EVACUATION. Not all movement was from ship to shore. Casualties and Prisoners of War moved from shore to ship and then to the UK. Medical. Until the divisions moved further forward their Medical Battalions worked closely with the medical units of the Engineer Special Brigades in evacuating casualties. 1 Division had 1 Medical Battalion and 29 Division had 104 Medical Battalion. Normal divisional organisation for a medical battalion was a headquarters and four companies. There were three Collecting Companies, giving one per Regimental Combat Team, and one Clearing Company. Collecting Companies, ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ each had a Headquarters, a Collecting Station Platoon, a Litter (stretcher) Bearer Platoon and an Ambulance Platoon. The role of the company was to remove casualties from units to the Collecting Station, prepare casualties for further evacuation to the Clearing Station and then transporting casualties to the Clearing Station. Clearing Company ‘D’ received casualties from Collecting Companies, carried out triage, gave treatment, care and shelter and kept records. There were two clearing platoons, ‘A’ and ‘B’. Battalion Headquarters was positioned near Divisional Headquarters and the Clearing Company was positioned near the Battalion Headquarters. 5 Engineer Special Brigade had 60 Medical Battalion and 6 Engineer Special Brigade had 61 Medical Battalion. On arrival in the UK both battalions had the normal organisation but as a result of experience gained by 1 Division in the Mediterranean landings it was felt that a more flexible organisation would be preferable. Requests for a revised Table of Organisation and Equipment were denied and so the changes were made internally using existing resources. The Medical Battalions of the two Engineer Special Brigades were each reorganised into three identical companies each of which had both Collecting and Clearing detachments. Thus they were now called Collecto Clearing Companies. The new companies were given individual numbers rather than the previous ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’. In the UK before the landings instructors from the experienced 1 Engineer Special Brigade were placed with the battalions of 5 and 6 Engineer Special Brigades. On D Day the various medical units plus an unknown number of helpers from units unable to move off the beach had collected, treated and evacuated casualties as well as they were able. Casualties had been taken by LCVP to APAs and medically equipped LSTs. This work continued overnight and by the morning of D+1 the position was becoming clearer and better organised. The two Engineer Special Brigade Medical Battalions, 60 Medical Battalion from 5 Engineer Special Brigade and 61 Medical Battalion from 6 Engineer Special Brigade, plus the Naval Beach Medical Sections and 1 Medical Battalion from 1 Division had made some progress in clearing the beach of casualties. Eventually the divisional medical units would move forward with their formations but at this stage there was not room for them to move forward and no advantage in doing so. The medical units of the Engineer Special Brigades would remain in the beach area for as long as they were needed. 61 Medical Battalion of 5 ESB had established a clearing station on Fox Green and one on Easy Red. Since most of the equipment was on vehicles which were still waiting to land from LSTs and LCTs the work of the collecting companies consisted of first aid and evacuation over the beach. During the day of D+1 more elements of the two medical battalions of the ESBs came ashore together with Section 1, Advance Detachment, 1 Medical Depot Company. By evening a nucleus of all the organisations of the Engineer Special Brigade medical battalions had landed and the organisational framework was in place and operating. The units acted as aid stations and as collecting and evacuation points in the locations where they were established by late D Day. There was still little equipment ashore and so there was little opportunity to treat casualties. Four surgical teams landed and joined 60 Medical Battalion. It was then possible to open a Clearing Station seven hundred yards inland from Dog Red. A platoon of 1 Medical Battalion of 1 Division opened a Clearing Station on the bluffs overlooking the Easy Green Exit and operated there for thirty six hours before moving forward. Surgical teams from the beach units were attached to begin the treatment of the seriously wounded. At 1900 hours the Hospital Carrier ‘Naushon’ arrived and began taking casualties aboard from LCVP. This ship remained off the beach overnight in order to continue receiving casualties and treating them using its own medical personnel and Medical Detachment ‘A’ which it had transported to the beach but was yet to land. During the day the Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, Clearing Company ‘D’ and Collecting Company ‘A’, 104 Medical Battalion, 29 Division landed and moved inland with their formation. 382 Collecting Company, 53 Medical Battalion also landed. On D+2 the remainder of 634 Medical Clearing Company and Headquarters Detachment, 60 Medical Battalion, landed and proceeded to the 60 Medical Battalion Clearing Station situated inland from Dog Red. 392 Collecto Clearing Company of 5 Engineer Special Brigade was landed but enemy fire prevented it from moving inland. At 0915 Medical Detachment ‘A’ landed on Easy Red and Easy Green, having crossed the Channel on the hospital ship Naushon. This detachment consisted of the clearing station and litter platoons of 451 and 454 Medical Collecting Companies of 68 Medical Group, the Advance Depot Platoon of 32 Medical Depot Company, six surgical teams from 4 Auxiliary Surgical Group, ten liaison officers from various medical units including USAAF and a 17 man detachment from the Surgeons Office, Headquarters 1 US Army. At 1400 sufficient equipment was landed for 393 Collecto Clearing Company of 5 Engineer Special Brigade to allow a clearing station to be established 800 yards inland from Easy Green exit. The Clearing Station of 1 Medical Battalion of 1 Division could now move forward. From this time the evacuation of casualties proceeded according to plan. An advanced party and equipment from 13 Field Hospital landed during the morning and a site for the hospital was found in the afternoon. The remainder of the personnel landed in the late afternoon. During the night part of the Headquarters detachment 1 Medical Battalion and Collecting Company ‘C’ of 104 Medical Battalion landed. A medical supply depot was established at Colleville