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THE HISTORY OF THE U.S. VETERINARY SERVICE, A.E.F., DURING WW1
THE MEDICAL DEPARTMENT OF THE UNITED STATES ARMY IN THE WORLD WAR
VOLUME II, ADMINISTRATION AMERICAN EXPEDITION FORCES
THE U.S. VETERINARY SERVICE
As part of the Remount Service and Medical Department
Prepared under the direction of:
MAJ. GEN. M. W. IRELAND, THE SURGEON GENERAL
By Colonel Joseph H. Ford
Printing: United States Government printing 1927
AS PART OF THE REMOUNT SERVICE
As related in Chapter V of Volume I of this history, when we entered the World War the Veterinary Corps of the Army, established the proceeding year, 1916, was not completely organized. This accounts for the fact that, when General Pershing’s headquarters sailed for France in May 1917, it included no personnel for a veterinary service, nor did it carry plans pertaining thereto; none were existent. Veterinary officers were soon sent abroad in small numbers as requested, but the calls for them did not become urgent until shipments of animals in considerable numbers began in October of the same year.
In the absence of data concerning the organization of a veterinary service, and regulations for its guidance, it was necessary to develop these independently in the American Expeditionary Forces. The general organization project approved by headquarters, A.E.F., July 10, 1917, provided for 1 mobile veterinary hospital, staffed by 4 officers and 150 men for each corps, and for a unit of the same composition for each army. Since this project did not specify the veterinary service of divisions, the Surgeon General, on September 12, 1917 cabled General Pershing as follows:
In your report on organization you recommend 1 mobile veterinary hospital, consisting of 4 officers and 150 men, for each corps and for each army. This personnel seems inadequate according to best obtainable here, Surgeon General recommends 1 mobile section of 1 officer and 20 men for each division and 1 base hospital, 5 officers, and 350 men for each 12,500 horses in forces based on probability of 10 per cent incapacitated. Does this meet with your approval?
In explanation of his plans General Pershing, September 24, 1917, sent to the War Department the following cable:
Referring to your cablegram 169, report shows only one mobile veterinary hospital of corps and army; it does not include lines of communication veterinary hospitals, which are in the process of being organized. Am now organizing advance veterinary hospitals of lines of communication for 1,000 animals, which, will be pushed up close into troops area; also base hospitals for 500 animals. Third Cavalry upon arrival will be used exclusively in remount service to which veterinary hospitals were attached. While immediate project not large enough for ultimate needs, it nevertheless is very flexible and will permit of any expansion necessary. Therefore, do not recommend any changes from present plans until we have more experience. Details of project for these hospitals will be found in study of service of the rear forwarded to The Adjutant General, by me September 21.
The project for the services of the rear of the American Expeditionary Forces alluded to above, based on the needs of 20 combatant and 10 replacement divisions, was approved by General Pershing September 18, 1917. That part of this project, which applied to the remount and veterinary service was as followed:
The project for the services of the rear could not constitute a comprehensive veterinary program, for a veterinary service was necessary wherever there were animals, whether at the front or at the rear. No provision were made in this project for veterinary officers in the higher administrative positions with corps and armies, or with sections of the line of communications, and for this reason close contact between the troops and the service of evacuation and hospitalization was lost. The veterinary service, A.E.F., for almost a year was conducted conformably to General Orders, No. 39, G.H.Q., A.E.F., September 18, 1917. This order attached the veterinary service to the remount service, which in turn was a part of the Quartermaster Department, A.E.F., and thus provided that the veterinary service, despite the provisions of the national defense act, would function outside the Medical Department, for it charged the remount service not only with the reception, care, training, conditioning, and purchase of all public animals for the American Expeditionary Forces, but also with jurisdiction of both the mobile and stationary veterinary hospitals.
General Order No. 39, also provided that a 1,000 animal veterinary hospital with a staff of 7 officers and 293 enlisted men be attached to the advance remount depot in the proportion of 1 per army, and that it be capable of subdivision as required. The advance veterinary hospitals were ordered to care for disabled animals from the corps and army, and for all that might be abandoned by units. Intermediate veterinary hospitals were to be provided as required, and base veterinary hospitals were attached to the base remount depots in base sections No. 1 and No. 2.
The tables of organization for the American Expeditionary Forces allowed 1 remount depot and 1 mobile veterinary hospital for each corps, and the same for army troops. They also provided for 1 advance and 1 base remount depot and 1 veterinary hospital and 1 base veterinary hospital for the line of communications, but gave no details for the organizations of these units.
No arrangement was made for the coordination of the veterinary service in the line of communications with that of the several divisions nor even for the coordination of this service in the different sections of the line of communications. Inevitably there ensued defective coordination in this service in these several jurisdictions, for in each of them the veterinary service developed quite independently.
General Orders, No 42, G.H.Q., A.E.F., September 26, 1917, authorized 1 private, first class, or private, Medical Department, as assistant with each veterinary surgeon, and 1 sergeant, Medical Department, with each principal veterinary surgeon of each regiment of Cavalry and Field Artillery, in addition to the privates above authorized. This order also specified that when animals were treated in a regiment the commanding officer of the organization concerned would detail men from the troops, batteries, or Quartermaster Corps to care for them.
The Surgeon General believed it inadvisable under any circumstances to depart from the principle that the veterinary service should be controlled by the Medical Department, and to facilitate the adoption of this viewpoint, as well as to assist in organizing the veterinary service along lines similar to those planned for the Army in the United States, in November 1917, he had two well-qualified veterinary officers sent to France for consultation in connection with organizing, equipping, and supplying the veterinary department of the expeditionary forces.
These officers carried an advance copy of Special Regulations, No. 70, W. D., 1917, concerning the organization of the Veterinary Corps. They made a very comprehensive survey of conditions in the American Expeditionary Forces, and, in conformity with a request of the chief surgeon, A.E.F., one of them, on December 27, 1917, made the following explicit recommendations concerning the organization and operation of a veterinary service for the American Expeditionary Forces:
1. Briefly stated, the objects of the Veterinary Corps should be to prevent disease among the animals of the Army; to relieve organizations, especially the mobile units, of sick and disabled animals, particularly those whose mobility is affected; to treat such of these animals as may be restored to a useful condition, and to attend to the destruction of those which are incurable or which can not be economically treated. With a sufficient and suitable personnel, properly organized and intelligently directed, these objects are easily within the range of attainment.
2. The necessary personnel is provided by General Orders, No. 130, Paragraph III (War Department, October 4, 1917), which directs the organization of a Veterinary Corps, National Army, for the period of the existing emergency, and authorizes 1 commissioned officer and 16 enlisted men for each 400 animals in the Army, the veterinarian of the Regular Army, of the National Guard drafted into the Federal service, and of the Officers’ Reserve Corps in active service to be considered part of the total commissioned personnel authorized. The personnel may be increased or decreased, as the needs of the service require, upon recommended of the Surgeon General approved by the Secretary of War. The grades and the ratios of grades authorized for the commissioned personnel are 7 veterinarians with the rank of major, to 20 veterinarians with rank of captain, to 36 assistant veterinarians with rank of first lieutenant, to 37 assistant veterinarians with the rank of second lieutenant. The enlisted personnel is to consist of the following grades in the proportions indicated: Sergeants, first class, 2 and 1 half per cent; sergeants, 5 per cent; corporals, 5 per cent; farriers, first class, 21 and 1 half per cent; and privates, 43 per cent.
