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Transcript: Percy J. Carroll, 1981

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This is an oral history interview with Dr. J. Percy Carroll, Brigadier General, United States Army, made in St. Louis on February twenty-third, 1981. We are very grateful to you, General Carroll, for taking the time to give us this interview which will be of great help to the history of the medical care in the Army for many years as well as the historical events that you took part in. That’s all I want to say; I really want to hear what you have to say.

Let’s correct that. It’s Percy J., not J. Percy Carroll.

Thank you very much.

It appears to me that it’s the proper time to identify myself in order to make this recording. I am Percy J. Carroll, Brigadier General, United States Army Medical Corps, Retired. My subject is “The Career of a Doctor of Medicine in the Armed Services of the United States.” I was born in East St. Louis ninety years ago.

Is that East St. Louis?

East St. Louis, Illinois, ninety years ago. I played baseball and football in high school. I was always very interested in injuries – sicknesses occurring in athletes who were with me and it seems that I kind of had a knack and desire to take care of them. In addition to that I had a very good doctor live next to me and he used to talk quite frequently. I used to cut his grass for him and we would have a lot of conversations. I think that he was one of the main reasons why I took up the subject of medicine.

Role model.

My father was a lawyer and I think he wanted me to study law but he never did express himself that he absolutely wanted that. I think my mother wanted me to either a priest or a doctor.

Were you the only child?

No, no, I have, I had three brothers. In fact one brother was killed in St. Louis at Maxwell’s Racetrack as they were mobilizing the National Guard for service in World War I. Lightning killed four boys at that time, and so at eighteen years old he was lost. I had two other brothers.

I enrolled as a medical student in St. Louis University School of Medicine on June first, 1909. I got in just in time that we didn’t have to have a year of college prior to admission. Within a week after being at St. Louis University Medical School, I was contacted by the coach of the football team that I had to play quarterback for the team as they absolutely had no one to play. So I foolishly agreed and I was sorry many, many times after that because it was difficult to study after going through a grilling practice and the big game on Saturday and so on. But I finally made it.

I recall vividly [the] 1909 Thanksgiving Day game against Carlisle Indians [ed. note: Carlisle Indians Industrial School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania] in which I was playing safety and Jim Thorpe came through the line about six or seven times and I had to tackle him and it was just like tackling a mowing machine. I also recall my last game, Thanksgiving Day of 1913, in which they had a big right end playing at Notre Dame – it was Knute Rockne. He was a player then instead of a coach. I seldom found that I could run a play around their right end.

I graduated on June 4, 1913 and went down to City Hospital in my internship. We had regular good internships over at St. Louis City Hospital and I profited a great deal then. I got a good basis. I had instructors from Washington University, good men – [Malcolm A.] Bliss in Psychiatry and many others; [Henry] Schwarz, I think, in Obstetrics.

Was this a rotating internship?

A rotating internship. Yes. We had at the Hospital at that time a unit system. Washington University was Unit One, St. Louis [University] was Unit Two and then all others were Unit Three. So we got a very, very good training.

About the middle of, oh, about the early part of the year of 1915, they started organizing the Medical Reserve Corps of the Army and they were trying to get recruits and it was difficult to find people who wanted to go and must have understood about it.

And this was two years before we entered the war?

Yes, the war was on in Europe and this medical officer from Jefferson Barracks came down and asked to speak to us and there were sixty of us there and he gave a talk saying that this reserve was new and he didn’t know whether we would ever get in the war, but he doubted very much whether we would. All it meant was that you got a commission in the Medical Reserve Corps and they gave you a nice certificate you could hang on your wall in your office and show it to people. Well, he asked for volunteers and no one seemed to be too much interested. I raised my hand; I thought I would take part. Then when I raised my hand about fifteen others said, “Oh, if you can do it, I’ll do it.” So I took it with the idea that I’d go into the Reserves and I heard nothing of it for about six months, until about June the fifteenth, 1916, a telegram came from the War Department to report immediately for duty at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, for active duty.

Well, I hadn’t started into private practice – I was darn near ready to start into private practice. In fact Dr. Schlueter, Dr. Robert Schlueter, told me that I could be one of his assistants if I wanted to work with him while I was doing general practice. The telegram settled the whole thing. I got on the train and reported down at Fort Sam Houston for duty and I was assigned to the base hospital assigned to the medical service.

I had only been on duty about eight days when it was my first term as officer of the day, in which you took care of all entering [patients] and medical emergencies and so on. At about ten o’clock at night an old fellow in a sweat shirt came in and he had a wrap around his neck and he said, “I want to see the doctor, I’ve got a carbuncle. I want to get a little treatment.” And the nurse called me over and said, “That’s General [Frederick] Funston. That’s General Funston.” She said, “You better not touch him. You better get the chief of the Surgery Service.” So I said, “Oh, General Funston.” I said, “I’ll have to call the chief of the Service because I think he ought to see the case.” He said, “Did you ever open up a carbuncle?” I said, “Oh yes, a lot of them.” He said, “Well, get to work, the hell with the chief of the Surgical Service.” So I serviced his carbuncle and I encised it and packed it and so on and I told him what to do. If you have a wife to put some hot packs on it now and so on. I said you come back and see the chief of the Surgical Service tomorrow morning.

