U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Skip to main content
Return to topReturn to top


Bibliographical Note

    Medical Service in the Mediterranean and Minor Theaters is based upon a wide variety of sources, by far the largest category being the manuscript records of medical units, offices, and commands. Probably the most extensive and certainly the most important collection of these records is in the custody of the Historical Unit, USAMEDS. Others are deposited with the National Archives in Washington and in the Federal Records Center, Region 3, GSA, in Alexandria, Va.; still others are in the records centers at St. Louis and Kansas City, Mo. The Air Force records used are for the most part at the Air University, Maxwell Field, Ala.

    After action and routine periodic reports-most of them annual but a few semiannual, quarterly, and even monthly-make up both the most extensive and the most useful body of records. These reports came from all levels of the Medical Department, from the theater surgeon s office and its various subdivisions through the surgeons of armies and air forces, corps, divisions, communications zones, base commands, and base sections. They came from hospitals of all types, medical battalions and often separate companies, medical supply depots, auxiliary surgical groups, and intermittently from all of the lesser units that made up the combat medical organization in a theater of operations. In some of the larger commands unit reports were supplemented or even replaced by histories of Medical Department activities, on a yearly or longer basis.

    Another major source of information, like the unit reports administrative and logistical as well as clinical, is the Essential Technical Medical Data reports (ETMD`s), issued monthly from July 1943 on by the theater medical section, by various subordinate commands, and by the individual hospitals. The ETMD`s often contained situation reports and analyses of specific military operations. At the theater level a daily journal was maintained by the surgeon`s office, highlighting important administrative developments. A series of circular letters dealt with a wide variety of matters such as the management of wounds; recommended therapy for specific diseases including dysentery, malaria, and hepatitis; the preferred use of drugs such as morphine, the sulfonamides, and penicillin; and many housekeeping chores on the order of record keeping and reporting. A similar but less extensive series of circular letters emanated from the medical section of Allied Force Headquarters. Medical situation reports were issued by various commands, the most useful being those of the Peninsular Base Section during the Italian campaign. Use has also been made of private diaries, and of correspondence both private and official--for example, the frequent exchanges between the theater surgeon and The Surgeon General.

    Other valuable documentary sources for the history of the Medical Department in the Mediterranean include the medical annexes of operations reports at army, corps, and division levels; and of various planning documents. Inspection


reports are voluminous and in a degree of detail not usually found elsewhere. There are, in addition, special reports on all manner of topics from the incidence and treatment of particular diseases to discussions of improvised equipment; from supply and sanitation problems to ways of laying out a tent hospital. Methods of evacuation under various conditions, use of hospitals of different types and sizes, personnel problems, civil affairs problems, and many other topics swell the flood of investigations, reports, and studies. Interviews have also been used, supplemented by written comments from those who reviewed all or portions of this volume in manuscript form. Their names will be found in the acknowledgments at the end of the authors preface.

    Although technically a secondary source, a multivolume manuscript history of the Medical Department in the Mediterranean Theater, prepared under the direction of the historical subsection of the theater surgeon`s office and brought to a close in November 1945, is indispensable for its insights, for its use of many documents now unavailable, and for the eyewitness quality it gains by the participation of its authors in the events they narrate. Of particular value for the present work were: volume 1, Administration, by Kenneth W. Munden; volume 3, Hospital Construction, by Abraham I. Zelen; volume 6, Army Nurse Corps, by Anne F. Parsons and others; volume 7, Medical Supply, by William L. Davidson; volume 8, Field Operations, by Glenn Clift; volume 10, Hospitalization and Evacuation (rough draft, by A.I. Zelen; and volume 14, Final Report of the Plans and Operations Officer, by Col. Albert A. Biederman.

    Another rewarding category of source material consists of numerous special articles on phases of military medicine in the Mediterranean and minor theaters in selected medical journals, most frequently in the Medical Bulletin of the North African [Mediterranean] Theater of Operations, published by the theater surgeons office during 1944 and the first half of 1945; the Bulletin of the U.S. Army Medical Department published by the Office of The Surgeon General until unification at the end of 1949; and Military Medicine(formerly The Military Surgeon),organ of the Association of Military Surgeons. Administrative material, often of a firsthand character, will also be found in several volumes of the clinical series published by the Office of The Surgeon General and cited in the footnotes to the present work. Most frequently used were the volumes dealing with activities of medical and surgical consultants, the dental and veterinary histories, and the preventive medicine subseries, of which five volumes have so far appeared.

    The broad military narrative that forms the framework within which the medical story becomes meaningful has, on the other hand, been told largely from published sources. The combat volumes of the series UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II have been followed insofar as they were available. George F. Howe, Northwest Africa: Seizing the Initiative in the West, appeared while the present work was in preparation; and the volume on the Sicily Campaign, Lt. Col. Albert N. Garland and Howard McGam Smyth, Sicily and the Surrender of Italy, was consulted in manuscript form. Similarly, in the preparation of Chapter I, Stetson Conn


and Byron Fairchild, The Framework of Hemisphere Defense, and Conn, Rose Engelman, and Fairchild, Guarding the United States and Its Outposts, were used, the former in galley proof, the latter in manuscript. Chapter II relies at many points upon T. Vail Motter, The Persian Corridor and Aid to Russia.

    A number of titles in the AMERICAN FORCES IN ACTION series were also valuable in summarizing the combat operations so essential to an understanding of the supporting medical activities. Those used were: To Bizerte With the II Corps; Salerno: American Operations from the Beaches to the Volturno; Volturno: From the Volturno to the Winter Line; Fifth Army at the Winter Line; and Anzio Beachhead.

    Appropriate volumes of Wesley Frank Craven and James Lea Cate, editors, "The Army Air Force in World War II," and of Samuel Eliot Morison, "History of United States Naval Operations in World War II," helped give dimension to a narrative that includes five major amphibious operations. A number of military memoirs were also consulted, including those of Eisenhower, Bradley, Patton, Clark, Truscott, Montgomery, Alexander, and Kesselring, but were used with caution.

    Official histories of Fifth and Seventh Armies complied contemporaneously and published while the respective armies were still in active status contain medical and logistical as well as combat material. The nine-volume Fifth Army History has been usefully condensed to a single book, From Salerno to the Alps, by Chester G. Starr, Jr., who as a member of the Fifth Army historical staff was one of the authors of the larger work.