3. In accordance with section 5 of Paragraph III of this order, the Surgeon General has submitted tables of organization of the veterinary personnel, which have been approved by the Secretary of War. Regulations for the government of the personnel have also been submitted and approved by the same authority. The plan of organization upon which these tables and regulations were based is as follows:
a. Veterinary officers, to be attached to divisional organizations, whose duty it shall be to closely observe the animals of their units for symptoms of communicable disease, to discover and report to the commanding officer, with appropriate recommendations, unsanitary or unhygienic conditions or practices which are likely to affect the health or efficiency of the animals, to treat sick or injured animals, and to arrange for the evacuation to a hospital of those which may interfere with the mobility of the organization or which may require a major surgical operation or prolonged treatment. With each veterinary officer are 2 farriers, 1 private, first class, and 2 privates, a detail of this character constituting a veterinary field unit. One such unit is provided for each brigade of Infantry, 2 for each regiment of Field Artillery and 4 for the other organizations included in a division. Veterinary units are provided in the same ratio for detached divisional units. Two veterinary units are provided for each regiment of Cavalry.
b. An organization, which is called a mobile veterinary section, is provided for each division for the purpose of receiving animals from the divisional organizations, giving them such treatment as they may require, and transferring them to a base hospital for treatment.
c. A divisional veterinarian to coordinate and supervise the veterinary service of the division.
d. A veterinary officer to act as meat and dairy inspector and render miscellaneous veterinary service.
e. Base veterinary hospitals, 1 unit of 1,250 capacity to each 12,500 animals, located on line of communications, advance or intermediate section, to provide suitable quarters and veterinary service for animals which may be affected with communicable diseases or which may require a major surgical operation or prolong treatment. All animals recovering in veterinary hospitals are to be delivered to a remount depot under direction of the remount service.
f. Veterinary hospitals for remount depots which are not located convenient to a base veterinary hospital and also to care for diseases or injured animals debarked from transports.
g. Veterinary units in remount depots, 1 unit to each 2,000 animals, to inspect the animals in the depot for symptoms of disease, to discover and report to the commanding officer unsanitary and unhygienic conditions, to treat minor injuries and ailments, and to arrange for the removal to a hospital of animals affected with a communicable disease and those requiring hospital care and treatment.
4. The personnel required for these various organizations is given in detail in Table No. 1, which is attached. In this table personnel is included also for (a) the corps mobile veterinary hospital, and (b) the army mobile veterinary hospital authorized by General Orders, No. 39, paragraph 2 (H.A.E.F., September 18, 1917).
a. The corps mobile veterinary hospital ought to prove a valuable auxiliary to the division mobile veterinary sections, acting as a casualty clearing station and thus preventing the congestion of the mobile sections during an action.
b. The army mobile veterinary hospital will perform a valuable service by receiving and providing treatment for animals whose mobility is not affected and which may require only several days treatment, thus saving transportation to and from a base hospital and at the same time relieving the divisional units and the corps mobile hospital of the encumbrance of such animals. Animals recovering in the army mobile hospitals to be evacuated to the army remount hospital.
5. In order to organize, equip, and insure the proper functioning in the theater of operations of the several elements of the veterinary organization described, and to provide for their coordination and the cooperation with the other services of the Army, it is recommended that a veterinary officer be appointed chief veterinarian, with authority, under the immediate direction of the chief surgeon, to supervise and direct the veterinary service of the American Expeditionary Forces; also that three veterinary officers be appointed assistant chief veterinarians to assist in the administrative work, and that the necessary office assistants be provided. It is further recommended that for each army’s corps a veterinary officer be designated as corps veterinarian to supervise and administer the veterinary service of the corps.
6. The organization outlined is largely supplemental to that authorized for the American Expeditionary Forces by General Orders, No. 39 (II. A.E.F., September 18, 1917). It provides veterinary personnel for the mobile organizations as well as for veterinary hospitals and remount depots on the line of communications. It differs from the latter organization in that it places the veterinary hospitals and the other parts of the veterinary service under one administrative head and also in the veterinary personnel provided for the hospitals and remount depots, these latter changes being based upon the experience of veterinarians in remount depots and in the administration of veterinary hospitals. Nearly all of the questions and problems arising in the conduct of a veterinary hospital require knowledge of veterinary matters for their decision. Moreover, the centralization of the administration of the veterinary service is recommended because every element of the veterinary organization has a definite function to perform and each must work in coordination with the other at all times to obtain satisfactory results. This harmonious cooperation can only be secured by placing the control of all parts of the organization under the control of one head. This also has the effect of centralizing responsibility. Cooperation between the veterinary service and the remount and other services can be arranged for between the administrative head of these services and can be insured, if considered advisable, by regulations.
7. On the basis of the organization outline above, the veterinary personnel required for the organization which have already joined the American Expeditionary Forces is 59 officers and 338 enlisted men. For 3 base veterinary units of 1,250 capacity each, for 1 veterinary hospital for the remount depot at headquarters of base section No. 1, and for 3 veterinary units for the advance remount depot, all of which are at present most urgently needed, there will be required 25 officers and 1,184 enlisted men, making a total of 84 commissioned and 1,522 enlisted personnel for immediate requirements. The proportions of the various grades and the organizations to which they are allotted are shown in detail in Table No. 2, which is attached.
8. The divisional organizations, which have not yet joined the divisions, now here will require 11 commissioned and 85 enlisted personnel.
9. To provide the veterinary personnel for the other organizations included in the first phase of the priority shipment schedule, 59 officers and 1,005 enlisted men will be required.
10. For the organizations included in the second phase of the priority shipment schedule, 139 commissioned and 2,519 enlisted personnel.
11. For the organizations included in the third phase of the priority shipment schedule, 137 commissioned and 2,545 enlisted personnel.
12. The proportion of the several grades, together with the allotment to each organization, is given in detail in Table No. 2, which is attached.
13. On information obtained from tables of organization and from other sources which are regarded as authoritative, it is estimated that the organizations included in the first three phases of the priority shipment schedule will be provided with approximately 195,901 horses and mules. The veterinary personnel authorized for this manner of animals by General Orders, No. 130, War Department, October 4, 1917, is 489 officers and 7,824 enlisted men. The total allotment of personnel on the basis of the organization described is 430 officers and 7,675 enlisted. The proportions of the different grades authorized and allotted will be found in the summary at the end of Table No. 2. The number of veterinarians with the rank of major allotted is in excess of the proportion authorized because one major has been assigned to each base hospital, but the proportion allowed will not be exceeded because it is intended that some of these hospitals will be placed in charge of a captain of the Veterinary Corps. The slight excess of horseshoers and of privates, first class, allotted can be readily adjusted. The veterinary personnel for the organizations, which have not yet left the United States, can be organized there and trained in the cantonments.
At about this time the chief of the administration section of the general staff, general headquarters, notified the chief surgeon, A.E.F., that the commander in chief had decided to suspend the application of so much of the Veterinary Corps regulations (Special Regulations, No. 70, War Department, 1917) as was in conflict with the organization of the remount service, A.E.F., as outlined in General Orders, No. 39, H.A.E.F., and that while the personnel of the Veterinary Corps would remain under the general supervision of the Medical Department, the commander in chief directed that the assignment of all veterinary personnel be made in accordance with recommendations submitted by the remount service. In consequence of these instructions, the chief of the remount service, A.E.F., assumed the direction of all of the veterinary personnel on duty in the American Expeditionary Forces.
On January 2, one of the veterinary officers referred to above, in an interview with the chief of the administration section of the general staff, learned that the general staff was opposed to organizing a separate veterinary service. Such a service would therefore have to be attached to the remount service, an officer of the Veterinary Corps to be designated as chief veterinarian and detailed as assistant to the chief of the remount service to exercise technical supervision over the veterinary hospital on the line of communications. It was pointed out that this would place the chief veterinarian and the veterinarians in the hospitals at a great disadvantage; the result of the hospitals’ work would depend to a great degree upon how promptly sick and injured animals were transferred to them, and the chief veterinarian would have no control over this very important matter. Also it would be impossible for the chief veterinarian to introduce and maintain any custom of inspection to guard against the introduction of communicable disease or to provide for the discovery and correction of conditions or practices, which would impair the health and efficiency of animals, although it was in this way that the Veterinary Corps could render the greatest service. Because of the absence of any system of inspection mange, glanders, and epizootic lymphangitis, three very infectious diseases, had already appeared among the animals of the American Expeditionary Forces. In view of these and other conditions, it was urged that a veterinary service should be organized as promptly as possible.
At the instance of the chief of the administrative section, general staff, the following memorandum was prepared, January 4, 1918, describing a plan of organization which corresponded as nearly as was considered practicable with the requirements laid down by general headquarters, A.E.F.
1. In order that the veterinary service, A.E.F., may be coordinated with the general plans of organization and operation, as outlined by you, the following proposals are submitted for your consideration.