The next morning about ten o’clock, in walks the General and says “I want you to see my neck.” So I took care of his neck until he got well.

That was a good beginning.

A good beginning in the Army.

Helen Carroll:  You had another superior there.

Oh, yes. The next thing that happened that I thought was rather— I forgot to mention the fact that when I reported down to the hospital for duty, I had to get a uniform of some type and I thought I would only be on duty for a short period of time so I went over to the Quartermaster and got an issue uniform. And it didn’t look too good, I’ll say that. But the ward nurse on my ward, Lillian Ryan, was a Spanish-American war veteran and she took one look at me and said, “My God, you look horrible.” So she said, “I’ve got a friend that I’ve sent several people over to – a tailor over there.” And she said, “You get some uniforms made. Because you can’t work on this floor with that uniform.” So we went over and we got some nice uniforms.

You never thought you would be in the Army all of the years that you actually turned out to be.

Well, I actually was. Yes. The duties, of course, as Officer of the Day, of course, were to see all cases that came in and kind of assign them to the various places and so on.

A few days after I had been there I had a little run-in with a sergeant-major in charge of the records room. If you didn’t have a period on your record he would send it back to you and you would have to steal a lot of time to fix it.

Traditional sergeant?

Well, I thought I would just get even with him in some way. So I had a case of chiggers come in. And I made the diagnosis and I thought if I put chiggers down it’s not going to meet his requirement. So I went and looked up some word that I could get that would mean chiggers but that he wouldn’t [know]. So I diagnosed it “Leptus Autumnalis.” That fellow worried me for three days – he worried everybody for about three days – trying to find out what this bunk was. The Colonel – Colonel [Merritte W.] Ireland – came to me one day and he said, “Lieutenant, for pity’s sake, tell the sergeant what the diagnosis is and he’ll let us all alone.” So I told the sergeant. And I never had one day’s trouble thereafter.

What kind of cases did you have in the Army during peace time? This is before we entered the War. Were they mostly medical cases?

Medical and surgical, of course. We took care of everything just as the same as a general hospital. We were a general hospital, the base hospital down there.

Now early in November we had an influx of cases from the Big Bend district – gastrointestinal conditions. And, they flooded us with these cases bringing them up by train. I diagnosed them typhoid. And they said you can’t do that because they are all immunized. They are all immunized and they have not typhoid. I said, “But they have all the physical symptoms of typhoid.” Well, I insisted but I had to put “fever type undetermined.” So finally, Colonel Ireland said, “Well, as long as you are consistently unmoved and at all times insisting that that’s typhoid fever, we’ll send for [the] Rockefeller people to come down and investigate it.” They came down and shortly after they came up with paratyphoid A and B. So that then, they immediately then added paratyphoid A and B to our medical _____(?) for determining typhoid, so that I felt that I was a little involved in getting that into the record.

In the fall, on November the fifteenth, I was told that I was to report down to Columbus to join the expedition into Mexico and to chasing Pancho Villa. I arrived down there at the hospital and was immediately put on a truck-train and was sent down to Colonia Dublan, which was the main headquarters of the American Expeditionary Force in Mexico _____(?) with [General John J.] Pershing and the whole bunch. I was assigned to the Seventh Cavalry as one of the cavalry surgeons.

Was this the horse cavalry?

Yes, the horse cavalry, and I wasn’t a very good horseman. Well, anyhow, I pleaded with them to assign me a good horse, a nice gentle horse. [And] the sergeant did pick out a nice horse for me. Shortly after being there, the Utah Mormons – [who] had a big settlement down near there – and they invited us all down to a large party and General Pershing said, “Do you want to come and join the fun?” So I went and I rode my horse down and I had no trouble going down. But on the way back, when we were all in formation and Pershing at the head of the crowd and so on, they didn’t tell me that my horse took the bit in its mouth and when he took the bit in his mouth he ran home – he didn’t stop running. She – it was a mare. And so I passed up General Pershing and the whole bunch. And the General said, “My God, what’s that?” They said, “That’s that new medical in the Seventh Cavalry, he doesn’t know how to ride and they say they gave him a bad horse.” He said, “Well, see that next time that he gets a better horse.”

Shortly after that they transferred me up. No, I meant to say, [during] my experiences down there, I came in contact with the Indians who were the guides for the expedition. They would help trace up Pancho Villa and _____(?) but we didn’t find them very often.

Mexican Indians or American Indians?

They were American Indians – Cherokees. And they served as scouts for the expeditions. I took care of a couple of them one time and so they insisted on going out and getting coyote skins and putting coyote skins in my tent – they had my floor lined with coyote skins and they would have a blanket made of coyote skins so that I was nice and comfortable when the weather was [bad.]

Was it very cold down there?

Very cold. We were in the mountains, it was very cold.

How long were you in this expedition?

