National Archives catalogue number WO 177/701.

 

Abbreviations

942678

AA

AA & QMG

AAC

A/C

ACC

AD

Admin

ADMS

ADS

A/L

Amb

A/Tk

Attd

Bde

Bn

BP

Bty

CCS

Cdg

CF

CMP

CO

Comd

Coy

Div

DLI

DS

DZ

Fd

i/c

Incl

Instr

Junc

LA

LST

MDS

MG

MO

OC

OO

OR

P of W

Pt

QM

RA

RAChD

RAMC

RAP

RASC

Rd

RE

Ref

Regt
RMO

Sec / Sect

SMO

Sqn

Tps

US

Map Reference
Anti-Aircraft

Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster General

Army Air Corps

Aircraft

Army Catering Corps

Army Dental

Administrative

Assistant Director Medical Services

Advanced Dressing Station

Airlanding

Ambulance

Anti-Tank

Attached

Brigade

Battalion

Blood Pressure

Battery

Casualty Clearing Station

Commanding

Chaplain to the Forces

Corps of Military Police

Commanding Officer

Command

Company

Division

Durham Light Infantry
Dressing Station

Drop Zone

Field

In-Command

Including

Instruction

Junction

Landing Area

Landing Ship Tank

Main Dressing Station

Machine Gun

Medical Officer

Officer Commanding

Operation Order

Other Ranks

Prisoners of War

Point

Quartermaster

Royal Artillery

Royal Army Chaplains' Department

Royal Army Medical Corps

Regimental Aid Post

Royal Army Service Corps

Road

Royal Engineers

Reference

Regiment

Regimental Medical Officer

Section

Senior Medical Officer

Squadron

Troops

Unserviceable

 

 

Month and year: July 1943

Commanding Officer : Lt-Col. P.R Wheatley. R.A.M.C.

 

1st July 1943

Place: Djemmal Area (Tunisia 1/50,000 Series 4225 Sheet 65 Map Ref: 477376).

 

10 O.Rs. from 133 (Parachute) Field Ambulance attached to this Unit for all purposes.

 

2nd July 1943

Place: Djemmal Area

 

2015 - Capt. A.W. Lipmann Kessel rejoined the unit having come by road from MATMORE.

 

3rd July 1943

Place: Djemmal Area

 

Lieut. S.L. Kaye & Capt. (Rev) R.T. Watkins C.F. with 15 O.Rs. rejoined the unit having come from previous location by road.  1 Para. Bde. Operation Order No.14 (operation HUSKY - FUSTIAN).  Notes on Para G.5. [?].1 & 1 Para. Bde. Admin. Instr. issued in conjunction with O.O. No.14 all received (appendicies 1, 2, & 3).

 

4th July 1943

Place: Djemmal Area

 

Capt. J.H. Keesey & 25 O.Rs. (baggage party) rejoined the Unit.  Unit Operation Order No.5 (operation HUSKY - FUSTIAN) issued (appendix 4).  Colonel Wheatley attended a conference at A.D.M.S. Office at which he received Medical Administrative Instruction No.1 in conjunction with the forthcoming operation (appendix 5).

 

5th July 1943

Place: Djemmal Area

 

Capt. Logan joined unit from Bde.

 

6th July 1943

Place: Djemmal Area

 

1450 - Unit called out to stand by for casualties from the Divisional Ammunition Dump which had accidentally been set on fire.  Only 2 minor casualties evacuated by Unit.  Area declared free from danger by 1900 hrs.  Lieut S.L. Kaye proceeded to SOUHK ARRAS for the purpose of [?] recruits for parachute duties.

 

2245 - Fire alarm sounded but "all clear" blown ten minutes later.

 

7th July 1943

Place: Djemmal Area

 

Major A.T. Marrale R.A.M.C. (67301) joined Unit from England for duty as Second-in-Command.  Copy of arrangements for airfield casualties on operation HUSKY received from A.D.M.S. (appendix 6).  Medical arrangements for 1 A.L. A/T. Bty. R.A. & 1 Para. Sqn. R.E. sent out (appendix 7).

 

8th July 1943

Place: Djemmal Area

 

Capt. Keesey & Young studied maps & air photographs & divisional local medical plan with R.M.O. (Capt. J.H. Rutherford R.A.M.C.) 3 Bn. The Parachute Regt.

 

9th July 1943

Place: Djemmal Area

 

All officers studied maps, air photographs & sand-tables in the briefing room of 1 Bn. The Parachute Regt.

 

2000 - Final conference of all Bde. M.Os. at this H.Q.

 

10th July 1943

Place: Djemmal Area

 

1800 - Colonel Wheatley addressed all ranks going on operation & gave them the general picture of the forthcoming operation on Sicily.  Capt. Young gave O.Rs. a lecture on security, how to act if taken prisoner, & methods of escaping.  Message received from the Commander 1st. Airborne Division (Maj. Gen. G.F. Hopkinson O.B.E. M.C.) & is attached as appendix 8.  Instructions re transport to airfield for operation received from 1 Para. Bde. (app.).

 

11th July 1943

Place: Djemmal Area

 

Capt. Young lectured to all operational O.Rs. on Italian pronunciation & useful phrases.  Lieut. S.L. Kaye rejoined Unit from SOUKH ARRAS.  Instruction No.2, re transport to airfields in event of operation being postponed, received from 1 Para. Bde. (appendix 10).

 

12th July 1943

Place: Djemmal Area

 

Administration instructions for today carried out as in attached appendix (II).

 

1700 - Operation postponed for 24 hours & personnel returned from airfield.

 

13th July 1943

Place: Djemmal Area

 

1300 - OPERATION 'FUSTIAN' declared 'on' tonight.  Unit administrative instructions of yesterday repeated today.

 

2015 - Aircraft took off.  The following personnel of the unit took part:-

R.A.M.C.  6 Officers (Colonel Wheatley, Major Longland, Capts. Wright, Keesey, Percival & Lipmann Kessel) & 76 O.Rs.

A.D. Corps.  1 Officer (Capt. Ridler) & 1 O.R.

R.A.S.C.  5 O.Rs.

A.A.C.  1 O.R. (batman to Padre)

R.A.Ch.D.  1 officer (Capt. (Rev) R.T. Watkins C.F.)

Total: 8 officers & 83 O.Rs.

 

Party remaining at base as follows:-

R.A.M.C.  5 officers (Major Marrable, Capt. Young, Capt. Logan, Capt. (Q.M.) Anderson & Lieut. Kaye) & 26 O.Rs.

R.A.S.C.  29 O.Rs.

A.C.C.  4 O.Rs.

Total: 5 officers & 59 O.Rs.

 

14th July 1943

Place: Djemmal Area

 

Capt. Lipmann Kessel returned from operation with 3 O.Rs. of his medical team, the L/Cpl. of them being in close arrest for refusing to jump.  They had run into A/A fire over their objective all the stick jumped until it came to the L/Cpl. (No.14) who refused & was in such a position that Nos. 15, 16, & 17 (Lipmann Kessel) were unable to jump.  Capt. Kessel requested the pilot (C.47 aircraft) to run in over the D.Z. again but this was refused & they flew back to base.

 

15th July 1943

Place: Djemmal Area

 

2000 - Capt. Percival & 11 O.Rs. of No.4 section returned from the operation.  After hooking up, his stick (which consisted of himself 1 S/Sjt. 1 Cpl. 1 L/Cpl. & 12 Ptes. R.A.M.C. & 1 Dvr. R.A.S.C.) were shot down into the sea by a British convoy.  The aircraft (C.47) sank quickly & 4 O.Rs. are missing.  The remainder of the stick were picked up by a Greek destroyer & taken on to Malta where the S/Sjt. was admitted to hospital.  Capt. Percival & the remaining 11 O.Rs. came on to Sousse by boat.

