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US Airbase at Munda, New Georgia

US Airbase at Munda, New Georgia

US Airbase at Munda, New Georgia

Here we see the airfield at Munda, New Georgia, after it had been taken over and improved by the Americans. This picture shows Grumman Avenger torpedo bombers nerest to the camera, with Grumman F4F Wildcat fighters in the background.

The World's 30 Strangest Military Bases

From hazardous mountaintop forts to impenetrable underground bunkers, these are the most fascinating facilities on the planet.

The world's weirdest military bases run the gamut from hazardous mountaintop forts to seemingly impenetrable underground bunkers. Then there are the bases on remote islands tracking objects in deep space and high-tech laboratories probing the most lethal microbes in existence.

The design of a base needs to address the immediate needs of a military while still being versatile enough to remain useful as threats and technology evolve. Here, Brad Schulz, vice president of federal architecture at HNTB, reveals why these active military facilities are so fascinating.

Location: Shemya, Aleutian Islands

Background: Once a ballistic missile radar home in the 1970s, the outdated system is still in use, while the airstrip serves as an active emergency landing zone.

How It&rsquos Unique: The location&mdash1,200 miles west of Anchorage, Alaska, and only 200 miles east of Russia on the island of Shemya in the Aleutians&mdashgives this desolate location some intrigue. It's also used as a refueling station and emergency runway.

Location: Marshall Islands

Background: One of the largest coral atolls in the world, the United States placed a base there during World War II.

How It&rsquos Unique: Apart from the massive amounts of coral, missiles make up another major portion of this Pacific atoll. The Kwajalein Atoll offers a test site for radars, tracking devices, missile launchers and plenty of other technology. Notably, SpaceX successfully launched its first Falcon 1 rocket from Kwajalein Atoll.

The U.S. leases 11 of the 97 small islands that make up the atoll and surround a central lagoon perfectly suited for reentry of airborne items. The out-of-the-way site helps with plenty of testing of all sorts free of ship and radio traffic. It's also currently the site of the "space fence," a radar array designed to spot and track space junk and small satellites.

Location: Frederick, Maryland

Background: What started as Camp Detrick in the 1940s quickly turned into a long-standing home for the U.S. military.

How It&rsquos Unique: Farms in Maryland joined together as Fort Detrick, the site of the United States&rsquo biological weapons program, meaning the 1942 creation of this program, developed soon after the Pearl Harbor attack, was home to some wild experiments of biological toxins and plenty of other things we simply don&rsquot want to know about.

Using creations from the scientists at the fort, the U.S. Navy ran six experiential attacks on San Francisco, sending ships just off the shore of the U.S. city to release stimulants into the air. Once the warfare program ended in 1969, the site turned into the home of the U.S. biological defense program.

Location: Norway

Background: Originally constructed as a Cold War naval base, Norway sold the site and eventually leased it to the Russians, who now use the space for &ldquoresearch.&rdquo (Now the U.S. Navy wants a piece of it.)

How It&rsquos Unique: Along with the Norway-versus-Russia backstory that started the site, which has flipped to Russia now operating ships and planes within Norway, the location itself offers quite a site. Chiseled into mountains, the base includes buildings, bombproof areas within the earth, and docks aplenty.

Location: Washington State

Background: A small island off the coast of Washington State, the U.S. Navy purchased land on Indian Island in 1939. Now one of the smallest bases in the Navy (and most recently named Naval Magazine Indian Island), it has serviced naval ships as the last stop before the Pacific Ocean ever since.

How It&rsquos Unique: The final remaining deep-water ordnance facility on the West Coast without access restrictions, the small island helps ships&mdashas large as Nimitz class aircraft carriers&mdashload and offload ammunition. The site has more than 100 &ldquomagazines&rdquo for weapon storage, located underground in domed mounds. Every ship leaving the Northwest region gets supplied by the island that has the ability to service everything from U.S. Coast Guard patrol boats to submarines to aircraft carriers.

Location: India and Pakistan

Background: India and Pakistan have long disputed the ownership of the Siachen Glacier, also a four decade-plus home of the Indian Army.

How It&rsquos Unique: Located at over 21,000 feet, the Siachen Glacier isn&rsquot your run-of-the-mill military outpost. High in the mountains north of Jammu and Kashmir, both India and Pakistan have disputed the site, although the Indian Army has a base and controlling interest of two of the main mountain passes. With windstorms, snowstorms, thin oxygen, and frigid temperatures, not only is the site expensive to operate, but it's also costly in terms of human sacrifice.

Location: Virginia

Background: The public first heard about this top-secret site now run by the Department of Homeland Security in 1974, but it has operated for longer than that, with weather history dating to the 1800s and uses during World War II.

How It&rsquos Unique: The history of Mount Weather has an ample shroud of intrigue, with an origin story largely unknown. While it was born as a weather station in the 1800s and then became a camp during World War II, the underground portion of the facility was likely done around 1960 and a training ground created around 1980. In more recent times, the Department of Homeland Security has run the subterranean facility, and it has served as an operations center, housing high-level government officials during emergency times, such as then-Vice President Dick Cheney during the 9/11 attacks.

Also home to the FEMA National Radio System, the Blue Ridge Mountains site was not widely known until a plane crash in 1974 near the site brought the public&rsquos attention to its location when reporters were not allowed near it.

Location: Astrakhan Oblast, southeast of Volograd, Russia.

Background: Kapustin Yar was one of the Soviet Union's first rocket and missile test sites. It was established on May 13, 1946 and, a year later, testing on the German A-4 (V-2) rocket began. The first of the captured missiles was sent aloft on October 18, 1947.

How it's Unique:
In addition to testing early ballistic missiles, Kapustin Yar was the site of some of the Soviet Union's first suborbital animal flights. In 1966, the secret base was turned into a cosmodrome, which is still operating today.

The Soviets launched a number of dogs into Earth's atmosphere in the 1960s, including the pups Kusachka and Otvazhnaya. The missile test site was also the location of five atmospheric nuclear tests and is the site of a number of Soviet-era UFO sightings. It is known to many as "Russia's Roswell."

The nearby town of Znamensk was established in secret to support the scientists and engineers who worked at Kapustin Yar. No one was allowed to visit without government clearance and it wasn't on any official maps.

Location: North Carolina

Background: The former 1940s military site took on a new identity weeks after the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. It turned into a weapons testing facility and was also used as a training ground and spy school.

How It&rsquos Unique: Most known for the Osama Bin Laden house mockup built on site for training for the Navy SEALs, Harvey Point &mdashthe facility is tucked behind security fences and Spanish moss-laden cypress trees&mdashhas served as a CIA site for decades, cloaked in classified veils. As more people start to spill the secrets of Harvey Point, its use as not only a weapons testing facility, but also a training facility, has come to light, with everyone from the CIA, FBI, SEALs and counter-terrorism units the world over going through the site.

Location: Dayton, Ohio

Background: In operation since 1917, the facility saw rapid growth around World War II.

How It&rsquos Unique: Reverse-engineering always sounds so cryptic. The Wright-Patterson Air Force Base outside of Dayton, Ohio, has been reverse-engineering aircraft for much of its 103-year history, especially during the Cold War. Add in the fact that Hangar 18 has a tie to the Roswell crash, and conspiracy theorists enjoy the intrigue&mdashand strangeness&mdashof Wright-Patterson.

Location: Toulon, France

Background: The location first became a port under Louis XII in 1514. An arsenal was added in 1599 and updates have occurred ever since.

How It&rsquos Unique: The first naval base in Europe and now the home to more than 70 percent of France&rsquos navy, the arsenal on the east coast has continued to grow and evolve over the centuries. The site built the country&rsquos first iron ships and world&rsquos first modern submarines.

Location: Hainan Island, China

Background: Likely constructed at some point during the 2000s, the Chinese have turned caverns into a naval base able to hold nuclear submarines.

How It&rsquos Unique: The Chinese have taken a resort island and turned underwater tunnels into an entrance to an underground naval base. This underwater naval base, using technology popular in the mining and petroleum industries, allows submarines to enter the leave without detection, turning caverns and harbors into homes for dozens of nuclear submarines.

Location: Qaasuitsup, Greenland

Background: Thule Air Base sits within 800 miles of the Arctic Circle, making it the northernmost U.S. military installation. Among the many challenges posed by the region's climate is that the base's port is only accessible for three months each year, so major supplies need to be shipped during the summer. The base may be frozen and remote, but the 12th Space Warning Squadron operates an early warning system for Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles from Thule, while the 21st Space Wing is in charge of space surveillance operations.

How It's Unique: Schulz, who recently worked on a dormitory replacement project at Thule, explains that construction crews essentially need to build on the most stable layer of permafrost they can get to. With temperatures dropping below minus-60 degrees Fahrenheit, keeping troops warm is crucial.

One of the more interesting weather-specific features is that all of the utilities are above ground, because it would be too hard to quickly access them if something went awry. "

You don't bury any waterlines, communication lines or even sanitary lines," Schulz says. "They're all insulated and triple-heat-taped."

Schulz also notes that all the buildings on the base are equipped with so-called arctic vestibules, which provide 24/7 access to shelter while ensuring the buildings remain secure.

Location: Great Salt Lake Desert, Utah

Background: Within two months of the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt set aside the first 127,000 acres of Dugway Proving Ground in Utah's Great Salt Lake Desert. Over the past 60 years, the site has expanded to nearly 800,000 acres, roughly the size of Rhode Island.

How It's Unique: Dugway's massiveness allows it to be the premier site for testing defense systems against chemical and biological weapons, as well as military-grade smoke bombs. During World War II, the facility played a vital role in the development of incendiary bombs.

In order to test the fire-causing weapons, crews at Dugway built replicas of German and Japanese villages, even going so far as to fill the model buildings with furniture that would be similar to that found in the respective country. Today, the remains of the German village are eligible to be included on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

Location: Diego Garcia BIOT, Chagos Archipelago

Background: This joint U.S. and U.K. operation is situated on a tiny atoll about 1000 miles from India and tasked with providing logistical support to forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.

How It's Unique: "There's a certain amount of logistical difficulty" with ultra-remote facilities like Diego Garcia, Schulz says, and shipping materials can be costly. Diego Garcia's remoteness, though, allows it to be a key hub for tracking satellites, and it is one of five monitoring stations for GPS. Additionally, the island is one of only a handful of locations equipped with a Ground-based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance system for tracking objects in deep space. As an atoll, the land itself is rather oddly shaped, too. From end to end, Diego Garcia is 34 miles long, but its total area is only 11 square miles.

Location: Gakona, Alaska

Background: HAARP, or the High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Program, is a collaborative project involving the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Army, and the University of Alaska. Researchers at the facility use a powerful high-frequency transmitter and an array of 180 antennas to temporarily disrupt the ionosphere in hopes of yielding potential communications and surveillance benefits.

How It's Unique: HAARP has been the centerpiece of countless conspiracy theories, ranging from rumors that it will be used for mind control to claims that it can manipulate the weather of individual countries. The project's website says the equipment can only function properly if it is located in the auroral region, and Alaska happens to be the only U.S. state that fits that criterion.

A quiet electromagnetic location is needed for the system to operate, which further explains the removed location of HAARP. In past interviews, HAARP's operators readily admit they're researching potential defense applications. HAARP is not classified.

Location: Siachen Glacier, Kashmir

Background: For more than 25 years, India and Pakistan have been battling for control of the nearly 50-mile-long Siachen Glacier. Both sides have set up military installations in the imposing Karakoram range, where 3-mile-high mountain peaks are the norm.

How It's Unique: Troops stationed in this barely inhabitable war zone face endless peril. While a 2004 ceasefire has been honored, soldiers on the world's highest battleground still fight altitude sickness, deadly temperatures and bone-crushing avalanches. There are no precise figures on how many lives have been lost during the conflict, but some estimates put the death toll as high as 5000, many of which are attributed to climate-related events. Due to the lack of infrastructure in the region, helicopter pilots are placed in harm's way as they navigate unpredictable winds and poor weather to delivery basic necessities.

Location: Cheyenne Mountain Complex Air Force Station, Colo.:

Background: This iconic underground base has been inspiring science fiction writers and awing engineers since 1966. Located nearly a half mile under a granite mountain, the labyrinthine facility is run by Air Force Space Command. The base earned its place in pop culture when the television version of Stargate made Cheyenne Mountain the HQ of cosmic time travel.

How It's Unique: One-of-a-kind bases like Cheyenne pose countless construction challenges and need to satisfy seemingly impossible requirements, like being able to withstand multi-megaton attacks. "It would be hard for a contractor to bid a project like this, because you might be using new construction techniques, new construction technology," Schulz says.

Aside from sitting under a mountain of granite, an extremely hard rock, the base is protected by 25-ton blast doors, and some rooms sit on massive beds of springs to better absorb a blast. "It's certainly not a very secret installation, but it's well-protected."

Location: Gibraltar

Background: Certain geographic locations will never lose their strategic importance. Case in point: Gibraltar. British control of the territory dates back to 1713, when Spain ceded the land in the Treaty of Utrecht. Nowadays, the Royal Gibraltar Regiment watches over the territory from its Devil's Tower Camp headquarters.

How It's Unique: The location's strategic importance stems from the Strait of Gibraltar, which joins together the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, but the area also provides unique training opportunities in parachuting, diving and tunnel warfare. Under the streets of Gibraltar is an extensive 35-mile-long tunnel system carved through limestone. On the southern tip of Gibraltar is the Buffadero Training Center, which includes two live firing ranges, an obstacle course, and a mock village that mimics warfare in an urban environment.

Location: Lingiari, Australia

Background: Near the hot, desolate center of Australia, just outside of Alice Springs, is the Joint Defence Space Research Facility Pine Gap. Australia and the U.S. agreed to build the compound in 1966, but desert flooding, blistering heat, and a lack of paved roads slowed initial construction efforts. The site officially opened in June 1970 and has been a joint U.S./Australian operation since.

