and rafters.
We skirted Lyon and passed through Besancon and finally in the black of night, arrived at our new hospital site near the little town of Rioz, then about 10-15 miles behind the front. Once again in our leapfrog system, we were the farthest advanced Evacuation Hospital.
Before long the casualties began pouring in and we soon found ourselves with a shock tent filled to the brim with patients awaiting surgery. Three to four surgical teams were on at a time, working for 12 to 15 hours, and relieved by a fresh group of three more, so that the operating tent was a continual center of activity. This rush continued uninterrupted for about 4 days and nights, during which time some 250 patients underwent operation.
The casualties came to us much earlier following their injury than they had in Carpentras, due chiefly to the fact that we were closer to the front, and also that most casualties were our own, who were picked up almost immediately after their injury. As a result of this early treatment of the wounded, the wounds looked relatively clean on initial examination.
Watch for René’s next letter on
September 21, 1944