A US medic tends Germans on the Italian front

 Wounded Yank. Hit by German machine gun fire in the Fifth Army Advance up the Gaeta Peninsula. An American soldier is receiving help from Army aid-men. Signal Corps Photo 20 May 1944 (Italy)
Wounded Yank. Hit by German machine gun fire in the Fifth Army Advance up the Gaeta Peninsula. An American soldier is receiving help from Army aid-men. Signal Corps Photo 20 May 1944 (Italy)
Saving lives at the Italian front!. An infantryman has fallen and a medic is right there to help him. Working swiftly, under the enemy fire, the medic applies an emergency dressing on the soldier wounded in the head.
Saving lives at the Italian front!. An infantryman has fallen and a medic is right there to help him. Working swiftly, under the enemy fire, the medic applies an emergency dressing on the soldier wounded in the head.

As the weather turned wet and miserable again in Italy, the Allies were still slogging it out against the Gothic line. Progress against the prepared defence line was slow and casualties were heavy.

Klaus H. Huebner was a US Army doctor, this is his diary entry for 6 October 1944:

Several Germans are among our congregation of wounded awaiting us. The most seriously wounded is a German who insists that he is a walking case and not badly hurt. He has a hole in his back big enough for me to see parts of his lung expanding with each breath. He states that his company has had a rough night.

When only four men were left, something hit him in the back and he fell. He shouted all night but no one came to his rescue. By morning he saw our medics using this church, so he decided to walk over, give himself up, and be treated. Since he seems to be breathing better with the hole in his chest wide open rather than closed, I cover it only with a very loose dressing and fill him up with sulfadiazine pills. He says his pain is not severe enough to require morphine…

Frequently the narrow road crosses and recrosses the creek over small wooden bridges. These are usually demolished, and we cross the stream on debris strewn around them. I witness the entire battalion cross over one such obstacle, except for the last man, who is unfortunate enough to have his foot blown off by a shoe mine. How 450 men have crossed over the same path and avoided stepping on that mine is almost unbelievable!

By 8:00pm I am in a barn on a mountain ridge. There is no defilade, but at least I have a roof over my head. I wouldn’t stay here if the weather were clear. Visibility today is only about two hundred yards, and if the Krauts want to shoot us up, they must do so by map. I am directly behind our troops, which are once again having a rough time.

Progress is very slow. Sometimes they advance less than two hundred yards all day. Consequently, I remain here for three days. We treat at least fifty casualties per day. The arriving wounded are mud covered and rain soaked. The majority of wounds are gunshot and mortar shrapnel.

Our station is constantly harassed by mortar fire, shells exploding outside both day and night. There are almost as many German wounded as GIs.

One German non-commissioned officer is brought in with a palm-sized hole in his buttock. He had been lying in the woods for forty-eight hours. His wound is filled with leaves, sticks and dirt. What he desires most is a swig of cognac. I offer him my canteen filled with whiskey, and he empties one-half of it without drawing a breath between gulps. I loosely suture his buttock together without any anesthesia. He never says ‘ouch.’

See Klaus H. Huebner: Long Walk through War: A Combat Doctor’s Diary

Saving lives at the Italian front! A wounded Yank needs emergency treatment! Without losing a moment he is rushed to the operating table at the field hospital.
Saving lives at the Italian front! A wounded Yank needs emergency treatment! Without losing a moment he is rushed to the operating table at the field hospital.

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