Well, I’m coming to that very shortly. I was then transferred up along the line of communications to Corralitas Ranch. That was J. Pierpont Morgan’s ranch house and it had about seventy-five to eighty rooms – that is counting everything – all equipment of very fine _____(?). There was a servant house which was about two or three miles from there. They used to bring whole troupes from Broadway down and they put on a show, and they entertained their friends.

Nice to have money.

They had plenty of money and had plenty of entertainment. As I said, we were about halfway then, between Columbus, New Mexico and Colonia Dublan. We had truck trains that supplied between the two – they brought the supplies down and returned things up to there. And one of the commanders of those troop trains was George Patton, General George [S.] Patton. General George Patton would stay with us overnight on his way down and then stayed back [with us] on his way back overnight and we had a lot of conversations.

Was he a general at that time?

He was a captain. Captain George Patton. So he had big pistols at that time. I remember one morning as they were having reveille – we were both watching reveille – and he turned to me and he said, “Lieutenant, every time I see that flag lowered or raised, I love it more and more each time.” I thought that was one of the nicest statements that I heard.

Very unusual, too. Did you have any Mexican prisoners in your hospital, or were they all American?

No, they were all Americans. We had no prisoners at all. Many prisoners that they had taken they had turned back to the legal government in Mexico and they had an understanding there that they would turn them over. We think that they shot them all because they were against the Government too. We had no prisoners there.

One time we did have a little incident outside Corralitas Ranch in which they did bring up one of the troopers of the regular army – of the Mexican Army – and they crucified him on a cross – shot him and crucified him and hung his body up during the night for us to see.

How terrible.

Of course some of the colored fellows didn’t like that.

I don’t think anybody would like it.

No. Our forces were set to launch from Mexico on February the 3rd, 1917 and I was ordered to join the Twelfth Cavalry at Hachita, New Mexico.

You were still a reserve officer?

Still a reserve officer, yes. I’m glad you mentioned that, because shortly after I arrived in Hachita, we were ordered down to a place called Corner Ranch to join the troop down there that guarded the border. And that was about fifty miles – we had to go down by automobile and so on – and I joined that. And I had to take care of, in addition to my duties taking care of the troops there, I had to take care of the civilian population and the like.

And I recall at that time a young boy six years old that they called me over to see and he was an especially contagious form of spinal meningitis case. That was a difficult thing for me to handle down there and I couldn’t transport him so I went and lived at the house for seven days. I sent the troopers over to Douglas and they got me the serum. I gave him his treatment and so on there.

Did he live?

He lived.

That is very unusual. That was the time of the epidemic.

The epidemic, yes. And he lived. And I was very, very happy, but I did stay away a week later from the troops because I didn’t know whether I might be—

A carrier.

Be a carrier.

My father was a physician in New York during that epidemic and the stories he used to tell were really heartrending.

There’s another little story connected with that. He was supposed to be a very poor man – the father – and I asked the deputy sheriff there what kind of a fee I [could] charge him for taking care of him that way. And he said, “Oh, he’s really not worth much; he’s comfortable.” I said, “Well, should I charge him five hundred dollars. Do you think that be too much?” [He said,] “Oh, no. He’d pay that much. He’d be all right.” Well, I gave him a bill for five hundred dollars and he said, “I’ll get that out of the bank and let you have it as soon as I can.” And he came up with the five hundred dollars in about a week. Then shortly after that—

The Army allowed you to—

They let me take care of a private patient.

And to charge.

To charge [a fee], yes. So that I took care of quite a few patients around that same area as I did this case.

I was then – I got a telegram from Colonel Ireland, who was then the Surgeon General in Washington. And he was recommending officers _____(?) and he said. “For goodness sake, take the exams and get in the regular Corps.” So I put in an application for the regular [Corps] and they sent me over to Fort Webster, Arizona and I took the examination there and passed the examination and was ordered to Fort Benjamin Harrison, for officers training camp.

In Oklahoma?

Fort Benjamin, Indiana.


They had an officer’s training program there. I was sent, more or less, as a joke to me, to instruct in equitation!

(Laughs) After all your troubles with that mare?

After all my troubles with that mare. But we did nothing but just ride and so on. And some of the other medical officers were worse than I was so it didn’t matter too much. But anyway my commission as a regular army medical lieutenant came through in due time and then I was ordered down to Fort Sam Houston. I mean I was ordered down to Fort Riley, Kansas and that’s at the time with the big epidemic of flu at Camp Funston. And they put me in charge of the flu section in which we were running four or five hundred cases at all times and usually three or four hundred a day in deaths. We had all these rib resections and so on which we finally didn’t do much good with because they died just the same. So it was pitiful, the—

What were you trying to do with the rib resection?

To drain the pus; we just had empyemas all over. Practically every case we had was with empyema and we were draining them and putting in drainage and at that time not knowing what else to do, we would just irrigate them all with Dakin’s solution. Dakin’s solution had just come into effect. The French, I think, had introduced it. I won’t say they all died, but we had a period when mortality was [very bad].