How It's Unique: Pine Gap's collection of eight or so radomes and its remote location have sparked many UFO-related rumors, both in Australia and abroad. The main function of Pine Gap is to monitor any missile activity in the region and relay intelligence to U.S. and Australian forces.

Schulz points out there are certain military installations, like Pine Gap or HAARP, that can only operate effectively in certain geographical areas. "Even though they're in terrible environments, some portion of that land is strategically important," he says.

In 2009, the Australian Department of Defence announced plans to upgrade antiquated equipment at the facility, indicating that Pine Gap has a long future ahead of it.

Location: Fort Detrick, Maryland

Background: Anthrax, Ebola virus, plague, and monkeypox are just a few of the deadly microbes handled by researchers at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, commonly known as USAMRIID. Over the years, the institute has made significant contributions to the development of vaccines, diagnostics and treatments that have both military and civilian applications.

How It's Unique: USAMRIID is the only Biosafety Level 4 (BSL-4) laboratory under the purview of the Department of Defense. Facilities like these are all about redundancies, Shulz says, and the safety requirements needed for BSL-4 certification are extensive and complex. A few of the more notable precautions include double-door airlocks, sophisticated filtration systems capable of catching microscopic particles, fumigation chambers, and a completely air-tight building.

According to the National Institutes of Health, many of the BSL-4 facilities build buffer corridors around the laboratories to help mitigate damage from any potential blasts.

Location: Jacksonville, Florida

Background: The new Hangar 511 at Naval Air Station Jacksonville is the largest hangar in the Navy's inventory, capable of storing 33 P3-C Orions, four C-130 Hercules, and a helicopter unit. In the coming years, the hangar will be instrumental in housing the P-8 Poseidon and its 120-foot wingspan.

How It's Unique: Hangar 511 is one of only three hangars, military or civilian, to achieve LEED Silver certification. Schulz says HNTB fitted sections of Kalwall&mdasha translucent, polymer panel&mdashinto the southern wall so natural light could illuminate the hangar and curb energy consumption. The designers also avoided using conventional sliding hangar doors and opted for Megadoors, which are made from fabric and pulled vertically, similar to blinds in a bedroom.

"It has, I think, the largest fabric hangar doors ever constructed," Schulz says. "There are two of them that are 60 feet tall by 450 feet long. The truss that spans that 450 feet is 15 feet wide and 35 feet tall. Those are very interesting pieces of equipment."

Location: Adams Country, Pennsylvania

Background: This notoriously cryptic facility is built under Raven Rock mountain near the border of Pennsylvania and Maryland. The site was birthed during the Cold War and goes by many names, including Site R and the underground Pentagon.

How It's Unique: Site R's mission is to facilitate the Continuity of Operations Plan, a blueprint for how the government would reposition itself if a major catastrophe strikes. Should the country find itself in peril, defense communications and planning will allegedly be handled here, but the utility of such a strategy has been hotly debated. Not too far away, in Virginia, is Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center, which is the FEMA-controlled, civilian-centered counterpart to Site R.

"Everyone knows it exists, but I would say folks are probably not aware of its complete function," Schulz says.

Location: Iraq and Afghanistan

Background: Temporary Deployable Accommodations, or TDAs, are the brainchild of global engineering firm KBR. These on-the-fly facilities can be large enough to host 600 troops and take less than a month to set up.

How It's Unique: Each eight-man tent is built from PVC-barrel cover and a composite insulation liner. Air conditioners help U.K. and U.S. forces counter the sweltering heat of the region. Andrew Jeacock, a marketing director for KBR, boasts that the real tech gems of a TDA are its vacuum waste-distribution system and the waste-water treatment plant. The filtration system is so effective, Jeacock says, that it renders waste water nearly potable. For next-generation TDAs, KBR is looking for ways to improve fuel and water efficiency.

Location: Edwards, California

Background: America's first jet, the Bell P-59, made its debut flight on October 1, 1942 at Muroc Dry Lake, now known as Edwards Air Force Base. A mere six years later, at the same site, Chuck Yeager busted through the sound barrier in a Bell X-1, marking the first time an aircraft had traveled faster than the speed of sound. Today, Edwards is home to the Air Force Flight Test Center and NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, both of which are molding the future of aviation.

How It's Unique: Edwards' legacy of speed is due, in part, to the fact that it's built adjacent to Rogers Dry Lake, a large salt flat that can be used as a natural extension to a runway.

"The uniqueness comes from just how large it is," Schulz says. "Even when you get to the main gate and show some identification, your drive from there to the airfield is significant."

The immediate benefit of the base's size is that it provides plenty of space in case an aircraft (or spacecraft) gets a bit out of control, but Schulz also points out that it helps cut down on noise pollution for nearby civilian populations.

Location: Azores, Portugal

Background: Lajes Field, on the small, Portuguese-owned Terceira Island, is an important refueling station for aircraft that can't clear the Atlantic Ocean in a single shot. In 1953, the U.S. established its first presence on the island when it positioned the 1605th Air Base Wing at Lajes. Today, the 65th Air Base Wing is stationed at the facility, providing support to U.S. Air Forces in Europe and to a variety of allies.

How It's Unique: Lajes Field is on a small chunk of volcanic rock about 1,000 miles off the coast of Portugal, a location that can be stressful for first-time navigators. About 11 miles long from north to south, the island is not capable of supporting more than one airport, so the field is split between civilian operations and military operations.

"All the military support facilities line one side of the runway, and the passenger terminal, if you will, is very small on the other side," Schulz says.

Location: Nellis AFB, Nevada

Background: Nellis Air Force Base is a revered training facility and the location of the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center. The base has been operational since the 1940s.

How It's Unique: In 2007, officials at Nellis cut the red ribbon for North America's largest solar power plant at the time. More than 6 million solar cells are laced throughout 72,000 panels, feeding the base about 30 million kilowatt-hours of clean energy each year.

Upping the eco-ante of the project is the fact that the solar farm is built atop a capped landfill. The Air Force estimated that the array would help it shed 24,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year, while saving upward of $1 million.

Location: Anniston Army Depot, Alabama

Background: The U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency's Anniston Chemical Agent Disposal Facility is one of six locations that stores chemical weapons. During the 1960s, 7 percent of U.S. chemical weapons were stashed at Anniston, including stockpiles of VX nerve-agent munitions.

How It's Unique: Operations at Anniston have shifted from storing chemical weapons to safely destroying and disposing of them. Mustard-gas-filled munitions can't just be chucked in the garbage buried or dumped in a lake, so the facility is equipped with high-tech robotics that disassemble weapons and powerful incinerators that help destroy certain waste materials.

Workers at the site have recently started using a Linear Projectile Mortar Disassembly machine&mdasha six-axis, remote-controlled robot&mdashto extract the explosives from mortars filled with chemical agents.

Location: Wiltshire, England

Background: The now defunct British War Office started snatching up land in this region of southern England back in 1897. Salisbury, location of the contentious Imber Live Firing Range, is still used regularly to put Royal Marines through the wringer.

How It's Unique: Fewer than 10 miles from Salisbury is the wildly famous architectural site Stonehenge. A crew of researchers led by Chris Pearson of the University of Bristol just published the book Militarized Landscapes: From Gettysburg to Salisbury Plain, which examines how the training facility has helped keep the architectural and ecological legacy of Salisbury intact.

"Army training leads to pollution, bomb craters and other forms of environmental damage," Pearson said in a recent press statement. "But military ownership of certain sites, such as Salisbury Plain, has kept intensive agriculture as well as tourism and urbanization at bay and encouraged the preservation of ecologically outstanding habitats."

Location: Kings Bay, Georgia

Background: Around 1980, the Navy began overhauling Kings Bay to be the East Coast location for Ohio-class nuclear submarines, a project that took nearly a decade and cost $1.3 billion, making it the largest peacetime construction project for the Navy at the time. Spread over 16,000 acres, about a quarter of which is protected wetlands, this submarine base is the habitat of 20 threatened or endangered species.

How It's Unique: When a submarine needs a little TLC, there's not a better place than the Trident Refit Facility at Kings Bay. The 700-foot-long covered drydock, one of the largest in the world, is impressive, but what really stands out is the state of the art Magnetic Silencing Facility.

The entrance of the silencing facility is designed as a drive-in, like a Jiffy Lube for Naval vessels. After a sub is in place, it's subjected to a deperming treatment, which basically erases the sub's magnetic signature, allowing it to remain as stealthy as possible during future voyages.

US Airbase at Munda, New Georgia - History

Figure 1.--U.S. Naval Hospital, Annapolis, Md.

Figure 2.--U. S. Naval Hospital, Bremerton, Wash.

Figure 3.--U.S. Naval Hospital, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Figure 4.--U. S. Naval Hospital, Charleston, S.C.

Figure 5.--U.S. Naval Hospital, Chelsea, Mass.

Figure 6.--U. S. Naval Hospital, Corona, Calif.

Figure 7.--U.S. Naval Hospital, Corpus Christi, Tex.

Figure 8.--U. S. Naval Hospital, Great Lakes, Ill.

Figure 9.--U.S. Naval Hospital, Jacksonville, Fla.

Figure 10.--U. S. Naval Hospital, Mare Island, Calif.

Figure 11.--U.S. Naval Hospital, Newport, R.I.

Figure 12.--U. S. Naval Hospital, Parris Island, S.C.

Figure 14.--U.S. Naval Hospital, Philadelphia, Pa.

Figure 15.--U. S. Naval Hospital, Portsmouth, Va.

Figure 16.--U.S. Naval Hospital, Portsmouth, N.H.

Figure 17.--U.S. Naval Hospital, Quantico, Va.

Figure 18.--U.S. Naval Hospital, San Diego, Calif.

Figure 19.--U. S. Naval Hospital, Washington, D.C.

Figure 22.--Average patient census, all naval hospitals.

In 1942 alone, nine continental and two extracontinental hospitals were commissioned (table 3):

TABLE 3.---Hospitals commissioned in 1942

Patient census
V-J Day
U.S. Naval Hospital, Bethesda, Md. 4 (fig. 23) 2,426
U.S. Naval Hospital, San Francisco (Treasure Island), Calif. (fig. 24) 1,276
U.S. Naval Hospital, Oakland, Calif. (fig. 25) 5,400
U.S. Naval Hospital, Seattle, Wash. (fig. 26) 3,031
U.S. Naval Hospital, Key West, Fla. (fig. 27) 2,609
U.S. Naval Hospital, Charleston, S.C. 697
U.S. Naval Hospital, Long Beach, Calif. (fig. 28) 2,281
U.S. Naval Hospital, Norfolk, Va. (fig. 29) 1,652
U.S. Naval Hospital, Norman, Okla. (fig. 30) 1,811
U.S. Naval Hospital, Balboa,, C.Z. 192
U.S. Naval Hospital, Coco Solo, C. Z. 236

Figure 23.--U.S. Naval Hospital, Bethesda, Md.

Figure 24.--U.S. Naval Hospital, San Francisco (Treasure Island), Calif.

Figure 25.--U.S. Naval Hospital, Oakland, Calif.

Figure 26.--U.S. Naval Hospital, Seattle, Wash.

Figure 27.--U.S. Naval Hospital, Key West, Fla.

Figure 28.--U.S. Naval Hospital, Long Beach, Calif.

Development of Mobile and Base Hospitals 5

In 1939, when world war appeared imminent, the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery realized the need for some type of prefabricated hospital that would be completely self-sustaining and yet transportable and of such construction that it could be set up without the employment of skilled mechanics. As a result U.S. Naval Mobile Hospital No. 1, which is more fully described in chapter III, was designed and constructed. This was a 500-bed, completely equipped, transportable type, general hospital with self-contained power, water, commissary, laundry, and repair facilities. It was first set up at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in November 1940, where it served local and fleet units (fig. 31). After its experimental phase in Cuba, its portability was tested by being torn down, shipped to Bermuda, and set up there (fig. 32). The experience in erecting this type of hospital paved the way for better mobile and base hospital construction. Although it was observed that these hospitals did not possess a high degree of mobility, nevertheless they could be moved and set up in any area with a minimum of time, expense, and labor. They contained the following facilities: (a) water purification and softening plant (b) storage spaces for supplies (c) laundry: (d) galley (e) automotive and ambulance equipment (f) fire-fighting equipment (g) light and power supplies (h) refrigeration facilities and (i) x-ray, dental, laboratory, and other equipment and facilities of a general hospital.

Figure 30.--U.S. Naval Hospital, Norman, Okla.

The supplies, equipment, and buildings for all mobile and base hospitals were procured by the Medical Supply Depot, Brooklyn, N. Y., and each hospital was commissioned there. During the period of assembling and packing the hospital supplies and equipment, the hospital staff assembled at the Depot, where they were indoctrinated in the methods of hospital construction and outfitting and were advised regarding the methods of identification of the packed and crated equipment.

Upon reaching their destination the staff of the hospital immediately set up temporary quarters, and when the material for the hospital arrived the hospital corpsmen under the direction and with the physical assistance of the Medical Corps, Dental Corps, and Hospital Corps officers began the job of unloading and sorting the equipment and supplies and erecting the prefabricated components of the hospital--the quonset, Iceland, and similar huts. This was no small task some of the hospitals had as many as 300 buildings, including huts 6 and sheds.

At first some of the hospitals experienced difficulty in obtaining sufficient medical supplies in particular there was a great shortage of quinine and atabrine. Many administrative difficulties presented themselves. There was some confusion regarding the procedures for requisitioning supplies, often the allotment status was unknown and instructions regarding accounting procedures were not received,

Figure 31.--Mobile Hospital No. 1 at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Figure 32.--Mobile Hospital No. 1 at Bermuda.

and some hospitals were uncertain how to obtain items not listed in the supply catalogue.

