The United States Army 32nd Field Hospital in the Italian Campaign of World War II

 

 

 

Members of the 32nd the Field Hospital Unit at Camp Rucker in Alabama prior to  joining the 5th Army in Italy.

The photo was taken in early spring 1943.

 

Click Here To See "Larger Detail Photos" Of The Above Photo

 

Click Here to See Members of the 32nd Field Hospital Identified

 

Special thanks to T/5 Hyman E. Matza for providing detailed information on the key movements of the 32nd Field Hospital during World War II.

 

The 32nd Field Hospital served with distinction in the Fifth Army in the Medical Section of IV Corps. Many of the photographs in this site were taken by Staff Sergeant Irvin W. McLaughlin using a Kodak Folding Camera during his tour of duty in Italy from September 1943 through September 1945. This site is dedicated to the men and women who served in the United States Army 32nd Field Hospital during the Italian Campaign of World War II. Corrections, comments and suggestions are always welcomed. Your remembrances and stories are also welcomed. Please contact Darrel Hagberg at darrelrhagberg@gmail.com. We are also compiling of list of names of those who served in this unit. Please submit names to Darrel.

 

Mission of the 32nd Field Hospital in Italy

The 32nd Field Hospital had 400 beds. They followed the army but stayed about 25 to miles behind the front lines.  It was a "Mobile Hospital" that was close enough to the front to quickly treat patients.  When ambulances arrived at the Field Hospital, triage officers sent patients to pre-op, medical, shock, or evacuation wards as needed. If the wounds were minor, the soldier was healed and sent back to the front.  These hospitals usually used canvas tents, but also used schools, barracks, hospital buildings, hotels, Mediterranean villas, and an Italian stadium. Surgical teams worked twelve hours on, then twelve hours off. When patients were reasonably stabilized,  they were "evacuated" to the rear to "Evacuation Hospitals." These Evacuation Hospitals then sent patients to "Fixed" Hospitals far from the from front or back to hospitals in the U.S.

When it was required to move to a new location closer to the front, the hospital stopped admitting patients and evacuated their current patients to other hospitals located in the rear, called Evacuation Hospitals. In Italy, Field Hospitals could become Evacuation Hospitals and visa versa.  For example, an Evacuation Hospital could become a Field Hospital by "leapfrogging" to the front., thereby reducing the frequency of moves. When it was time for a move, these Mobile Hospitals packed their equipment and personnel into trucks, advanced, set up, and were ready to admit patients within hours.

 

Sergeant Steve Kacsor (left) from Michigan and Sergeant Irvin McLaughlin (right) from Illinois

Sergeant's Kacsor and McLaughlin served together in the 5th Army 32nd field Hospital during the Italian Campaign from 1943 - 1945. Steve was from Owasso, Michigan, and Irvin was from Moline, Illinois. Both survived the war and became life long friends after the war. Both married and had children. Steve had 3 children and Irvin had 5. Sergeant McLaughlin kept a photo journal during his service in the campaign. Click on the following hyperlink to view. Please contact the Web Master for additions, changes or corrections.

Sergeant Irvin McLaughlin's Photo Journal

Use of photos granted free upon approval of Web Master with attribution to the owner, Darrel R. Hagberg.


Submitted Photos of the 32nd Field Hospital in World War II


 

 

History of the 32nd Field Hospital in the Italian Campaign

September 1943 - November 1945

Almost a month after the allies secured Sicily; they began their invasion of Italy, with the first landing at Salerno on  9 September 1943. The landing, commanded by General Mark Clark, met little resistance in most areas, but the Germans put up a fierce fight in a few pockets and prevented the allies from moving off the beaches. The allied invasion eventually stalled and heavy fighting ensued. However, the Germans were unable to bear the allied air attacks and began to withdraw on 16 September 1943.

 

32nd Field Hospital embarkation at Agropoli, near Salerno, Italy, 20 July 1944.

 

32nd Field Hospital embarkation at Agropoli, near Salerno, Italy, 20 July 1944.

 

26 February 1943

 A Commanding Officer and 24 enlisted men were selected for 32nd Field Hospital and the unit was formed.

March 1943 - August 1943

Additional Officers and enlisted personnel including 17 nurses added to the 32nd Field Hospital organizing at Camp Rucker, Alabama.

29 June 1943

The allies take Pompeii, between Salerno and Naples.

10 August 1943   -  21 August 1943

32nd Field Hospital is deployed to their embarkation point at Camp Shanks, New York, for 12 days of final preparations. On 23 August,  personnel were transferred from Camp Shanks via train to Weekhawken, New Jersey. There they boarded a ferry that took them to the piers on Manhattan Island where they boarded a troop ship. Their troop ship forms a convoy with other ships in New York Harbor.