So after being there for three months, I was then ordered to _____(?), Charlotte, North Carolina

Helen Carroll:  Charlotte.

And our division, our troops, were being congregated there getting ready to ship to Europe. So that after spending six weeks in the mud and rain and not being able to do much training, I was sent to Hoboken to go to Europe. I got on the transport there and I hardly left the dock when I was seasick and I had to go to bed and I stayed in bed until they told me that the submarine area was now being entered. So I thought I better get up. I didn’t want to be in bed when the submarines hit.

Helen Carroll:  Die in bed.

We actually didn’t see a submarine, but the destroyers left us several times to go out and they claim that they scared off submarines.

Were you on a merchant ship that had been—

No, on a transport. No, a regular merchant ship—

That had been—

Transport. That had been—


[Remade] into a transport.

And they were accompanied then, by war ships.

Warships. The battleship New Jersey led this thing and we had about four destroyers with us and we made it uneventfully. We landed at Bordeaux, France and then went up North to join the British at Calais.

The British were very, very fine people. They had a very fine organization up there.

But they had three or four years to get organized.

That’s right. And they were real soldiers. I only stayed there a short time when they ordered me to join at Montargis, France. I was to become surgeon of the motor transport corps of American engineers and firemen that were running the French railroads. They were running the French railroads between the northern part of France – chiefly from Paris – to the Riviera district. And they were running all trains for the French, so that I was their surgeon for a short time.

Now where was this?

At Montargis.

Now where is that?

It’s just about forty miles south of Paris. Almost in the center of France. And so that I stayed there for a while and then was ordered to take over a hospital train. And that was my assignment from there until I left – the hospital train.

And now, I might as well stop here and say that in France, in World War I, you were able to use the regular Army set up for the hospitalization and the care of patients from the front to the rear. It was organized that way that the troops would go from the rear up to the front to fight and then we would bring them back to relieve injuries and so on.

Later on in our campaign in the Southwest Pacific, we couldn’t do that because we didn’t know where we were going to fight. But I’ll cover that later. But the organization, as I say, was that in front lines, each company of infantry carried his own first aid man. He took care of any first aid things or wounds that he could; if he could take care of them there, he’d keep them there, but otherwise, they would send them back to a battalion aid station. Where they had a doctor, a medical officer on duty, in which they would take further _____(?) treatment and in those days we were using tetanus antitoxin – and epitoxoid – so that practically everybody got a shot of tetanus antitoxin and was marked with a tag that he got his treatment. Now then—

This is triage?

That’s triage. If the case would not be able to get back after he got treated there, he would be picked up by what they called the organization of the medical regiment – which division had a medical regiment in which they had a collecting station, an ambulance station, and a hospital station. So that they were able to take care of serious wounds there to get their first treatments and so on. The litter-bearers and so on from the collecting stations would come up and put them in their ambulances where they were able to run ambulances or carry them back to the hospital stations.

You were able to do this because you had fixed points.

Fixed points. Yes.

The Army was not moving back and forth.

That’s right. They were set. So that it was really a good set-up in which they did get good care and they were sorted out, the ones that could go back were held, the ones that couldn’t go back were sent back. Then when they got back to the collecting company’s – the medical regiment’s hospital station, they were given fairly good treatment. From there on, most of the cases we sent were evacuated back. They were evacuated by Army—

Our support behind the hospital stations – the first would be the surgical hospitals and the evacuation hospitals; they were more or less together in that area in which they did definitive work of all types of surgery. They even had surgical teams for those two, and they would do all types [of surgery]. Then from the evacuation hospital, they would be evacuated to the rear area or the _____(?) areas by ambulance to hospital trains and then on back. So that was the set-up.

That was different from what you had with General Pershing?

Yes, because we had nothing fixed there. And of course, different from what we had in—

World War II.

In World War II. So that it was a good organization but it couldn’t be followed. But we had to make substitutes in which we did throughout the whole thing. Then from, let’s see then—

So you were in charge of the hospital—


Train. – you took them back.

I took them back from the front areas back to the intermediate areas. Now, first I’ve got to mention that in the basic, starting with the intermediate areas, we had hospital centers. Those where we collected our general hospitals – hospital centers. Now like the University of Detroit had a unit there at that first base. Harvard University had a unit there. I think Cornell had one. I think we had five general hospitals in that first— So that we tried to specialize as much as we could certain types of injuries go to different hospitals and so on. We thought when we collect the personnel from one hospital that could be of service to go out and help the ones from the other hospitals. So that they worked, more or less, five general hospitals as a unit. And, of course, they were all under regular Army supervision.

Even though the university hospitals were staffed by the university?

Most of them had regular Army commanding officers. A lot of them had commanding officers from their units. But most of them had the commanding officers. That’s why I say practically all of our personnel were doing administrative work and not professional work.