The size of the mobile and base hospitals varied from 200 to 2,500 beds. In the majority of the hospitals, the number of medical officers attached ranged from 40 to 54, of dental officers from 1 to 4, of Hospital Corps officers from 1 to 5, and of hospital corpsmen from 235 to 500. Usually about 80 enlisted men with non-medical ratings were attached to the hospital. There were no civilian employees, and until the early part of 1944 none of the hospitals had Navy nurses.

Plans for the construction of mobile and base hospitals having been perfected following the experiences with the U.S. Naval Mobile Hospital No. 1 in Guantanamo and Bermuda, similar but improved versions (fig. 33) were erected in the battle zones all over the world. The first of these, U.S. Naval Mobile Hospital No. 2, was disembarked at Pearl Harbor on 26 November 1941, just 12 days before the attack by the Japanese. By the end of 1942 8 mobile and base hospitals of 500 beds each had been assembled, shipped, and erected in battle zones.

    U.S. Naval Base Hospital No. 1, Londonderry, North Ireland
    U.S. Naval Base Hospital No. 2, Efate Island, New Hebrides 7
    U.S. Naval Mobile Hospital No. 2, Pearl Harbor (commissioned Aug 1941)
    U.S. Naval Mobile Hospital No. 3, Tutuila, Samoa Guam 8
    U.S. Naval Mobile Hospital No. 5, Noumea, New Caledonia 9
    U.S. Naval Mobile Hospital No. 7, Noumea, New Caledonia
    U.S. Naval Mobile Hospital No. 8, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands (fig. 34) 10

Figure 35.--U. S. Naval Convalescent Hospital, Harriman, N.Y.

In February 1943 the bed capacity of previously constructed mobile hospitals was expanded to 1,000 beds, and in June all base hospitals were equipped for 1,000-bed capacity. In addition numerous new hospitals were commissioned in 1943 (table 5):

TABLE 5.--Hospitals commissioned in 1943

Patient census
V-J Day
Continental hospitals:
U.S. Naval Hospital, Farragut, Idaho (fig. 36) 2,489
U.S. Naval Hospital, Bainbridge, Md. (fig. 37) 1,979
U.S. Naval Hospital, St. Albans, N.Y. (fig. 38) 4,642
U.S. Naval Hospital, Sampson, N.Y. (fig. 39) 2,119
U.S. Naval Hospital, Memphis, Tenn. (fig. 40) 1,321
U.S. Naval Hospital, New Orleans, La. (fig. 41) 1,212
U.S. Naval Hospital, Camp Lejeune, New River, N.C. (fig. 42) 1,730
U.S. Naval Hospital, Oceanside, Calif. (fig. 43) 1,534
U.S. Naval Hospital, Shoemaker, Calif. (fig. 44) 3,031
Extracontinental hospitals:
U.S. Naval Hospital, Aiea Heights, T.H. ---
U.S. Naval Hospital, San Juan, P.R. ---
U.S. Naval Hospital, Trinidad, B.W.I. ---
Base hospitals:
U.S. Naval Base Hospital No. 3, Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides ---
U.S. Naval Base Hospital No. 4, Wellington, New Zealand Okinawa ---
U.S. Naval Base Hospital No. 5, Casablanca, French Morocco ---
U.S. Naval Base Hospital No. 6, Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides ---
U.S. Naval Base Hospital No. 7, Tulagi, Solomon Islands ---
U.S. Naval Base Hospital No. 8, Pearl Harbor, T.H. ---
U.S. Naval Base Hospital No. 9, Oran, Algeria ---
U.S. Naval Base Hospital No. 10, Sydney, Australia ---
U.S. Naval Base Hospital No. 11, Munda, New Georgia ---
U.S. Naval Base Hospital No. 13, Milne Bay, New Guinea ---
Mobile hospitals:
U.S. Naval Mobile Hospital No. 4, Auckland, New Zealand ---
U.S. Naval Mobile Hospital No. 6, Wellington, New Zealand ---
U.S. Naval Mobile Hospital No. 9, Brisbane, Australia ---
U.S. Naval Mobile Hospital No. 10, Russell Islands, Solomon Islands ---
U.S. Naval Mobile Hospital No. 11, Guam, Mariana Islands ---
U.S. Naval Mobile Hospital No. 12, New Caledonia (Noumea) 11 ---
Convalescent hospitals:
U.S. Naval Special Hospital, Santa Cruz, Calif. 891
U.S. Naval Special Hospital, Asheville, N.C. 367
U.S. Naval Special Hospital, Yosemite, Calif. (fig. 46) 709
U.S. Naval Special Hospital, Sun Valley, Idaho 978
U.S. Naval Special Hospital, Glenwood Springs, Colo. (fig. 47) 526

Figure 36.--U.S. Naval Hospital, Farragut, Idaho.

Figure 37.--U.S. Naval Hospital, Bainbridge, Md.

Figure 38.--U.S. Naval Hospital, St. Albans, N.Y.

Figure 39.--U.S. Naval Hospital, Memphis, Tenn.

Figure 40.--U.S. Naval Hospital, Sampson, N.Y.

Figure 41.--U.S. Naval Hospital, New Orleans, La.

Figure 42.--U.S. Naval Hospital, Camp Lejeune, Ne River, N.C.

Figure 43.--U.S. Naval Hospital, Santa Margarita Ranch, Oceanside, Calif.

Figure 44.--U.S. Naval Hospital, Shoemaker, Calif.

Figure 45.--U.S. Naval Base Hospital No. 4, Wellington, New Zealand

Figure 46.--U.S. Naval Convalescent Hospital, Yosemite, Calif.

Figure 47.--U.S. Naval Convalescent Hospital, Glenwood Springs, Colo.

Figure 48 shows the location of mobile and base hospitals in the Pacific during 1944. In that year the hospital facilities listed in table 6 were commissioned.

TABLE 6.--Hospitals and hospital ships commissioned in 1944

Patient census
V-J Day
Continental hospitals:
U.S. Naval Hospital, San Leandro, Calif. (fig. 49) 1,373
U.S. Naval Hospital, Fort Eustice, Va. (fig. 50) 1,339
U.S. Naval Hospital, Astoria, Oreg. 414
Base hospitals:
U.S. Naval Base Hospital No. 12, Netley, Hants, England ---
U.S. Naval Base Hospital No. 14, Finschhafen, New Guinea Cavite, P.I. ---
U.S. Naval Base Hospital No. 15, Manus Island, Admiralty Islands ---
U.S. Naval Base Hospital No. 16, Woendi, Schouten Islands ---
U.S. Naval Base Hospital No. 17, Hollandia, New Guinea ---
U.S. Naval Base Hospital No. 18, Guam, Mariana Islands ---
U.S. Naval Base Hospital No. 19, Tinian Island, Mariana Islands ---
U.S. Naval Base Hospital No. 20, Peleliu, Palau Islands ---
Fleet hospitals:
U.S. Naval Fleet Hospital No. 113, San Francisco, Calif. ---
U.S. Naval Fleet Hospital No. 114, Samar, P.I. 12 ---
Hospital ships:
U.S.S. Bountiful ---
U.S.S. Refuge ---
U.S.S. Samaritan (fig. 51) ---
Convalescent hospitals:
U.S. Naval Special Hospital, Arrowhead Springs, Calif. 692
U.S. Naval Special Hospital, Banning, CalIf. 831
U.S. Naval Special Hospital, Beaumont, Calif. 240
U.S. Naval Special Hospital, Sea Gate, N.Y. 685
U.S. Naval Special Hospital, Springfield, Mass. 424

In 1945 the hospital facilities shown in table 7 were commissioned:

TABLE 7.--Hospitals and hospital ships commissioned in 1945

Patient census
V-J Day
Continental hospitals:
U.S. Naval Hospital, Dublin, Ga. (fig. 52) 889
U.S. Naval Hospital, Corvallis, Oreg. (fig. 53) 1,573
Base Hospitals:
U.S. Naval Base Hospital No. 21, Kwajalein Island, Marshall Islands ---
Fleet hospitals:
U.S. Naval Fleet Hospital No. 115, Guam, Mariana Islands ---
U.S. Naval Fleet Hospital No. 116, Brooklyn, N Y. San Pedro, Calif. ---
Hospital ships:
U.S.S. Benevolence ---
U.S.S. Consolations (fig. 54) ---
U.S.S. Haven (fig. 55) ---
U.S.S. Repose ---
U.S.S. Rescue (fig. 56) ---
U.S.S. Sanctuary ---
U.S.S. Tranquillity (fig. 57) ---
Military government hospitals:
U.S. Naval Military Government Hospital, Saipan, Mariana Islands ---
U.S. Naval Military Government Hospital, Guam, Mariana Islands ---
U.S. Naval Military Government Hospital, Tinian, Mariana Islands ---
Special augmented hospitals:
Special Augmented Hospital No, 3, Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands ---
Special Augmented Hospital No, 4, Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands ---
Special Augmented Hospital No, 5, Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands ---
Special Augmented Hospital No, 6, Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands ---
Special Augmented Hospital No, 7, Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands ---
Special Augmented Hospital No, 8, Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands ---
Convalescent hospitals:
U.S. Naval Special Hospital, Asbury Park, N.J. 551
U.S. Naval Special Hospital, Palm Beach, Fla. 1,540
U.S. Naval Special Hospital, Camp White, Oreg. ---
U.S. Naval Special Hospital, Camp Wallace, Tex. ---

Figure 49.--U.S. Naval Hospital, San Leandro, Calif.

Figure 52.--U.S. Naval Hospital, Dublin, Ga.

Figure 53.--U.S. Naval Hospital, Corvallis, Oreg.

Figure 56.--U.S.S. Rescue

Figure 57.--U.S.S. Tranquility
The first of six 15,000-ton hospital ships of the Haven class to be converted from a Maritime Commission C-4 hull. These vessels were completely air conditioned and the medical facilities were equal to those of a large modern hospital.

At the end of the war there were in commission 42 naval hospitals and 12 naval convalescent hospitals in the continental United States. Overseas there were 6 permanent hospitals, 36 mobile, base, or fleet hospitals (figs. 58, 59, 60), 12 hospital ships, 3 hospital transports, and 3 military government hospitals. Logistic support was furnished by 32 medical supply facilities, depots, warehouses, and supply barges (table 8).

TABLE 8.--Medical supply facilities, all types

Medical supply depots:
Brooklyn, N.Y.
Oakland, Calif.
Pearl Harbor, T.H.
Guam, Mariana Islands (Annex at Saipan)
Medical supply storehouses and storage facilities:
Newport, R.I.
Charleston, S.C.
Seattle, Wash.
San Pedro, Calif.
San Diego, Calif.
Naval Supply Depot, Mechanicsburg, Pa.
Naval Supply Depot, Spokane, Wash.
Naval Supply Depot, Clearfield, Utah
Medical supply storehouses overseas:
Balboa, C.Z.
Londonderry, North Ireland
Exeter, England
Sydney, Australia
Auckland, New Zealand
No. 1, Subic Bay, Philippine Islands
No. 3, Kodiak, Alaska h-o,
No. 4, Samar, Philippine Islands
No. 7, San Juan, P.R.
No. 9, Casablanca, French Morocco
No. 10, Recife, Brazil
No. 11, Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides
No. 13, Saipan, Mariana Islands
No. Supply Facility Fleet Hospital 105, New Caledonia
Supply barges:
U.S.S. Silica
U.S.S. Lignite
U.S.S. Mare
YF 787
YF 738
YF 739
YF 740
YF 754

Deficiencies in Mobile and Base Hospitals

Mobile and base hospitals successfully treated thousands of patients during the war, but they never attained the degree of mobility desired for combat areas. The deficiencies of the mobile (fleet) and base hospitals in combat areas were noted in the Seventh Fleet report for 1944:

Although fleet and base hospitals as presently planned are excellent as to comfort for patients and working conditions for Medical Department personnel, they possess distinct disadvantages. They are bulky and require considerable shipping space to transport, time and effort to establish, and even more effort to dismantle, refit, and move forward. In a fast moving type of warfare over the vast distances typified in the operations in the Southwest Pacific, hospitals have not been capable of receiving casualties until the assault beaches moved far ahead. With the consistent shortage of AH's, APH's, and APA's in the Seventh Fleet, it was necessary in many areas to resort to hospitalizing

Figure 58.--Main ward buildings, Base Hospital No. 4, Wellington, New Zealand.

Figure 59.--One of the wards, Base Hospital No. 4.

Figure 60.--Laundry. Base Hospital No. 6, Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides.

Special Augmented Hospitals

Plans were made by the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery for 8 of these new hospitals. Four were to have a bed capacity of 200 each and 4 to have a bed capacity of 400 each. Of the number planned, 5 left the United States for Okinawa.

Personnel for the special augmented hospitals were assembled at San Bruno, Calif., in the late summer of 1944. There they were given comprehensive physical conditioning which included hiking and camping expeditions under conditions that approximated those in the field of combat. The men lived in tents, ate from mess kits, practiced field sanitation, and were instructed in infiltration tactics, the use of the rifle, tent construction and maintenance, and chemical warfare. Special groups received instruction in tropical diseases at Treasure Island, Calif. General duty corpsmen were given refresher courses and some men were detailed to Navy hospitals for training in the specialties, such as laboratory and x-ray.