I. ORGANIZATION, ZONE OF THE ADVANCE
2. Divisional veterinary personnel – One major, Veterinary Corps, National Army, as division veterinarian; 1 veterinary officer as meat inspector and for miscellaneous veterinary service; 4 enlisted men; 1 veterinary officers and 25 enlisted men, Veterinary Corps, National Army, for a mobile veterinary section. One veterinary unit consisting of 1 veterinary officer and 5 enlisted men, Veterinary Corps, National Army, with each brigade of Infantry; 2 veterinary units with each regiment of Artillery; and 4 to be detailed by the division veterinarian to the other divisional organizations as required. Total for a division, 15 commissioned and 89 enlisted personnel. Veterinary personnel to be detailed in same ratio to detached divisional organizations.
3. Corps veterinary personnel – One major, Veterinary Corps, National Army, as corps veterinarian; 4 enlisted. Two veterinary officers, and 35 enlisted men, Veterinary Corps, National Army, for a corps mobile veterinary hospital, one for each corps; 5 veterinary units – 2 with each regiment of Cavalry and 1 for the other corps troops. Total, 8 commissioned and 64 enlisted personnel.
4. Army veterinary personal – One major, Veterinary Corps, National Army, as Army veterinarian; 4 enlisted men. The veterinary officers, and 75 enlisted men, Veterinary Corps, National Army, for an Army mobile veterinary hospital, one for each Army; 27 veterinary units – 2 for each regiment of Artillery and 3 for the other organizations included in the Army troops. Four mobile veterinary sections, 1 veterinary officer and 26 enlisted men, Veterinary Corps, National Army, in each section. Total, 35 commissioned and 314 personnel.
LINE OF COMMUNICATIONS
5. Evacuation hospitals – to conduct animals from the corps mobile hospital, and from divisional mobile section and Army mobile hospitals if necessary, to the railhead for transportation to base veterinary hospitals, two for each corps; 1 veterinary officer and 30 enlisted, Veterinary Corps, National Army.
6. Veterinary base hospitals – units of 1,250 capacity, 1 to each 12,5000 animals in the Army; 1 major or captain, Veterinary Corps, National Army, in charge, 5 additional veterinary officers and 349 enlisted men, Veterinary Corps, National Army.
7. Veterinary personnel for remount depots – One veterinary unit for each 2,000 animals in the remount depot.
8. Veterinary hospitals – 500 capacity each, for remount depots and ports of embarkation base sections; 5 veterinary officers and 122 enlisted men, Veterinary Corps, National Army.
9. Veterinary sections of medical supply depots – One veterinary officer and 5 enlisted men for each section.
10. One veterinary officer, Veterinary Corps, National Army, as chief veterinarian; 3 veterinary officers, Veterinary Corps, National Army, as assistant chief veterinarians, and 11 enlisted Veterinary Corps, National Army; total, 4 commissioned and 11 enlisted.
II. OPERATION AND ADMINISTRATION
11. Divisional – a. The veterinary officers attached or detailed to divisional organizations are to exercise close supervision over the animals in order that the presence of communicable diseases may be promptly discovered, that cases of noninfectious diseases and of injury may be brought under treatment in their incipient stages, and that sanitary conditions and unhygienic practice may be corrected before they can do great harm. These veterinary officers should also provide immediate treatment of diseased and injured animals and arrange for the evacuation of those animals, which require hospital care.
b. The function of the mobile veterinary section is to receive the animals of the latter class, give them such attention as they may immediately require, and transfer them to the corps mobile veterinary hospital.
c. The veterinary service of the division should be supervised and administered by the division veterinarian, whose relation to the veterinary personnel of the division should be the same as that existing between the division surgeon and the medical personnel. The division veterinarian should also act in an advisory capacity to the division commander on all matters pertaining to the health and efficiency of the division. If, for military reasons, the office of the division veterinarian can not be at division headquarters, it can be located with the mobile veterinary section, unless otherwise directed by the division commander.
12. Corps – The corps veterinarian should exercise the same function with regard to the veterinary personnel of the corps troops as the divisional veterinarian does with that of the division. In addition, he should direct the operation of the corps mobile veterinary hospital. He should arrange with the veterinary officer in charge of the army mobile veterinary hospital for the evacuation of animals to that organization and also notify the veterinary officers at headquarters of the advance section, line of communication, of animals to be transferred to the railhead in order that the latter may send forward from the evacuation hospitals the necessary conducting parties and arrange for the transportation of the animals to base veterinary hospital.
13. Army – The army veterinarian should supervise and administer the veterinary service of the army troops and direct the operation of the army mobile veterinary hospital. He should keep the veterinary officer at headquarters of the advance section, line of communications, advised of the state of this hospital in order that the latter may make any necessary arrangements for the evacuation of animals.
14. Evacuation hospitals – These should be under the direction of the veterinary officer at headquarters of the advance section, line of communication, Their function should be to bring animals from the corps mobile hospitals, and directly from the divisional mobile veterinary sections and from the army mobile hospital, if necessary, and care for them until they are transferred to base veterinary hospitals.
15. Base veterinary hospitals – located in advance and intermediate sections, line of communications, are to receive and care for animals evacuated from the organizations in the zone of the advance and from remount depots and other organizations on the line of communications. Recovered animals ot be transferred to remount depots.
16. The chief veterinarian should exercise technical supervision over the veterinary service, A.E.F. He should be given charge, under the chief surgeon, of the veterinary personnel, A.E.F., and should have authority to detail officers and enlisted men of the Veterinary Corps, National Army, for duty, and to coordinate the operation of the various elements of the veterinary organization. The officer of the chief veterinarian should be located as the commander in chief may from time to time direct. One of the assistant chief veterinarians should be stationed at the headquarters of the advance section, line of communications, to supervise the evacuation of animals from the corps mobile veterinary hospitals, and directly from the divisional mobile veterinary sections and from the army mobile hospital when necessary, to base veterinary hospitals in the advance or intermediate section, line of communications. One of the other assistant chief veterinarians should be located at headquarters, line of communications, and should be authorized to supervise and direct the base veterinary hospitals located on the line of communications and also the veterinary service of the mobile organization operating on the line of communications. The other assistant chief veterinarian should be in the office of the chief veterinarian to render him such assistance, as he require and to act as an inspector of the veterinary service.
At the instance of the chief surgeon, A.E.F., a memorandum was prepared by one of the veterinarians from the Surgeon General’s Office, giving the reason why the veterinary service should not be attached to the remount service, A.E.F., and a plan for its organization. This, on January 26, met with the approval of the chief of the remount service.
On January 30, the chief surgeon invited the attention of the commander in chief to the unsatisfactory state of the veterinary service in the American Expeditionary Forces. His letter on the subject was accompanied by memoranda giving a thorough analysis of the needs of that service and included recommendations, in detail, concerning its organization, official relationships, and operation.
Meanwhile, the Surgeon General was endeavoring to exert his influence on the organization of a separate veterinary service, A.E.F., as is evidenced by the following extract from a letter written by him to the chief surgeon, A.E.F., under date of January 5, 1918:
The Medical Department is charged by law with the responsibility for the administration of the veterinary service, and it is believed that this responsibility can not be evaded. The department, therefore, does not approve, for the present the amalgamation of the veterinary service with any other branch of the military service. The department is endeavoring to obtain good material for the commissioned personnel of the Veterinary Corps, and is trying to place the whole service on a much higher plane than has been the case in the United States Army heretofore. Until the personnel has had greater experience in administrative matters it will need a great deal of assistance from medical officers of all grades and positions.
Furthermore, on January 21, 1918, the Surgeon General sent the following cablegram to General Pershing on the same subject:
Veterinary service in the United States reorganized and placed on independent, sound working basis suitable to requirements modern warfare. Principle followed similar to British service, excepting it is under direction of Surgeon General, which change now recommended by British. Suggest immediate steps be taken to similarly organize veterinary service with American Expeditionary Forces, creating chief veterinarian, and vesting in him direct control and responsibility to chief surgeon and commanding general. Lieutenant Colonel Aikten, British veterinary service, sent here your request, has been material assistance in affecting reorganization. Would you consider his assignment to your headquarters at early date as adviser in coordinating veterinary service of interior and theater operations? New rules and regulations this service approved, printed, and circulated. Copies in sufficient numbers shipped to France.
