On June 8, we started receiving patients by the carload figuratively, the majority of which were battle casualties being evacuated from forward hospitals. Most of these poor boys were exhausted by their repeated ambulance rides and transferal from cot to litter to ambulance to litter to cot. Unfortunately, this is a necessary evil in order to keep the forward hospitals empty enough to receive new casualties. Ours is their last top till they reach the base hospitals in Naples.
Most of our patients leave the following day by air or L.S.T. The latter is a 12-hour boat ride. This will continue until air fields and water ports can be secured up ahead, from which evacuation direct to Naples will be available. In due time, the base hospitals will be moved to Rome.
The patients coming through include our own boys, primarily, but also British, French and French colonials, and German prisoners. The latter are mostly youngsters from 17 to 20 years.
Actual battle casualties consisted of every possible known battle injury. Shell fragment wounds outnumbered the gunshot wounds almost 2 to 1. A moderate number of arm and leg amputations were encountered, a good many of these caused by mine explosions. Several civilians, men and women and children, had met this fate.
We also had a sudden influx of fresh casualties from air raids and mine injuries in the immediate vicinity, which kept surgery busy from early morning to darkness.
Watch for René’s next letter on
June 11, 1944