Special Augmented Hospital No. 6 was commissioned on 7 March 1945, and 3 days later Special Augmented Hospital Nos. 3, 4, 7, and 8 were commissioned. Special Augmented Hospital No. 6, the first to sail, arrived at Okinawa on 4 May 1945, and received its first patients on 17 June 1945. Special Augmented Hospitals Nos. 4, 7, and 8 arrived on 14 July 1945. Of the five special augmented hospitals to arrive in Okinawa, only Nos. 3 and 6 actually received patients before the surrender of Japan. The others received their first patients in September, and continued to care for them for several months after the war.

Regarding the function of the "Augmented" Hospital, the following comments were made:

Although the exact place of the augmented hospital was never made clear, nevertheless, certain comments can be made. If it was intended that this type of hospital should be in operation during the active campaign for the island, then its equipment and construction contained too much of a semipermanent or permanent character, so that it could not be erected quickly. On the other hand, if it was intended that this hospital should come into operation after the termination of hostilities, as was the case, then its construction was too temporary in character to afford desired comfort and efficiency.

Not knowing what were the planned expectations for such a hospital, it was difficult to judge its effectiveness. Probably the most effective function of this hospital was the ability to keep beds available for the demand for admissions which was placed upon it however, because evacuation had to be made so frequently, prolonged treatment, elective surgery, and complete diagnostic procedures had to be curtailed.

Medical Facilities European, Atlantic, & African Theaters

A fuller account of its development as a 1,000-bed hospital and of its outstanding achievements is given in chapter III.

Naval Base Hospital No. 12 was established primarily for the treatment of casualties during the invasion of Europe. The first D-day casualties were received on 9 June 1944 and in the following 4 months a total of 7,877 patients (including 4,226 war casualties) were admitted. There were only 18 deaths during this period, 11 of these the result of wounds incurred in action against the enemy. The mortality rate of combat casualties was only 0.26 percent.

Prior to the establishment of this hospital, all U.S. Navy patients requiring return from the European area to the United States for further treatment or disposition were evacuated through the U.S. Naval Dispensary at Roseneath, Scotland. Evacuations through the Base Hospital proved more satisfactory because of its proximity to the southern ports where there were fewer travel difficulties. After it was decommissioned on 30 September 1944, U.S. Naval Advanced Amphibious Base, Plymouth, Devon, and U.S. Naval Base No. 2, Roseneath, Scotland, were designated as evacuation centers for the southern and northern areas respectively.

At Camp Knox, Reykjavik area, the headquarters of the Naval Operating Base, Iceland, a dispensary was already functioning in July 1942. It had 21 huts and contained 109 beds. During 1942, approximately 75 percent of the patients were from ships operating in Iceland waters. This dispensary was centrally located, well staffed, and equipped to meet hospital needs of Navy personnel stationed in Iceland or in ships operating in Icelandic waters. Auxiliary dispensaries were established at the Tank Farm and at Falcon Comperea at Hoalford, as well as at the Fleet Air Base, Reykjavik.

Dispensary facilities in the United Kingdom were located at the activities listed in table 9, and other dispensaries were established at Saltash, Appledore, Falmouth, Fowey, Salcombe, Dartmouth, Teignmouth, Penarth and Milford Haven, St. Mawes, Poole, Portland-Weymouth, Southampton, Deptford, Exeter, and Calstock. On 15 June 1944 a dispensary of 50 beds was set up in Blackheath, London, to care for convalescent and overflow patients from the main dispensary and to serve as a dressing station for bomb casualties. During the 5-month period prior to D-day, the number of available beds in England for reception of casualties had reached 3,500.

TABLE 9.--Dispensaries in the United Kingdom

Bed capacity Date commissioned
USN Base, Roseneath, Scotland 325 Aug. 24, 1942
USNAATB, Appledore, Devon 61 July 29, 1943
USNAATSB, St. Mawes, Cornwall 34 Sept. 7, 1943
USNAATB Falmouth, Cornwall 220 Oct. 11, 1943
USNAATSB, Fowey, Cornwall 93 Oct. 25, 1943
USNAATB, Plymouth, Devon 500 Nov. 6, 1943
USNAATSB, Salcombe, Devon 117 Nov. 25, 1943
USNAATSB, Teignmouth, Devon 87 Dec. 1, 1943
USNAAB, Dartmouth, Devon 356 Dec. 24, 1943
USNAAB, Milford Haven, Wales 800 Jan. 12, 1944
USNAAMSB, Penarth, Wales 50 Jan. 12, 1944
USNASB, Exeter, Devon 46 Feb. 3, 1944
USNAAMB, Deptford, London 10 Apr. 10, 1944
USNAAB, Portland-Weymouth, Dorset 123 May 1, 1944
USNAAB, Poole, Dorset 24 May 11, 1944
USNAAB, Southampton, Netley, Hants 10 May 11, 1944

The hospital and dispensary facilities established in the European, Atlantic, and North African theaters are shown in figures 61, 62, and 63.

TABLE 10.--Hospitals and dispensaries in the Atlantic

Canal Zone:
Naval hospital 350
Dispensary (naval station) 8
Marine sick bay (annex to naval station) 14
Sick bay, naval ammunition depot 4
Coco Solo:
Naval hospital 464
Dispensary (naval station) 30
Dispensary (Cristobal Annex to naval station) 4
Dispensary, Naval air station 90
Farfan: Sick bay (radio station) 5
Tobago Island: Dispensary (naval station) 20
Galapagos Island: Dispensary (naval base) 15
Puerto Castilla, Honduras: Dispensary (naval base) 14
Corinto, Nicaragua: Dispensary (naval base) 16
Barranquilla: Dispensary (naval base) 4
Netherlands West Indies: Curacao (naval camp) 24
Virgin Islands: St. Thomas naval station 10
Caravellas, dispensary 10
Maceió, dispensary 11
Rio de Janeiro, Dispensary (naval operating facility) 8
Santa Cruz, Dispensary 15
British West Indies:
Antigua (N.A.A.F.) 2
Great Exuma (N.A.A.F.) 4
Hospital 290
NAS dispensary 66
Guantanamo Bay:
Naval station 220
Naval air station 16
Marine Corps Base 8
Puerto Rico:
Roosevelt Roads (naval station) 7
San Juan:
Naval hospital 200
Naval air station 39

As the forces moved into North Africa, dispensaries were established there. Two days after the landing operation had started, on 10 November 1942, naval medical personnel set up a small sickbay in a camel barn on the dock of Fedala. Later, dispensaries were set up at Oran, Port Lyautey, Arzew, Bizerte, and Casablanca. Because of the importance of Casablanca as a port of entry and as an evacuation center, the dispensary there later became U.S. Naval Base Hospital No. 5. Dispensaries were established at Fedala, Safi, and Agadir in French Morocco, and sickbays of varying sizes were set up at Mers-el-Kebir, Algiers, Nemours, Beni Saf, Mostaganem, T&egravné, Cherchel, and Dellys in Algeria. By summer of 1943 it was obvious that a naval hospital was required for personnel in the Northwest African waters, and to meet this need U.S. Naval Base Hospital No. 9 was disembarked at Oran on 3 September 1943. With the assistance of construction battalions, this 500-bed, completely equipped hospital was ready to receive patients 2 months after construction began.

In Sicily a 50-bed dispensary was established at Palermo and smaller units were set up on the south coast of the island. In September 1943, all U.S. Navy activities in Sicily were consolidated at the Naval Operating Base, Palermo, where a dispensary of 160 beds was established. Later in 1944, 25-bed dispensaries were established at Calvi, Bastia, Ajaccio, Corsica, and at La Maddalena Island, Sardinia (table 11). The largest and most important dispensary in Italy was at Naples, but Salerno and Rome each had a small dispensary.

Dispensaries were set up on the French TABLE 11.--Medical Department facilities in the African Theater, 1 January 1945

Activity Bed
Arzew, Dispensary U.S. Naval Station 98
Oran, Base Hospital No. 9 500
Oran, Dispensary, U.S. Naval Station 44
French Morocco:
Agadir, Sick Bay, FAW 15, Detachment No. 1 68
Casablanca, Base Hospital No. 5 96
Port Lyautey, Dispensary (NAS) 130
Tunisia: Bizerte Dispensary, AATB 68
Corsica: Dispensary, Ajaccio 25
Palermo Dispensary, NOB Sick Bay (Port area) 155
Dispensary, Palermo 100
Naples Dispensary, USN Detachment 140
Rome, DIspensary (SENALUSLO) 4
La Maddalena Is. PT Base No. 12 10
Dispensary, La Maddalena Island 25

invasion beaches, O MAHA and U TAH , on 12 July 1943. Later, after the ports became available, dispensaries were established at Cherbourg, Le Havre, Chateau de La Prunay, Louvecinnes, and Seine-et-Oise. The most important medical installation in southern France was the dispensary at Marseilles, established after the Normandy invasion. On the heels of the Allied crossing of the Rhine, 50-bed dispensaries were established at Frankfort and Berlin, Germany.

Submarine Medicine 13

sea diving, and so were not prepared to cope with all the medical aspects of submarine duty. When the inadequacy in training became apparent, the course was lengthened by 3 weeks, and beginning June 1943 the training included "tank instruction and escape, inspection and instruction trips on submarines, dark adaptation instruction, and similar matters," as well as "demonstration of diving equipment, lectures, and demonstrations and . . . . participation in the submarine personnel and sound listening personnel selection system."

A deterrent to efficient submarine medicine in the early part of the war was the necessity of at times assigning to a submarine base, submarine tender, or submarine squadron, a senior medical officer who was not trained or qualified in submarine medicine. In March 1944, when qualifications 14 in submarine medicine became a prerequisite for such assignments, a broad program of submarine medicine was activated. Distribution of medical supplies was then reorganized and a careful check was made of the physical condition of submarine personnel before going on patrol or immediately upon return. Pharmacist's mates attached to submarines were indoctrinated in special phases of submarine medicine, a pool of graduates of the "School of Pharmacist's Mates entering the Submarine Service" was established, and a system of refresher training for those in the pool was inaugurated.

When the V-boats were commissioned in 1924, medical department personnel were not assigned to the submarines. With improvement in submarine design, long cruises became routine and there arose the need for Hospital Corps personnel aboard. The assignment of hospital corpsmen was a success, for a good pharmacist's mate proved to be one of the most valuable members of the crew, not only because of his specialized knowledge but also because of his influence on the morale of the crew. How well they performed is a matter of record--the superb manner in which they carried out their assignments during World War II is attested to by the commendations and awards they received.

Early in the war, Hospital Corps personnel assigned to submarines were obtained from the forces afloat or ashore and were given a course of indoctrination in submarine operation at the Submarine School, New London, Conn., prior to assignment to duty in submarines. As the war progressed it became apparent that not all Hospital Corps personnel assigned to submarines had been adequately trained. In June 1943 a School for Pharmacist's Mates entering Submarine Service was established there the 6 weeks' course included didactic and practical instruction in first aid and minor surgery, hygiene and sanitation, materia medics, toxicology, anesthesia, laboratory procedures, pharmacy, chemistry, and indoctrination in the environmental factors of life in a submarine. After March 1945 only men who were graduates of the Hospital Corps School were assigned to the "School for Pharmacist's Mates entering the Submarine Service." Graduates of this school were invaluable, for they not only provided care for the sick and injured in a highly efficient manner but also performed general operational duties such as sonar operator, radar operator, lookout, and librarian.

Submarine Patrol Examinations

the card was filed at SubBase, Pearl Harbor. The pharmacist's mate in each submarine was required to make appropriate entries on the history card while on patrol. Thus the medical problems and health conditions occurring on patrol were reported to the Force medical officer by recording and forwarding to him a summary of the data on the history cards.

Although the standard Health Record provided a continuous history, it failed to serve the purpose of these cards in that only serious conditions warranting admittance to the sick list were entered in the health record, and at each re-enlistment the history sheets were removed and sent to the Bureau. The cards thus filled a void.

Submarine Medical Facilities and Supplies

Facilities for medical care of submarine personnel during World War II figs. (64, 65), were similar to those in small craft, but many

Figure 64.--Minor surgery aboard a submarine.

Figure 65.--Medical locker in a submarine.

Air-Sea Rescue Operations

Submarines rescued 549 survivors, in air-sea rescue operations. The part played by the pharmacist's mates in this undertaking was very important, for 48 percent of the rescued aviators required medical care because of serious injury. The following excerpts from patrol reports indicate how well the pharmacist's mate cared for his patients:

One man received a severe laceration of the forearm which required seven stitches. Two men were injured by misfire of the 20-mm. gun in one it was deemed necessary to amputate two toes of the right foot. Due to a shortage of surgical instruments, a pair of sterilized side cutters were used to cut portions of the shattered bone. Because the "phalanges--were completely shattered, they were not sutured but left open to allow free drainage. A generous amount of sulfanilamide powder was used. The other man was wounded in the shoulder but no lead or foreign body could be located. This man was back to duty in three days.

The medical department, in the person of the Chief Pharmacist's Mate, did a particularly capable job in handling the Jap prisoner of war recovered after his plane was shot down. Though suffering from shock, second degree burns of the face and hands, and several other serious wounds from gunshot and the crash, he was brought around very well and will probably recover.

An injured German prisoner was treated for a dislocated left knee, broken right collar bone, badly lacerated mouth and nose, and three missing teeth. Recovery was satisfactory except that he succeeded in misaligning his clavicle after it was lined up properly.

The price of sinking one sampan, damaging one, and learning the use they are put to (as submarine traps) was three men wounded. One man received two .25 caliber hits in the left side, one bullet ranging upward, fracturing the rib and puncturing the left lung, the other bullet lodging in the diaphragm. A second man received five hits in the right shoulder the third was struck in the right hip by a piece of flying metal. In view of the nature of the wounds, left the area 24 hours early, setting course for Midway at best speed. The Chief Pharmacist's Mate. . . . . . . . . . . . is particularly commended for his quick and efficient action in caring for these three wounded shipmates. By his proficient skill and painstaking efforts he prevented complications and enabled return of his patients to the facilities of a hospital, well on the road to recovery. He has been recommended for promotion and the Bronze Star Medal.