On February 6, 1918, the following cablegram was sent to War Department in reply partly to the above quoted message and in explanation of the adherence to the plan of not having an independent veterinary service, A.E.F.:
Subparagraph A. Not advisable to depart from our plans as given in service of rear project, and put in effect by orders issued last September. Veterinary service here branch of remount service; administrative matters at various headquarters handled through remount divisions of chief quartermaster’s offices in which veterinarians are detailed as necessary. As far as possible veterinary officers given complete charge of veterinary hospitals, but results so far are not satisfactory. Absolutely necessary here for the present at least to keep veterinary service largely under supervision officers of mounted services experienced in administrative work and not create another independent service with no experienced personnel. We have too many loose agencies already. As present it is clear that veterinary personnel will render most efficient service if not charged with extensive administrative responsibility. The Medical Corps will handle the supply of medicines and other material through medical supply depots; will handle personnel questions pertaining to veterinary services and exercises supervision over professional phases of work, Veterinarians in the various headquarters officers will perform the inspection and supervise performance of the profession work.
Subparagraph B. It will be satisfactory if you ship corps mobile veterinary hospitals in accordance with paragraph 1 your cablegram 622. We will reorganize in accordance with our plans and necessities of service here. The extra officers and soldiers in addition to those called for in our service of the rear project will allow us to strengthen the veterinary personnel assigned to divisional trains of Infantry divisions so that they will be able to attend sick or wounded animals of Infantry regiments and other units not provided with veterinary personnel. No changes in tables of organization with regard to this considered desirable at present. Any changes found desirable will be recommended later. Do not approve of assignment 1 mobile section to each Infantry division for evacuating animals to rear, which under our system is to be effected by corps veterinary units.
Subparagraph C. Other veterinary units as given in your cablegram 622 satisfactory. All should be sent accordance priority schedule.
Subparagraph D. Number of officers for all remount units as given in paragraph A, your cablegram 673, except corps remount depots appears excessive. Provision otherwise satisfactory.
Subparagraph E. Reference headquarters personnel for remount and veterinary service following should govern. Necessary personnel will be part of chief quartermaster’s offices and medical supply depots. Unnecessary and undesirable to have this personnel separately prescribed as present time. Sufficient personnel available here for all above assignments provided you send all remount and veterinary units organized as indicated in preceding paragraphs and supply replacement drafts in accordance with arrangements for automatic replacements. If any additional personnel is required from the United States for remount and veterinary service you will be promptly advised.
No further efforts were made, for the time at least, to secure the detachment of the veterinary service from the remount service, A.E.F. However, because certain responsibilities of the Medical Department, in connection with the veterinary service, could not be overlooked, and since these had not been definitely covered in instructions promulgated by general headquarters, A.E.F., the chief surgeon, A.E.F., seeking a ruling in the matter, sent, on February 22, 1918, the following memorandum to chief of staff, general headquarters:
1. From all that has been said and written and cabled during the last two months, I gather that, so far as the veterinary service is concerned, it is the duty of the Medical Department to furnish personnel and supplies for the veterinary service, A.E.F., and that the remainder of the veterinary service will be handled by the remount service. Will you please indicate if my conclusion on this subject in correct.
2. I consider it most important that a definite answer shall be given in this matter before the contemplated change is made. My only desire is that the Medical Department shall meet the obligations expected of it in the organization, which has been adopted.
The pronouncement from general headquarters, A.E.F., concerning the above quoted memorandum from the chief surgeon was to the effect that, since the veterinary service was a part of the remount service, the chief surgeon, after supplying needed personnel to the Medical Department, would report other personnel to headquarters, Service of Supply, for assignment to the remount service for the veterinary purposes. In so far as veterinary supplies were concerned, these were to be supplied by the Medical Department.
The officers who had been sent to France at the instance of the Surgeon General in November 1917, with a view of organizing a veterinary service, continued their efforts until March 10, 1918, when they submitted a final report.
Believing that there was nothing further that the could do and that their mission was a complete failure, they returned to the United States, leaving in the hands of the assistant chief of staff, G-1, general headquarters, A.E.F., a lengthy memorandum and a copy of a general order pertaining to the organization and administration of the veterinary service, A.E.F., which they had proposed.
On March 10, 1918, the chief quartermaster, A.E.F., was directed by the commander in chief to appoint a chief veterinarian, A.E.F., and accordingly a veterinary officer of the grade of major was assigned to that position. The newly appointed chief veterinarian’s duties were those of a technical advisor to the chief of the remount service rather than those of an administrator. He was not permitted to administer his department; he was subject to the control of the chief of the remount service, the latter in turn to that of the chief quartermaster. Consequently, in all matters affecting the advance area, the chief veterinarian had to communicate his instructions through, and subject to the approval of, not only the officers mentioned but also of the general staff, general headquarters. The delay in transmitting instructions through these channels was considerable, particularly where each successive head, being responsible for each proposal submitted through him, wanted details before he would approve and transmit any request. The situation was of most serious import when the outbreak of an epidemic was reported, for the chief veterinarian, being only a technical advisor for his own branch of the service, was not permitted even to exercise technical administrative duties over other veterinary officers. Eventually, however, he was given authority to correspond with division veterinarians direct on technical subjects.
Neither the chief of the remount service nor chief veterinarian had any direct authority in the zone of the advance, so that the administration of the two services, remount and veterinary, in the armies had to be effected through general headquarters. As a result of this situation some 75,000 animals in the advance area were practically outside of their administrative control.
Since animals on purchase were shipped direct to remount depots, and 70 per cent of the animals became sick on arrival, the remount depots became virtual veterinary hospitals; consequently animals cured at veterinary hospitals were issued direct to divisions. Veterinary units arriving in France from the United States had to be sent to remount depots instead of to veterinary hospitals because of the great numbers of sick animals there. Mange spread extensively among all the animals of the American Expeditionary Forces, and in the advance zone thousands of them had been treated by hand through lack of properly constructed mange hospitals with hot sulphur baths.
A systematic method of remount and veterinary construction did not go into effect until June 1918. All veterinary hospitals were crowded to the utmost, and half of our sick animals were being treated either at remount depots or with their organizations. At one time 600 animals of the 1st Division were turned over to a French Cavalry regiment for treatment for the cure of mange, as we had not sufficient hospital space to treat them. Glanders broke out frequently among animals of combat divisions, and because it took five days or more through the necessary channels of administration to reach the outbreak, the disease naturally spread to a greater number of horses than would have been the case with a more direct system of control.
On July 3, 1918, General Pershing requested the War Department to send to France the best available senior veterinarian for administrative duty. The officer selected sailed on July 30, 1918.
Reports received about this time showed an enormous amount of sickness and disability among public animals. For weeks the non-effective rate was above 30 per cent, and the prospects seemed excellent for a complete breakdown of the veterinary service and the practical immobilization of animal organizations.
The defects in service which, had developed up to this time were attributed by the officer who had been acting as chief veterinarian, to the following conditions:
1. Lack of technical administration of the veterinary service by a chief veterinarian.
2. Mixing of diseased and healthy horses at remount depots.
3. Slowness of construction of both veterinary hospitals and remount and remount depots.
4. The necessity of entire separation of a service of supply such as was the remount service, and a service of salvage, such as was the veterinary service.
5. The lack of a high-ranking officer representing the veterinary service as a separate organization
General Orders, No. 122, general headquarters, A.E.F., July 26, 1918, revoked General Orders, No. 39, 1917, but the veterinary service remained attached to the remount service and under its jurisdiction. The chief veterinarian retained technical supervision of the veterinary service, A.E.F., and the necessary officers and personnel for this purpose were assigned to his office.
In a memorandum to the commander in chief, A.E.F., dated August 9, 1918, the chief surgeon, A.E.F., remarked that the existing organization in veterinary service was as illogical as making the medical service of an army a function of the recruiting and replacement service. It prevented the development of the veterinary service along professional lines and resulted in the mingling, at all points along the line from rear to front, of serviceable horses going forward with sick horses going back, thus resulting in a very high mortality rate and a great deal of infectious disease. Seventy per cent of the animals in the American Expeditionary Forces at the time were suffering from sickness, whereas in the British service the proportion was only 7 per cent from all cases.
