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Army Veterinarians in Invasion of Sicily and Italian Theater

Discussion in 'Western Europe' started by p51douglas, Nov 15, 2017.

  1. p51douglas

    p51douglas New Member

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    Can anyone confirm if US Army Veterinary Corps or individuals involved experienced any action during the invasion of Sicily and the subsequent thrust to take Italy from Axis control?
    So far my research has led me to believe Army veterinarians were primarily a back line operation that operated to ensure animals used as food sources for the troops were sound and healthy.
    However, I have also come across info that states thousands and thousands of mules, horses and dogs were involved in different aspects, theaters and campaigns of WW2. It makes sense to me that Army and/or Marine Corps veterinarians would be with all these animals to help keep them alive and healthy to serve.
     
  2. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    Last edited: Nov 15, 2017
  3. p51douglas

    p51douglas New Member

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    Thank you Lou. Yes that is one of my primary sources. Yet for all that information, I cannot tell if any veterinarians actually went into combat during the invasion of Sicily and Italian theater. I know enlisted men were trained as mule skinners and primarily kept after the animals for example. Did actual vets go into combat to provide services or lagged behind as the front moved?
     
  4. wooley12

    wooley12 Active Member

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    In my studies of the 1st Ranger Battalion through Sicily and Italy I've only seen a few mentions about mules being used in the mountains but they were used up so much there was a shortage. I would guess that mules were seen in the same class logistically as Jeeps, and other equipment and high attrition at the front was the cost of war.

    Army Mules: The Beast of Burden in War
     
  5. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    The "Military Encyclopedia" compiled by HQ (Mark Clark's) 15 Army Group makes no mention of Veterinarian Services or Mules in its 600 pages which manage to mention all manner of other detail e.g. problems of managing civilian "lunatics" in a country under provided with mental hospitals.

    I suspect that the mules used in the Italian campaign in support of US soldiers were supplied by mule companies of the Italian Army - Co-belligerents of the allies. The problems of mule health would be someone else's problem.
     
  6. p51douglas

    p51douglas New Member

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    Okay thank you all for your responses. What about on the Asian front? Army Mules: The Beast of Burden in War speaks about greater use of pack mules due to the terrain. Would any veterinarians have gone along for care taking or would it have been just another occurrence of "high attrition and cost of war" as wooley12 states?
     
  7. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    In Italy the supply chain went from ship to truck to four-legged mule to two-legged mule. So, yeah, there were mules on or near the front line there.

    And the other hand, mules in the CBI may or may not have been front line. Commando units could use them for hauling extra supplies, but they'd get left behind if there was a need for extra hustle.
     
  8. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    From what I've read a mule can out run a horse over longer distances and I would think could out run men. Would it have been handling and/or loading/unloading issues that would cause them to be left behind?
     
  9. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    More like a hiding issue. I'll try to find a memoir I have somewhere, a mule handler who had to leave his mule behind. It was of interest to me because he'd trained the mule to react badly to people being near him. The handler was the only one who could get close. Unpleasant surprise for someone commandeering that mule.
     
  10. p51douglas

    p51douglas New Member

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    Hey, I'd LOVE to read that memoir. It sounds very interesting for sure!
     
  11. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Can't, until/unless his estate gives to the okay to release it.
     
  12. p51douglas

    p51douglas New Member

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    Can you request it or get me in touch with the estate? Hardly a life and death matter but now my interest is piqued. Appreciate it much!
     
  13. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    I asked twice, no response. I guess that's a message in itself.

    There's also a more mundane problem. It's in a box. Somewhere. Remember the end of "Raiders of the Lost Ark"?
     
  14. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    In a case like that who do you need permission from? Just one of the survivors or a specific one? Or is the estate still tied up in court?
     
  15. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    I don't publish private material without permission. So far as I know that's his grandchildren right now.

    I have the memoirs of an American working at Bletchley Park, but the family wants to wait on that one.
     
  16. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I didn't even mean to hint at you not publishing without permission. The question was if in a case like this do you just need permission from one grandchild or a specific one or the majority or ? I suspect the rights to this were not enumerated in the will which would have clarified things to someone like me who has little or no idea of how things like this work.
     
  17. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    It's eldest granddaughter, and she's not interested at this time. If necessary the documents will go to person just as hard-headed as I am about these kind of things. We might invoke the "hundred year clause" someday.
     

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