One man suffered a compound fracture of his right ring finger and a simple fracture of his index finger when a storeroom hatch cover fell on his fingers. The boat was dived to a hundred feet to furnish a stable platform for sewing up the fingers and setting the bones. While the finger tips are still stiff one month after the accident, they are healed nicely and PhM1c . . . . . . . . . . . . is to be commended for his efficiency and skill.

The . . . . . . . . . . . .. on her second patrol, established an all time record for the recovery of friendly aviators, when in five rescues she picked up a total of 30 men. The first man, recovered on 25 May 1945, had severe lacerations and second degree burns. Five days later 5 more men were recovered, all in good condition, 18 minutes after their plane had crashed. On 29 May, 16 men were rescued, 2 of whom were seriously injured 1 had severe head and body injuries, the second had a possible fracture of the back and skull. One man of this group died.

Surgical Care on Wartime Operating Submarines

Appendicitis Aboard Combat Submarines

Incidence and Mortality Rates of Appendicitis

Appendectomies Performed Aboard Submarines on War Patrols

Regardless of the order not to perform appendectomy on personnel in submarines this operation was found necessary on several occasions. An appendectomy was done by a pharmacist's mate aboard the U.S.S. Seadragon, on 11 September 1942. Subsequent to the operation, which lasted about 3 hours, the patient was ill for 14 days. Higher authority observed in connection with this operation:

The incident . . . is believed to be the first of its kind in submarine history. While this case had a happy ending, it is pointed out that this particular pharmacist's mate had had considerable experience in assisting at surgical operations, . . it is hoped that his success will not encourage others to take . . . risks.

In another instance, on board the U.S.S. Grayback, in December 1942, the patient had been ill for about 48 hours before he was operated on. At the operation, which lasted about 1 1 /2 hours, the appendix was found to be ruptured. Sulfanilamide powder was instilled, drainage was instituted (an elastic rubber band), and the abdomen was closed. Ether, administered by a submarine escape lung mouthpiece, was used as an anesthetic. Spoons were flattened for use as retractors, and long nose pliers from the engine room were also employed. The first assistant was a motor machinist's mate, first class.

In the third instance an operation for appendicitis was performed aboard the U.S.S. Silversides on 22 December 1942. The patient had been ill for about 12 hours prior to the operation, which was performed on the wardroom table, with the submarine submerged at 100 feet. The effectiveness of the spinal anesthesia having worn off, "Ether was administered, following the directions on the can. This anesthetized the operating staff as well as the patient. One hour after completion (the operation lasted about 4 hours) we tangled with a destroyer. The patient was convalescing the following morning to the tune of torpedo firing, two depth charge attacks, two 'crash dives' and an aerial bombing which knocked him out of his bunk. The conduct of the patient . . . was exemplary throughout the operation and the period following."

Comments made by the commanding officer of one submarine concerning the operation performed aboard his ship are pertinent.

It is recommended that all men who have a history or indications of chronic appendicitis not be sent out on patrol until their appendix has been removed. This also applies to any other ailment which may require an emergency operation at some future date.

Diseases of Personnel in Submarines

Infections of the Respiratory Tract

Acute upper respiratory diseases such as catarrhal fever, sore throat, and tonsillitis were reported on over 400 patrols. On 211 patrols they accounted for 1,068 man-days lost. Upon occasion the incidence of these diseases aboard submarines on war patrols assumed such proportions as to interfere with the operation of the ship. At times as many as 70 percent of the crew were affected.


Gastrointestinal Diseases

Constipation was an occupational condition among submarine personnel. It was most common in the first 2 weeks of a cruise. One pharmacist's mate during a 56-day patrol with a crew of approximately 75 men dispensed 3 quarts of mineral oil, 1 pint of castor oil, 2 pounds of Seidlitz powder, 3 bottles of cascara sagrada, and 20 soap suds enemas.

Urogenital Disease

TABLE 12.--Diseases of the urogenital system in submarine personnel on war patrol
Diseases Number patrols reported Number cases reported Number sick days reported
Gonorrhea, urethra, acute 37 109 45
Urethritis acute, nonvenereal 33 67 26
Gonorrhea, urethra (diagnosis undetermined) 25 56 31
Prostatitis, unclassified 8 24 6
Penile lesions (diagnosis undetermined) 18 20 28
Syphilis 11 16 52
Renal disease (diagnosis undetermined) 10 15 22
Calculus, urinary system 12 13 35
Epididymitis, acute and orchitis, acute 10 11 25
Cystitis, acute 5 5 29
Balanoposthitis 1 1 0
Total 170 337 299

One man informed the pharmacist's mate that he had concealed venereal disease for a period of at least 6 weeks, including the period of the last refit. Examination disclosed the presence of multiple penile and perineal lesions, which proved to be syphilitic. Kahn tests of the rest of the crew were negative, however.

Skin Diseases

Most fleet-type submarines were equipped with two, 4-ton air-conditioning units installed in the ventilation supply lines. These were later supplemented by additional cooling and blower units. Without air conditioning and adequate ventilation, the habitability of a submarine on patrol would become so poor that skin diseases as well as lack of personnel endurance and efficiency would appear, and the safety and ability of the submarine to carry out her mission would be seriously compromised. The following excerpts from reports of war patrols describe the conditions encountered:

"Due to faulty air-conditioning units the boat was oppressively hot and humid . . . After 2 weeks of all day submergence all the bunks were wet and sticky. Clothing in lockers . . . was green with mildew. Temperature of well over 100° F. and high humidity levels made it practically impossible to get any rest while submerged. There were two cases of heat exhaustion. The entire crew had prickly heat--in some it covered the entire body. Thirty percent . . . had some type of fungus infection." Following repair of the air-conditioning system, the commanding officer commented: "At last we have found out that submerged time need not be a taste of hell--this is the first patrol that this boat has been anywhere near livable. General improvement in the condition of personnel and reduction of heat rash and skin diseases was quite noticeable in comparison with previous patrols."

On another ship when the air conditioning failed "90 percent of the officers and men had 'prickly heat,' 68 percent had 'Guam blisters,' 20 percent had boils, and 12 percent had fungus infections of the ears."

Disease and Injury

TABLE 13.--Incidence per thousand of disease or injury of submarine personnel (1944)

Class Submarines Destroyers
Injuries 15 39.9 39.6
Communicable diseases transmissible by oral and nasal discharges 33.9 40.8
Venereal diseases 24.1 23.4
Other diseases of infectious type 16.9 22.1

Habitability of Submarines

  1. Carbon dioxide accumulation, depletion of oxygen, and increased pressure and humidity.
  2. Hot weather.
  3. Overcrowding.
  4. Deficiencies of the water supply and of sanitary tanks.
  5. Fires.
  6. Noxious agents such as chlorine gas and carbon tetrachloride.
  7. Material damage incident to depth charging and accidental flooding.

Excess Carbon Dioxide, Oxygen Depletion

Adequate instruments to measure the amount of carbon dioxide and oxygen were not available and therefore the need for air purification was based on subjective evidence such as headache or dyspnea. When needed, varying amounts of carbon dioxide absorbent, which is caustic and irritative, was spread and the air was further revitalized by releasing oxygen or compressed air into the ship.

On several patrols excessive levels of carbon dioxide seriously affected personnel efficiency. The following comments were made:

The formula used for calculating the time-limiting values of carbon dioxide and oxygen was not always applicable during wartime operations the time at which symptoms of intolerance became evident did not necessarily follow the calculated time. In 22 out of 26 reports, the time when the air became vitiated was from 1 to 6 hours less than the calculated figure. Half of the reports came from patrols made in Northern areas where, because of weather conditions and the long hours of daylight, prolonged submerged operations were common. Moreover, the ships were cold and damp, requiring exertion on the part of each man to keep warm. These factors and the increased complement made it necessary to revitalize the atmosphere frequently.

Air purification was a matter of particular concern aboard submarines used as troop transports. "On the fifth patrol of the N-----, when 109 Army Scouts (in addition to the crew of 96) were transported in the Aleutian area, high levels of carbon dioxide were experienced. This was particularly true when the Scouts were making ready to disembark. On the day when preparations were made to land the level was 4 percent."

Sanitary Tank-Head System

Toxic Gases

Water Supply

Typical comments in patrol reports were:

Food was lacking in variety--a deficiency which probably may be traced to the inexperience of commissary department personnel.

Inexperience in planning and procurement for such a long patrol made the diet unsatisfactory.

Quality of the food was good, but ran out of several items because of carelessness in loading.

About 85 patrol reports mentioned having used vitamins, particularly for the lookouts. That the vitamins in submarine rations were ample was evidenced by the fact that only on two patrols. and then under the most unusual

  1. The importance of ice cream in providing variety in the diet as well as nourishment. Ice cream rated high as a morale builder.
  2. The necessity of giving submarines a high priority in obtaining supplies of frozen fruits and vegetables.

  3. The importance of foods such as "Avoset," canned luncheon meats, sea food, "Nescafe," and jams,, particularly when available in small pack size in providing variety and enlivening what otherwise would have been a monotonous diet.


Protective Clothing

Length of Operations

Early in the war little was known regarding the length of time the personnel could endure the physical and psychologic discomforts in submarines on war patrols. Experience modified some of the earlier ideas. Submarines frequently remained on station for from 40 to 50 days, but this reduced the efficiency of the men and they were no longer on their toes.

A patrol carried out in good weather with plenty of targets, with good fire control, and without being subjected to depth charges, could last much longer than one in which these features were absent. The monotony of a submerged patrol without contacts was very fatiguing unless some change of pace or diversion was introduced. If lulls in activity occurred,

material reduction in efficiency would occur or fatigue become apparent. Although under such conditions aggressiveness and desire to close with the enemy had not slackened, the keen fighting edge of the crew was definitely impaired,

A high state of interest and aggressiveness was essential to the success of operating submarines and was closely related to personnel endurance and morale. The greatest single factor contributing to high morale was successful engagement with the enemy for then they ceased to be a "detail" and were instead a fighting unit. There was nothing quite so depressing to the crew of a submarine with a long record of success as a "zero run." As the war progressed and targets became less common, the "lethargy of long . . . days, rough sleepless nights, and limited exercise had to be mitigated by a clear portrayal of the part submariners were playing in the over-all strategical and tactical plans."

There were many comforts that were essential to maintaining morale. These included good food, mail, movies, books, magazines, phonograph records, adequate quantities of fresh water, mascots, church services, favorable publicity and the possibility of a period of "Stateside" duty. The great importance of adequate and comfortable facilities to permit rest and recuperation for the crew at the end of patrols contributed greatly to the sustained pattern of success that characterized submarine warfare in World War II.

Psychiatric Casualties in Submarine Warfare

Submarines made approximately 1,520 war patrols. Of these, the missions in 1,042 were "successful" and in 478 "unsuccessful." From these patrols 1,489 reports were available for study and the following conclusions were made: The psychic trauma sometimes experienced by personnel in the submarine service was as great, if not greater, than that experienced by any other group in the war. Being hunted, under forced inactivity in an environment of heat and high humidity (during the time when it was necessary to turn off all air conditioning and ventilation systems) were factors in emotional trauma. To this was added the strain of reconnaissance operations, mine laying, and days of patrolling without enemy contacts. The caliber of leadership of the commanding officers was very high. There were only three instances in which the men lost confidence in the commanding officers, or the commanding officer lost confidence in himself, or his ship.

The following excerpts highlight some of the factors in emotional trauma:

A terrific explosion jarred the boat. All hands not holding on to something were knocked from their feet. At 330 feet, fire in the maneuvering room, all power lost. Thick toxic smoke filled the maneuvering room and after-torpedo rooms. All hands aft were sick. We went up and down three times and had started down the fourth time before power was regained. In the maneuvering room the situation was bad. All hands were violently ill. For the first 2 hours we were in a mighty tough spot. Extreme discomfort was suffered from the accumulated heat and humidity. All hands stripped down to shorts and the men took off their shoes and socks. The predicament of the ship was fully recognized by the older and more experienced men. As the youngsters folded up, the others took over. The most startling effect was the apathy engendered by the combination of heat, pressure, physical effort, and mental stress. Some without permission, others after requesting relief, would seek the closest clear space on the deck, lie down, and fall asleep. Often following a depth charge attack men would have nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, or diarrhea.

Two instances of hysterical paralysis were reported and other manifestations of hysteria were observed during depth charge attack, as noted in the following report:

Despite the hazards under which submarine crews lived and fought, the actual psychiatric casualty rate was amazingly low (table 16). Out of 126,160 man patrols there were 62 psychiatric

casualties--an incidence of 0.00041 per man patrol.

TABLE 16.--Psychiatric casualties encountered aboard submarines

Diagnosis Number of
patrols reporting
Number of
cases reported
Psychoneurosis, anxiety 23 25
Psychoneurosis, hysteria 8 9
Psychoneurosis, unclassified 6 6
Psychosis, unclassified 5 5
Neuritis, unclassified 6 6
Paralysis, unclassified 2 2
Paralysis, facial nerve 2 2
Epilepsy 2 2
Migraine 2 2
Diagnosis undetermined:
Syncope 2 2
Vertigo 1 1
Total 59 62

This low rate is probably attributable to the following: (1) Careful selection of personnel, (2) thorough and specialized training, (3) high morale associated with success of combat submarines, (4) adequate rest and rehabilitation facilities and frequent rotation of duty, and (5) medical examinations before and after patrol duty.