At this time a veterinary officer and a remount officer of the British Army were assigned to headquarters, Services of Supply, in response to a cabled request for their services in order that they might give the American Expeditionary Forces the benefit of their experiences. These officers, through the headquarters of the British mission, made certain recommendations for betterment in the remount and veterinary services, A.E.F. The British veterinary officer, who had been of great assistance to the veterinary service in the United States, obtained audiences with the chief of staff, A.E.F., and the chief quartermaster, A.E.F., and recommended that the veterinary service, A.E.F., be made to conform to Special Regulations, No. 70, War Department, which order he had assisted in formulating. After the chief of staff, A.E.F., and chief of remount service had inspected several remount depots and veterinary hospitals, this recommendation was approved and General Orders, No. 139, general headquarters, A.E.F., August 24, 1918, was issued, directing that the veterinary service be transferred from G-1 to G-4, general headquarters, that a veterinary division be established in the office of the chief surgeon, and that the veterinary service, A.E.F., conform to Special Regulations, No. 70, War Department, 1917. This order was the basis of the perfected organization of the veterinary service, A.E.F.
AS PART OF THE MEDICAL DEPARTMENT
Under the chief surgeon the officer at the head of the veterinary division of his office was now charged with the administration of the veterinary service, A.E.F., whose relations with the remount service were to be those prescribed by paragraph 138 of Special Regulations, No. 70. The organization of veterinary units was to continue as prescribed by the tables of organization then in force.
On August 27, a Veterinary Corps officer was made chief veterinarian, A.E.F., and was assigned to the chief surgeon’s office, and, August 29, a veterinary division of that office was organized. It was through no fault of its own that the veterinary service, A.E.F., had not been properly organized at an earlier period of its history, but defects yet were such that they were not overcome until March 1919.
The adoption of Special Regulations, No. 70, War Department, 1917, marked the real beginning of the veterinary service, A.E.F. This new organization provided simple, direct, and efficient mechanism for the evacuation of sick and inefficient animals from combatant forces to veterinary hospitals in the Services of Supply, where organized and specially trained units cared for them. From these Services of Supply hospitals the animals that were free from disease were evacuated to remount depots and thence returned to service. Animals, which were not considered, fit for treatment and eventual reissue were sold to butchers and civilians or killed to terminate their suffering. Some were employed in the Services of Supply.
The veterinary hospitals were placed under command of veterinary officers, and steps were taken immediately to collect scattered companies and half companies of such hospitals into whole working organizations. The issue of convalescent animals from veterinary units back to organizations was stopped, and the policy of passing all convalescent animals through remount depots for reissue was instituted. The prompt rendition of weekly animal sick reports and their accurate compilation was insisted upon. Requirements were anticipated and reinforcements from the United States, already overdue, were cabled for. Further hospital accommodation was sought, and, with difficulty, an insufficient amount procured. These measures led to a material reduction in animal morbidity.
The chief veterinarian, A.E.F., exercised direct jurisdiction over the activities of the veterinary service only in the Services of Supply; in the zone of the armies, administrative contact effected this through a veterinary officer with the fourth section of the general staff, G.H.Q. Through arrangements with the British and the French missions, an officer of the veterinary service of the British and French Armies was secured for liaison work. These officers were assigned to the office of the chief veterinarian, A.E.F.
As finally organized, the office of the chief veterinarian comprised the following:
a. The chief veterinarian
b. Executive officer
c. One inspector
d. An administrative branch
e. A construction branch
f. A personnel branch
g. A statistical branch
h. Liaison officers
ORGANIZATION AND PERSONNEL
Tables of Organization, No. 331, December 31, 1917, prescribed for a veterinary hospital (capacity 1,000 patient) 7 veterinary officers, 1 medical officer, and 311 enlisted men.
Tables of Organization, No. 109, February 12, 1918, fixed the strength of a corps mobile hospital at 2 officers, and 35 enlisted men.
Tables of Organization, No. 330, March 10, 1918, prescribed for a mobile army (or for a base) veterinary hospital (capacity 500 animals) 4 officers and 144 enlisted men.
Tables of Organization, No. 43, January 14, 1918, provided for each Infantry division 3 veterinary field units and 1 mobile veterinary section, the total personnel of this service for a division being placed at 12 officers and 51 enlisted men. Each division leaving the United States was to be accompanied by this contingent, part of whose members composed the units above mentioned while the others were assigned to division headquarters, brigades, Artillery regiments and trains.
The veterinary hospitals authorized for the American Expeditionary Force were as follow:
1. Corps Mobile Veterinary Hospital (evacuation); with 2 officers and 35 enlisted men.
2. Army Mobile Veterinary Hospital (evacuation): with 4 officers and 144 enlisted men, and designed for 500 patients with half of the equipment of a veterinary hospital.
3. Base Veterinary Hospital (stationary): with the same allowance of personnel and equipment as the proceeding.
4. Veterinary Hospital (stationary): with 8 officers and 311 enlisted men. This was the typical veterinary hospital for the service of the rear and had a normal capacity of 1,000 animals.
General Pershing’s project for the rear called for the shipment of foregoing units as follows:
Corps Mobile Veterinary Hospital – 5
Army Mobile Veterinary Hospital – 1
Base Veterinary Hospital – 2
Veterinary Hospitals – 26
The phases under which the foregoing units were shipped are shown on page 209, Volume I of this history. Other units organized which reached France under a additional (October) phase consisted of Corps Mobile Veterinary Hospitals No. 7,8 and 9.
Veterinary personnel were also sent to France with 4 Cavalry regiments, 6 Engineer regiments, and 29 Remount Squadrons.
The 1st, 2nd, 26th, 42nd, 41st, and the 32nd Divisions left for overseas in the order before the veterinary personnel was fully assigned or the mobile sections organized, but the latter were assembled and sent over as a part of the first phase.
With the foregoing exceptions, veterinary organization of the first eight Regular Army, the National Guard, and the National Army divisions was accomplished at the station when each division was organized, and the veterinary units proceeded overseas with there respective divisions.
In April 1918, the 132 veterinary officers available in France were quite able to meet all needs, but the situation was quite different is so far as enlisted men were considered. The first two veterinary hospitals, comprising 300 men each arrived in France on April 4, 1918, the delay in their arrival being due to the same cause that delayed other Medical Department organizations, that is to say, shortage of tonnage and the necessity for giving priority to combatant troops. This shortage of men was some what relieved, however by detailing certain squadrons of the remount service to assist the veterinary service.
With some minor changes veterinary units organized in the United States in conformity with the project for services of the rear were sent to France as called for in the priority schedule.
The following table shows the veterinary hospitals units and their enlisted strength which arrived in France between April 16, 1918, and January 1, 1919, with dates of embarkation from the United States and demobilization.
As shown in the above table, several of the units were absorbed by other veterinary organizations in France, and never operated independently. They were demobilized with the units of which they had become a part.
In addition to hospital groups above listed, other personnel were sent over with division, corps, and army organizations, until the Veterinary Corps, A.E.F., reached a maximum of 890 commissioned officers and 9,701 enlisted personnel. The latter were augmented by 2,000 labor troops who were assigned to this service, and at various times temporarily by several hundred men of the remount service. There was no appreciable service diminution until April 1, 1919, when the veterinary service began to be gradually reduced and personnel sent to the United States for demobilization and discharge.
The following table shows the strength of the Veterinary Corps, A.E.F., as various dates:
No real veterinary hospitals were established in France in 1917. Such hospitals began to appear in the spring of 1918, so far as records go the first establishments were as followed:
Veterinary Hospital No. 6 at Neufchateau, April 16, 1918
Veterinary Hospital No. 4 at Carbon Blanc, May 4, 1918
Veterinary Hospital No. 4 at Camp de Souge (Detachment of above), May 12, 1918
Veterinary Hospital No. 10 at Bourbonne-les-Bains, July 8, 1918
Veterinary Hospital No. 8 at Claye Souilly, August 8, 1918
Veterinary Hospital No. 9 at St. Nazaire, August 8, 1918
Veterinary Hospital No. 7 at Coetquidan, August 8, 1918
Note: Veterinary Hospital No 2 was in France in April 1918, Detachment A and B under Major Reuben Hilty and needs to be researched as to the location at the time – Greg K
When the Medical Department took over the veterinary service on August 29, 1918, there were in operation 11 hospitals, with a total capacity of 11,580 animals. Fifteen had been established, but some had been abandoned.