Now these hospitals trains, of course, were a good value. I want to mention on one of my trips down there from the front, I was going through the train and I saw this fellow with bandages all over his head and I couldn’t see anything of his eyes or anything. I stopped and looked at his card and it said Lieutenant John Maguire. And I thought, “Well, my god, Lieutenant John Maguire – an old football buddy, he played football with me.” So I spoke to him. I said, “Are you Johnny Maguire from St. Louis University?” He said, “I sure as hell am.” He was shot right through the base of the nose here. It went to underneath the brain, the _____(?). It went out the back of his head and he didn’t have any injuries. In fact, we couldn’t pick up anything and they didn’t at the hospital. But he also was shot through the shoulder – he was looking over the parapet there and that’s when he got shot there. And so I carried Johnny back to the hospital. Johnny got good care. (Laughs)

What were most of the kinds of injuries that occurred in World War I?

We had a lot of gas cases. I remember in World War I we had mustard gas and chlorine gas to contend with. They were more important to us actually than the gunshot wounds, the artillery fire and so on. We had—The Germans would get, when the winds were proper, they would get the chlorine and the mustard gases—


Phosgenes and so on, in the air, and that’s when they would bring them over. But of course, they used shells of chlorine and mustard gas. And they were the really bad casualties. We had to get them back. We couldn’t do much at the front except to wash them off a little bit.

Didn’t the Germans get some it too as the wind changed?

When the wind changed they got it. Of course, they didn’t from the shells in the air, because the shells would hit locally and we would get it that way. So that most of the cases were that. Of course, now we’d have burns, and artillery and everything else. During a lot of the campaign, I would have mostly gas shells – [more] gas warfare than you did anything else. We had a lot of gunshots and artillery shots. Several times we were entertained by watching them fight in the air. In those days they had these little planes you know. And we’d watch the Germans and the French fighting – we didn’t have any Americans over there yet in the air – and we would see the French, we’d see the French chase the Germans. And they were really good! We saw them knock them down and so on. Of course, we saw some French knocked down too. But right there is where the Reich Volken(?) came from you know.

Well, I don’t think there is much more to cover on the hospital trains. You know what their duty was and everything. We would make it as easy as we could until we got them back to the area and turn them over to the general hospitals. We did have a lot of general hospitals stationed in the Riviera in which we could bring people back, when they would travel well, and have them convalesce in the hospital. We had _____(?), and Cannes, and Monte Carlo – we took over hotels. We had good organization. These were things we couldn’t do in the second war because we didn’t have the _____(?) to work with.

After my service – no, during [that time] when I was on the hospital train – I was promoted to captain in the Medical Corps.

It was about time.

I was promoted to a captain. Then I was ordered back to the States.

Were you in the headquarters in Washington then, or were you—?

No, I was ordered back to the States and I was ordered—

[ed. note: Carroll looks through his notes]

On July the first, 1919, I was ordered back to the United States and I was assigned to duty at the General Hospital Number One at Fort Sheridan, Illinois.

That was just before the Armistice?

If I can come back a minute to the Armistice, I’ll retrace my steps there. I had my hospital train up in the foremost areas in early November, and on November the eleventh, we were getting ready to— The troops were already starting into Germany, at Belfort, Alsace-Lorraine and we had the hospital train clear up in that area where we could take the casualties – we knew we would get it because the Germans were not too far from there and at eleven o’clock that morning the Armistice came.

You had not known about it in advance?

No. We knew nothing. And the French started all yelling and so on and came down and started kissing us and we had a great time and the Armistice was on. So that then, of course, the war ended but I remained there to take care of our sick, wounded and get them back as soon as we could.

Well, on July the first, 1919, I was ordered back to the United States and assigned to General Hospital Number One at Fort Sheridan, Illinois.

What does a general hospital do?

That’s the general hospital. It has the best personnel that they have available in all specialties. That compares to your Barnes Hospital and so on in the medical center.

I was placed on the neurosurgery service, neurosurgery, with doctor (I can’t think of his name) Dr. Lewis, Dean Lewis. He was one of the foremost men in that type of work I think at that time. So that I stayed with him for about five months and then he told me that I was able to take over the service, which I did. And during that time, though, old football came back again. The commanding officer came to me and he said, “I have to have a quarterback for the post team.” Well, I said, “Well, I’m too old.” He said, “We have to have a quarterback.” So I became quarterback again on the football team.

I’m sure you did quite well.

And I played Great Lakes and all those teams. It didn’t hurt me on my assignments, I’ll tell you.

I took over neurosurgery and then I was ordered to the Philippines.

In 1920, you were?

Nineteen twenty. June the first, 1920. I was ordered to the Philippines. I was ordered by way of what they called Bankhead National Highway Motor Transportation Corps. It was an organization gotten up by the Army to test all equipment – gasoline, tires, automobiles and everything. And we were to do it by blazing the trails for the Bankhead National Highway through North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Arkansas, Texas, Alabama, and so on.

So you went from Illinois to the Philippines by way of the East Coast.

Yes – and through Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California and up to San Francisco.

Were you a medical officer during this?

I’m getting to that right now. I was on the convoy, and we were stuck in the mud half the time and so on, blazing the trail. With the terrain and so on, we did the best we could. All the towns down there were anxious to get us to come their way so that they could get a road through. So they entertained us. I tell you that we had more fried chicken than I thought I would ever see in my life. They treated us very, very royally too, I’ll tell you that.

