203rd General Hospital
The United States Army's 203rd General Hospital was activated on February 10, 1941, to meet anticipated military medical needs of a country preparing for war. Initially, the group was stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington, as a subsidiary of the base hospital there, and its primary function was to train medical technicians as army hospital and clinic support staff.
In 1942 the 203rd, commanded by Colonel James H. Turner, was reorganized as an independent general hospital unit and was ordered to prepare for combat operations overseas. The unit departed Camp Murray, Fort Lewis on 15 December 1943 by train for the six-day journey to an unknown destination that was to be the New York Port of Embarkation staging camp, Camp Kilmer, New Jersey. After arrival on 21 December ninety nurses under Chief Nurse, Captain Nina E. Piatt, joined the unit, now numbering 600, that was sequestered with no outside contacts until departure by train on 28 December for embarkation on a ferry for transport to the embarkation piers on Staten Island for overseas transport. There the unit boarded the troop ship SS Brazil to join a 118 ship convoy bound for Greenock, Scotland which was reached 8 January 1944.
Ferried to a waiting train the unit traveled south, passing through London just after an air raid, ultimately arriving at Petworth, Sussex, England, where they were quartered in British Army Nissen huts through which previous military units had passed. They continued their combat and medical training that included techniques for setting up large tent hospitals until departing on 17 February by train for Swindon in Wiltshire where the members of the unit were driven by police to private homes in which they would be temporarily housed while continuing training and awaiting orders.
On 15 April 1944 the 203rd General Hospital officially established an 834-bed hospital, designated under an Army numbering scheme as U.S. Army Hospital Plant No. 4147 under the 15th Hospital Center at Cirencester, Wiltshire, at Broadwell Grove near Burford and began admitting patients. On 7 June the first casualties arrived from the previous day's D-Day invasion of Northern France.
In July, 1944, the 203rd followed allied armies to Normandy, landed on Utah Beach, and provided field hospital care during the Campaigns of Normandy and Northern France. After the liberation of Paris in August, 1944, the 203rd was assigned to a hospital plant in the Parisian region, where they administered and staffed in Garches, the largest medical establishment of the European Theater of Operations. During their tenure in Paris—from September, 1944, through July, 1945—over 65,000 patients were cared for by the 203rd. Unit members who had served with the 203rd since its arrival in France were awarded Bronze Stars for both the Normandy and Northern France campaigns.
In November, 1945, the 203rd was deactivated by the U.S. Army.
(NB: The 203rd was sometimes referred to as the 203d)
- Montbertrand, Lois Shiner (2014). "203rd General Hospital". WW2 US Medical Research Centre. Retrieved 18 November 2014.
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