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Posted June 11, 2012 - 04:24 PM
I am interested in finding out more about the Germans who administrated the hospital and their unit plus those who guarded them. I suspect the guards were from the Landschutzenbattalion 907 but need some confirmation on that plus as much info about the unit and personnel as possible. Does anyone have information on the Hospital?
LTC USA (Retired)
Posted June 11, 2012 - 08:46 PM
Welcome to the Zone, I hope the great bunch of guys here can help you out.
Ex-Panzercommander kicking it for 26 years, served my time in the sandbox, retired a champ.......
Posted June 12, 2012 - 02:57 AM
Modellers do it with models!
Posted June 12, 2012 - 07:44 AM
Welcome to the Zone, I hope the great bunch of guys here can help you out.
I hope they can too.
In my research Major William Oxley, the British Senior Medical Officer and Captain Lester Kolman, the Senior American Medical Officer at the POW Hospital both kept adminision and discharge (A&D) records for their respective armies and mentioned in their Escape and Evasion Reports that they brought them back with them. I am looking for those A&D records as that would be a great help. Additionally the Germans kept records by nationality and a have a couple of pages that were saved by a French POW working at the hospital. The German records would be ideal but they don't seem to be in the Bundesarchives.
The Hospital also had French Colonial soliders from Senegal who were wounded during the 1940 campaign. These guys were sometimes used inside the hospital to do menial tasks. There was a whole POW camp (Lazarett 133) on the southwest side of Rennes toward the airport that had a couple of thousand of them as well. This camp was divided and used as a POW transit camp for Allied POWs from the Invasion. Lazarett 133 was an old French Army barracks and it was divided into the Senegalese half and the Allied POW half. The Senegalese could work on parole in Rennes and would bring back food to throw over the fence to the Allied POWs that were not fed very well.
A brief history of the Rennes Military Hospital in Rennes France.
Rennes Military Hospital was set up by the Germans in a school building on Rue Jean Mace'in 1940. Initially it held British and French Colonial (Senegalese) wounded from the France campaign of 1940. The building had been built in 1916 and was used in WWI as a convalesence hospital by the British during that war. The school building is still there used as a High School and was extensively renovated in 1997. The Rennes Military Hospital was known under several aliases (EPS Rennes, Frontstalag 221W, Lazarett Rennes) during WWII and is often confused with another Prisoner of War (POW) Holding Camp on the southwest edge of Rennes called Lazarett 133 or Frontstalag 221.
Across the narrow street from that school was the Rennes Gestapo Headquarters. In the backyard, which is now a playground, the Germans had air raid shelters dug underground. The stairways, rooms etc. inside are quite modern and even stand-up to today's standards. The Hospital was primarily used for seriously-wounded American and British AIRBORNE POWs, but there were also some from regular infantry divisions in there.
The medical staff consisted of American, British, Canadian, and French doctors aided by about twenty-five part-time nurses and nuns who speak little or no English, and a few soldier who were aid men in their units. Medical attention was fair but lacked sufficient medications, sanitation was also fair with no infestation of Lice but flies were a problem, and food was unbelievably poor and the staff was sadly overworked. About half of the injured can leave their beds to assist the staff, but many of the bedridden are paralyzed or blinded.
Regardless of this there were POW barbers in that place, running water (the tap water was safe to drink), a laundry service (albiet with very limited soap), a semblance of showers- pipes with holes in them, at intervals, which squirted-out water, flushing toilets, etc. This was in a girls' school which was modern for the times and only seriously-wounded Allied POWs were sent there.
A French Professor, Doctor Eugene Marquis was chief consultant and operating surgeon before the Allied doctors came and remained in that capacity until the Americans took Rennes. He gave his services constantly – working daily from 0830 – 1230 hrs and from 1530 – 2030 hrs. He saw every patient every day and brought female nursing staff into the hospital and housed them at his office down the street; he also did his best to get food and extra medical supplies for the patients. He was supported by at least two other doctors and several support staff.
Major Malcom Oxley RAMC, and Captain Douglas Nelson RAMC, were the British military doctors which supported the Hospital working on Allied wounded. At first a Captain Ernest Gruenberg 101st Airborne supported by Captain John Thornquist (dentist) 82nd Airborne were the US doctors. Captain Gruenberg was Jewish and when this was discovered in late June he was sent away and Captain Lester Kolmann 29th Infantry Division, was brought in as his replacement. Sometime during this period Captain Thornquist was also sent away. The Germans were fascinated by the Allied medical techniques using blood plasma transfusion, penicillin and sulfa drugs to which they had no equivalent training or medication.