When we were in Memphis, Tennessee – I was in my tent that Sunday morning and the mail orderly came along – and I was a captain then – and the mail orderly said, “There is a letter here for Major Carroll.” And I said, “Uh, oh. Major Carroll? You know darn good and well that I’m not Major Carroll.” He says, “You are now.” He says, “This telegram says you are promoted to major.” So I thought that was a nice little thing of him to tell me.

We went on through Memphis and through those various states and so on. As I say, we were very, very entertained. We were very helped at every turn by the population and you wouldn’t know that there were such fine people in the rural areas as we met during our tour through the southern states.

On our way up from southern California up to San Francisco, we dropped off at Los Angeles and stayed there two days, preparing equipment and resting and entertaining and so on. I was put up at a hotel. I was put up in Charlie Chaplin’s suite. (Laughter) The pictures on the walls and everything were remarkable, I’ll tell you that. Charlie was out, Charlie was away. So he left that available for the Army to—

Did he live there?

He lived there, yes, when he was in Los Angeles. He lived out of one of these places. I kind of remember Charlie Chaplin by his suite there.

Did you sail from San Francisco?

Yes. Then I was ordered and went by transport from San Francisco, and through Hawaii and to Guam to the Philippines. And I was assigned to Corregidor as Chief of the Surgical Service at Corregidor.

This was in the ’20s.

Yes. In the ’20s. I arrived there by about December the 20th, in 1920. Yes. December the 20th, 1920, I arrived there. And as I say, I was assigned to the surgical service there as Chief of the Surgical Service and we had a population of about ten thousand troops and eight thousand civilian population – women and children. So that I had, surgery, gynecology and obstetrics to do for that population. So that I had a very, very big service.

How many assistants did you have?

I had three assistants. Three assistants. My first assistant was a very fine one. He had just came in from civilian life. He was a little older man. He was trained in University of Texas and he was a good one. So that we got along fine. A little incident that happened there that I always remember. The next transport after we had arrived wired that they had a woman who had placenta previa and she was bleeding and they didn’t know what to do. They didn’t know whether she was going to live. They were just about a day out from Corregidor. Well, they didn’t want to take any chances so they asked if they could take her off at Corregidor instead of going on to Manila which was the theatre for our troops. So we said yes. We said, “Did you type her.” They said she had been typed and everything. So that we had everything ready. We had the marshals out there and they took her off and she got in and I immediately did a cesarean section and she did beautifully – and made a good recovery.

Eighteen years later, at the time of the operation, I said, “Well, I’m going to name this little girl Caesaria. Name her Caesaria.” Eighteen years later, to that date, I got a letter from Caesaria. Signed “Caesaria.”

The right of the obstetrician.

Corregidor Station in those days was quite a place. At Corregidor we had all our supplies. We kept supplies for emergency at Corregidor. They had underground tunnels, of course. And it was quite a task to try to keep up with _____(?). It had stayed _____(?) for years and years. And every year it seemed we had to go through and replace _____(?) and all that stuff so that we had to kind of keep with it. That’s what General [Douglas] MacArthur came through from Manila – that was the supplies that he had to work with. We had rushed at one time, just after the Japs attacked, we did rush some supplies down into the tunnel but we didn’t get enough of _____(?).

It’s also difficult now, I would think, in tropical climates to keep some of that material.

I had one boy there at the hospital – this was a boy who was going outside of the shark net and a shark took out his entire abdominal wall with everything. That boy lived for about eight hours and I couldn’t find any name or anything in his clothing. I’m Catholic and I asked if he had been baptized and they said no. So I baptized him and he died there with all the nurses crying.

I’m sure you have had other deaths in hospitals that you had occasion to—

I’ve baptized hundreds.

Another incident in Corregidor, I was on the port _____(?). They had been playing cards on the second story of the barracks – playing poker. And this one big fellow caught one of his mates cheating. And he got mad and he took him up, over to the window and dropped him two stories down to the ground onto cement. It killed him. So I was on the court-martial. And they told me that this fellow had a violent temper and so on. I can’t contend with a man with a violent temper and I am sorry for him, but there is nothing I can do. Well, there were six of us on the board. Five of them wanted to hang him. So I held out and we gave life imprisonment with a recommendation that he’d be considered later on for parole. So that I saved that boy’s life.

Was he grateful or did he dislike imprisonment—?

He was very grateful.

—thinking his life not worth living?

Well, he had more respect than that. _____(?) Usually, they would get a feeling – maybe three or four or five years – in a case like this: where there was a fit of anger and so on. Now had it been an actual murder of some type, I wouldn’t have done it. I would have hanged him.

Well, then I was ordered back after two years there.

The hospital at Corregidor took care of Corregidor and Bataan and Manila too?

No. Bataan came later. We had troops in Bataan and they would put them up on the side of the peninsula and they would take those up to Manila to the base pavilion general hospital in—, there in— I was commanding officer of it. I’ll mention it anyhow very shortly. It was a general hospital – Sternberg General Hospital in Manila.

