300th General Hospital Unit
In 1940, medical schools across the United States formed reserve units in the event the U.S. entered the Second World War. After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Dr. Hugh J. Morgan, chief of the Vanderbilt Hospital staff, was appointed chief medical consultant to the Army Surgeon General. Shortly therafter, recruiting of medical school graduates continued under Dr. James A. Kirtley, Jr., Dr. Morgan's successor at the Vanderbilt Hospital. On July 16, 1942, the 300th General Hospital Unit departed Nashville for Camp Forrest for training. On November 10, 1943, the unit set sail for Naples where it established a 2,000-bed hospital to treat soldiers from the battlefields of Salerno, Foggia, Cassino, Anzio, and Rome. Between November 1943 and July 1945, the hospital treated over 37,000 patients.
The images below were sent to the Vanderbilt Alumni Office by alumni serving at the hospital. All of these photographs currently reside in the Vanderbilt University Photographic Archives.
The "Fighting 300th" was stationed in two wings of this six wing-hospital, built in 1939. Two of the other wings continued to function as a tuberculosis hospital. When the staff arrived, they discovered that the building's gas, electricity and water had not been running for several weeks. With the help of Navy engineers, the hospital overcame these problems just in time to receive their first batch of patients.
Colonel George Reyer, chief of the hospital, meeting his staff on their arrival in Naples.
The nurses arrive to begin work at the hospital
Colonel George W. Reyer, commanding officer of the 300th General Hospital.
Scale model of the hospital and grounds in Italy.
Nurses of the 300th General Hospital Unit.
A scrub nurse sterilizing instruments to be used in surgery.
Another view of the sterlizer, showing the interior of the unit.
Bomb crater behind the hospital. This crater was left by one of eight bombs which narrowly missed the hospital and shattered every window in the rear wing. Fortunately, there were no casualties.
Colonel Reyer at his desk in the Headquarters of the Hospital. Note the Vanderbilt Banner on the wall behind him which was presented to the 300th unit before it left the States.
Operation underway at the hospital. This photo was taken just before the anesthetic was administered.