Deaths on Patrol

In nearly 4 years of war, only 62 deaths from all causes (including battle injuries) occurred aboard submarines on patrol (table 17). TABLE 17.--Deaths occurring aboard submarines on war patrols
Cause of death Number of men Patrols reporting
Asphyxiation 26 1
Drowned--lost, over the side 17 13
Killed--battle injuries 12 10
Killed--accidental 3 3
Suicide 1 1
Malignancy 1 1
Pneumonia 1 1
Unknown 1 1
Total 62 31

Personnel Selection Procedures

Night Vision Testing

Sonar Training

Psychological Testing

Psychologic testing (using paper-and-pencil test) was used extensively in the selection of personnel for submarine duty. The early impetus for the development and application of these tests came from civilian research groups, such as the NDR Committee of Brown University Division. Many of these tests proved to be of great value in eliminating psychologically unfit personnel.

The submarine service became interested in intelligence tests early in 1942. This was necessary in order to assure the selection of persons of average or above average intelligence for submarine duty, In the beginning, however, selection interviews were conducted by Medical and Hospital Corps personnel who were not trained in psychiatry. The psychiatric selection interview by a psychiatrist with the Medical Examining group at New London was instituted in 1943. The combination of paper-and pencil tests and psychiatric interview was employed. At first psychiatrists at the training centers had to interview as many as 20 to 30 men per hour throughout the day. This obviously was not only impracticable, but practically impossible. Much more effective service was rendered by using the paper-and-pencil psychological test for the original screening, and referring only those in the "failing" or "doubtful" categories to the psychiatrist.

In 1943, an "Interview Board" was established. This Board consisted of a representative of the staff of Commander Submarines, Atlantic Fleet, a representative of the submarine personnel division of Bureau of Personnel, and a medical representative from the staff of the Medical Research Laboratory at New London. These Boards traveled to various officer indoctrination units, where in cooperation with the medical departments they studied the records of the volunteers for submarine duty and interviewed the likely candidates. After this interview system was established, men selected for submarine duty were found to be much more likely to pass the detailed and rigid examinations than had been the case when groups of unscreened volunteers were selected. Many man-hours were thus saved and much disappointment and resentment in personnel was spared. Previously, candidates had been selected at one station and after traveling to another activity and being interviewed had often been found not qualified.

Personnel selection procedures at first did not always function well. Frequently selection officers failed to work together or did not know the part played by others in the selection system. Physical examinations were often done by untrained personnel, and examining facilities were lacking or inadequate in many instances. In fact, the situations encountered led one to wonder how anyone was properly selected for submarine duty. When a statistical accounting system was set up in 1944 and complete monthly reports of selection results were forwarded to all stations furnishing candidates, the efficiency in personnel selection improved to a great extent.

A representative of the submarine medical examining section of the Submarine Base, New London, visited activities throughout the United States and held indoctrination conferences with the classification and selection officers. Following these conferences, the type of men selected for submarine duty consistently improved and attrition dropped as much as 75 percent.

The Submarine Escape Training Tank was used by the selection group at New London to identify the emotionally unstable and psychiatrically unfit candidates. It was assumed, and at least partially established, that men who failed in the adjustment necessary for proper performance during lung training would be unlikely to make the adjustment essential for duty in a submarine.

Lookout Training

training for the submarine service and a night lookout training table similar to that used by the British was set up in 1941. From the beginning, commanding officers were enthusiastic about this training, and the program was very popular with men.

The original trainer provided by varying lighting effects a reasonably realistic horizon simulating that at sea. A greatly improved version of the "Lookout Stage," embodying several improvements, was constructed early in October 1942. Similar stages of a "portable" type were constructed and distributed throughout the Navy for the training of all personnel. These had a realistic horizon, and moonlight, recognition lights, and sounds of distant gunfire could be simulated. Its advantages as a training device lay in its realism and the interest which it aroused in the student. Its value in indoctrination and preliminary training of beginners was unquestioned.

In March 1943, the Commander, Submarine Force, recommended the establishment of the Renshaw Recognition Trainer at submarine activities. This training, which was modified to fit submarine service needs, was included as a part of the night-lookout training program already in operation at the Submarine Base, New London. As the work in night visual, general lookout, and recognition training began to increase, it was obvious that a lookout school should be organized. This was established in February 1944. Later the Bureau of Personnel established lookout training schools in conjunction with recognition training at all training centers.

Officers assigned as instructors in these schools were given additional training in lookout work at the Medical Research Department, Submarine Base, New London, in order to enable them to train men in either basic training schools or in "L" divisions aboard ships. A course in lookout procedures had been added to the curriculum of the Naval Training School (Recognition) at Ohio State University early in July 1943. This obviated the need for transferring graduates to New London for additional instruction.

Interior Voice Communication

  1. How to increase intelligibility when using communication instruments.
  2. How to formulate brief, efficient orders, and report the execution of orders.

  3. How to efficiently operate and handle voice transmitting equipment.

  4. The use of standard phraseology and procedures for interior communications,

  5. Organization of sound-powered and broadcasting circuits unclear various battle and operational conditions.

  6. Standard terminology for use on stations or submarines.

  1. "Submarine Telephone Talkers' Manual."
  2. "Suggested Ship's Organization: "Chapter on Interior Voice Communications of fleet type submarines."

  3. "Standard Submarine Phraseology."

  4. "Standard Submarine Phraseology and Procedures."

  5. "Instructors Handbook for Instruction in Submarine Interior Voice Communications."

Submarine Escape ("Lung") Training

  1. A pressure test of 50 pounds per square inch in the decompression chamber
  2. a lecture on construction, operation, safety features, and precautions in use of the lung

  3. shallow water training for confidence in breathing under water

  4. 12-foot training to attain proper relaxation and confidence and

  5. 18- and 50-foot training to permit the student to become skilled in the use of the lung so that should he be called upon to use this device to save his life, he would have no doubt as to its lifesaving qualities.

The Dental Situation

On 7 December 1941 there were 759 dental officers (including 369 Reserves on active duty) to provide dental care for a combined Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard of about 486, 000 men. Three hundred and forty-seven dental facilities were in operation. These varied in size from the one-dental-officer clinic at the smaller stations to such large, superbly equipped dental clinics as that at the U. S. Naval Training Station, Great Lakes, Ill., which had 155 dental officers on duty.

After 4 years of war, on 14 August 1945, 7,026 dental officers (including 6,457 Reserves) were on active duty. They provided dental care

for a Navy of about 4 million men and women. Of these there were 4,470 dental officers in the continental United States, 1,350 at foreign stations, and 1,206 afloat. There were 1,545 dental clinics in operation at Naval and Marine activities throughout the world, ashore and afloat. These stations included those listed in table 19.

TABLE 19.--Dental facilities as of August 1945

Type activity Number Dental officer
Operating bases 70 1-12 9
Repair bases 4 1-29 3
Construction battalions (centers) 3 3-53 1
Supply depots 15 1-4 0
District dental officers 12 16 1 0
Naval hospitals 55 1-20 27
Dental schools 3 4-23 3
Pre-flight schools 4 1-8 0
Air stations 128 1-42 19
Training centers 13 65-353 13
V-12 units 31 1-2 0
Navy yards 5 10-46 4
Miscellaneous 65 1-24 10
Fleet hospitals 9 3-8 7
Naval ships:
Flag 13 16 1 0
Battleships 23 16 3 0
Carriers 36 1-3 2
Cruisers 72 1-3 0
Hospital 12 1-3 9
Transport 77 1-2 0
Transport for wounded 3 16 1 0
Tank and repair 89 1-5 12
Transport attack 241 1-3 0
Cargo attack 26 16 1 0
Miscellaneous 17 16 1 0
Amphibious forces:
Base hospitals 13 1-13 ?
9 1-24 4
Aviation 13 1-16 2
Training 8 1-113 6
Divisions 6 16 33 16 1

Dental Personnel and Other Dental Matters

About 1,000 dental technicians were on active duty at the outbreak of World War II. On 14 August 1945, 44 Dental Repairmen, 2,142 Dental Prosthetic Technicians, and 8,153 Dental Technicians, General, were on duty. Of these more than 1,200 were WAVES.

Generally, dental technicians were trained in the Navy however, because of the need for experienced dental prosthetic technicians a number of qualified technicians from civilian life were rated as Pharmacist's Mates, Dental Technicians, Prosthetic, upon enlistment. (Bureau of Naval Personnel directive of March 1944.)

Prior to 7 November 1941, the course of instruction given at the Naval Dental School, Bethesda, Md., for Dental Technicians, General, was of 4 months' duration. A 5 months' course for Dental Technicians, Prosthetic, was given at all naval dental prosthetic activities. All ratings were eligible for the General Technician course, but only PhM1c, PhM2c, and PhM3c were eligible for the Prosthetic Technician course. In November 1941 these courses were shortened to 10 weeks for the General and to 4 months for the Prosthetic, and HAIc was also included in the ratings eligible for the General course. At this time the latter course was given only at designated naval training centers and at the Naval Dental School, Bethesda, Md. In January 1945, 102 naval dental clinics were also designated to train hospital corpsmen in dental specialties.

With the great increase in the size and number of dental clinics, maintenance and repair of dental equipment became a problem. To meet this need enlisted men had to be trained in such maintenance and repair work. A Dental Maintenance and Repair School, the first of its kind in the Navy, was established at the U. S. Naval Training Center, Bainbridge, Md., on 25 February 1945. Men completing this course were rated Dental Technician, Repair.

The peacetime dental standards for enlistment in the Navy established a requirement of at least 20 serviceable teeth four opposing molars (two on each side), and four opposing incisors (two on each side). Gingival diseases, carious teeth, oral tumors, extensive periodontal disease, malocclusion, and wide edentulous spaces in either the maxillary or mandibular arches were considered disqualifying. These standards were rigidly applied in the cases of officer appointments, and in enlistments for aviation and submarine duty.

The reason for specifying 20 serviceable teeth, the presence of opposing molars and incisors, was to reduce workoad and costs, if subsequent prosthetic restorations were required.

Application of the peacetime dental standards resulted in the rejection of 1 out of every 56 selectees for the Army in 1941. In that same year, out of 340,000 applicants for the Navy,

7.8 percent were rejected for dental defects. The percentage of men with disqualifying dental defects was probably higher than that recorded, because in many instances, if a man was found physically disqualified, a dental examination was not conducted.

Because so many applicants could not meet the peacetime dental standards, the Bureau of Personnel and U. S. Marine Corps Headquarters jointly modified the dental requirements, specifying 18 serviceable teeth instead of 20, two opposing molars instead of 4, and not more than 4 missing incisors satisfactorily replaced. A carious tooth which could be restored by fillings was considered a serviceable tooth. Applicants with extensive dental infection, or who required immediate prosthetic or orthodontic treatment, however, were still not accepted for the services.

On 29 May 1943 the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery lowered the dental requirements so as to agree with the mobilization requirements of the Army. Only severe and irreparable dental defects were to be considered as disqualifying for inductees. Edentulous upper and/or lower arches, corrected or correctable by dentures, and malocclusion not interfering with minimum mastication and not resulting in pathologic dental changes were not considered disqualifying.

Dental Treatment

    29,654,343 restorations of all kinds
    509,292 dentures--all types
    27,232 bridges--all types
    4,229,809 teeth extracted


The problem of obtaining dental supplies and equipment at the beginning of the war was acute. Facilities and equipment for dental treatment were not available to meet the increased needs. In lieu of new dental burs, used burs were saved, cleaned, oiled, and sent to the U. S. Naval Medical Supply Depot, Brooklyn, N. Y., for resharpening and reissue. By October 1942 the dental bur supply was further curtailed. Only certain angle and straight handpiece burs could be manufactured and of these only a limited quantity was produced. Because of the curtailment in supplies, dental facilities in continental United States could requisition supplies on a 3-month minimum, 6-month maximum basis. This held true throughout the war.

In December 1942 the Bureau directed conservation of all critical materials. These included amalgam scrap, precious-metal bench sweepings and trimmings, and polishing residue.

The equipment for dental clinics at the various advanced bases was standardized, depending

upon the medical components of the base. The Dental Branch of the War Plans Section determined the dental materiel and personnel needs for each advanced base and specified the standard equipment. When dental components were required for an advanced base, commensurate dental personnel and equipment could be readily ordered.

Because of the shortage of dental equipment, a "shift" system was devised to keep available dental equipment in service 12 to 16 hours a day. This was particularly necessary at the larger training centers and navy yard dispensaries. In December 1945 this system was discontinued, because with demobilization in progress, personnel and equipment were in excess of immediate needs.

New types of dental facilities were built during the war. To provide dental treatment for small groups of naval personnel at isolated stations and at training schools, nine self-contained mobile dental operating units and one mobile dental prosthetic unit were built. The first mobile unit was placed in operation in the Eighth Naval District on 18 February 1945. The construction of "dental clinic ships" was recommended by Commander, Service Forces, Pacific Fleet, in June 1945, and construction of four such ships was authorized in August 1945. With the cessation of hostilities, however, this plan was abandoned.


Prior to November 1941 dental officers had been assigned to civilian educational institutions, as well as to the Naval Dental School, Bethesda, Md., for postgraduate instruction in oral surgery and prosthodontia. During the war the number of short postgraduate courses in oral surgery at these activities was increased and a course in ocular prosthesis was added to the curriculum at the Naval Dental School.

On 1 January 1942 the Surgeon General directed all dental officers to become proficient in the administration of first aid, treatment of burns, shock, and hemorrhage, disposal of the dead, and other duties related to the Medical Department, in order to assist the medical officers when occasion demanded. Aboard ship, dental officers also assisted medical officers in teaching first aid to the ship's company. First aid training was made available to all dental officers, at naval hospitals, naval training centers, and at the Naval Dental School.