You were surgeon general too in _____(?) war time.

Yes. Even in war time. November the 15th, 1922 I was ordered back to Jefferson Barracks. I had a good friend in the surgeon general’s office so I got back to my hometown again.

Were you married by that time?

I’m coming to that now. I arrived home on December the 24th, the night before Christmas. And I got married on February the 3rd, 1923.

Long enough to make sure that you knew each was ready.

I was assigned to Jefferson Barracks. I was chief of the surgical service and that of course entailed my surgery, my gynecology, obstetrics, sick calls and running _____(?) and practically everything. In addition to inspecting the messes and the sanitary work. As chief surgeon you have to do everything. As chief of the surgery, why I used to take care of the base commanders. So, I enjoyed it.

Now we’re getting back to the football. The fall of ’20, around there, in ’24. In 1922 and, no ’24.

Then you left and came back and were married in ’23.

Yes, ’23. Yes, as I say I was a surgeon there, in charge of surgical service there. And in the fall of ’23, the commanding officer said, “I have to have a football team to play before the Chicago Tribune charity event in Chicago against Fort Sheridan and it’s six weeks off and I’ve got a team here that couldn’t play ping pong.”

You must have been used to that by now.

I said, “Well, I’ll coach but I won’t play.” So that I coached the team. We went to Sheridan and we won the game and beat Sheridan ten to six.

Very good.

So that we had a very good time at that time.

October— I stayed on duty at Fort Sheridan – the regular duty – I mean at Jefferson Barracks. Then in October of 1926, I was ordered down to St. Louis University to become PMS & T – Professor of Military Science and Tactics – at St. Louis University School of Medicine.

So you were at Jefferson Barracks about three years.

That’s right. About three years. And I enjoyed going down to the University because I knew most of the staff and knew the people and a friend of mine was at Washington University, John Hall. And so I knew we would get along pretty well together. He would take me over the ropes and teach me what was what. So of course down there they immediately made me teach—


No. Hygiene and sanitation, public health. So, I took over the teaching of public health to the medical school. Then of course I still taught medical tactics to the students.


ROTC. I always kind of thought it was a peculiar thing that one of my students there – that I taught and had a hard time _____(?) – a man named Carl Temple. Later on he became a Major General and he was senior to me. (Laughter) Very fine fellow. We always kid him about that too. He said, “You trained me pretty well.”

There are some people who believe that the greatest thing that the Army Medical Corps has ever done is its public health work in sanitation.

No doubt about it. During the service at St. Louis University, we would go to summer camp at Fort Snelling. And at Fort Snelling, they – the regular group there – were always sent to a summer camp. And so when I got to Fort Snelling in addition to the _____(?) I had to do the surgery at Fort Snelling.

This was in Minnesota.

In Minnesota. So that we spent about six weeks there and then we returned to our post. So that we enjoyed the summer there and I enjoy meeting with the officers of other schools like Washington [University], like Iowa University and Northwestern University. We talked things over, so I got a lot of good information.

After my four years at St. Louis University then, I was ordered to Walter Reed General Hospital for surgical service. And I worked with Colonel [William L.] Keller. This is the same Colonel Keller who worked with Evarts Graham in chest surgery. He and Colonel Keller were the two foremost men on chest surgery there. We weren’t doing that surgery—


Everything. Well, _____(?) work on that. Keller – he was a good man on everything. He was a good plastic surgeon, he was a good orthopedic surgeon, he was a good general surgeon and he was a good chest surgeon. He was really the most remarkable man I have ever seen. Well I enjoyed the service under him very much and got good service from him, good instruction and everything.

In April 1932, that was after two years there, the Civilian Conservation Corps was organized and they had to take officers from all of the organizations, some officers from all the hospitals and everything else in order to get these reception centers going and get these people processed and care for these _____(?). So that I was ordered to Camp Dix, New Jersey – as first surgeon at Camp Dix, New Jersey. And I had some very unpleasant exchanges there. They had started the Conservation Corps about three weeks before I arrived there, four weeks, and they had poured in between nine and ten thousand of these boys from the Bowery.

From New York City.

New York City.

I remember that very well. I was in New York at that time.

They had knives, they had stilettos, they had guns, they had razors. They had everything. And they were the toughest bunch you ever saw in your life.

Nobody thought that they would ever last in the CCC.

That’s the thing that I’ll cover later on. So that when I got there, I found two poor reserve officers on duty. And they were supposed to be—

Medical officers?