Major Phil Gage, XO of 1/501 PIR was the ranking US officer at the Hospital and who had lost his hand in the fighting near St Georges de Bohon on D-day morning. The British had several different ranking officers during the period and eventually Major Oxley was the default Senior Officer.
The Germans started with a Captain (Stabsarzt) Lummp in charge but he quickly became overwhelmed and the POWs suffered from his lack of administrative skills. Lumpp’s attitude was to take the easy way out in the face of difficulties. He seemed afraid to make a fuss with higher command. In late June Major (Oberstabsarzt) Enzinger arrived to take over and things got better but were still bad. Guards in Hospital and Stalag 221 in Rennes mostly Austrian, Polish/latvian and elderly with bad morale and appeared to be waiting to be taken prisoner by Allied forces and reiterated their wish for the war to end.
There appear to have been German wounded kept for a while at the Hospital as well. They were housed on the third floor and were treated by German doctors and French staff.
There were three French and one Pole Doctor POWs looking after the wounded Senegalese since 1940.
The majority of the wounded reached us from 4-5 days after being shot. They had all been treated previously by the Germans. In most cases, primary excision of wounds; packing with sulpha drugs; splinting of fractures by Germans prior to arrival. In most instances of fractures of the lower extremity, travelling plaster casts had been applied. Each patient was accompanied by some form of medical document with much the same details as Allied medical paperwork, including injection of morphine, injection of anti-tet and in some instances anti-gas gangrene serum.
The majority of the wounded reached the Hospital in a grossly infected state – a few patients arrived with maggots crawling over them. The casualties were either naked, or half clad, and all had the dust of battle upon them. The reason for this seemed to be that clothing had been cut away from the wounds, and had not been replaced. Hospital clothing such as shirts, pajamas, etc. was unknown, and the staff had nothing to give them when they arrived. All MO complaints and demands for some sort of clothing were replied with “impossible c’est la guerre” by the German administrator.
Seldom was a proper ambulance used to bring Allied men to the hospital. It was generally the same vehicle, a coach with seats removed – straw scattered on the floor. Obvious stretcher cases were seldom on stretchers, with the result that on some occasions the primary cause of death was the rough jolting received by the man in the vehicle. Wounded generally had to do a 5/6 hour journey to get to the hospital. They travelled without orderlies and received no attention en route. They were always extremely thirsty upon arrival.
The Gestapo H.Q. across the street got into trouble if too many of their victims died on their hands – so they brought them across to the Hospital and put them in a cell with an orderly outside. The cell had no windows but could be lighted from outside and stank. Occasionally “Lummp” who hated the Gestapo would ask the French professor Marquis to try and do something for the man if he thought there was any chance of survival. Otherwise no one was allowed to visit the cell.
Discipline among the POWs in the POW hospital was of a very high order. With the Gestapo Headquarters right across the street POWs would tease the SS quards about the progress of the war. Once these guards took a pot-shot at some of the patients leaning out of the windows teasing them. The German Administrator then issued an order to restrain patients from going to the windows. On 1 Aug the Gestapo left their headquarters hurriedly during shelling by the US 4th Armored Division leaving a quantity of wine and liquor and radio sets behind them. The French brought us the wine and food stocks they found there and also the radio sets which were sent to England.
The city was under periodic and sometimes daily bomb raids and some fell close to the hospital but no one was injured. The wounded POWs and nurses in the Hospital sweated out a bomb landing on the POW hospital, because it was right across the narrow street from where the planes were attacking. This motivated ambulatory Allied PWs to flee the hospital a few days before Patton's 4th AD and 8th ID arrived to liberate Rennes. Some brave French civilians hid those Kriegies in their cellars until Patton's forces arrived. On liberation day, some rather brutal retaliation was publicly carried-out on local collaborators, both male and female, in the city center, near the Hotel de Ville and several former POWs were witness to the events.
Bread particularly, but food in general was very short, and guards had to be placed on the passages leading to the kitchen to prevent hungry walking wounded from snatching raw vegetables. Two hospital cats went into the pot and rats were hunted for adding meat to stews. There was no tobacco for the first few weeks. The French POWs were on a better ration scale than the new Allied POWs and they could also buy food outside because they were on parole.
Food was lacking of quality and quantity, it was unsuitable for some of the wounded and for the orderlies who had to do the hard work. When Allied doctors first arrived at the hospital the calculated calorific value of the food was about 300 cals, which was about 1/10th of normal for a normal man. Eventually in July it rose to assessed value of 1200 cals. To a great extent the food could not be supplemented except now and then – as no Red Cross parcels came through and objections were made by the German Administrator to the Allied doctors buying food from the outside either with what little money they had – or on I.O.U.s which doctors promised would be met by the Allies upon entry into Rennes.
