Combined Operations medical report

Doc Alexander developed the following Combined Operations medical report during the Combined Operations training on the Isle of Wight leading up to the Dieppe Raid.

My medical report to Corps, governing the aims and methods of Combined Operations (medical).

The medial problems confronting any Combined Operation are very great. There must be complete understanding between the various branches and between the various parts of these branches.

The three main aspects which much always be the dictating factors in any plan are:
(1) Unit Moral maintained
(2) Efficient emergency treatment
(3) Rapid Evacuation

(1) Unit Moral maintained
All men engaging in combat must know and have full confidence that everything humanly possible will be done to see that they obtain rapid and efficient attention, rapid and efficient removal to a place of safety, in case of accident.

(2) Efficient emergency treatment
All men engaged in this work must not only be thoroughly trained in treating wounds, but must understand human nature, must understand that there is a mental reaction to every physical aliment, which must not be neglected.

(3) Rapid Evacuation
The aim of every medical organization must be to remove to safety every wounded man. In order to do this, very careful thought and planning must be done. Speed of evacuation is really the most important step in treatment and cannot be over emphasized. The basis of our training was built around these points.

The three branches concerned were:
(1) Air and Air Borne Troops
(2) Navy
(3) Army

(1) Evacuation was the biggest problem in the Air Borne forces – they probably would be evacuated by the Navy, but an alternative method had to be established.
The Tank Bn. Was the only Unit who could possibly take on this task, and the method adopted will be described later in the detailed description of the Tank Medical Organization.

(2) The Navy only could be responsible for evacuating casualties from Beach Head to our own mainland. Briefly their plan was to bring in M.L.C. Craft to Beach when called and convey wounded to small vessels, fitted as Emergency Hospital Ships, with medical officers and orderlies on board. These ships would convey them to friendly ports, where they would be transferred to Base Hospitals for thorough examination.

(3) The Army Every unit in the Army has its own individual problem, which must be solved, but by dealing with each problem individually, a system is created, so complex and overlapping, that the merits of the system are impaired, manpower is wasted and efficiency is lost.
If all problems can be reduced to one common denominator, then solution is simple, straight forward and efficient.

We adopted the objects as outlined above – maintaining morale, rapid and efficient treatment, rapid evacuation of wounded and concluded that the two essential factors for any plan to succeed were:

1) Liaison
A thorough understanding between ourselves and every other Unit as to just what we were prepared to do for the common cause and what we could expect them to d, and a method of contact was established between ourselves and themselves, both before, during and after operations.

2) Complete co-operation
Every medical man had first his own Unit as his responsibility, but he would devote himself wholeheartedly into treatment and evacuation of wounded irrespective of Unit.
All his resources, whether stretcher bearers, or Motor Vehicles, would be used not only to help evacuate the wounded from the BAttle Zone to the Advanced Dressing Station, but also to help in the general withdrawal to evacuate to the Beach, and to assist in treatment at the Beach, and the loading of Patients onto the ships for transport to hospital.

The general plan adopted was:
1. Each Medical Officer of an Infantry Batn., who was in contact with the Tanks met and we discussed their line of advance in relationship to our line of advance. They chose the spots at which they would establish R.A.P and agreed to evacuate their cases and Tank Casualties as well to certain specified roads, where we would be patrolling.
We would pick up any casualties at roads and return them to A.D.S.

2. Any Tanks who were not actually with Infantry, and suffered casualties, would bring them to their own center line, and notify us by wireless of their location and we would collect the wounded in our T.C.P. And return them to a road which our Blitz Ambulance was patrolling, for transfer to the A.D.S.
If the Tank was not able to get them to a Center line, or if a Tank was out of action and nothing known as to condition of inmates, another Tank in the vicinity would notify us, and we would proceed to the Tank, open it, remove the casualties and evacuate them as before. J

3. The Tank Bn. Carried two motor vehicles, one a track vehicle, fitted with wireless, and capable of carrying (by special construction) five stretcher cases, or a full tank crew. This remained in the forward area, as long as the Tanks were there, and carried a driver operator, a Medical Sergeant, and the Medical Officer, with medical supplies. The other was a Blitz Ambulance, carrying four beds, two in front and two behind, and a seat for the walking wounded. This removed the Patient from the Carrier on a patrolled road and removed them to the A.D.S.

4. The position of the A.D.S. (Advanced Dressing Station) was established by joint meeting of all the Regimental Medical Officers with the Field Ambulance. It really consisted of several small collecting posts, manned by Field Ambulance Personnel and situated in locations suitable to us.

5. Each A.D.S. Had at least on Blitz Ambulance and evacuated our cases to Beach Head.

6. The main Dressing Station was at Beach Head, and was manned by the Field Ambulance. They examine eery Patient admitted, gave the necessary treatment, and supervised loading into M.L.C. On Beach.

7. On returning from the front, the vehicles of the Tank Bn (medical) helped to evacuate from A.D.S. To Beach Head, and also helped in loading, if necessary.

8. The Medical Vehicles of the Tank Bn were in contact at all times with our C.O. And were available for any special emergency, such as evacuation of casualties. e.g. Paratroopers, where both cars would go together with the Tanks to the spot were the casualties were nested.

9. At the Beach the Tank Bn had a representative at the M.D.S. To keep careful record of our casualties, and their disposal. A copy of this record would be handed to the M.O. on his return from the front – who could then report to the C.O. At the earliest opportunity.

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About Rob Alexander

I am a writer, photographer and historian and the author of The History of Canmore, published by Summerthought Publishing of Banff, AB.

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