On November 1, 1918, there were in operation 15 veterinary hospitals throughout the different areas of the American Expeditionary Forces, but not all construction had been completed. The total animal capacity then available was approximately 12,000, but this was inadequate as many more cases than this number had to be cared for, thus necessitating the use of picket lines, corrals, paddocks, and other expedients.
After November 1, however, locations for veterinary hospitals were rapidly secured at Verdun, Longuyon, and Commercy, in the Advance Section, and construction was rushed to completion at Sougy and Lux, in the Intermediate Section. Three thousand animals were turned into the veterinary hospital at Verdun within 24 hours after the personnel arrived there for station in December, though the accommodation of the veterinary hospital there was for less 1,700 animals.
A determined effort was made to locate new hospital sites and have more labor troops assigned to Veterinary Corps to aid in evacuation and care of sick animals until the veterinary hospital personnel, which were on the water or cabled for would arrive.
On November 11, 1918, one Army Mobile Veterinary Hospital was in service of the First Army, where it had been for several months, and another in that of the Second Army. At this time Mobile Veterinary Hospitals which had been provided for the First, Second, Fourth, and Seventh Corps, were either assigned or available; furthermore, a mobile veterinary hospital for each of the three other corps was on the shipping program. Twenty-one veterinary hospitals and two base veterinary hospitals were provided in the Services of Supply (S.O.S.), and 10 other veterinary hospitals and one other base veterinary hospital were on the shipping program or in process of organization in France when the Armistice was signed.
When the Third Army moved to the Rhine, locations were secured for veterinary hospitals at Coblenz and Treves, and personnel to man them was rapidly pushed forward. Stables of knock down type for 10,000 animals were held in readiness at Verdun for shipment to the Third Army if required.
Location of the principal veterinary hospitals of the American Expeditionary Forces during operations, with approximate animal capacity each is in the below table.
Veterinary Hospitals were established also at Toul, Meucon, Epinal, Sougy, and Treves, in the zone of the armies.
The maximum number of veterinary hospitals, exclusive of those with the armies was 21. The total capacity of these hospitals was 27,614 animals.
On March 1, 1919, there were 20 veterinary hospitals in operation, exclusive of the army veterinary hospitals with an animal capacity of 26,664 and containing about 20,000.
After April 1919, the capacity of veterinary hospitals was gradually reduced, and by May 1, 12 veterinary units had been placed on the priority list for return to the United States, and all labor troops had been relieved from duty with the veterinary service. Only 8 hospitals were then in operation, containing about 4,000 animals. The hospitals could have been evacuated more rapidly but for the fact that the remount depots were receiving animals from troops that were returning home and were crowded to capacity. Therefore animals were held at hospitals until they were in a salable condition.
After June 20, 1919, demobilization preceded very rapidly and by September practically all members of the veterinary service had been returned to the United States except such as were designated for duty with the American forces in Germany.
SUPPLY OF ANIMALS
Much of the embarrassment of the veterinary service was due not only to inadequate personnel but also to the crowded condition of the hospitals, which in turn resulted from the fact that replacement animals were not available in sufficient numbers at any time prior to the Armistice to permit early evacuations of animals moderately incapacitated. This caused great numbers to become totally incapacitated, required hurried evacuation, and necessitated relatively prolonged treatment.
In July 1917, the French agreed to furnish our forces with 7,000 animals a month; accordingly, the War Department was requested to discontinue shipments. However on August 24, 1917, the French advised us that it would be impossible to furnish the number of animals originally stated, and the War Department was again asked to supply animals, but none could be sent over until November, and then only a limited number.
Up to July 1918, relatively few horses belonged to the American Expeditionary Forces. When it was decided to hasten the departure of American troops to France, the prevailing shortage of ship tonnage made it impossible to transport with troops their full complement of horses. As a result, in April 1918, although there were six divisions of the American Expeditionary Forces in France, the had (including all animals in remount depots) only 55,378 animals. It had been hoped that horses could be obtained in Europe, but the supply proved altogether insufficient, and consequently what horses the American Expeditionary Forces had were overworked, contracted a large amount of contagious diseases, and rapidly became inefficient through sickness, with a high mortality.
Early in 1918, after General Pershing’s personal intervention and much delay, the French Government made requisition on their country and we were able to obtain 50,000 animals. After many difficulties, the purchasing board was successful in obtaining permission in the summer of 1918 to export animals from Spain, but practically no animals were received until after the Armistice was signed. Sound animals sent up from depots were soon infected in divisional areas.
Because of the shortage of veterinary surgeons in the American Expeditionary Forces, no officers of that corps were available for the inspection of some 30,000 of the animals purchased; a result of this situation was the inclusion of a great many diseased horses among those thus procured. Every effort was made to reduce animal requirements by increasing motorization of artillery and by requiring mounted officers and men to walk, but in spite of all these efforts the situation as to animals grew steadily worse. The shortage by November 1, 1918, exceeded 106,000, or almost one half of all our needs. To relieve the crisis in this regard, during the Meuse-Argonne operation, Marshal Foch requisitioned 13,000 animals from the French Armies and placed them at the disposal of the American Expeditionary Forces.
EVACUATION OF SICK AND WOUNDED ANIMALS
The system of animals evacuation adopted by the American Expeditionary Forces, and promulgated in General Order, No. 39, H.A.E.F., September 18, 1917, was similar to that employed by the British Veterinary Service. In this order it was prescribed that the veterinary service should operate as follows:
Animals with organizations of the army that were wounded or had become unserviceable were to be taken over by mobile veterinary units and delivered to the nearest veterinary hospital. The organization from which these unserviceable animals were taken were to requisition on the nearest corps remount depot for the animals needed to replace those turned over to the Veterinary Corps, and the corps depot was to deliver to the organizations the animals asked for. The corps remount depots were to be kept filled by transfers of animals from the Army depot, which was to keep its quota of animals by requisition on the advance or base depots. All remount depots were to receive at anytime any animals that had been cured of disease or that had recovered from wounds at veterinary hospitals. In short, the remount service was to keep organizations supplied with serviceable animals and the veterinary service was to relieve organizations of the care of all sick or serviceable animals.
There was no intrinsic reason why this plan should not have worked successfully provided it was completely developed. It was merely an outline of the plan of supply and evacuation, and since there was neither provision for administrative veterinary officers nor for the close coordination of the different parts of the veterinary service, inevitable there developed under General Orders, No. 39, H.A.E.F., 1917, one veterinary service functioning under the remount service, and one in each divisions, all operating quite independently. Also, no corps or Army veterinary service was provided for in connection with moving troops, nor was there any arrangement for coordination of the services in the base, intermediate, and advance sections.
The need of an organized veterinary service in the army zone became strikingly apparent during the Aisne-Marne operation in the summer of 1918. In the First and Third Corps, which participated, no uniform system for the evacuation of disabled animals had been provided for, and each of the constituent divisions operated its veterinary service independently, caring for its animals and disposing of them on its own initiative and as best it could. This lack of coordination in these two corps entailed a great loss of animals. In the First Corps a corps veterinarian was appointed who organized a corps mobile hospital of 2 officers and 35 men, augmented by a troops of Cavalry. It is noteworthy that this organization collected disabled animals from the divisions of the corps and prepared plans for their subsequent shipment to the rear, thus being our first attempt to carry out a systematic plan for the evacuation of disabled animals.
In the plans for the organization of the staff of army and corps, First Army, no provision had been made for a veterinary staff service, but as the necessity for such a service was now recognized, an army veterinarian was appointed for the First Army when that force was organized. This officer operated under the remount service until the veterinary service was transferred to the Medical Department on August 27, 1918.
