April 15, 1943 – 75 years ago in a WW2 M.A.S.H. Unit

April 15, 1943
No. 20

Casablanca, Morocco

Dear Folksies,

I finished No. 19 yesterday, so there isn’t anything of note to add, but I will devote this whole epistle to a couple of things made up by Roy Cohn – a parody to “Pass the Ammunition” and a poem he wrote for George Davis’ promotion party.

PRAISE THE LORD, WE’LL SHOOT THE DIETICIAN

Praise the Lord, we’ll form a coalition
Before we all die of malnutrition.
Praise the Lord, just change the food you’re dishin’

Praise the Lord, and call the ward physician
Praise the Lord, we’re all in bad condition
Praise the Lord, we’re dying by attrition
‘Cause the chow’s a mess.

Oh the mess Major’s beat it
We oughta make him eat it.
For a sonuva, sonuva CENSORED is he.

Praise the Lord, we’ll make the frank admission,
That we’d like to get the ammunition
Then, by God, we’d shoot the dietician
And we’d all pull through.

Poem by Roy Cohn for George Davis’ Promotion Party

The 59th has wit to perceive
A rather acute contradiction
Between facts it is bound to believe
And the Army’s elegant fiction.

On Monday we place with Supply,
An order for something we’re needing.
By Tuesday the hue and the cry
Has died, (‘course the patient’s still bleeding).

On Wednesday, prepared for this chance,
We use makeshift means to sustain him.
By Thursday the Supply Officer’s advanced
to O.K.ing 9 copies (it pains him).

By Friday still the supplies aren’t appearing.
(Tomorrow’s the day for inspection.)
The patient however’s past caring,
He was chosen in St. Peter’s election.

 Loads of love,

rene-transparent

.

Watch for my next letter on
April 18


George Davis (head of Supply) and Dr. Roy Cohn. Roy wrote a song and a poem to entertain the gang at George’s promotion party.



April 18, 1943 – 75 years ago in a WW2 M.A.S.H. Unit

April 18, 1943
No. 21

Casablanca, Morocco

Dear Folksies,

            You asked about malaria prophylaxis. Well, beginning in two days we start to take Atabrine, 2 tablets twice a week, i.e. Monday and Thursday – why those days were picked, I know not. We haven’t had much malaria around here, but the mosquitos are beginning to show themselves around here a bit and there apparently have been more malaria in some of the other regions.

            I don’t know whether you know it or not, but we have quite a long list of official diagnoses that we have to go by when we write up any case, and the diagnosis has to be just so, according to that list, or Bob Escamilla turns the histories back for alteration. Well, this list is rather large, on mimeographed sheets and has not had a decent cover, so, one day, Liz decided that she would make a cover for my list. She took a manila folder and went to work. When I next saw my book it had a fancy cover and a note went with it saying that the diagnoses she had put on the cover were some that I might be hunting for sometime but would not find on the inside mimeographed sheets. And spread over the whole face of the cover were such diagnoses as “fibroids, hysterectomy, abortion, rectocele, cystocele, dysmenorrhea, retroversion, ectopic, etc. etc.” Now I’m afraid that I can’t take that book onto the ward!!

            A few days ago we almost had a copy of the ending of Jack Benny’s picture, “George Washington Slept Here.” Remember the locusts? Well, they descended on us, three-inch long yellow grasshopper affairs that flew around here like a bunch of P-38s. They were here in swarms and you had to fight your way through the clouds of them. Actually they weren’t as bad here as they were a few miles way from here – where the scenery was obliterated by the mass of yellow insects. Apparently they finally went out to sea, for some of the boys found mobs of them washed up on the beach. Did they get lost and wander too far, or ???

 Loads of love,

rene-transparent

.

Watch for the second part of this letter on
April 19


Atabrine for malaria prophylaxis




Swarms of locust descended on the 59th



April 19, 1943 – 75 years ago in a WW2 M.A.S.H. Unit

April 19, 1943
Continuation of No. 21

Casablanca, Morocco

Dear Folksies,

            The non-coms party is coming up in two days and it ought to be pretty good. There will be about 30 of the nurses and some French nurses also, I believe. When Miss Diffley told George the other day about how many of the nurses would be going, he kiddingly told her, “You’re not including Miss. McFarland, are you? Because Lt. Bine won’t let her go.” Miss D. told him, “Yes, she’s going. Tell Lt. Bine I’m the boss.” So, George thought that was pretty good.