 

16th July 1943

Place: Djemmal Area

 

Report of operation by Capt. Lipmann Kessel attached as appendix (12) & that of Capt. Percival as appendix (13).  No news received of Unit in the field.

 

17th July 1943

Place: Djemmal Area

 

0900 - Received telephone message from Staff Captain 1 Para. Bde. that personnel of unit would be returning from operation but none have appeared.  No news of unit except that Bde. objective was taken, held & then lost, & that all C.Os. in the Brigade are safe.

 

18th July 1943

Place: Djemmal Area

 

Major Marrable interviewed R.A.M.C. volunteers for Parachute Duties from 98 General Hospital & 8 C.C.S.  Court Martial on L/Cpl. of Surgical team who refused to jump on operation turned down by A.A. & Q.M.G. on medical grounds.  L/Cpl. to be posted away from Division as unfit for medical duties.

 

1850 - News received from Divisional H.Q. that the 4 O.Rs. "missing" from Capt. Percival's section were picked up & are now safe in Malta.

 

19th July 1943

Place: Djemmal Area

 

0130 - Information received from H.Q. 1 Para Bde. that Unit expected to return between 0730 & 0930 hrs.

 

0815 - The following are the number of personnel who arrived back in camp from operation HUSKY - FUSTIAN.

R.A.M.C.  4 officers (Col. Wheatley, Major Longland, Capts. Wright & Keesey, 51 O.Rs.

R.A.S.C.  3 O.Rs.

R.A.Ch.D.  1 officer (Rev. R.T. Watkins C.F.)

A.A.C.  1 O.R.

Salvage Party left in Sicily consisting of 1 officer (Capt. D.H. Ridler A.D. Corps) 1 O.R. A.D. Corps, 6 O.Rs. R.A.M.C. & 1 O.R. R.A.S.C.

Unit casualties: Missing: 5 O.Rs. (including 3 O.Rs. R.A.M.C. & 1 O.R. R.A.M.C. previously reported safe in Malta).  Wounded 1 O.R.

 

Personnel from 133 (Parachute) Field Ambulance, & not on the operation, returned to own unit.

 

20th July 1943

Place: Djemmal Area

 

0830 - The Divisional Commander (Major General G.F. Hopkinson O.B.E. M.C.) addressed all personnel of the Brigade who had taken part in operation HUSKY - FUSTIAN.

 

1000 - Colonel Wheatley held a conference of both Surgical teams to discuss lessons learned on the recent operation.

 

21st July 1943

Place: Djemmal Area

 

Colonel Wheatley held a conference of all officers & N.C.Os. down to corporal to discuss future operational equipment.  Capt. Keesey's report of operation HUSKY - FUSTIAN attached as appendix 14.

 

22nd July 1943

Place: Djemmal Area

 

1245 - The salvage party from the operation arrived (Capt. Ridler, 1 O.R. A.D. Corps, 6 O.Rs. R.A.M.C. & 1 O.R. R.A.S.C.)

 

23rd July 1943

Place: Djemmal Area

 

Colonel Wheatley's report on operation attached as appendix 15.  Capt. Wright's report on operation attached as appendix 16.

 

24th July 1943

Place: Djemmal Area

 

1400 - Capt. Logan & 2 O.Rs. R.A.M.C. proceeded to Brigade Rest Camp near TUNIS for M.I. Room duties.

 

25th July 1943

Place: Djemmal Area

 

0800 - Capt. Percival, 6 O.Rs. R.A.M.C. & 2 O.Rs. R.A.S.C. proceeded to Brigade Rest Camp as unit advance party.

 

1000 - Colonel Wheatley held a conference of all officers to discuss future policy.

 

26th July 1943

Place: Djemmal Area

 

Capt. P.J. Irwin joined Unit from Tunis District H.Q.  Arrangements made for him to commence Parachute course on 4 Aug.

 

27th to 31st July 1943

Place: Djemmal Area

 

Brigade Rest Camp period extended to 4 days for each party.  First part of 40 men left for Rest Camp on 26 July.  Remainder in Unit normal fatigues, no training.  Nothing else to report.

 

 

Appendix 

Operation Order No.5.

OPERATION HUSKY/FUSTIAN

 

4 July 1943

Ref. Maps: 1/100,000 ITALY Sheet 270.

                  1/25,000 Naval Collation Map CATANIA.

 

INFORMATION.

        1.  Enemy.  See Intelligence Summary.

        2.  Own Troops.

                (a) 8th Army in co-operation with American Army is invading SICILY on D day.

                (b) 1 Para Bde on night D2/D3 or on any subsequent night is given the task of seizing the bridge 942675, in order to assist the Northward advance of 13 Corps with which it must be prepared to co-operate.  1 Para Bde will come under comd. leading Div of 13 Corps directly physical contact is established.

                (c) Dispositions of 1 Para Bde will be as follows:

                        1 Para Bn with under comd 'C' Tp 1 Para Sdn R.E. will drop on D.Z. 1 and 2 between Z and Z plus 45.  They will capture the bridge and form its close defence until North and South Bridgeheads are established, and then come into reserve.

                        3 Para Bn with under comd No.3 Sec 16 Para Fd Amb will drop on DZ4 between Z plus 5 and Z plus 70 and 'B' Tp 1 A L A/T Bty will land on LA7 at Z plus 160 and come under comd 3 Para Bn.  3 Para Bn will neutralize the gun posn at 923706 and establish bridgehead on general line from about F in F. SIMETO 9468 to bend in river about MASS BICOCCA 9269.

                        2 Para Bn will drop on DZ3 between Z plus 15 and Z plus 50.  'A' Tp 1 A L A/Tk Bty will land on L.A.8 at Z plus 160 and come under comd 2 Para Bn.  2 Bn will form South Bridgehead by capturing high ground 933656, 945638 and 924652.  They may have to push Southwards to assist advance of 13 Corps if situation is favourable.

                        HQ plus 'B' Tp 1 Para Sqn R.E. are in reserve with Bde HQ.

 

INTENTION

        3.  16 Parachute Field Ambulance will collect, treat and hold until relieved, all casualties from the Brigade area.

 

METHOD

        4.  R.M.Os. will hold casualties at R.A.Ps. until D.Ss. are open.

        5.  A.D.S. - O.C., Captain J.H. Keesey, R.A.M.C.  No.3 Sec under command 3 Bn Para Regt will drop on DZ4 and proceed with the Bn to RAP site at 939681, O.C. Sec will contact RAP of 1 Para Bn. He will recce most suitable site for an ADS within area 500 yds North and West of the bridge.  As soon as the situation becomes stablized No.3 Sec will come under command Field Ambulance and will set up an A.D.S.  O.C. Sec will be responsible for collecting all casualties from the North side of the river and will hold them until further orders.  Particular care will be taken in the triage of these cases.

        6.  M.D.S. - O.C., Captain A. Percival, R.A.M.C.  No.4 Sec and HQ including two Surgical team will drop on DZ2.  They will R.V. with 1 Para Sqdn R.Es. at farm 921657 and move with them to lying up area in gully in area 935674.  During the night as soon as the situation permits O.C., M.D.S. will:- 1. Send party to recce and prepare MDS site.  2. Collect casualties from D.Z.2.  3. Collect spare equipment from D.Z.2.  M.D.S. will be set up at farm 938666 as soon as Bde consider it safe.  [unreadable]

        [unreadable] Captain D. Wright will drop with 'R' Coy 1 Bn Para Regt on D.Z.2.  He will treat all casualties from that company area and hold them at a post near the Coy H.Q.  These casualties will be evacuated direct to MDS when ordered by O.C. Fd Amb.  When required Capt. Wright will be withdrawn to the MDS to act as anaesthetist.