Division mobile veterinary sections, located at the most accessible points for receiving animals from divisional units, received and prepared all cases for evacuation. Here first aid was given; the mallein test was administered; if necessary animals were shod; if in hopeless condition they were destroyed to prevent suffering.
From the divisional collecting points they were transported overland by the mobile veterinary sections to receiving points of corps mobile veterinary hospitals where they were classified, given first aid treatment as at divisional points, and in turn evacuated to the army mobile veterinary hospitals. These units were charged with the temporary care of animals and their shipment to Service of Supply (S.O.S.) hospitals.
At first the use of railheads for the evacuation of sick animals was refused by the First Army, without reference to General Headquarters, A.E.F. Thus hundreds of animals debilitated and sick, often suffering from serious wounds, were lost through being evacuated long distances overland; literally thousands were retained divisions through the inability of the veterinary personnel to cope with the requirements of long overland evacuation. Eventually, the necessity for evacuating by railroad was conceded, but for a time another difficulty obtained. Instead of the activity being considered a veterinary one, it was placed directly under G-4 of the army; consequently, this portion of the evacuating mechanism being out of the control of the army veterinarians, adequate arrangements could not be made by him to send trainloads of sick animals to the hospitals prepared to receive them. Instead, animals to be evacuated were sent to hospitals deemed most suitable by G-4 of the army, the personnel of which did not always possess adequate knowledge of the receiving capacity of such hospitals. Presently this obstacle was removed, however, and veterinary-evacuating hospitals (sections) commanded by veterinary officers, took over the evacuated animals from divisions and moved them by railroad to allotted hospitals.
About October 1, 1918, two army evacuating units were placed forward near advanced railheads to carry on the work of receiving sick animals direct from the divisional mobile veterinary sections and attend to their evacuation, the corps units being taken over and consolidated with those of the army. This proved of great advantage and was the means of saving the lives of many animals that otherwise would have perished on the way to the rear under the operation of the former system.
Because of the great shortage of replacements necessary to keep up the animal strength of organizations, the evacuation of inefficient animals, unless totally disabled, was impossible during active operations. This circumstance in turn caused many animals to be returned which should have been evacuated earlier.
Failure to provide animals for replacements during active operations was a most important factor in the increase in the number of sick. It happened repeatedly that the recommendation of veterinarians concerning the evacuation of unfit animals was opposed by unit commanders, who protested that sick and emaciated animals were better than none and that the activities of their units would be crippled or wholly suspended unless sick animals were retained or replaced. Consequently, animals were worked until they starved to death, died in harness or were in such condition that when evacuated they could not be cured. Also under these conditions mange spread so rapidly that the entire animals strength of some organizations was affected. Inevitable there were great losses, which could have been averted, had replacements been available. The retention of inefficient animals within Combatant units hindered in no small measure the mobility and efficiency of organizations operating on the frontline. Not until after the Armistice began did these units fail to show hesitancy in evacuating incapacitated animals, and then sick animals long retained in divisions were thrown in large numbers upon the veterinary service for evacuation and treatment. Upon the removal of a great percentage of the sick, the efficiency of the animals left was markedly increased.
Adequate provisions could not be made for the flow of evacuations that ensured after the St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne operations, and, as a result, the veterinary hospitals were greatly undermanned and overcrowded. Sick animals had been so long retained with divisions, that their evacuations in bulk, although absolutely necessary, threw great strain on all veterinary hospitals, and some of them perilously approached collapse.
The large number of evacuated at this time is indicated by the fact that, in 24 hours, 3,000 animals were evacuated to the veterinary hospital at Verdun where the stable capacity was only 1,625. Fortunately, 10 veterinary hospitals were at sea or under orders to embark, and until sufficient veterinary personnel became available labor companies and remount squadrons were temporary detailed to assist these hospitals. However, even with this increase of resources there as not sufficient personnel to meet the situation fully.
An efficient veterinary service which gradually brought the animal efficiency of the American Expeditionary Forces to a standard comparable with that of the Allies was not reached until after the Armistice was signed.
The following figures pertaining to the First Army indicate to a degree the scope of its veterinary service:
Animals evacuated – 11, 507
Died – 2,037
Destroyed – 1,334
Killed in action – 734
The highest number of animals of the First Army was 93,032, while the average strength was 8,841. Mange and debility caused the majority of the evacuations from the First Army.
The Second Army evacuated it disabled animals to a veterinary hospital established at Toul, whence some animals were sent to other veterinary hospitals in the Service of Supply. When the Second Army was organized October 10, 1918, it was not intended that it should at once undertake a vigorous operation. It had a relatively quiet sector, and was preparing for an offensive, which began three days before the Armistice was signed and was terminated by the event.
At this time Advance Veterinary Hospital No. 5 was stationed at Jeanne d’Arc Caserene, near Toul. This unit had been utilized by the First Army during the St. Mihiel operation. It now passed to the control of the new army and was used as a receiving station for all evacuations from the Second area. From this point, after a rest, the animals were shipped to Service of Supply hospitals. Shortly before the Armistice began the veterinary hospital at Jeanne d’Arc Caserene was taken over by the Advance Section, and two army mobile veterinary hospital units were assigned to take care of Second Army evacuations. These were placed at the advance railheads and were ready to function in the military operation about to take place; however, owing to the cessation of hostilities they did not operate in the manner planned except to receive and evacuate sick animals from organizations held in the area awaiting orders for movement to the rear. These evacuating units were retained at the points where they were originally located and were used for the establishment of temporary hospitals until the Second Army as such passed out of existence.
As in the First Army, most of the losses and incapacity of animals in the Second Army were due to the ravages of mange and improper care. Replacements being difficult to procure, organizations were loathe to give their animals up in the early stages of disease; consequently, they were held until so emaciated and diseased as to be a constant menace to the other animals of the command.
The following tabulation indicates the extent of veterinary operations of the Second Army:
Greatest animal strength – 30,391
Average animal strength – 12,007
Number of animals evacuated – 6, 219
Number killed in action – 146
Number wounded by shrapnel and high explosives – 385
Number died from debility and exhaustion – 207
Number died from other causes – 298
Number missing in action – 27
Evacuation of animals from the Second Army was limited to a minimum because the crowded conditions of the Service of Supply Veterinary Hospitals made imperative the treatment of large number of animals within their organization. Approximately 30,000 animals were dipped between February 1 and April 10, 1919, and large numbers of others in divisional units were hand treated by sprays.
In order to provide sufficient animal strength for the Third Army, it was ordered, before the march into Germany, that the divisions of the First and Second Armies not designated as part of the Third Army turn over a sufficient number of serviceable animals, free from disease, to units of the Third Army, and evacuate all sick and unserviceable animals for transfer to veterinary hospitals. This naturally caused a great increase in the number of animals’ evacuation and consequent congestion of veterinary hospitals.
On the march into Germany no adequate provisions were made for caring for sick and disabled animals; therefore, animal losses were heavy.
In this army also, mange became one of the most important diseases, and it was not long before a large percentage of its animals were affected. The seriousness of the situation was soon evident, however, and dipping vats were established throughout the army area, clipping of the animals was instituted, and all animals were dipped regularly. By pursuing this method of treatment, it was but a short time before the mange situation was well in hand. The number of animals dipped exceeded the total number of animals, for many of them were treated several times in this manner.
Statistics concerning operations of the Third Army from December 24, 1918, to June 1, 1919, are as follows:
Greatest animals strength – 54,782
Number of animals evacuated – 6,504
Number admitted to Third Army Hospitals – 3,326
Number sold from hospitals – 1,141
Number turned over to remount depots – 862
Number died – 1,199
Number destroyed (mostly for butchering) – 1,716
Greatest number of mange cases reported (Feb. 14,1919) – 9,000
Number of animals dipped – 54,782
Subsequent to August 27, 1918, when such data became available, 317,690 animals were admitted to sick report. Of these, 105,019 were admitted for mange, 21,153 for influenza, 2,079 for pneumonia, and 549 for epizootic cellulites. Mallein tests for glanders numbered 948,065; 9,122 doubtful cases were retested; 2,721 animals were destroyed by reason of glanders. The number o animals transferred from one hospital to another was 71,043, 197,690 animals were restored to duty after treatment; 17,585 died after being taken over by the veterinary service. Total losses to August 31, 1919 were 63,369.