          But Miss D. told Lois and between the two of them, they thought it would be a good idea to kid George by telling him that Miss D. took him seriously and had put Lois on night duty for that night. So, I told George that he had really messed things up, and that Miss D. had taken him very seriously, and now Lois was scheduled to be on night duty that night. Both Lois and Miss D. have kept it up very seriously and George really believes the whole thing. He is plenty worried and wrought up about it, because he suggested to the non-coms at the meeting that they invite me and I was voted an invite and now he believes that Lois can’t go and that he has messed up the thing beautifully. He has pulled so much kidding himself that we’re just keeping this thing up to the nth degree, and will do so until almost the last minute. All the boys down here and many of the other non-coms are in on the kidding of Davis also, and it’s really going fine.

            As I’ve told you before, we frequently have late evening snacks and what we generally do is have our eating-fest outside — not in the recreation tent where there are lots of others, playing cards, etc., and others who might question the source of our food, and naturally we don’t get enough to give sandwiches to the whole gang that might be there. Ordinarily those favored are George, Liz, Lois, Roy, Bert and me.

             Well, one night, while we were playing bridge with George and Roy, the phone rings and it was Fadley who asks for me. He asked me to take a vote and see who wanted hamburgers and who wanted liver sandwiches. As there was quite a mob around us, I merely wrote down on a piece of paper: “Do you want liver or hamburger? I’ll take hamburger.” I passed this to George and he made his choice and then, just too late, I thought to tell him he better not pass it to Lois as she might make some break. Well, he did, and she did. She comes out with a loud, “Oh George, I want hamburgers!!!!” George and I nearly went through the floor, Cohn likewise, and we shut up like clams. She didn’t realize, until afterwards, what she had done. 

              Fadley got back at her the next night, however, for, when he brought a nice steak sandwich over for all the rest of us, he handed her a Spam sandwich. She didn’t realize that everyone else had steak until she was half-way through her sandwich and then Ken gave her the other steak sandwich he was holding out for her. So, you see, we go round and round here, forever having some kidding going on.

 Loads of love,

rene-transparent

.

Watch for my next letter on
April 21


(From left to right) Lois McFarland, Gert Brazil and another nurse in Old Town Casablanca





Lois gets a hamburger one night, Spam the next.



April 21, 1943 – 75 years ago in a WW2 M.A.S.H. Unit

April 21, 1943
No. 22

Casablanca, Morocco

Dear Folksies,

            I was kept busy all afternoon today, giving a couple of spinals and helping Bert put a cast on a leg that was nicely chewed up by bullets. Have been seeing quite a few of these and all are being treated by closed casts, leaving the wounds open for the most part – particularly when nothing else but leave them open can be done anyway. I know, Dad, that you’re interested in the treatment of these, but the only difficulty we have along that line is that we don’t know the final outcome in most of the cases we see. Those back home will know more about that than we will, as they will see the final results of the treatment given these patients initially and secondarily by us, etc., on back down the line.

            As for other cases, we have seen the usual run of twisted knees, fractured arms, etc. along with numerous low back pains. We had one of the latter the other day that undoubtedly was an intervertebral disc, but we are not allowed to do these – particularly as our x-ray is not equipped to take the specialized films needed. Here, again, we lose sight of the final thing because we have to turn them over to someone else.

            Paul Stratte dropped in the other day, having had quite a long drive with a fellow in the Red Cross that is at the same place he is. He is working in a dispensary and is going to be a captain in a couple of weeks, and will even have a junior officer as assistant and will be the Area Surgeon for the area he is in. He still has hopes, however, and so do we, for him, that he will return to the fold. Which reminds me, Ed Cane left us a couple of days ago, as I told you he probably would.

            Jim Hamilton heard last night the he is the proud papa of a gal. Another gal, by golly, to be added to the “59th Kiddies Club.” Hal Williams and Lou Huff are the 59ths only hope right now. They have each got one (that’s all, they hope) cooking, and, in fact, Hal is a little over due as far as hearing about it is concerned. We’ve been kidding him that we have had apparitions and that he is going to not only have a boy, but it will be two boys. As I think I have told you before, that since the 59th has been organized a little over a year go, there have only been two boys born to the clan and both of those were to enlisted men.

            As I told you, the non-com’s were to have a party last night. Well, they did, and what a party it was. Davis, Fadley, Shapiro, Russell, the Col., and I were the only officers there and it really was a kick watching that mob. There were about 75 men, 25 nurses, and 15-20 French girls (student nurses). There was plenty of wine but only a few of the men had too much, and we handled them o.k. Otherwise it was a really good and hilarious party. The band was a Negro soldier band and they were good. They only had short intermissions, so those poor nurses really had a work-out. They didn’t have much of a chance to sit down and because of the greater number of men there was continual cutting in going on. So much so that George and I figured out this morning that during the whole evening we each got less than one minute of actual dancing in with our gals.