        8.  D.Z. Casualties.  R.M.Os. will make their own arrangements and will inform other Units of them, in case men are dropped on the wrong D.Zs.

        9.  Subsequent Events.  5 Div are responsible for clearing Dressing Stations.  It is hoped that evacuation may start on evening of D plus 3.  The M.D.S. must be prepared to function for 3 days and will be committed to the Ground.  In the event of the Brigade moving into action in another area, No.3 Sec will move under orders of Bde HQ.  It will leave behind enough personnel to look after any cases it is holding at the time & any equipment which it does not require.  If the Brigade is evacuated leaving the MDS behind RMOs and RAMC personnel in the Bns will be prepared to remain with the MDS if the situation requires it.

        10.  Flight Table.

                (a) Allocation of A/C and Timings - see Appendix 'A'.

                (b) D.Zs. Centre -

                        1 .............. 935688

                        2 .............. 923666

                        3 .............. 903660

                        4 .............. 914704

                (c) LAs Centre -

                        7 .............. 927664

                        8 .............. 938675

                (d) Approach to D.Zs - EAST to WEST.

                (e) Altitude - SEA LEVEL.

 

ADMINISTRATION

        11.  Dress, Equipment and Loading Tables - as in Unit Loading tables modified on Jun 26, 1943.

        12.  Rations.  Each man will carry 48 hr ration and 1 Emergency ration.  It is most important that casualties bring their own Rations to the Dressing Stations.

        13.  Water.  Two filled water bottles will be carried on the man.  No man will drink without orders from an officer.  Medical officers will test water supplies and arrange for refilling of water bottles at first opportunity.  Two water sterilizing tablets will be put in each water bottle full.  One canvas 3 gall container will be carried in each aircraft for use in flight.

        14.  Anti-Malarial Measures.  This area is highly malarious: 1. Sleeves will be rolled down before Sunset.  2. Anti-mosquito ointment (Mark II) will be applied after dark.  3. Mepacrine will be taken regularly in the normal manner.  4. Mosquito veils will be worn at night whenever conditions permit.

        15.  Hygiene.  Local milk is unsafe and will NOT be drunk.  Soft fruit and local vegetables will not be eaten uncooked.  Shallow trench latrines will be dug at first opportunity.  It is most important that the ground should not be fouled.  Until latrines can be dug 'Cat Hole' sanitation will be carried out, and holes carefully covered.

[unreadable].

        Movement in the open by day will be restricted to a minimum.  The large Red Cross will NOT be displayed without permission of Bde Cmdr.

        18.  Relations with Civil Population.  Under International Law the lives and property of civilian population in a hostile country must be respected.  Any cases of looting will be punished in an exemplary manner.  Fraternisation with the civilian population during the operation will be discouraged.

        19.  Geneva Convention.  No RAMC personnel will take part in any offensive action.  By doing so they may jeopardise the whole of the Medical Service.  All protected personnel will wear Geneva Cross Armlet and carry protective cards.

        20.  Equipment.  It is an operational necessity that every possible piece of equipment is salvaged for future use.  If personnel are evacuated before equipment a guard will be left behind.

        21.  Patients Kits.  Haversacks of wounded men will not be removed from them.  They will provide a means of safeguarding the mens documents and small kit and will accompany them through subsequent evacuation.

        22.  Clerking.  A & D Book will be kept at the MDS.  Records will be kept at the A.D.S. of all cases evacuated direct from there.

        23.  Returns.  Will be rendered as follows:-

                (a) Fighting Strength.  O.C., A.D.S. and all R.M.Os. will inform M.D.S. of any casualties to RAMC personnel by 0430 hrs daily.  Nil  returns are NOT required.  M.D.S. will render Fighting Strength to Bde by 0530 hrs daily.

                (b) State of Sick.  M.D.S. will render (1) Daily Signal of Sick (2) Daily State of Sick at midnight each night to A.D.M.S., 1 Airborne Div. as laid down in 13 Corps instructions.

 

INTERCOMN

        24.  Locations.

                S.M.O. at Bde. HQ. - During night of drop, in gully 937674, moving in morning to area of rd. junc. 936665.

                M.D.S. - Farm 938686.

                A.D.S. - Within area 500 yds North & West of Bridge.

                R.A.Ps. - 1 Bn.  North Bank of river 940675.

                                2 Bn.  Area Track Junct. 940675.

                                3 Bn.  939681.

                Captain D. Wright will be 2nd i/c Field Ambulance and Deputy S.M.O.

        25.  Codes.

                (a) Brigade Code - for use within Bde only - see Appendix B.

                (b) Medical Code - for describing casualties - see Appendix C.

        26.  Recognition Signals.

                (a) A.F.Vs. - British A.F.Vs carry pennant flying two flags - one at top, one at half-mast.  They carry also rectangular patch on front, sides & rear - RED, WHITE, RED.

                (b) Personnel.  The following will be used for recognition of Airborne Tps by relieving ground forces:

                        (1) Luminous metal strip - scale of one per man.

                        (2) Red cloth panel 2' x 4' with White star in centre - scale of one per section.

                        (3) Berets will be worn when not in contact with the enemy.

        27.  Password.

                Challenge ........ DESERT RATS.

                Answer ........... KILL ITALIANS.

        28.  Zero.  2200 hrs.

        29.  Time.  Zone time 'B' (GMT plus 2 hours) will be used.  Letter suffix 2 (GMT) or B (B) will be used.  e.g. 2130 hrs GMT becomes 2130Z or 2330 B hrs.

 

ACK.

(Sd) P.R. Wheatley,

Lieutenant-Colonel, R.A.M.C.,

Commanding 16 Parachute Field Ambulance.

 

Time of Signature:- 1730.

Method of issue:- By hand.

 

 

Appendix 12

 

Report on Operation "Fustian"      Capt A.W. Lipmann-Kessel, RAMC

 

On July 13th 1943 I was a member of Field Ambulance Stick No.2 (Brigade Stick No.92) which set out in a C.47 Douglas Aircraft in the operation on Catania.

 

The stick was constituted as follows:-

104449

7267091

7395054

7360730

7366937

7266923

7381695

T/96151

7522897

7264147

7379316

7520678

7384504

7367321

7385549

7369132

227647

Capt

Pte

Cpl.

Pte.

Pte.

Pte.

Sgt

Cpl

RSM

L/Cpl

Pte.

Pte.

L/Cpl

L/Cpl

Pte.
Pte.

Capt

D.H. Ridler

Hodgson, G.D.

Hardie, E.

Etherington, J.H.

Hall, J.

Green, W.

Bellamy, J.D.

Power, J.

Brock, F.W.

Hill, W.

Payne, A.

Gaskell, J.

Couling, H.R.

Wilson, F.

Wallace, J.G.

Myers, G.

A.W. Lipmann-Kessel

A.D. Corps

R.A.M.C.

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

Jumpmaster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Surgical Team

"

"

"

"

"

"

 

We emplaned at 1930 hours on "B" Strip and the aircraft taxied up to the starting point ten minutes later.  During this run-up we developed a flat rear tyre and had to disembark while this was rapidly changed.  We took off at 2015 hours., flying at about 200 feet towards Malta which we reached at about 2145 hrs, when we were ordered to don equipment and parachutes.  The aircraft reached the coast off S.E. corner of Sicily at about 2230 hrs and were ordered to "stand up".  The pilot ran up and down the east coast (about mile out to sea) before turning in to cross the coast for the approach to the D.Z.