23 August 1943   -  2 September 1943

The 32nd Field Hospital as a part of a large convoy leaves New York Harbor and travels to Oran, Algeria, for debarkation.

2 September  1943 - 2 October 1943

After arriving at Oran, Algeria, the  32nd Field Hospital was inactive for a period of one month at Staging Area Number 2, located near Fleurs, Algeria.

1 October 1943

The allies capture Naples.

2 October 1943 - 10 October 1943

The 32nd Field Hospital embarks on the British ship HMS Ortranto at Mers-el-Kebir, Algeria, and makes a landing at Caroglia Beach, near Bagnoli, Italy, outside of Naples.

6 October 1943

The U.S. Fifth Army takes Capua and Caserta

10 October 1943 - 15 October 1943

The 32nd Field Hospital located in a Staging Area near Bagnoli, Italy, Staging Area.

15 October 1943 - 26 October 1943

The 32nd Field Hospital is set up as a fixed hospital at Caserta, Italy, where battle casualties and medical patients were received during the crossing of the Voltura River.

23 October 1943 - 20 July 1944

Platoons 1 and 2 of  the 32nd Field Hospital moved from Caserta to Battipipaglia - Paestum Area, Italy. These two units conducted a Station Type Hospital at that location.

26 October 1943 - 13 February 1944

Platoon 3 of the 32nd Field Hospital moved from Caserta to Pomigliano, Italy. They functioned as a Holding Station Hospital for air evacuation at that location.

4 November 1943

The U.S. Fifth Army capture Isernia.

17 December 1943

The U.S. Fifth Army captures the village of San Pietro in central Italy after 10 days of heavy fighting.

3 January 1944

The US Fifth Army begins an offensive against the German forces in Italy who are entrenched in the Gustav Line along the Rapido river, with its centre at Cassino.

22 January 1944

The U.S. Fifth Army lands two divisions (36,034 men and 3,069 vehicles) under Major-Gen. John P. Lucas at Anzio, 30 miles South of Rome.

13 February 1944 - 27 June 1944

Platoon 3 of the 32nd Field Hospital moved from  Pomigliano to Naples, Italy. They functioned as a Holding Station Hospital for air evacuation at that location.

20 May 1944

The U.S. Fifth Army captures Gaeta to the South of Rome.

24 May 1944

U.S. troops take Terracina in Italy.

4 June 1944

The U.S. Fifth Army enters Rome.

7 June 1944

The Americans take Civitavecchia on the western coast of Italy.

8 June 1944

The U.S. Fifth Army continues its drive North in Italy, taking Civita Castellana.

9 June 1944

The U.S. Fifth Army is now 50 miles Northwest of Rome.

14 June 1944

The allies take Orvieto, 65 miles Northwest of Rome

27 June 1944 - 20 July 1944

Platoon 3 of the 32nd Field Hospital moved from Naples to Battipaglia-Paestum to rejoin Units A and B operating as a Station Type Hospital.

20 July 1944 - 22 July 144

The entire 32nd Field Hospital embark on a LST at Salerno, Italy, and disembark at Piombino, Italy. After disembarkation, the unit moved to a site near Saline, Italy, on the same date.

23 July 1944

The U.S. 34th Division takes Pisa.

4 August 1944

Florence is evacuated by German forces.

13 September 1944

Platoon 1 of 32nd Field Hospital moved from near Saline, Italy, to Pratalino for bivouac.

14 September 1944 - 6 October 1944

Platoon 1 of 32nd Field Hospital moved from Pratalino to two miles south of Scarperia, Italy.

16 September 1944

Headquarters and Platoons 2 and 3 of the 32nd Field Hospital moved from Saline to Vaglia, Italy.

23 September 1944

Platoon 3 of the 32nd Field Hospital moved from Vaglia to Casanova, Italy.

24 September 1944

Platoon 3 of the 32nd Field Hospital moved from Casanova to Rifredio, Italy.

26 September 1944

Platoon 2 of the 32nd Field Hospital moved from Vaglia to San Pelligrino, 3 miles east of Firenzuola, Italy.

6 October 1944

Platoon 1 of the 32nd Field Hospital moved from south of Scarperia to Giugnola.

8 October 1944

Headquarters of the 32nd Field Hospital moved from Vaglia to Covigliaic, Italy.

13 October 1944

Platoon 3 of the 32nd Field Hospital moved from Rifredo to Frassineta, Italy.