Dental Division, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery

A number of organizational changes were made in the Dental Division of the Bureau during the war. On 16 October 1942 the Surgeon General established offices of district dental officers. Although some of the larger naval districts then had a District Dental Officer, it became necessary to assign a dental officer to each naval district to coordinate dental activities. This officer was to advise the Commandant and the Bureau regarding dental installations and assignments of personnel within the district, and to make reports to the Bureau and the Commandant.

A reorganization of the Dental Division was directed by the Surgeon General on 8 February 1943. This charged the Dental Division with "cognizance of professional standards for dental practice in the Medical Department," with conducting "inspections and surveys for maintenance of such standards," and with advising the Bureau on expansion of dental facilities, on Dental Corps personnel, on dental equipment and supplies, and on special authorizations for dental treatment. In order to carry out these functions, the Dental Division was divided into a Standards Section and an Inspections Section. The former had cognizance of professional standards the latter was to conduct inspections and surveys for maintenance of established standards.

A Force Dental Officer was assigned to the staff of Commander South Pacific Forces on 1 June 1943.

The Office of Fleet Dental officer was established in the Fleet on 17 January 1944 and on the Staff of CincPAC-CinPOA in December 1944.

In 1944 a Dental Section was established in the Headquarters and Service Company of the Medical Battalion of Marine Divisions of the Fleet Marine Force, with the senior dental officer acting as Division Dental Officer.

On 18 September 1944, the Dental Division of the Bureau was again reorganized. The Dentistry Division was directed to "study, evaluate, advise, and make recommendations on the dentistry needs, policies, standards, practices, and performances of dental activities in the Medical Department " to make recommendations "pertaining to complements, appointment, promotion, advancement, training, assignment, and transfer of dental personnel " and to "maintain liaison with such other BuMed offices or divisions or such other military and civilian agencies as may be required." An Office of the Chief of Division, a Dental Standards Branch, and a Dental Personnel Branch were set up to carry out the directive. The Chief of the Division was held responsible for the performance of all functions assigned to the Dentistry Division, and was directed not to adopt "major policies, methods, or procedures without the approval of the Chief of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery,"

Other changes of interest in the Dental Corps included the following: Capt. Alexander Gordon Lyle (DC) USN was nominated in March 1943, as the first Rear Admiral in the Dental Corps. The first woman dentist to be commissioned was Lt. Sara S. Krout (DC) USNR, WAVES. She reported to the U. S. Naval Training Center, Great Lakes, Ill., in June 1944. The first woman Dental Hygienist to be commissioned was Ensign Jessie Rathbone, USNR, WAVES. The Office of Inspector of Dental Activities and the Office of the Assistant for Dentistry were established in the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery on 18 September 1944 and 24 May 1945, respectively.

New Georgia

The advance in the Solomons under Admiral Halsey's command started from Guadalcanal where air support was based on Henderson Field, and moved toward the Japanese air base at Munda on New Georgia Island about 200 miles north.

Landings on New Georgia began as early as June 20, 1943 when Marines, followed by Army forces the next day, landed at Segi Point and moved overland to take Viru Harbor on July 1. There were various other landings on New Georgia, but the principal effort, with Munda as its objective, began on June 10, 1943 (D-Day for this phase of the operation) with a landing on Rendova Island, just off New Georgia and near Munda.

From Rendova, Marine and Army forces invaded New Georgia and closed on the Japanese base at Munda, which fell after nearly six weeks of hard fighting on August 5, 1943. Another Japanese strong point at Bairoko Harbor, 8 miles north of Munda, fell on August 25. Kolombangara was bypassed with the landing of Army, Marine, and New Zealand troops on Vella Lavella and Arundel Islands.

There was considerable air and naval action, and the Japanese lost heavily in ships and planes as they first reinforced and then evacuated their island positions. It was October before the Allies had fully secured the island group.

Why So Many Wrecks?

A diver explores the Kashi Maru, sunk in July 1943.

The Solomon Islands were at the center of the battle for control of the Pacific during World War II. The archipelago was of significant strategic importance to both the Japanese and Allied powers. The Japanese had fortified a major base at Rabaul, on the Papua New Guinea island of New Britain, to launch offensives throughout the Pacific and to interrupt supply lines and communication between the United States, Australia and New Zealand. To check Japan’s expanding power, the Allies had to prevail in the Solomons.

New Georgia Island was in the middle of the major sea thoroughfare between Japan’s power bases of Rabaul to the northwest and Guadalcanal to the southeast—it was dangerous to be anywhere near Munda, in the air, on land or at sea. After capturing the island from the British in 1942, the Japanese had built an airfield at Munda, and were well entrenched in the surrounding jungle. American troops fought fiercely to take the airstrip, but the effort was bloody and slow going, and plagued by military missteps. Finally the Americans took Munda’s airfield in August 1943, six months after the crushing Allied triumph at Guadalcanal had seriously weakened the Japanese it would be another two months before the New Georgia campaign was successfully completed. The hard-won Allied victory in the Western Province, along with Guadalcanal, Tulagi and successes yet to come in Rabaul and Bougainville, were key to winning the Second World War in the Pacific. All told, some 1,365 planes and ships and 38,100 soldiers were lost before fighting in the Solomons was done.

US Airbase at Munda, New Georgia - History

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US Airbase at Munda, New Georgia - History

Operation Watchtower was the codename assigned by the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the reduction of the Japanese stronghold at Rabaul, on the easternmost tip of New Britain Island in the Bismarck Archipelago. The plan called for the South Pacific Area forces of Vice Admiral Robert L. Ghormley (relieved in November 1942 by Vice Admiral William F. Halsey) to move up the chain of the Solomon Islands toward Rabaul, beginning with the Guadalcanal landings on 7 August 1942. In December that year, patrol flights taking off from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal and from the decks of U.S. fleet carriers in the waters around the Solomon Islands discovered the Japanese hard at work on a well-camouflaged airfield at Munda on the northern end of New Georgia. This new field posed a definite threat to the Allies still fighting to wrest Guadalcanal from the enemy. It had to be taken, or at the very least, neutralized. U.S. pilots also reported another field being completed on Kolombangara across the Kula Gulf from New Georgia.

The objective of the Central Solomons campaign was the Japanese airfield on Munda Point, which, in friendly hands, would be a stepping-stone in the conquest of the Solomon Islands chain. The airfield runs west to east and a taxi-way snakes through both sides of the field. Kokengolo Hill is on its north side. This photograph records the results of a Marine dive-bomber attack, which resulted in a hit on a gas or ammunition dump in the center of the picture. Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 55454

In response to these potential threats, Operation Toenails, landings in the New Georgia Islands in the Central Solomons with the capture of Munda as the primary objective, were planned, scheduled, and mounted. The first step leading to the invasion of New Georgia was the occupation of the Russell Islands, 65 miles northwest of Guadalcanal, which would serve as a forward base on which airfields would be constructed. Operation Cleanslate on 21 February 1943 saw the Marine 3d Raider Battalion (Lieutenant Colonel Harry B. Liversedge) land on Pavuvu, and the 43d Infantry Division (less a regimental combat team) invade Banika. Both landings were unopposed. The 11th Defense Battalion landed on Banika the same day and had its guns in place by noon. By 15 April, Allied aircraft began operating from the first of two new airstrips the Seabees constructed on Banika.

The primary objective of Operation Toenails was the capture of the airfield on Munda in the New Georgia group. Preliminary landings to support the main effort were to be made at Wickham Anchorage on Vangunu Island, Viru Harbor, and the Bairoko Harbor areas of New Georgia. Rendova Island and smaller islands nearby, across Blanche Channel to the south of New Georgia, were to be occupied next and used as supply bases and also as artillery positions for delivering supporting fire for the main attack on Munda. The plan called for ground forces then to drive the Japanese into the Munda Point area and once they were there, Allied air, artillery, and tanks could support the main landing. The enemy "would be annihilated or forced into a costly withdrawal," according to the Allied concept of the operation.

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Col Harry B. Liversedge commanded the 1st Marine Raider Regiment and the XIV Corps Northern Landing Group. His mixed Army and Marine command was used as infantry rather than in the special operations role for which the raiders had been trained and equipped. Isolated from the main attack on Munda, he had to commit his forces to supporting operations. Marine Corps Historical Collection

For Toenails, Rear Admiral Richmond Kelly Turner, Amphibious Force Commander, divided his assigned forces into two task groups: Western Force, which he would personally command, was to seize Rendova, Munda, and Bairoko. The Eastern Force, under Rear Admiral George H. Fort, also an experienced amphibious force commander, was directed to capture Wickham Anchorage, Segi Point, and Viru Harbor. Turner's ground commander was Army Major General John H. Hester, who headed the New Georgia Occupation Force (43d Infantry Division Marine 9th Defense Battalion the 136th Field Artillery Battalion from the 37th Infantry Division the 24th Naval Construction Battalion (Seabees) Company O of the 4th Marine Raider Battalion the 1st Commando, Fiji Guerrillas and assigned service troops). Fort's Eastern Force included Army Colonel Daniel H. Hundley's Army 103d Regimental Combat Team (RCT), less a battalion with Hester Companies N, P, and Q of the 4th Raider Battalion elements of the 70th Coast Artillery (Antiaircraft) Battalion parts of the 20th Seabees and service units. Colonel Harry B. Liversedge's 1st Marine Raider Regiment (less the 2d, 3d, and 4th Battalions) was designated ready reserve for the operation, while the Army's 37th Infantry Division (less the 129th RCT and most of the 148th RCT) was held in general reserve on Guadalcanal ready to move on five days' notice.

Hester's corps headquarters was formed by taking half of the 43d Division staff, the rest remaining with the Assistant Division Commander, Brigadier General Leonard F. Wing, USA. Over 30,000 men were in the units assigned to the New Georgia Occupation Force, the majority of which were Army troops, Marine and Seabee units, patrol-torpedo (PT) boat squadrons, and naval base personnel. Marines from the 10th and 11th Defense battalions were in reserve as reinforcements.

Defending the New Georgia Island Group were the Southeast Detachment of Major General Noboru Sasaki and the 8th Combined Special Naval Landing Force under Rear Admiral Minoru Ota (later to die as commander of Japanese naval forces at Okinawa) subordinate units included the 13th Infantry Regiment, 229th Infantry Regiment, Kure 6th Special Naval Landing Force, and the Yokosuka 7th Special Naval Landing Force. New Georgia and Kolombangara, and enemy outposts on Rendova, Santa Isabel, Choiseul, and Vella Lavella, were strongly defended. The number of Japanese occupying the outlying islands was comparatively small. The forces on Kolombangara were "estimated" at 10,000 troops while those on New Georgia were figured to be between 4,000 and 5,000.

LtCol William J. Scheyer, third from the left, was the 9th Defense Battalion commander. He is shown at his New Georgia command post with Col John W. Thomason, Jr., second from the left, from Admiral Nimitz' CinCPac headquarters at Pearl Harbor, and Maj Zedford W. Burriss of the 10th Defense Battalion on the left. Marine Corps Historical Collection

1st and 2d Marine Aircraft Wing squadrons based in the Russells and Guadalcanal under the control of Brigadier General Francis P. Mulcahy's 2d Marine Aircraft Wing forward echelon staff would provide air support for the operation. The staging areas for the attack on New Georgia were Guadalcanal and the Russell Islands, where the Marine 4th Base Depot, commanded by Colonel George F. Stockes, established a supply dump for XIV Corps.

In mid-Spring 1943, reconnaissance parties from the units slated to take part in the New Georgia campaign began patrolling in the areas designated for landings. Solomon Islanders acted as guides and scouts led by British resident administrators and Australian navy intelligence personnel, who, as Coastwatchers, hid in the hills in the enemy rear areas. From here they radioed information about Japanese troop, air, and naval sightings and movements to Allied listening stations. With the exception of two or three members from each patrol party who remained behind to arrange for guides and to give homing signals to Allied vessels on their approach, all patrols returned to their parent units by 25 June 1943. For these individuals, the campaign was already underway.

The Solomon Islands were some of the least known and underdeveloped areas in the world. John Miller, Jr., himself a former Marine, veteran of Guadalcanal, and after the war an Army historian, considered it "one of the worst possible places" to fight a war. All the islands had much in common, he went on, and "much that is common is unpleasant." The islands were mountainous, jungle covered, pest-ridden, and possessed a hot-wet tropical climate. There were no roads, major ports, or developed facilities. New Georgia was all of this, and more.

Georgia Military Bases

Almost every military branch is represented in Georgia. There are thirteen military bases in GA, but none are Coast Guard bases. Which is strange because most states without CG bases do not have coast lines. You can learn more about each base by clicking its name below.