 

While standing up I noticed several fairly large fires burning some miles inland in the region of Catania airfield and the explosions of heavy Ack Ack in the air over that region.  Doing the run up and down the coastline looking for the landmarks to guide him, the pilot was taking evasive action.  As we crossed the coastline at high speed, we were fired on by machine guns, I saw two such machine guns firing at us from both flanks.  They were using red "tracer" ammunition.  The aircraft was hit several times but as far as I am aware no personnel were injured.  Immediately after this we were warning "one minute to go" and at this point No.14 L/Cpl. Wilson asked me for some water.  As it was obviously impossible to get him any water at such a time, I told him to wait until we got down.  We then received the warning red light followed a few seconds later by the Green light - the signal to jump.  At this moment L/Cpl. Wilson slumped to the floor and I shouted No.15 to move him out of our way.  Pte. Wallace (No.15) partly succeeded in doing this, but L/Cpl. Wilson again slumped to the floor, this time across No.15's static line.  By now the first 13 members of the stick had left the aircraft which was taken evasive action at high speed.  Pte. Wallace (15), Pte. Myers (16), and myself (17) were therefore left in the aircraft.  I asked the Pilot to make a second "run in" in order that we might make our descent, but he declined to do so saying that one engine had been damaged.  After a few minutes out to sea on the return journey, both engines appeared to be running well so I repeated my request to be taken over the D.Z. again.  The Pilot refused to do so saying that the risk was too great.

 

We returned to Strip B at 0130 hours, and I ordered L/Cpl Wilson into Close Arrest and then requested to the A.L.O. that I be sent over in another aircraft.  I was informed that this was impossible and after making a brief written report I returned to the aircraft.  The following morning Pte. Wallace, Pte. Myers and myself returned to our Unit.  L/Cpl Wilson has been taken into custody by the C.M.P. at the aerodrome.

 

(signed) Lipmann-Kessel

Capt R.A.M.C.

Field

16 July 43

 

 

Appendix 13

 

Report by Captain A. Percival, R.A.M.C., on the Operation "Fustian".

 

No.4 Section and myself left Landing Strip "B" at 1950 hrs on 13th July 1943 using a Douglas C.47 aircraft.

 

The section consisted of:-

1 Officer

1 Staff-Sergeant

1 Corporal

1 Lance-Corporal

12 Privates - R.A.M.C.

1 Driver, RASC

 

The flight was uneventful and we got our twenty minute warning at 2235 hrs.  As we were hooking up, the aircraft was fired upon by a convoy.  The second burst of A.A. fire hit us and put the controls out of action.

 

The pilot made a forced landing in the sea at 2245 hrs - we were then about seventeen miles west of Syracuse. [Note: this should read 'east of Syracuse']

 

As the aircraft was landing we took off our Parachutes and got dinghies ready for use.

 

We then sat down and prepared for the shock of landing.  The Pilot made a perfect landing and nobody was injured.

 

I detailed two men to go out through the escape hatches.  They got out onto the wings and we passed them each a dinghy.  I then detailed another six men to get out (three to each escape hatch).  By this time the plane was filling rapidly with water and the escape hatches were under water, so I told the rest of the men to file out of the jumping door.  They did so in an orderly fashion until eventually the plane was totally submerged.  I think that at this time there was S/Sgt. Anderson, Cpl. Amos, Pte. White and myself left in the plane.

 

S/Sgt. Anderson and myself managed to swim out of the aircraft which was down 30 feet below water at this time.  Apparently Cpl. Amos and Pte White failed to get out.

 

We all gathered around the dinghies for about twenty to thirty minutes until we were picked up by a Greek destroyer.  I was then able to check up on who was missing.  There was Cpl. Amos, Pte. White, Pte. Wheeler and Dvr Went.  We failed to see either of the last two mentioned in the sea, using the ship's searchlight.  Eventually we were taken to Malta docking there at 0700 hours on the 14th.

 

We were taken to a Transit camp and ordered to get back to Sousse in a T.L.C., which sailed that afternoon.


We arrived at Sousse at 1900 hours on the 15th and proceeded to our unit.

 

Nominal roll of section attached.

 

(signed) Percival

Captain, R.A.M.C.,

Officer i/c Section

Field

16/July/43

 

 

Appendix 14

 

OPERATION HUSKY - FUSTIAN

 

Report of No.3 Section, 16 (parachute) Field Ambulance.

 

Dropped in region of bridge (876697).  Run in N-S, at 2315 hrs.  Five containers found out of six.  Six members of stick, including S/Sjt. dropped S. of river and failed to join Stick Commander at containers.

 

After recceing area for some time to determine position, at 0130 hrs met Major Bush of 3rd. Bn. and party in the region of the bridge and proceeded along N. bank of river with them.  Progress slow owing to trolley heavily laden, and difficult country.  Wheeled stretcher damaged by 'Flak' and found to be US.  Trolley and some equipment dumped about 895689 at about 0300 hrs.

 

At 0400 hrs. were at 903705 and it was decided to lie up in this area owing to impossibility of reaching objective before first light.  Lay up in this position all day.  Shots exchanged with an Italian patrol, but no other activity during day.

 

At 2200 hrs. Wednesday, 14th. July, started off to reach bridge.  When pt. 921684 was reached it was expected to find 'B' Coy. 3 Bn. but they were not present.  Owing to impossibility of knowing position in bridge area and poor armament of party, decided to lie up here until position could be seen.  One casualty (A.A. shell wound of thigh) seen during this night - first aid given and taken on walking with party when we proceeded next night.

 

During day bridge seen to be in enemy hands, so at 2100 hrs.  Thursday 15th. July, started on bearing of 180 degrees until we made contact with British troops at 920647 at about 0030 hrs. next morning.  Thence to Bde. H.Q. where joined rest of Unit at 0130 hrs.

 

(signed) Keesey

Capt. R.A.M.C.

O.C. 3 Sec. 16 (Parachute) Field Ambulance.

Field.

21 JUL 43.

 

 

Appendix 15

 

Report on Operation HUSKY/FUSTIAN, 13/7/43

 

Map Ref:  Naval Collation Map - CATANIA Sheet 4.

 

Note - The object of the operation was that the 1st Parachute Brigade should capture intact the important Bridge 942678 over the River SIMETO to allow 13 Corps of the 8th Army to advance over it to CATANIA.  The operation did not go according to plan, as less than 20% of the troops were dropped in the area, but the bridge was captured, the charges removed and the enemy were denied reinforcements for the high ground to the South of it.

 

A. PREPARATION

 

1. Training.

After a period of 5 months without any parachute training the Unit arrived at MATMORE Nr. MASCARA on 12 May 1943 for 6 weeks training.  Training consisted of:

    i. Stick training with Container drill, trolley erection and marching by day and by night.

    ii. Specialist training - Post operative nursing, resuscitation water duties and sanitation.

    iii. Jump in daylight followed by simple container drill and forming up.

    iv. Exercise Cactus I - IV which were night drop exercises over ground similar to that of the operation.  Cactus I - III were independent exercises by Units and Cactus IV a complete Brigade rehearsal over the same ground.  Dummy equipment was used in these exercises.  On 30 Jun the Brigade moved to its operational base in the SOUSSE Area.

 

2. Medical Plan

No.3 Section under command 3 Para Bn was to drop on DZ 4 and set up an ADS on the North side of the bridge to clear casualties from the 1st and 3rd Bns.  No.4 Section and HQ including 2 surgical teams was to drop on DZ 2 and set up a MDS at the farm 938666.  They would clear all casualties from the South of the river, and cases selected for operations from the ADS on the North side.  Captain Wright was to drop with R Coy 1 Bn on the South side of the bridge, set up an Aid Post, after which Capt Wright would join the MDS to act as anaesthetist.  S.M.O. to drop with Bde on DZ.

Centre of D.Zs:-

    No.1. 935688. (1 Bn. The Parachute Regt.)