4 November 1944

Platoon 2 of the 32nd Filed Hospital moved fron San Pelligrino to Montecatini

16 November 1944

Platoon 1 of the 32nd Field Hospital moved from Giugnola to near Le Croci, Italy.

22 November 1944

Platoon 2 of the 32nd Field Hospital moved from Montecatini to a half mile north of Pavana, Italy.

24 November 1944

Platoon 1 of the 32nd Field Hospital moved from Le Croci to Viareggio, Italy.

28 November 1944

Headquarters of the 32nd Field Hospital moved from Covigliaio to Vaglia, Italy.

4 December 1944

Platoon 3 of the 32nd Field Hospital moved from Frassineta to Cafaggiolo, Italy,  for bivouac

22 February 1945

After a heavy four-day battle, the U.S. Fifth Army takes the Upper Reno Valley in northern Italy between Bologna and Florence.

18 April 1945

32nd Field moved into Vergato

20 April 1945

The U.S. Fifth Army reaches the Po river Plain in northern Italy as a German retreat to river ordered.

21 April 1945

The 2nd Polish Corps which is fighting with the British Eighth Army captures Bologna in co-ordination with the U.S. 34th Division, of the U.S. Fifth Army.

23-25 April 1945

The U.S. Fifth and British Eighth Armies reach the Po, to the North of Bologna on the 23th. The U.S. Fifth Army takes Spezia on the Gulf of Genoa and Modern on the 24. The U.S. Fifth Army enters Mantua, 60 miles Northwest of Bologna and continues its drive up coast, while the British Eighth Army crosses the Po river and captures Parma on the 25th.

23 April 1945

 A Platoon of the 32nd Field Hospital at Viareggio site

26 April 1945

The 3rd Platoon of the 32nd Field Hospital, coming up from Vergato, crossed the Po on a pontoon bridge early in the afternoon of 26 April, entered Mantova, Italy,  on the heels of the retreating enemy, and proceeded immediately to a large civilian hospital and sanatorium known to have been used by the Germans to provide medical assistance.

26 April 1945

 The U.S. Fifth Army captures Verona, 20 miles Northeast of Mantua.

27-28 April 1945

The U.S. Fifth Army enters Genoa on April 27. The U.S. Fifth Army take Brescia, 30 miles East of Milan on April 28.

28 April 1945

The 3rd Platoon of the 32nd Field Hospital moved from Mantova to Garbagnate near Milan, where another German hospital was taken over. At Parma, 2nd Platoon of the 32nd Field Hospital took over a German hospital.

30 April 1945

The U.S. Fifth Army in Northwest Italy, links up with French troops on the French/Italian border.

April 1945

32nd Field Hospital platoon is closed at Valdibura

2 May 1945

The German Army in Italy abides by the Caserta agreement and surrenders to the allies, with hostilities ceasing at 12 noon GMT.

4 May 1945

The U.S. Fifth Army reaches the Brenner Pass.

6 May 1945

The U.S. Fifth Army enters Austria from Italy.

2 May 1945

The 2nd Platoon of the 32nd Fieldd Hospital is located in Turin, Italy.

3 May 1945

The 1st Platoon of the 32nd Field Hospital is moved from the outskirts of Milan to Alessandria.

5 May 1945

The 3rd Platoon of the 32nd Field Hospital  is moved to Milan

7 May 1945

Germany surrenders to the Allies.

8 May 1945

The 2nd Platoon of the 32nd Field Hospital moves from Parma to Turin, Italy.

23 May 1945

The 3rd Platoon of the 32nd Field Hospital is moved from Milan to Desenzano, Italy,  and is freed for redeployment. The 1st Platoon of the 32nd Field Hospital was relieved at Alessandria and is moved to Desenzano, Italy,  and is freed for redeployment.

1 -7  June 1945

Platoons of the 32nd Field Hospital arrive at the Montecatini Redeployment Center.

17 July 1945

The 32nd Field Hospital departs the port at Leghorn, Italy, and transfers to the war in the Pacific on board the USS Gallatin. Their ship transits the Panama Canal and arrives in the Philippines 45 days later in August.

2 September 1945

Japan surrenders to the Allies. The 32nd Field Hospital transfers from the Philippines to Japan.

October to November 1945

The 32nd Field Hospital leaves Japan and arrives in Seattle, Washington. The unit is transferred to Fort Lewis, Washington, where they receive their discharge from the Army.

 


Copyrighted 2007 by Darrel R Hagberg. All rights reserved.

Moline, Illinois U.S.A.

17 March 2007

Updated 16  May 2018

Contact darrelrhagberg@gmail.com for more information