Allied POWs did get a few things from the Senegalese POWs (Mostly plate leavings) and the local Red Cross did what it could to send in some things, i.e. 1000 eggs monthly, 40 litres of milk per day (usually ready to spoil), some jam, butter and cheese occasionally. Grateful thanks are due to the Red Cross of Rennes for what could be provided. The quality of the food was at first really bad, latterly potatoes and meat improved a little – but mouldy bread was quite usual. The Germans eventually said the POWs should cut off the mould and the Germans would replace by an equivalent weight in good bread. Replacement took some days and an already short bread ration was reduced by the amount of mould cut off each day. At first the same quantity of food was issued for 350 patients as for 200 patients even when the patient population increased to over 600 rations were apportioned as if only 500 patients were there. An excuse for the amount of food was made of lack of cooking utensils – although these were subsequently found to be actually in the hospital grounds. Major Enzinger eventually appears to have falsified the personnel count to 750 so that additional rations were provided.
When the fall of Rennes seemed imminent, Major Enzinger arranged for food to be looted from the Gestapo Headquarters opposite (and what was secured was enormous and included Red Cross packages). When it was clear supplies of food would not reach the hospital much longer – and in fact they did cease on 1 Aug 44, the French Staff and Allied aidmen continued to loot the Gestapo HQ. Furthermore Major Enzinger would not clear off when he had orders to quit before he had handed over the hospital to Col. Poirier, who was a district MOH and who placed Lieutenant Jean Fourier in the hospital as his representative.
The German’s receive permission to withdraw 2300 hours 3 August and leave town by 0300 hours 4 August. Morning 4 August 13th Infantry attacks in force unopposed into Rennes. The German troops slipped away during the night towards Saint-Nazaire, at the mouth of the Loire. The only ones who stayed behind were ‘a handful of drunks’. They were easily rounded up by the American infantry on 4 August, ‘but they had to be protected from the French’. The remaining population – some 60,000 out of 120,000 – surged on to the streets to welcome the Americans, who rushed medical units to the hospital. ‘One paratrooper patient with a bad face wound came up and shook my hands and cried,’ a captain reported. Soldiers immediately gave whatever they could, including their own combat kit, to those whose uniforms had fallen to pieces.
As the Americans approached the city the Germans in charge of the hospital decided not to evacuate the POWs, but merely packed up their belongings and records told the staff to take over and be picked up by the Americans. They said “Aufwiederschen” and took off. Although the Hospital was under fire as the Americans troops advanced, the hospital was not directly hit by artillery. There is evidence that the Hospital took exterior damage but no direct hits. The Red Cross came in and late on 4 August a surgeon from the US Army came and made arrangements for the 35th Evacuation Hospital to take care of the men.
The 35th Evacuation Hospital was moved from Carentan to Rennes, Brittany, on 4 August and after an all-night ride in 2 ½-ton 6x6 trucks set up and went into operation at Rennes on 5 August 1944, caring for some 600 liberated Allied Prisoners of War, most of whom were in bad physical condition. Many of these POWs had been hospitalized since the African Campaign; some since the Dieppe Raid. They required a tremendous amount of care. A high percentage was orthopedic cases and the casts were found to be maggot-infested, posing an enormous task for the Hospital’s department. Despite the fact that the main line of resistance manned by the 8th Infantry Division ran by the front door of the 35th Hospital, the citizens of Rennes felt secure in their liberation and celebrated in the streets near the unit.
Posted March 14, 2013 - 09:53 AM
Edited by sirjahn, March 14, 2013 - 10:21 AM.
Posted December 24, 2013 - 02:14 PM
Just another update. I have found the full name of the Head German doctor Oberstabsarzt Doctor Ernst Enzinger, born 13 April 1896, wife named Minna. He was part of the Frontstalag 221 organization that was in Bordeaux prior to the invasion. The KStN for a stalag has a medical section with 4 officers and 20 ORs that he probably was the Section Leader. Still looking for more info on the Landesschuetzen Battalion 907.
Any other unusual thing has come up. I have gotten a copy of the 35th Evac Admissions for when they came to relieve the PWs and there is only ONE British solider on the list of the 196 that were there when the Hospital was liberated. So where did the other Allied wounded PWs go if not the 35th Evac?
Edited by sirjahn, December 24, 2013 - 02:17 PM.
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