          2. 923666. (R Coy. 1 Bn., Bde HQ., and Fd Amb.)

          3. 903660. (2 Bn. The Parachute Regt.)

          4. 914704. (3 Bn. and No.3 Sect. Fd Amb.)

Proposed Location of RAP's and Dressing Stations:-

    M.D.S. - Farm 938666.

    A.D.S. - Within area 500 yds North and West of Bridge.

    RAP's - 1 Bn. - North bank of River 940676.

       "      - 2 Bn. - Area Track junc 937662.

       "      - 3 Bn. - 939681.

 

3. Personnel

As Bns were under strength in RAMC personnel 18 NCO's and men were attached to them from the Field Ambulance before Cactus I. bringing the R.A.M.C. Strength to:-

    1 Bn. - 1 M.O. and 19 Other Ranks.

    2 Bn. - 1 M.O. and 16 Other Ranks.

    3 Bn. - 1 M.O. and 16 Other Ranks.

    Bde.HQ - S.M.O., 2 O.Rs. RAMC. 1 Bde Orderly.

Field Ambulance sticks of 17 each were organised as follows:-

    No.3 Sec.  1 Officer (199991 Capt J.H. Keesey RAMC) 15 ORs RAMC, 1 OR RASC.

    No.4 Sec.  1 Officer (223758 Capt A. Percival RAMC) 15 ORs RAMC, 1 OR RASC.

    HQ Sticks incl a Surgical Team in each

        (a) 2 Officers (104446 Capt. D.H. Ridler A.D. Corps 227647 Capt. A.W. Lipman-Kessel RAMC Surgeon) and 14 ORs incl. RSM and Sgt. Clerk, OR RASC 1.

        (b) 2 Officers (236049 Maj CJ Longland RAMC. Surgeon  Rev. R.T. Watkins. R.A.Ch.D. - Chaplain) 11 ORs. RAMC, 1 OR A.D. Corps, 2 ORs RASC, and 1 AAC (Padre's Batman).

The capacity of the Fd Amb was strained to the limit and 9 men borrowed from 133 Fd Amb were used to make up the numbers required.  Total RAMC taking part in Operation - 8 Officers 110 O.Rs.

 

4. Equipment

Every man jumped with his small pack, two water-bottles, a liberal supply of dressings and spare tea for patients.  In addition a few items of essential equipment e.g. Small Surgeon's Roll, Syringes, Morphia, Flags Directing were distributed amongst personnel of each stick.  Section Equipment was as designed in January with minor alterations.  Each section stick had six containers in which were included a trolley and a wheeled stretcher.  No.4 Section carried half one surgical team equipment.  Each Surgical Team stick carried 5 containers to be emptied and on spare to be left on the DZ.  Other spare containers to be left on the DZ were carried by Bde HQ.  The total number of these was 9, of which six contained comforts, Plasma, standard expendable Packs and fuel, and the remaining three contained stretchers.  2nd Line supplies in 10 baskets was prepared and sent to RASC.

 

5. Brigade Medical Instructions

The taking of mepacrine normally before the operation was enforced.  Each man carried:-

    8 Mepacrine Tablets

    1 tin Mosquito cream.

    1 Set Water Sterilizing Tablets.

    2 Shell dressings.

Morphine tubonics and Benzadrine were distributed to Bns to be used at the discretions of C.Os.  Denim trousers were worn by all ranks.  Water was provided in each plane, and certain precautions were advised against Air-sickness e.g. fatless meal before flight and sandwiches in the plane.

 

B. THE OPERATION

 

1. The Flight.

The take off was between 1917 and 2020 hrs, and dropping was timed to take place between 2220 and 2315 hrs.  Many planes went out of their allotted course.  The plane containing No.4 Section was shot down into the sea by Merchant ships who mistook it for a torpedo carrying aircraft.  Four Other ranks from this plane are missing, the remainder were rescued by a destroyer.  'Flak' over the dropping area was considerable and contributed to scattering of sticks.

 

2. The Drop.

(a) No.3 Sec dropped in the area [8769?], astride the river 3 miles West of the objective.  S/Sgt Stevens and four ORs on the South side became detached from their Section and made their [word missing - way?] to the objective.  Another man from the stick joined them later.  Capt Keesey with the remainder of the stick on the North side of the river collected the equipment from the containers.  The wheeled stretcher was hit by flak and was useless.  They joined up with a small party of 3 Bn men and moved along the North bank of the river, with the trolley for 2 miles but the going became so bad that they had to discard the trolley and some of their equipment.  They were forced to lay up all the next day and were unable to find any British troops the next night, the Bridge being then in enemy hands.  They lay up for another day and did not report into Bde until the night of July 15.

 

(b) Captain Ridler's stick dropped on D.Z.3.  Captain Lipman Kessel with three other ranks did not jump, being held up by one of the men fainting.  The pilot would not make a second run over.  The stick made their way to the farm selected as the M.D.S. and arrived there about 0445 hrs.  It was occupied by Italian soldiers who were easily driven out and made prisoner by Capt Ridler and an R.A.S.C. Corporal.  The R.S.M. proceeded to prepare the farm, and Capt Ridler tried to contact Bde HQ but was unable to do so, but contacted 2 Bn at the T-junction 936665.

 

(c) Major Longland's Stick dropped on DZ 3 and collected equipment from containers.  They had great difficulty with the trolley which had to be man handled over irrigation canals.  Eventually they got up on to the road on the embankment and proceeded along it in full view of the enemy without mishap.  They reached the M.D.S. shortly after Capt. Ridler.

 

(d) Captain D. Wright 218952. RAMC. dropped 12 miles south of the Bridge.  He joined up with parties of R.Es. and 3 Bn.  Some casualties from there were evacuated to 50 Div on a Jeep.  He did not reach the M.D.S. until the morning of the 15th.

 

(e) Lt.Col. P.R. Wheatley. RAMC (52033) Commanding the Field Ambulance dropped in a brigade stick on the high ground 5 miles S.W. of the objective.  In moving to the bridge several casualties were treated and left as it was impossible to take them along.  He arrived at the bridge at about 0545 hrs.  More casualties, mostly from gliders, were found near the south embankment just West of the bridge.  The bridge was then in our hands, and Bde HQ was established at 941674.  Lt.Col. Wheatley then received a verbal message that the MDS was ready.  He proceeded to it on a bicycle and took control of it while Major Longland and Capt Ridler prepared the theatre.  The Rev. R.T. Watkins undertook the duties of liaison officer with Bde and proceeded to inform the Brigadier of the situation at the M.D.S.

 

3. The M.D.S.

(a) The Building and Lay-out.

The farm was a one-storey building standing in grounds of its own and surrounded by trees.  It was in a very dirty condition and resembled a badly kept requisitioned building rather than a farm.  Including the stables, it contained 7 rooms and a kitchen which were allotted as follows:-

        Reception in the Middle.

        Pre-operative room, theatre, and 2 post operative rooms on the west side.

        Three wards on the east side:- i. Lying cases and cases awaiting operation.  ii. Enemy wounded.  iii. Sitting cases awaiting evacuation.

        The small kitchen contained a large fireplace on which all cooking was done.

        There was also a small room which was used as a rest room.

 

(b) Water.

There was a well in the grounds which gave an adequate water supply.  There was a tendency for other troops to come in to get water, but these were kept down to small parties at a time.

 

(c) Rations.

There were stores of rations, mainly dried potatoes and macaroni, in the building and a small quantity of live-stock.  One pig and several chickens were killed and stews were made to feed patients and personnel.

 

(d) Transport.

There were several horses and carts in the farm.  These were used for collecting casualties.  A large Diesel engine lorry was brought in by one of the men.  This was used to collect a dump of german Medical equipment from the bridge and afterwards for evacuation of patients.  It was left behind with a salvage party who are bringing in dumped equipment.  Several bicycles were found.

