THE MEDICS

With these paratroopers came the unsung heroes, the medics. Some medics jumped with their fellow worriers carrying the bare medical equipment, others came by glider with extra supplies and even ambulance jeeps! Chaplains also accompanied the paratroopers and were protected by the Red Cross armband as being non-combatants.

It might be a little confusing as to what organization the medics belong to. A regular Infantry Division had a Medical battalion attached to its headquarters. Because of the light nature of the Airborne Divisions, medical units were of company strenght. An Airborne Medical Company  is attached to the Divisional Headquarters and responsible for collection and evacuation of all the wounded men to field hospitals and minor surgeries. The medical company used ambulances for the evacuation. The 326th Airborne Medical Company was attached to the 101st Airborne Division. Personel of the 326th had a little white cross painted on the side of their helmet. The larger white panels with the red cross are not used with the 101st, nor with the 82nd. (Only the 17th Airborne Division appears to have used the larger red cross markings during the Varsity operation.)

The Medical Company arrived by glider with their heavy equipment (Ambulances, trucks, additional tentage, et cetera) arriving over land once a connection with the main army is established.

Each Parachute Infantry Regiment had a medical detachment. The medical detachment were a part of the regiment, not the 326th Airborne Medical Company. Therefore the medics used the helmet markings of the regiment they were attached to. The medical detachement was divided in a Headquarters unit attached to the regeimental HQ and three groups, each attached to a battalion. Each group was split up and divided among the companies. Generally each infantry platoon had one medic attached. Although not an official member of the company, most medics became an integral part of this organization. These company medics used the regimental marking with the specific "battalion tic" on their helmets. (Only the medics attached to the 2nd battalion of the 508th PIR used two large panels with the red cross markings on the sides of their helmets in Normandy.)

Airborne medics attached to a infantry company used only one medical bag with its bottom extended. This bag was slung with one of the long litter straps over the shoulder. A red cross armband was worn on one, or both, upper arms. Their field gear consisted of  a pistol belt with first aid pouch, canteen, shovel, axe or pick mattock nad a musette bag with suspenders.


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