 Loads of love,

rene-transparent

.

Watch for my next letter on
April 29



On April 20, 1943 Philip Westdahl, MD, writes in his journal, “Today we received 100 of our own boys from the front. They really bring home to us the hard cold nature of this war. Many of the boys were injured by land mines and amputations are frequent. They say the Germans are deadly accurate with mortar fire. They describe the German 56 ton tanks as ‘movable barns.’ The biggest things they have ever seen. These boys really hate the Germans!”




X-ray Department




Hal Williams waiting to hear if his wife will give birth to a boy. So far, all of the babies born to wives of the doctors of the 59th have been girls.



Lou Huff’s wife is expecting too.




René reports that the Non-Com’s Dance was “a good and hilarious party.”



April 29, 1943 – 75 years ago in a WW2 M.A.S.H. Unit

April 29, 1943
No. 23

Casablanca, Morocco

Dear Folksies,

          My last letter was written 8 days ago. I would have written sooner if I hadn’t been kind of knocked under the weather for this last week. It all started with a typhoid shot. The following day I felt sort of subnormal and loafed around all afternoon. Then that evening I thought I probably had a temp. as others had managed to run 100 to 102 degrees anywhere from 12 to 36 hours after their shots. Well, mine was 101. Next morning, however, temp was still over 101 and on looking in my throat I saw a few nice pustular patches. Sewell came and agreed that I had follicular pharyngitis. Used throat irrigations and plenty of fruit juices, but still temp stayed in the sky, going as high as 103.

          After two days my teeth and gums became sore and Chappie pronounced it Vincent’s gingivitis. Temp came down to almost normal after the third day, but because I was not an expert gargler I have had a rather touchy stomach ever since. Today is the first day I have not had to limit myself to egg-nogs, eggs, milk and water. What apparently happened was that I developed a gastritis upon gargling and probably swallowing a little of the copper sulfate solution Chappie gave me.

          That has now disappeared, however, and my mouth is likewise clearing up under the daily Rx by Chappie. Nope, I haven’t had a gastric ulcer – don’t worry about that!! Where did I get the Vincent’s? There is apparently a lot of it around and whether I got it at the party last week when glasses may not have been thoroughly washed, or whether I got it around the mess from some glasses not well cleaned, or just where, ‘tis a ??

          Anyway, I’ve had it and it ain’t a very comfortable thing to have. For the last week I have remained in bed most of the time – until my back began to sag in the middle like the cot. And then in the tent for the rest of the time, except when the sun has been warm enough to sit under, and then I have sprawled in a chair outside the tent.

         As a consequence I don’t know much of the things that have been going on around the hospital. However, I do know that Pete Joseph and Cy Johnson are both back. Cy’s ulcer seems to be under good control. George Wood is not as yet back with the fold. We have a new officer, Jack Dunlap, who was until today a tech sergeant. He was the sgt. in charge of the lab and a darn good man – having had two years undergrad at Stanford at one time. Of course, now that he is a Second Lieutenant, they can’t keep him in our lab, so have him as Evac. Officer – something he knows nothing about, naturally. And so goes a good lab man.

          The latest sporting event around this section is horseshoe pitching. Somewhere along the road a couple of horseshoes jumped into one our our jeeps and the boys brought them home with them. We now have a nice pit and a nightly tournament that goes on from about 5 P.M. until 8 or 8:30 P.M. when they are finally forced inside out of the darkness.

          Forgot to tell you that Hal Williams was quite a disappointment to the betting gang. Yes, he went and had a female child, also. However, my calculations were a bit hay-wire, for I didn’t know that Mrs. Hodgson is also expecting, so the honor of the 59th still has the Huffs and Hodgsons to do their bit to have a boy. But from the way things have been running, no one has much hope.

          One of the enlisted men got word that he had become the father of a girl on April 13. That was truly an unlucky day for him, so he says – for he lost plenty of money, having bet on his promises as a boy-builder; and also that was the day that he lost his appendix. Now, he wants his appendix back in, for he believes that he didn’t have appendicitis pains after all – that they were just sympathy labor pains.

 Loads of love,

rene-transparent

.

Watch for my next letter on
May 5


Did René get Vincent’s gingivitis in the mess tent – drinking from a glass that wasn’t well cleaned?




Elmer Chappell, DDS – Chappie – diagnosed René’s problem, and prescribed the appropriate treatment. Unfortunately, the treatment gave him a new problem — gastritis!




The latest sporting event among the guys of the 59th is horeshoe pitching.