 

(e) Stretchers and Bedding.

There was a great shortage of Stretchers in RAP's and the MDS.  Probably not more than nine were available in the Brigade.  This caused many difficulties in transporting patients from outside and in the MDS particularly in bringing patients into the theatre.  These were overcome by making full use of the horses and carts and of Palliases of which about 20 were found and used in the MDS.  6 Camp and Hospital beds were brought in from the Bridge area.

 

(f) P. of W.

About 20 Italian prisoners were used to do dirty work, such as cleaning out stables, transporting patients, fetching water etc.  They were most useful.  A Naval Petty Officer who spoke English was made foreman of the gang.  An Italian MO arrived and was put in charge of enemy Patients.  He was of little use & disappeared after a while.

 

(g) Geneva Convention.

Flags directing, Geneva Cross were placed at the entrance and at the back of the Building.  Two were hoisted high up on the roof.  Red crosses were painted on the walls and an Italian Red Cross was placed on the roof of the lorry.  Signs were painted and placed on nearby rd. junctions (Red paint was taken as part of the equipment).

 

(h) Tentage.

A tent was found and at one time erected in the grounds for walking patients.  It was not very popular owing to its lack of cover from fire and splinters, and was afterwards removed owing to danger of fire spreading from a burning hedge across the road.

 

(i) Fire.

Fire from small arms, mortar and shell was intense in the area around the MDS, which for a long time was between our own troops and the enemy, but only two Mortar bombs landed in the immediate vicinity.  One Italian was wounded.

 

(j) Medical Equipment.

Only half of one section stores was available, but there was adequate surgical equipment.  Every man carried a considerable amount of dressings which were all pooled and sufficed for about 70 patients.  Three 'Don' packs were broken into for odd items, such as Cranmer Wire Wool and tea.  Three 'sugar' packs were used for 35 cases in the theatre and proved satisfactory.  Hot water bottles were not required.  Blankets were adequate, a number being found in the building.  There was some shortage of tea at the end.  Plasma was adequate, 12 pints were given.  None of the spare containers were recovered.  No second line supplies were sent.

 

(k) Communications.

No wireless sets were working in the brigade.  The Rev. Watkins brought in information on the progress of the battle.  Communications with the Bn. RMO were adequate by means of parties bringing in or collecting wounding.  Returns could not be sent to higher formations.

 

(l) Records.

A and D Book was kept for British Patients.  The interpreter made a list of enemy patients but this was subsequently lost.

 

(m) Organisation of Personnel.

Lieut-Colonel Wheatley controlled reception and at intervals relieved Major Longland in the theatre, who then took over reception.  Captain Ridler was fully employed giving anaesthetics.  7522897 RSM E.W. Brock RAMC ran the general organisation of patients and personnel.  A S/Sgt and Sgt Clerk alternated in keeping the A and D Book.  9 Other ranks were employed in resuscitation, the theatre and post operative wards.  The remaining 16 other ranks including the Dental Corporal, 3 RASC and the Padre's batman were employed in bringing in casualties, in reception and wards, in cooking and general duties.

 

(n) Casualties Admitted - See Appendix 'A'

 

(o) Surgical Statistics - See Appendix 'B'.

 

4. The R.A.Ps.

Captain R. Gordon RAMC, RMO of 2nd Bn. dropped on DZ 3.  He moved up with his Bn to the area 937664 where he collected some Italian casualties.  When the Bn took their first objective 'Johnny I' he set up his RAP at the farm 937658.  He took 29 British and several Italian casualties into his RAP.  All were brought in by their comrades from the surrounding area during the first morning.  Evacuation to the MDS by means of Italian prisoners and by the horse and cart sent out to him was satisfactory.

 

Captain M. Haggie. RAMC. RMO 1st Bn. dropped on DZ 1 an hour late and joined up with a party of about 40 of his Bn.  He set up his RAP in the ditch at 940677 just before the attack on the bridge at 0400 hrs.  He had only 2 stretchers and 7 RAMC men available.  He collected a total of 15 cases.

 

Captain J. Rutherford RMO of 3rd Bn. dropped inside the outer defences of the aerodrome.  He reached the bridge at dawn where he was joined by three of his RAMC NCOs.  He set up his RAP in the bullrushes in the North bank of the river just West of the bridge, and at [unreadable] hrs moved to a pill-box where he was able to hold casualties under cover.

 

7373608. S/Sgt. Stevens. E.G., R.A.M.C. and 4 Orderlies - the only available men from No.3 Sect arrived at the bridge at about 0430 hrs.  They set up a Post in a ditch at 943678 and collected walking and stretcher cases to it during the hours of darkness.  They were under fire at this time from a pill-box.  At daylight they saw Capt Rutherford and worked with him, moving with him to the pill-box.

 

S/Sgt Stevens did excellent work in contacting Capt Haggie, Capt Rutherford and the MDS, in collecting casualties with his men under fire, and in arranging the evacuation of casualties from the North side of the river to the M.D.S.  He was wounded in the head by a Mortar splinter while he was working on the bridge at about 1800 hrs, and after that led wounded men to the M.D.S.

 

All the R.A.M.C. men in this area did excellent work under difficult conditions.  They showed great initiative in being able to deal with a situation which was very difficult from the original plan.  7263240 Pte. Reid. J. RAMC of the Fd Amb attd to 1 Bn was isolated at one time.  He collected in casualties and treated them in an Aid Post of his own working under fire.

 

7538068 Cpl. Scott. F.J.  A.D. Corps did most of the collection of wounded from R.A.Ps and Gliders with a horse and cart.  He made altogether six journeys in broad daylight under sniper fire.

 

5. Diary of Events.

(The times are approximate).

 

July 14

0400 hrs.  Bridge taken by 1st Bn.

 

0445 hrs.  Capt Ridler arrived at MDS and captured the Italians occupying it.

 

0520 hrs.  3 patients arrived at the M.D.S.

 

0530 hrs.  Maj Longland arrived with his stick at the M.D.S.

 

0545 hrs.  Lt Col Wheatley reached Bde HQ at the bridge.

 

0630 hrs.  Verbal message received at Bde HQ that the MDS was ready.  Capt Gordon visited the MDS and reported that he had cases in his RAP.  It was arranged that these should be collected in 2 hrs time.

 

0640 hrs.  Lt.Col. Wheatley arrived at MDS and took command.  Rev. Watkins went to Bde to report the situation at the MDS.

 

0730 hrs.  S/Sgt Stevens arrived at MDS.  He reported that Capt. Keesey and all but 5 of the stick were missing, and that he himself was working with the RMOs near the bridge.  He reported that there were casualties there.  The horse and cart was sent down to the bridge with him.  Cpl. Scott A.D. Corps took another horse and cart to the bridge, and collected the casualties on the South side which had been seen and treated by Lt.Col. Wheatley.

 

0830 hrs.  Horse and cart sent to 2 Bn to collect casualties in RAP.  177091 CSM. Rowe. G.R., MM., RASC and Cpl Scott took a horse and cart to collect casualties from gliders to the west.  They collected some from a Glider, seen by Maj Longland, 3 miles west of the bridge and attempted to reach those seen by Lt.Col. Wheatley in the area 910654 but were unable to approach nearer than 200 yds owing to intense M/G fire whenever they tried to get nearer.  A Diesel engine 6-tonner lorry was brought into the MDS.

 

0900 hrs.  The patients in the MDS were 7 British and 3 enemy.  Operations began in the theatre.

 

1000 hrs.  An Italian M.O. arrived and was put in charge of all Enemy Wounded.

