4-624 Memorandum for General Handy, December 26, 1944

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: December 26, 1944

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for General Handy

December 26, 1944 [Washington, D.C.]


I had Kirk and one or two of his people and Maxwell and one or two of his people in for a conference with me regarding the adequacy of hospitalization and evacuation in the European Theater.1 Since the drafting of the brief by Bell for my information, the G-4 comments have been modified as shown by the substitution of the second page of General Maxwell’s memorandum for that attached, marked cancelled.2

I gathered from the discussion that the situation as to fixed beds in the European Theater had been improved since General Kenner had outlined his necessities, and that by the end of January or in February, without considering the field hospital phase, Kenner would have approximately his 7% allowance. However, Maxwell felt that a certain definite number of field hospitals should be charged to him as fixed beds, say 20%, and he would have to consider the preparation of his requisitions accordingly.

General Kirk made a point of the fact that not only were men who had laboriously been trained for medical service being transferred to the infantry, but trained and experienced men returning from overseas of his Corps were being diverted to other duties. He thought this last was most unfortunate because of the practical experience the men had gained was being wasted at a time it was badly needed.3

I wonder if it would not be a good thing to send Maxwell to France for a hurried visit to look into this and related matters.4

Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Typed memorandum.

1. Surgeon General Norman T. Kirk and Assistant Chief of Staff for Personnel Russell L. Maxwell met with Marshall at 11:00 A. M. on December 26. The issue of the proper ratio of fixed beds (i.e., beds in facilities other than forward area surgical hospitals) in theater hospitals to troop strength was related to theater evacuation policies, since the more patients evacuated to facilities in the United States the fewer beds, doctors, nurses, and so forth needed in the theater. In the fall of 1944, the fixed-bed ratio for the European theater had been set at 7 percent. By late 1944, due to various policy changes, a backlog had begun to accumulate of patients scheduled for evacuation, while at the same time the theater actually had fewer fixed beds than it was credited with. These issues are examined in Clarence McKittrick Smith, The Medical Department: Hospitalization and Evacuation, Zone of Interior, a volume in the United States Army in World War II (Washington: GPO, 1956), pp. 214-37.

2. Captain G. F. Bell, a member of the General Staff secretariat, had written a brief on “Adequacy of Hospitalization and Evacuation, ETO” describing the recommendations of the theater’s chief medical officer (Major General Albert W. Kenner), General Somervell’s recommendations, and G-4’s comments and recommendations. A key issue was how to count the beds under its authorized 7 percent ratio, and consequently whether changes were needed in policies regarding evacuation and shipping new personnel. (Bell brief on the Adequacy of Hospitalization and Evacuation, December 23, 1944, NA/RG 165 [OPD, 632, Case 201.) Maxwell’s memorandum is not in the Marshall papers.

3. For further developments, see Marshall Memorandum for General Handy, December 28, 1944, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-627 [4: 714-16].

4. As Maxwell had recently returned from Europe, Marshall approved sending Colonel Crawford F. Sams, a member of the Medical Corps and chief of G-4’s Program Branch. (See the handwritten notes on Bell Memorandum for the Chief of Staff, December 28, 1944, NA/RG 165 [OPD, 632, Case 20].)

Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 4, “Aggressive and Determined Leadership,” June 1, 1943-December 31, 1944 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), pp. 711-712.

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