Air Force Bases

Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta, GA

Valdosta, Georgia Military Bases

Spread over two counties – Lanier and Lowndes – and less than 15 km away from Valdosta, Moody Air Force Base is one of the multitude of military installations built to support World War II, prior to the United States of America joining it. Its current mission is to provide air support, search and rescue [&hellip]

Robins Air Force Base in Houston, GA

Houston, Georgia Military Bases

Robins Air Force Base, Georgia is located in the Houston County, close to Warner Robins, right in the middle of the state. The military base is about 160 km far from Atlanta. It is named in the memory of Augustine Warner Robins, also referred to as the father of logistics techniques in the US Air [&hellip]

Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, GA

Dobbins ARB is based in Marietta, Georgia and positioned 16 miles Northwest of Atlanta. This base is the largest multi-service reserve training in the world consisting of around 2,500 reservists and civilians. This base also contains more than 2000 Marines, Navy, and Army reservists. The 94th Airlift wing is the unit host of Dobbins including [&hellip]

Army Bases

Fort Benning Army Base in Columbus, GA

Columbus, Georgia Military Bases

Fort Benning is a U.S. Army base located in Mucoge and Chattahoochee counties near Columbus, Georgia. Covering 182,000 acres in west central Georgia and a small portion of its land in east central Alabama, it bears the moniker of Home of the Infantry. Fort Benning seeks to be “First in training, First in readiness, and [&hellip]

Fort Gillem Army Base in Forest Park, GA

Forest Park, Georgia Military Bases

Fort Gillem is part of the wide category of small and satellite bases. It is run by the US Army and located in Forest Park. Its “mother” base is Fort McPherson. This means there are particular facilities that the inhabitants of Fort Gillem do not have access to, unless they go to Fort McPherson. At [&hellip]

Fort Gordon Army Base in Augusta, GA

Augusta, Georgia Military Bases

Fort Gordon – also referred to as Camp Gordon – is one of the oldest military establishments, dating since 1917. It is spread over four different counties in Georgia – Columbia, Jefferson, Richmond and McDuffie. It consists of multiple components and represents the home of the US Army Signal Corps. A small part of the [&hellip]

Fort Mcpherson Army Base in East Point, GA

East Point, Georgia Military Bases

Fort McPherson, Georgia is one of the US Army operated military installations. It is situated in East Point, relatively close to Atlanta. Over the years, it was the headquarters of multiple centers and commands in the US Army, depending on the time and objectives. The fort was named in the memory of James Birdseye McPherson, [&hellip]

Fort Stewart Army Base in Liberty, GA

Liberty, Georgia Military Bases

Sprawling over 280,000 acres (or 1,100 square kilometers) in a very ideal location near the historic city of Savannah, Fort Stewart is located in the small town of Hinesville along the Canoochee River (which is 108 miles in length which flows to the Atlantic Ocean) in Liberty County, Georgia USA. It is known to be [&hellip]

Hunter Army Airfield Army Base in Savannah, GA

Savannah, Georgia Military Bases

Hunted Army Airfield is located in Savannah, in the eastern side of Georgia. It is directly subordinated to a larger military base – Fort Stewart. Fort Stewart is actually the widest facility in the eastern half of the United States of America. It is known for hosting an entire past-town within its limits – Clyde. [&hellip]

Camp Frank D Merrill Army Base in Dahlonega, GA

Dahlonega, Georgia Military Bases

Camp Frank D. Merrill is among the less important military bases operated by the US Army. It is located in Georgia and one of the few bases in the area. The state is not that highly advanced from this point of view, therefore the current bases are not that important either. One important aspect about [&hellip]

Marine Bases

MCLB Albany Army Base in Albany, GA

Albany, Georgia Military Bases

Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany is a military base operated by the United States Marine Corps in the immediate proximity of Albany, in the southern part of Georgia. It mostly supports the actions taking place on the eastern coast of the United States of America. The base is famous for the local Logistics Command’s Maintenance [&hellip]

Navy Bases

NAS Atlanta Navy Base in Marietta, GA

Marietta, Georgia Military Bases

NAS Atlanta, Georgia as it was known over the history, is a military base located close to Marietta. Over the last years, the base was known as General D. Lucius Clay National Guard Center. The place is in the immediate proximity of a different air base – Dobbins, wherewith it shared the runways. History The [&hellip]

Kings Bay Submarine Navy Base in Kings Bay, GA

Kings Bay, Georgia Military Bases

Located in Camden Country in the immediate proximity of St. Marys, Kings Bay Submarine Base is among the most popular military installations in the southern part of Georgia. The base spreads over more than 16,000 acres and hosts some of the most advanced war machines, not to mention about the Trident nuclear weapons some of [&hellip]

Haunting Photos Of An Abandoned Air Force Base

Inside the abandoned Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul, Illinois. (All photos: Walter Arnold Photography)

Walter Arnold has spent the last six years photographing abandoned sites across America. His project, The Art of Abandonment, has taken him all over the country, from junkyards for classic cars in Georgia and crumbling resorts in the Catskills, to the decommissioned Chanute Air Force Base in Illinois.

Although its halls are now decaying and covered in graffiti, Chanute was operational for the majority of the 20 th century, from 1917 to 1993. For those 75 years and over two World Wars, it functioned as a technical training center for the Air Force. At the time of its closure, it was the country’s third-oldest active base.

Arnold’s photos take us inside the eerie ruins of the Chanute base, which looks as if it has been abandoned for far longer than 22 years. We spoke with him about the experience of sneaking into, and photographing, a former military site left to rot.

The interior of the White Hall at Chanute. 

 How did you get access to the base?

While most of the locations that I photograph for my Art of Abandonment series are done with direct permission from the owners of the properties, Chanute was an exception to that rule. My brother, Will, lives down the road in Champaign, Illinois, and knew of a way to access the building. With his help we had no problem sneaking into the base.

At this time of this writing however, I would strongly discourage anyone from attempting this, as the city is currently preparing the building for demolition and as such it will be patrolled more than usual. 

Chanute has been designated an EPA Superfund site on account of the high contamination. 

What were your expectations before shooting the base – did you have any sense of how it would look?

I honestly had no idea what to expect going into this shoot, I only knew that it was a big place and had a rich history and that was enough to pique my interest. I was wholly unprepared for the magnitude of the building and just how much there was to explore there. Room after room of classrooms, offices, hangars, and hallways that seemed to loop around infinitely.

Many of the classrooms and hallways had hand-painted murals on the wall with motivating messages, renditions of famous statues, and logos of different squadrons. It was like an asbestos riddled Easter egg hunt tracking them all down! We spent the better part of a day shooting there and I am sure there were sections that we missed.

A Make Trax arcade game.

What was the most impressive part of the base?

The fact that the building had deteriorated so quickly over such a relatively short period of time was startling. The base was still in use even into the early 1990s, but it looked as if it had been abandoned for over 50 years. This was easily one of the more toxic locations I have visited. 

Asbestos and mold were abundant. Many of the inside rooms had standing water. Drop ceilings had fallen, along with light fixtures, and everything was rusted.  In most of the interior spaces there were calcium stalactites and stalagmites as if the ceilings were dissolving.  We used breathers in parts of the building, especially in areas that were closed off with no outside air circulation.

After the shoot I found EPA reports online that talked of heavy contamination on the grounds, and even some articles that claimed the possibility of “Agent Orange” on the site but could not be confirmed.  

Peeling paint and books on the floor. 

Can you tell us more about the history of the Chanute Air Force base?

Chanute Air Force Base, formerly Chanute Field (named in honor of Octave Chanute, an adviser to the Wright Brothers), is located in Rantoul, Illinois, and dates back to World War I. Even though the U.S. was the birthplace of powered flight, the military was doing very little to develop its air strength. As of April 1917 the U.S. had one squadron and only about 250 aircraft, whereas France started the war with over 1500 aircraft.

Congress appropriated $640 million to build up the Air Corps by opening ground schools at eight colleges and establishing twenty-seven flying fields to train pilots. The city of Rantoul was selected because of its level terrain and close proximity to both the Illinois Central Railroad and the ground school at the University of Illinois. Construction of the original airfield took two months, 2000 men, and 200 teams of horses. It was completed on July 22, 1917.

A ceiling collapses in a classroom. 

So it was operational for about 1.5 years of World War I. How about World War II?

Following the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, thousands flocked to Chanute to enlist in the U.S. Army Air Corps. The 15,000-man quarters quickly became insufficient and many soldiers found themselves temporally housed in tents. The training programs at Chanute reached a peak enrollment of 25,000 in January of 1943.

Chanute is dominated by White Hall, a 500,000-square-foot building, equivalent to eleven football fields, and was the largest American military center before the Pentagon was built in 1941. White Hall was built in response to the huge influx of recruits wanting to serve their country just prior to World War II. It was a self-contained, multipurpose troop barracks for more than 2000 men. Its amenities included a barber shop, post office, communications office, mess hall, bakery, library, and study halls.

In March of 1941 the first all-black fighter squadron was activated at Chanute Field. Formed without pilots but with the purpose of training the officer corps and ground support personnel, the 99th Pursuit Squadron was the first unit of what became known as the Tuskegee Airmen.  

What kind of life do you think the trainee pilots had while living there?

Chanute during WWII must have been a sight to see. So many people flocked there in response to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, that they didn’t have room to house all the new recruits. People were camping out on the lawns until White Hall was completed. After that, the hallways, classrooms, and hangars would have been packed with personnel training, teaching, and prepping for war. During WWII the mess halls at Chanute served over 75,000 meals per day.

As a lifelong civilian, I can’t pretend to comprehend the rigorous schedule of physical and mental training that a soldier has to go through in order to be proficient at his assigned post. There are many comments from people who attended Chanute over the years in the comments section of my blog that help tell the story of life at Chanute. 

What do you know about the impact of the base on the town of Ranoul, and the continued aviation presence?

“Traumatic. Devastating. Eerie. As if a family member had died.” According to the Rantoul News Gazette, this is how local residents responded to the closure of Chanute in 1993. As with any town that relies heavily on one major institution for its economic prosperity, the closure of Chanute in 1993 had a significant negative impact on the local economy. Literally half the population vanished, home values plummeted, and commercial spending in the local economy dropped by over $100 million. Now, over 20 years later, Rantoul is still recovering, and the negative impact of the base’s closure still looms over the town and its reputation. 

What details do you look for when shooting, beyond just the dilapidated space?

I often search for a human element, something that people can relate to. Whether it’s a row of old barstools, pool chairs sitting around an abandoned indoor pool, or a third grade spelling book from the 󈥾s leaning against a chalkboard in an abandoned school house, these are the things that pull people in and help them engage and relate to the scene. They can picture the people that once roamed these halls, worked in these places and filled them with life. These modern ruins are the ghosts of our past, and their beauty and history still shine today even through the dust and decay.

US Airbase at Munda, New Georgia - History

On January 21, 1943 a survey party from U.S. Navy (USN) ACORN 7, 47th Seabee Battalion landed and began construction of a single crushed coral runway at this location.

By July 10, 1943 the Seabees completed a single runway measuring 3,000' x 300' oriented roughly east to west for use as an emergency landing strip and limited operations. Afterwards, taxiways and revetments were built to the north and south of the runway.

Wartime History
Starting in the middle of July 1943, American aircraft began using Segi as a forward base that was the most forward American base on New Georgia until Munda Airfield was captured and became operational. During this period used for emergency landings or to land and refuel for fighters based on Guadalcanal.

During July 1943 to September 1943 Segi was used by U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) P-39N Airacobras from the 12th Fighter Squadron (12th FS), 44th Fighter Squadron (44th FS) "Vampire Squadron" and 68th Fighter Squadron (68th FS). Starting in the middle of August 1943 American fighters began operating from Munda Airfield. During October 1943 until late November 1943 used by U.S. Navy (USN) F6F Hellcats.

American units based at Segi Airfield (partial list)
U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF)
925th AAA Automatic Weapons Battalion
18th FG, 44th FS (P-40s) July 1943–August 1943
U.S. Navy (USN)
47th Naval Construction Battalion (47th NCB) "Seabees", C Company
VF-38 (12 x F6F) October 1943 - ?
VF-40 (12 x F6F) October 1943 - ?
VF-33 (24 x F6F) Nov 1 - Nov 29, 1943

Veteran Frank Ruscavage recalls:
"I served on Segi point in 1944. Navy Seabees constructed the airbase, I was with the 925th AAA AW BN. The Navy planes that flew from Segi were SBD bombers & Grumman Corsairs, I believe there were called 'the flying duck'. The Japs on Bougainville made a counter push to recapture the air field, they got pretty close of doing so, all planes were ordered to different airfields in the region, the P-38's to Segi, the airfield on Segi was long enough to land the plane but they had to touch down at the very beginning of the strip, the 1st three planes didn't and went into the water, the other planes (about 12) landed safely. The month was I think was in June 1944."

Earl F. Long recalls:
"I was based at Segi Point In 1944, I was in a C.A.S.U. outfit and we serviced SBD's, we were later transfered to Munda Airfield and was attached to a TBF Squadron."

Don Anderson reports:
“My father [47th Construction Battalion, C Company] helped build the airstrip at Seghe Point in WWII, all the veterans call Segi Point, pronouncing it 'Seegee'. I visited there in the summer of 1993. I left a plaque with a picture of the landing, CB Logo, info, and papers on the back with the names of the 47th Seabees at the small police outpost by the end of the strip. I landed on the strip and went to Uepi. I came back in motorized canoe and dove on the P-38. It was right where my dad said it would be. However, the said the P-38’s were trying to land and the runway was short for them. The first made it but the second ran into the back of it and pushed it into the water. I think this can be verified. Look at the back of the P-38. It is bent under. This would be where the other plane hit it. My dad said the planes were running out of fuel trying to get back to Henderson Field on Guadalcanal. The tower told them the runway was too short for them. A P-38 radioed back that it was try or land in the ocean. The tower told them to come on. I have many photographs my dad took, but no scanner. The pilot quarters were down by the water. The rest were up on the hill along with the guns. I found some buried barrels on the hill. I took pictures and video. I got laughed at when I got home. They would put an outhouse over these buried drums. When they got full, They put the top on it and moved the outhouse somewhere else. You will notice that there is a dugout area closed to the strip. This was a dug officer swimming pool. I notice canoes are docked inside it now to get off the ocean. I think they used marston mat on a hole in the side for the water to go in and out. My dad said this was so an officer didn't get attacked by a shark. He said they swam and bathed in the ocean. A shark wouldn't eat an enlisted man.”

Still in use today as Seghe Airport or Sege Airport. The runway is overgrown with grass. Airport codes: ICAO: AGGS IATA: EGM. Served by Solomon Airlines (Fly Solomons) for domestic flights to Honiara Airport. During 2013, the New Zealand Government funded the resurfacing of the runway. A memorial plaque dedicated August 15, 2013 was placed at the terminal building.

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