 

1100 hrs.  C.S.M. Rowe took 2 prisoners to bridge area to look for rations.  He found a large quantity of medical equipment and some palliases which were brought up in the lorry.

 

1200 hrs.  Patients in the M.D.S. - 37 British 19 Enemy.

 

1615 hrs.  Rev. Watkins reported from Bde HQ that the situation was very grave, and that the Bde intended to withdraw from the bridge at dusk.

 

2000 hrs.  Capt Haggie reported to the M.D.S. that the 1 Bn were moving away to the South east along the coast.  He left RAMC personnel who wanted to stay with the Fd Amb at the M.D.S. and proceeded with his Bn.

 

2100 hrs.  No further communication had been received from outside.  It was evident that the MDS would be captured.  Rev. Watkins and 13 other ranks including the R.S.M. and the 5 R.A.S.C. moved off in a party to make their escape southwards.  They all arrived safely at SYRACUSE.

 

2200 hrs.  Theatre closed for the night.  All urgent cases had been operated on and the theatre staff who had been working all day without relief needed a rest.  21 operations had been completed in 13 hrs operating.  Cases in M.D.S. - 62 British 29 Enemy.

 

July 15

An uneventful night had passed during which most of the personnel were able to sleep.  The Italian prisoners all disappeared thinking that the Germans were coming.

 

0545 hrs.  An Italian Officer arrived and 'captured' the M.D.S.  He looked around the building and seemed undecided what to do.  He was able to speak French.  He asked if he should evacuate everything to CATANIA, but it was finally agreed that the Italian and German wounded should be evacuated and that the M.D.S. should remain where it was and carry on working.

 

0615 hrs.  A patrol of 2 Bn passed along the road and the Italians disappeared.  The 2 Bn had remained on the high ground of Johnny I, 935657 all night but had been isolated there.

 

0730 hrs.  Forward tps of 50 Div advanced past the M.D.S.  The Italian prisoners returned to the M.D.S.

 

0830 hrs.  Capt. Wright reported to the M.D.S. and was put in charge of Reception and Evacuation.  Capt. Gordon and Capt Rutherford took horses and carts to look for wounded in surrounding areas.

 

0900 hrs.  Theatre started to operate again.

 

0915 hrs.  Brigadier G.W. LATHBURY, Cdg. 1 Parachute Brigade, was admitted to the MDS for wounds sustained the day before and was operated on by Major Longland.

 

1000 hrs.  General C.F. Hopkinson, Commanding 1 Airborne Division, visited the M.D.S.

 

1330 hrs.  The truck loaded with wounded was sent back to LENTINI to 186 Fd Amb M.D.S.  ADMS 50 Div visited MDS and arranged for ambulances to be sent up.

 

1400 hrs.  1st Ambulance arrived.  Colonel. A. Eagger O.B.E., R.A.M.C. visited M.D.S. and confirmed that all arrangements had been made for evacuation.  Two civilian casualties were brought in from 2 Bn Area.

 

1715 hrs.  Theatre closed.  14 cases had been operated on to-day in 8 hours.  All cases requiring operation had been completed except one British abdominal which was evacuated and several Italians who needed operation.

 

1730 hrs.  All patients cleared and M.D.S. Closed.  Total casualties - 71 British, 38 Enemy.

 

1800 hrs.  A.D.M.S. 1 Airborne Division again visited Unit and ordered it to move.  Lt.Col. Wheatley and Capt Wright with 18 Other ranks with light equipment moved to high ground of Johnny I, where the remnants of the Bde had concentrated.  Maj Longland and Capt Ridler with the Surgical Teams moved in the lorry to the M.D.S. 186 Fd Amb at LENTINI.  The prisoners refused to move back down our line without an escort, so one Lance Corporal accompanied them on horses and carts.

 

16 July

A noisy but uneventful night was spent on Johnny I while a Bn. of D.L.I. put in an attack on the bridge.

 

0700 hrs.  Bde marched to embussing point about 3 miles.  One vehicle was allotted to the Fd Amb which joined the other party at LENTINI.  A party consisting of Capt Ridler and 8 other ranks was detailed to remain as a salvage party to find lost equipment.  Six of these remained at Lentini.  The remainder proceeded to SYRACUSE on the two lorries.  General MONTGOMERY stopped the lorries on the road and gave the troops cigarettes.  The Bde embarked on an L.S.T.  Capt Ridler returned to LENTINI with the lorry.

 

17 July

The ship had remained in harbour during the night.  There was an air raid lasting about 2 hours.

 

1200 hrs.  Ship sailed.

 

1800 hrs.  Arrived MALTA and hove to outside harbour.

 

18 July

0530 hrs.  Sailed.

 

19 July

0630 hrs.  Arrived SOUSSE.

 

22 July

Capt Ridler with his salvage party disembarked as SOUSSE.  They salvaged 12 containers 75 parachutes and some Medical equipment, but almost all the medical equipment on the D.Zs. has been looted.

 

6. R.A.M.C. Casualties

16 Parachute Field Ambulance

        4 Other ranks Missing - shot down in sea.

        1 Wounded and evacuated.

        2 slightly wounded and remained with Unit.

133 Parachute Field Ambulance

        1 Other rank Missing.

1 Bn The Parachute Regt:-

        2 Other ranks Missing.

2 Bn The Parachute Regt:-

        2 Other ranks Missing.

3 Bn The Parachute Regt:-

        2 Other ranks Missing; 1 wounded and evacuated.

 

7. Lessons Learnt.

The following notes express an opinion of what has been learnt from the operation and of changes which should be made as a result of the experience.

 

1. Medical Tactics:-

In this operation in which the Brigade was divided in two by a natural obstacle the general principle was to put a lightly equipped section on the most vulnerable side and to concentrate surgical teams on the safer side at the foot of the high ground, also to select sites for dressing stations conveniently near the battalions and within a defended perimeter yet not in the immediate proximity of any likely target for shelling.  This policy was justified by what actually happened.  The employment of surgical teams far forward is well worth while and it appears that against a civilized enemy a dressing station with surgical teams, can operate with reasonable chance of being unmolested in the front line and even in 'No Mans Land' provided that it advertises itself with the Geneva Cross and is not immediately adjacent to a military target.

 

2. Capacity of a Surgical Team

In this instance the majority of cases for operation were lightly wounded and in consequence more operations were done than was previously thought likely.  35 Cases were done on one table during a little less than 21 operating hours.  Although two surgeons were operating only one table was used and the theatre work was done mainly by one team.  For a short time the other team took over but they had been fully employed in the post operative work and had not been resting.  If teams worked for 16 hrs on, and 8 hrs off, it seems reasonable to assume that one team could deal with 70 average cases in 3 days with the greatest of ease.  In this operation as it turned out one team would have been sufficient as less than 20% of the Bde took part in the action, but if the action had gone according to plan two teams might easily have been required.

 

3. Unit Organisation:

Each surgical team requires one man in its pre-operative and resuscitation room and two in the post operative ward.  These men should know the surgeon's requirement and always work with the team.  The team should therefore be increased from 5 to 8 other ranks and should have its own pre-operative nursing equipment quite independent of a section.  Each team requires its own anaesthetist.  In this organisation the tasks of a section within the Unit are:-

        1. To set up an A.D.S. to collect from R.A.Ps and evacuate to an M.D.S. with a Surgical Team.  Such an A.D.S. must be prepared to hold cases for a time if evacuation is impossible and should therefore have a certain amount of resuscitation material and Plasma.

        2. To set up the reception part of an M.D.S. and to look after patients who do not require operation and those who have recovered from the anaesthetic and can be discharged from the post operative ward where skilled nursing is given.  The section should be capable of providing food and tea for the whole dressing station.