The total losses from deaths and missing constituted practically 26 percent of all animals supplied to the American Expeditionary Forces. After the Veterinary Corps was placed un the Medical Department the number of deaths among animals amounted to 17,585, as contrasted with 41,373 deaths which occurred while the corps operated under the remount service.
After April 1, 1919, when animals had been placed in salable condition, they frequently were sold to French civilians, by some officer of the remount service who visited the hospital in order to conduct this sale. After that date surplus animals were also disposed under an agreement with the French Government by which those in good health were to be taken over and sold at auction in the various French regions and the proceeds of the sale, less 5 percent, were to be turned over to the American Government.
In veterinary hospitals all animals, which would not be fit for service in two months were inspected and condemned, and turned over to the French at a fix price of 450 francs. If too weak to be removed from the hospital they were sold for butchery purposes.
Mange caused great havoc in the animal efficiency of the armies in Western Europe. Its eradication under war conditions was impossible, but the British Army demonstrated that, with proper care, by the adoption of strict sanitary precautions and the prompt evacuation and treatment of animals affected, it could be kept well under control. In that army the number of cases under treatment was reduced from 20,000 in July 1916, to approximately 2,000, two years later.
On February 15, 1919, animal sickness in the American Expeditionary Forces reached its maximum for the whole period of operations, 48,975, or about 21 per cent of the total number of animals then on sick report. Of this number, 30,756, or about 16 per cent, of our animals were suffering from mange. Such energetic measures were taken to remedy the situation that the number of cases rapidly diminished, and, on March 1, 1919, but few active cases of mange were to be found.
In the First Army the method of treatment was by the use of sulphur chambers, which proved effective. The method of treatment in the Second Army involved the use of dipping vats. In addition to dipping, however, great numbers were successfully treated in organizations by the use of hand sprays. The standard lime and sulphur dip was the agent used for treatment in either case.
Influenza took heavy toll of both animals and animal efficiency during the early operations of the American Expeditionary Forces. This condition was inevitable, for at this time all veterinary hospitals were operated in conjunction with remount depots, and sick and well animals intermingled with but little opportunity for segregation. Furthermore, fresh remounts purchased from the civilian population were often sent direct to combat organizations without preliminary training to harden them for active service. Therefore, great numbers of these animals perished from influenza or its complications and those which recovered were left is so weak and emaciated a condition that, being of little value for service, they had to be evacuated at the earliest opportunity.
Generally speaking, gangrenous dermatitis was the cause of the great prevalence of such foot diseases, variously classed on sick report, as quitter, canker, pododermatitis. Caused by the Bacillus necrophorus, which existed in the soil everywhere in France, it only became necessary for the standings and roads to become muddy to cause its rapid spread. No records are available showing the numbers of cases of this infection, for such cases were classed under diseases of locomotion; but it is beyond question that this disease caused a large percentage of deaths and disabilities.
In former wars glanders had been the disease most dreaded, and the most reducing of animal strength, but in the World War its ravages were held at a minimum. This was due to the mallein and its practical application in recent years, thus enabling veterinary officers to detect the disease in its incipient stages. Three different practical field tests were available: The ophthalmic, thermal, and intradermic (termed the intrapalpebral in the American Expeditionary Forces).
The intradermic test was the one adopted by the Veterinary Corps of our own and the allied armies, and it proved the most simple and efficacious for field service when its technique was properly understood. Many of our veterinary officers were not at first acquainted with its technique and, undoubtedly, some cases of glanders escaped their attention in the beginning of our operation.
Following appointment of a chief veterinarian, A.E.F., in July 1918, instructions were given to test all animals at least once a month. This test was carried out to the extent required in so far as it was possible under existing conditions, and no doubt was the means of reducing the spread of glanders to a minimum. It is worthy of note that never was there any great outbreak among the combat organizations at the front, although glanders gained considerable headway in some of the veterinary hospitals.
The weekly report on glanders showed an average of six cases per week up to November 23, 1918, when, for the week ending on this date it suddenly increased to 34 cases. Early in 1919, the chief veterinarian, A.E.F., on investigation, found that some veterinary officers did not understand the test through lack of proper instruction in technique. Instructions was sent out by him immediately, stating the manner of administering and reading the test, and were later supplanted by a bulletin from general headquarters, A.E.F.
In addition to instructions being distributed, officers thoroughly familiar with the test were sent to all units in the American Expeditionary Forces to demonstrate the intradermie test to veterinarians.
Because of the prevalence of glanders in our veterinary hospitals, the chief veterinarian, A.E.F., held at St. Nazaire on January 7, 1919, a conference of veterinarians to formulate rules for the administration of the intradermal test and for the technique in reading reactions.
To confirm tests previously made, further tests, both intradermic and laboratory, and post-mortem examinations were made in a large number of reacting animals, which had been killed. The results were noted to confirm the reactions previously given. After a study of the results, recommendations were submitted to general headquarters, A.E.F., on February 25, 1919. These recommendations gave full instructions in administering tests, and in combating outbreaks of glanders, together with sanitary precautions necessary to prevent contraction of the infection by sound animals.
The more accurate tests required were followed by an immediate increase in the number of cases reported, the report for the week ending January 18, 1919, showing 391 cases, but, from this date the number reported declined rapidly. Only 44 cases were under treatment on March 1. The week ending April 19, showed only 6 cases, and at this time the glanders situation was believed to be well in hand. When the task performed by the Veterinary Corps in controlling glanders and the difficulties confronting it are considered, the number of cases destroyed does not appear excessive. Such cases were 2,721, or approximately 1 per cent of all animals supplied to the American Expeditionary Forces.
Debility, while not properly classed as a specific disease, is worthy of some consideration in connection with a study of the animal morbidity of the American Expeditionary Forces. This condition was the result of various causes, such as the effects of influenza, mange, overwork, lack of food and water, improper grooming, delayed evacuation. Wastage from this cause alone figured largely in animal losses, but unfortunately no accurate data can be formulated concerning it.
The losses from digestive disorders, although not excessive, were considerable. These maladies were usually due to conditions of the forage. Moldy forage often had to be accepted because of the absence of other reliable feed.
QUARANTINE OF PUBLIC AND PRIVATE MOUNTS FOR RETURN TO THE UNITED STATES
Quarantine for 66 private and 54 public mounts was established at Camp de Souge (Gironde) on May 1, 1919, for animals designated for return to the United States. The quarantine was to cover a period of 90 days in France and to be continued for the same period in the United States. This was subsequently changed to 30 days in France and 150 days in the United States, including time in transit. On account of overcrowding on the transports bringing the animals to the United States, the quarantine regulations unavoidably were broken, and it became necessary to retain such animals for the full period of 180 days from the date of arrival in this country. The quarantine in France was to start on May 15, 1919, the date set for the receipt of the last animal, but this was later changed upon request from the office of the chief surgeon, A.E.F., and the time limit fixed for August 20, 1919, although base section No. 2 was officially closed before this date. For this work there were assigned 5 officers and 144 enlisted men, Veterinary Corps.
The importance of this quarantine can not be fully realized unless it is taken into consideration that the animals in question had been exposed to all classes of infectious diseases incident to the war. Some of these diseases had never existed in the United States and for this reason most careful and rigid quarantine regulations were formulated by the veterinary division of the Surgeon General’s office in connection with and accordance with recommendations made by the Department of Agriculture.
(July 28, 1917, to July 15, 1919)
Col. Berkeley T. Merchant, Cav., chief
Col. D.S. White, V.C., chief
Lt. Col. Harold E. Bemis, V.C.
Maj. George R. Powell, V.C.
Capt. Horace Z. Homer, V.C.
First Lt. Theodora C. Beechwood, V.C.
First Lt. Will W. Korb, V.C.
2nd Lt. Maurice E.J. Evans, V.C.
In this list have been included the names of those who at one time or another were assigned to the division during the period of July 28, 1917, to July 15, 1919.
There are two primary groups – the heads of the divisions or the section and the assistants. In each groups names have been arranged alphabetically, by grades, irrespective of chronological sequence of service.
END OF REPORT
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