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"German Medical Services" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following U.S. report on German army medical services was originally printed in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 35, October 7, 1943.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


The efficiency of the medical services of an army is reflected in the morale and combat effectiveness of that army.

The following details concerning the organization, equipment, and supply system of the German army medical services are taken from an Allied source.

*          *          *

a. Organization

(1) Infantry Division

2 medical companies, motorized or partly motorized.
2 ambulance platoons, motorized.
1 field hospital, motorized or partly motorized.

(2) Mountain Division

2 medical companies, partly motorized.
2 ambulance platoons, motorized.
1 field hospital, partly motorized.

(3) Motorized Division

2 medical companies, motorized.
3 ambulance platoons, motorized.
1 field hospital, motorized.

(4) Armored Division.

2 medical companies, motorized and armored.
3 ambulance platoons, motorized and armored.

(5) Airborne Division.

3 paratroop medical companies.
1 field hospital (airlanding).

b. Equipment

(1) Of the Individual.

(a) The Combatant.

One large and one small packet first field dressing wrapped separately in black, rubberized fabric 1 box anti-vesicant tablets

(b) The Stretcher Bearer.

In the combatant units - 2 stretcher-bearer's haversacks containing:

1 pair of scissors
1 pair of dissecting forceps
6 packets dressing
3 triangular bandages
3 strips of gauze 16 ft x 2 3/4 in
6 squares of gauze
1 roll of adhesive tape
1 waterproof bandage 18 x 20 in
1 tourniquet
20 safety pins.

In the medical units - in this case, the stretcher bearers are not all equipped with the haversack as above, but each group of four has a haversack (Verbandtasche) containing:

1 pair of cloth-cutting scissors (Kleiderschere)
1 tourniquet
12 strips of gauze
10 squares of absorbent cotton
6 triangular bandages
2 "Brandbinden" (absorbent gauze treated with bismuth for burns)
1 waterproof bandage 36 x 40 in
4 rolls rubberized adhesive tape
35 safety pins
4 small splints with cradle
2 slings, 12 x 5 in
Each stretcher bearer also carries a mug and a bottle with about a pint of cordial.

(c) The Medical Service N.C.Os. and Medical Orderlies.

Each carries a bottle of cordial, a case of dressing material and two medical haversacks, the first containing medicines such as salicylic acid (2%), formaldehyde, ticture of iodine, cardiazol and opium; the second containing much the same dressing material as the stretcher bearers' haversack on a smaller scale.

(d) Officers of the Medical Services.

Each carries the officer's haversack, the contents of which are extensive, including a number of surgical instruments such as probes, lancets, ligature forceps, cannulae, vaccinostyles and the like; a certain quantity of dressings; a tin plate case for tablets containing among others, pyramidone, veronal, acetylsalicylic acid, codein phosphate, tannalbin, opium, cocain chloride, atropinemannite and calomel; and also a box containing ampoules of, for example, caffein sodium salicylate, superarenine chloride and morphin hydrochloride.

(2) Of a Combatant Unit.

The medical equipment of battalions and regiments is identical. It comprises:

(a) Box No. 1. This is the "Battlebox" (Gefechtskasten) and is marked with two white strokes the form of a cross. The contents are miscellaneous but include much dressing material, anti-tetanus serum, medicaments and two 6-in atomizers containing ethyl chloride.

(b) Box No. 2. Medicaments of all types (Arzneimittelkasten).

(c) Box No. 3. Dressing Equipment. (Verbandmittel).

(d) Box No. 4. Supplementary box. This is like No. 1, but on a smaller scale.

(e) Box No. 5. Contains 280 flasks of tetanus anti-toxin 3000 units per c.c.

(f) Two medical haversacks containing medicaments and dressings rather on the scale of the M.O's haversack. Two empty rucksacks are also included, with blocks of labels for wounded and for sick.

(g) One set of equipment for fractures, including cardboard splints, metal wire splints and aluminum splints.

(h) One unit medical outfit - like an M.O's haversack.

(i) One set of oxygen apparatus - the flask contains 275 quarts of oxygen.

(j) Four stretchers.

(k) Twelve woolen blankets.

(l) One filter apparatus.

(m) Anti-vesicant, and gas protection caps for those with head wounds.

c. The Evacuation of Casualties

(1) Units under Divisional control. There are no medical units allotted to corps normally.

(a) Battalion aid station (Verwundetennetz) as close to the fighting line as possible. The station may or may not be under cover. Treatment is restricted to first aid. Occasional blood transfusions may be done. Evacuation is by stretcher bearer section of medical company.

(b) Ambulance Station (Wagenhalteplatz). This is established only if the ambulances cannot go forward to the battalion aid station.

(c) Field Clearing Station (Hauptverbandplatz) is established by the Medical company. It is intended for serious casualties requiring resuscitation, adjustment of dressings, splints etc, arrest of hemorrhage or blood transfusion before further evacuation. Emergency operations may be done here.

(d) Lightly Wounded Collecting Station (Leichtverwundetensammelplatz) for walking wounded and sitting or reclining cases requiring only minor treatment before evacuation. There is a skeleton staff from medical company. The remainder of the medical company is normally in reserve -- available to assist in handling a sudden rush of cases or assist in bombed areas, etc.

(e) Division Field Hospital (Feldlazarett). Capacity 200 beds. It is intended for the reception and retention of casualties who require urgent operation or resuscitation and a few days rest before further evacuation. It has a surgical team and is fully equipped to handle any casualty.

(2) Hospitals at Home or in Occupied Countries. (Reservelazaretten)

(a) Casualty Collecting Station (Krankensammelstelle). It is established by an Army ambulance unit at a railhead or other traffic center, normally and is for the retention of casualties awaiting evacuation. Only minor treatment is possible.

(b) Army Field Hospital (Kriegslazarett). For more serious casualties. Capacity 500 beds. Fully equipped hospital with all specialist departments.

(c) Army Field Hospital for lightly wounded cases. (Leichtkrankenkriegslazarett) Takes casualties who will be fit for duty in 3 or 4 weeks. Capacity 1,000 beds; fully equipped. Normally located in back areas of Army zone and away from all large towns.

(3) Capacity and time of erecting or dismantling of various units.

(a) Army Field Hospital. Capacity 500 beds, 24 hours to set up or dismantle. Set up by Army medical detachments.

(b) Army Field Hospital for slightly wounded cases. Capacity 1,000 beds. 24 hours to set up or dismantle. Set up by Army Field Hospital detachments.

(c) Field Hospital. Capacity 200 beds. 3 hours to set up or dismantle. Set up by Army Medical detachments.

(d) Casualty Collecting Station medical railhead. Capacity limited only by the available accommodation. 3 hours to set up or dismantle. Set up by motor transport ambulance company.

(e) Field Dressing Station. Unlimited capacity. 1/2 to 1 hour to set up or dismantle. Set up by Divisional medical company.

(f) Slightly Wounded Collection Station. Unlimited capacity. A few minutes to set up or dismantle.

(g) Motor Ambulance. Capacity of 4 lying and 10 sitting. Has four driving wheels and double differential for cross country performance.

(h) Hospital Train. The 2- or 3-axled coach train with heating coach has 358 lying capacity, and 385 sitting capacity without heating coach. The 4-axled corridor coach train with or without heating coach has a 364 lying capacity. 2 to 6 hours to set up or dismantle.

(i) Hospital Train for Slightly Wounded. 920 sitting capacity. 1 to 2 hours to set up or dismantle.


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