 

The following duties which are essential in a busy M.D.S. can conveniently be done by M.O. personnel who drop in the Surgical Team stick:-

    A Warrant Officer or Senior N.C.O. generally to supervise personnel and movement of patients.

    Two clerks (working in shifts) to keep A and D Book and check Field Medical cards.

    One Cook.

    Two men (working in shifts) whose one job is to make and [?] distribution of tea.  These men should be independent of the cook who cannot cope with making tea as well as cooking.

    RASC personnel are extremely useful for dealing with transport problems and for collecting patients.

    A carpenter is useful for doing odd jobs.

 

4. Equipment.

(a) The men this time were too heavily laden although the equipment and dressing they carried in their small packs were most useful.  In future only one water bottle will be carried, the bully beef and one tin of cheese will be omitted from the ration and medical equipment carried by the men will be reduced.

 

(b) Trolleys proved to be extremely difficult over rough country and over dykes.  They were suitable only on roads.  No reliance can be placed on the trolley, so equipment must be cut down to what the men can carry.

 

(c) Section equipment should be cut down to a very minimum for the tasks detailed in para 2.  By doing this the section on its own should be able to carry 9 or 10 stretchers.  Working with a surgical team it must carry reserve surgical equipment at the expense of stretchers.  Suitable loading tables are being worked out.

 

(d) Surgical equipment proved most satisfactory and need not be modified.  The copper boiler was most useful.  The problem of how to carry it remains to be solved.  10 bottles of plasma were packed in it.  Two primus stoves were used in the theatre with very satisfactory results.  1 gallons of paraffin were used in the 21 hours operating.  The Tilley lamp and surgeons headlamp gave satisfactory lighting.  Pentothal was used in nearly every case.  Several tubes were broken.  Three cases were given chloroform and two heads were done under local.  The trestles made a most convenient operating table.

 

(e) 'Don' and 'Sugar' Packs:

The 'Don' packs did not have a fair test as equipment carried by the men was mainly used for dressings.  The shortage of tea was evident.  Soup cubes were used in the stew.  Three Sugar packs were used for the 35 cases and as there was a large proportion of light cases in this series the quantities appear to be adequate.  After due consideration the following modifications of Don and Sugar packs are suggested:-

    Don Pack:-

        Omit Chloroform.

                 Ethyl Chloride

                 Pentothal

                 Many tailed bandage.

                 Lint

                 Outfit M.S.B.

        Increase Sulphonilamide Tablets to 250.

        Reduce Mepacrine tablets to 50.

        Increase Tea, Sugar Milk powder to 12 tins (or equivalent of tea, sugar and milk separately).

        Add Shell dressings - as many as possible.

    Sugar Pack:

        Omit 3" Bandages.

                 Compressed Gauze Packets 10.

                 Sulphonilamide Powder ozs. 2.

                 Chloroform Tubes 4.

                 Wool lbs. .

        For Lysolats 1 tin, substitute - 1 tube.

              Improve packing of Pentothal.

 

5. General Considerations:

A water supply is essential for any dressing station.  A building is essential for a surgical team to work in and it is desirable that all patients should be accommodated in a building.  It is reasonable to assume that food will be available particularly if a farm is selected, and also that there will be some form of transport.

 

P.R. Wheatley

Lieut-Colonel. R.A.M.C.

Commanding, 16 Parachute Field Ambulance.

In the field.

23/7/43.

 

 

Appendix 'A'

Report on Operation HUSKY/FUSTIAN

 

Casualties admitted to M.D.S.:-

British:-

   1 Para Bn

   2 Para Bn

   3 Para Bn

   1 Para Sqn R.E.

   Bde H.Qrs

   Para Fd Amb

   1 A/L A/Tk. Regt

   Glider Pilot Regt

   9 Bn. D.L.I.

----------------------

Total British

(Six of these were officers).

 

Enemy:-

   German

   Italians

   Civilians

 

 

 

 

----------------------

Total Enemy

----------------------

Total Casualties:

 

 

17

27

7

-

4

3

4

4

5

 

71

 

 

 

5

31

2

 

 

 

 

 

38

 

109

Disposal:-

Evacuated to 186 Fd Amb:

   Lying

   Sitting

----------------------

 

 

 

Returned to Unit:-

 

Died:-

----------------------

 

 

 

Evacuated to 186 Fd Amb:

   Lying

   Sitting

----------------------

 

 

Disappeared:

Died:

----------------------

 

 

36

26

 

62

 

 

6

 

3

 

71

 

 

 

14

16

 

30

 

4

4

 

38

 

109

 

 

Appendix 'B'

Report of Operation HUSKY/FUSTIAN

 

Analysis of cases Operated on during 14th. and 15th. July.

Total No. of Cases... 35

Post Operative Deaths... 2

Total operating hours... 21 hours

 

Types of Cases:-

Penetrating or thro' and thro' muscle wounds... 18

Compound fracture of long bones... 7

Open Wounds of Joints... 1

Compound fracture of skull... 2

Wounds of jaw and neck... 2

Wounds of chest... 1

Wounds of abdomen... 0

Wounds of hands... 1

Wounds of foot... 2

Incision of infected bursa... 1

Total... 35

 

Amputations - Mid thigh... 2

(1) Compound fracture of femur with gross muscle and vascular damage.

(2) Gas gangrene of calf following penetrating muscle wound.

 

Gas Gangrene - Leg (see amputation)... 1

 

Post Operative Deaths... 2

(1) After mid thigh amputation for compound fracture of femur.  Plasma used in resuscitation, B.P. 110/80 before operation.  Plasma given during operation.  Chloroform anaesthesia.

(2) After tracheotomy for wound of neck.  Breathing satisfactory for 12 hours, became restless and died from pressure on structure of neck.

 

Anaesthetics

Pentothal... 29 cases

Chloroform... 3 cases

Local... 3 cases

 

Time interval between wounding and operating:-

On the first cases operated on on 14th July the average interval was 5 hours.

Maximum... 14 hours

Minimum... 3 hours

 

Some cases operated on on the morning of 15th July had been wounded on the previous day.

Average interval... 25 hours

Maximum... 34 hours

Minimum... 17 hours

 

The remaining cases operated on on the 15th July were wounded on that day.

Average interval... 5 hours

Maximum... 7 hours

Minimum... 1 hours.

 

 

Appendix 16

 

Report by Captain D. Wright. R.A.M.C.

 

A/C No.25.  R Coy 1 Bn. H.Q.  H.Q. Stick.

 

Dropped at 2230 hrs on 13 July 1943 on area 12 miles South of objective in the foothills.  Heavy landings were made from very low level by most members of the stick.  Half the stick was missing and one D.Z. casualty with a fractured ankle was left on D.Z.

 

With Maj. Coxon in command, stick joined up with R.Es. under Major Murray, and 3 Bn. under Major Murdoch, making a party of over 50 strong, with machine-guns and Piertz's.  Medical equipment was 1 stretcher and 2 'Don' packs; the stretcher and 'Don' Pack were carried by Pte Duffy RAMC.  The other Don Pack being carried by myself.  Moved forward and encountered enemy patrol.  One man shot.  Eventually arrived behind Johnny positions and met members of 1 Bn including Capt. Haggie.  He had been told to make his way back to Augusta.  Just before this 100 Italian Prisoner of War, members of a gun battery were taken by Major Coxon's party.  This included a Medical Officer and 1 Italian wounded.  The party moved back about a mile and lay up for the night.  In the morning I met some advance Gunner elements of the 8th Army, and 2 D.Z. casualties walking with this party.  These D.Z. casualties and one Battle Casualty were evacuated in a Jeep to Lentini.  Myself and Pte Duffy then made our way forward to contact the M.D.S.  We arrived there and reported at about 0830 hrs 15 July.

 

(Signed) Wright

Captain. R.A.M.C.