by 32 Medical Depot Company on D+3. The first air evacuation was carried out by Dakota from the airstrip at Vierville. This method of evacuation would be expanded rapidly as the fighting moved further forward and air strips were developed. For the first two weeks, until June 21, the policy was to evacuate all casualties who could be safely moved. This eased the strain on far shore medical facilities. After this time 1 US Army established 400 bed evacuation hospitals which allowed patients to be retained for ten days after which they could be evacuated after having been treated and stabilised. Later large General Hospitals would allow casualties to be retained unless it was thought they would not be able to return to duty. All LSTs of the assault groups were fitted for casualty evacuation. After D Day it was planned that eight LSTs a day would be so fitted. It was also planned that there would be two hospital carriers a day off the beaches. LSTs. LSTs loaded at Portland and formed groups which sailed once daily, timing the departure so as to arrive at the far shore each pm. Those LSTs fitted for casualty evacuation remained as necessary and joined a later return convoy. The medical officer in charge of casualty embarkation informed the Naval Officer in Charge of the number of casualties to be evacuated. Naval Officer in Charge passed the information to Naval Force Commander who decided how many LST to retain for casualty evacuation. LST fitted for evacuation flew flag H and showed two vertical blue lights. All casualties who were fit to travel were evacuated to the UK and were embarked at the Casualty Evacuation Point or Beach Dressing Station. LCTs could carry walking wounded, but numbers were very limited and prior arrangements had to be made with the Principal Beach Master. Medical LSTs were normal LSTs which were fitted with stretcher racks which were erected as necessary. Arrangements were made to retain as many such LST as were thought necessary by DADMS and these did not return until loaded, usually next day. Initially they were loaded by the medical platoon of DUKWs but when LSTs were routinely beached and dried out they could be loaded by ambulance on the beach. Later hospital carriers, ex cross Channel ferries some of which had been used as small LSIs, arrived and anchored off the beach. There was always one available, being replaced when the previous one sailed. These carried their own water ambulances, LCP(S) converted to carry six casualty litters. The water ambulance could beach for loading but for preference they used Courseulles harbour at high tide. Arrangements to ensure a supply of stretchers and blankets were as for British beaches. Each Engineer Special Brigade landed a reserve of 750 stretchers and 2250 blankets was landed for use in Casualty Evacuation Points and Beach Dressing Stations. Evacuation LSTs carried a stock of stretchers and blankets to replace those being embarked. The red cross against air attack was not displayed by medical units although small vertical red cross signs could be displayed. Medical personnel wore a red cross brassard and prominent red crosses on helmets. Hospital carriers. Hospital Carrier Ships were smaller versions of the Hospital Ship. They were used for the evacuation of casualties from the Continent to the UK. The crew were merchant marine, including the crews of Water Ambulances. St. Julian and Dinard were both mined on D+1. Dinard returned to service on 17 June but Dinard was not used again. Naushon, Hospital Carrier 49 was an ex Martha’s Vineyard ferry converted to hospital carrier. She could carry 124 litter casualties and 246 walking casualties. Prague, Hospital Carrier 51. A Cross Channel Ferry converted to hospital carrier. She could carry 194 litter casualties and 228 walking casualties. Lady Connaught, Hospital Carrier 55. An Irish Sea ferry converted to hospital carrier. She could carry 95 litter casualties and 246 walking casualties. Medical staff was US Army. New Bedford was also an ex Marta’s Vineyard ferry similar to Naushon. She was not used. Some accounts say she was too small but she was only marginally smaller than Naushon. The hospital carriers needed little modification since they already had cabins and lounges which provided suitable spaces for beds, bunks and an operating theatre. All were operated by British Merchant Marine crews. As registered hospital ships they had the protection of the Geneva Convention. They were painted white with a red hull stripe and red crosses on hull and funnel. No weapons were carried by ship or crew. Each hospital carrier carried six water ambulances which were converted from obsolete LCP(S) landing craft. These were carried on davits which could be used to lift the loaded water ambulance to deck level for discharging casualties. These craft could be beached for loading casualties but it was difficult to load them over the sides and there was no ramp. They could also be damp in rough seas. US sources give a medical staff of five officers, five nurses and 49 other military personnel. These were found from medical units in the UK including Auxiliary Surgical Teams and the staff of hospital trains. The British establishment was: Lieutenant Colonel 2 X Major, Captain or Lieutenant Serjeant clerk clerk Serjeant dispenser 2 X mental nursing orderly Serjeant nursing orderly corporal nursing orderly 16 X nursing orderly WO1 nursing orderly as wardmaster corporal nursing orderly as pack storeman nursing orderly as pack storeman corporal nursing orderly as linen storeman nursing orderly as linen storeman staff serjeant as steward. Sister in charge, Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service 5 X sister, Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service All casualties were landed at Southampton. Those casualties too serious to be moved were held in 28 and 46 Field Hospitals. The remainder of the casualties were taken by hospital train to general hospitals all over the south west. POWs. Prisoners of War were initially moved from the front line to a POW cage near the beach. This was operated by the Engineer Special Brigade provosts until a more specialised unit relieved them. Prisoners could be retained to assist with non combat tasks which included helping to evacuate wounded, move stranded vehicles and handle supplies. Those being evacuated to the UK were carried on returning LSTs which carried guards provided from the UK. Troops on the continent were not to be used as guards on the LSTs. POW casualties were treated in the same way as US casualties. Casualty Loading Point. Water ambulances. Mike.