Medical officers. They were supposed to be doing the examination of these troops and they were doing about twenty-five a day, with between eight thousand and ten thousand down in the barracks, you see, down there So Helen and I, my wife and I, arrived there about four o’clock in the afternoon. We had our little wire-haired dog on the side of the car, we had our little canary in the car and we had the car packed to the limit with our goods and everything else and I said, “Well I want to stop at the hospital.” The first thing I do before I do anything else to see what it’s all about. And I saw the sergeant there and he said, “My Lord,” he said, “we’re in a terrible fix.” I said, “Tell me what it is.” So he told me what it was. I said, “I’ll go see the General right away.” So I went over to see the General at his headquarters and I said, “General, you’re sitting on a bomb. I’ve just been here about fifteen or twenty minutes, but I want to tell you you’re sitting on a bomb and it is going to explode at any time.” I said, “You’ve got eight or ten, around nine, ten thousand people down there and if you don’t get them examined and get them out of here you’re going to have some riots.” He said, “What do we do? We don’t have any personnel.” I said, “I’ll go over right now and call up the surgeon at Governor’s Island in charge of the whole area and ask him if he can get me medical officers right away.” So I called Colonel [Charles Ransom] Reynolds who was up in Governor’s Island and he said, “Major Carroll, I haven’t a single officer.” I explained the situation. “I haven’t a single officer that I can send. Every place is—” I said, “Well, I can’t work this way.” He said, “What will you recommend?” I said, “If you get me the money, I’ll get contract surgeons.” I said, “We’ll get surgeons. We’ll get all the medical aid we need if you give me the go-ahead.” He said, “Well, I can’t do that right away, but I’ll get General Nolan over.” He said, “Hold the phone now.” He said, “You better come up tomorrow morning, instead of General Nolan talking to you. You better come up tomorrow morning.” So I said all right. So then I got with General Reynolds and I said, “I am going up to Governor’s Island tomorrow morning and straighten this thing out about personnel and everything.” He said, “I’m going with you.” So we went up. I explained everything to General Nolan and he got the Secretary of War on the phone right there and the Secretary of War said, “Tell Major Carroll to spend all the money he needs. That the funds will be available. Go and get any doctors you can get.” So the next day, after we got back from Governor’s Island, General Levine(?) and I went over to Philadelphia and we went to the medical society there and I said, “Would you broadcast over the radio that I need about fifty to sixty doctors. Right away. Contract surgeons. And I can use them just at times but they’ll be paid on a monthly basis. They’ll be used by me whenever I need them.” So they got that out. And I said, “Have them report to me. Everyone that wants to can make an application, report to me the next morning at the hospital between eight and nine o’clock.” I had about fifty-eight there the next day to meet me.

This was during the Depression—

That was during the Depression. That’s what they said. A lot of them said they were doing a lot of work and getting no money; they said in fact, five, six, seven more years in the same offices and the same nurses and so on. So when I heard about it, “Well,” I said, “what do you think we ought to give them?” I said, “Well I don’t know anything.” I said, “I think three hundred dollars a month. I’ll only use them four or five days, six days a month.” I said, “Give them three hundred dollars a month.” I said, “If that’s satisfactory, I’ll tell them. I’ll contact them.” They were pleased with that. So, I thought, well that’s a heck of an amount to offer a man, but as I say, only five, six, seven days a month.

Well, that probably kept them from having to close their practice.

That’s what I told them. I immediately then set up the organization to process this bunch. Well, I’d been through five different CCC Camps of this same thing. So I had the experience of that behind me. I had been working for two full days and two nights, the General got his full force over there. We got the whole thing constructed and I had six lines in which I could process around six hundred an hour.

Real factory work.

So that’s what it was. So we arranged it so that they had barracks arranged for me in which they’d go through those barracks down— – we had to process the medical things upstairs in one barracks. They would go through these barracks, undress. They’d put their clothes in bags, bags, bags. They would come through the lines and if they were okay, their clothes were then taken and they were taken downstairs and put in uniforms and they were on their way.

If they had any disabilities of any type, they were required in the lines to put a red line under it. And I personally supervised every red line. If I thought that it wouldn’t hurt them and it would do them good to go out, they went out on the troops. If they found that they would be a menace – if they had any _____(?) or anything I just couldn’t take them. We knew they were going off in isolated places in Idaho and Montana and so on. So we just couldn’t take them.

Places where these Bowery bums never thought they would ever get to or want to get to.

That’s right. But you’d be surprised at the number who said what they could do. _____(?), “Can you typewrite?” “Oh. I am an expert stenographer.” But sometimes the hospital couldn’t use them – they didn’t know what a typewriter was. See. But I’d gotten so sick and tired of that, but I kind of got the idea, I’m not going to send anymore.

But see this crippled boy came through walking on crutches. And I thought how on earth did they ever put that boy in here. He was Puerto Rican and he understood about five different languages. He was a stenographer – secretary/stenographer – for a drug firm in New York that furnished drugs to the Mexico and the Latin American places, and he knew English, German, Spanish, and so on. I looked at him, I felt sorry for him. I said, “What kind of work do you do?” He said, “I am a secretary, I’m a stenographer.” I said, “You’re sure you’re a stenographer?” “Yes sir, I’m a good stenographer.” I said, “Well, all right, I’ll give you a tryout.” So I got on the telephone and told the sergeant, “I’m sending you another one of those fellows over. Give him a try and let me know.” The sergeant called me back and told me, “He should make a typewriter walk around the room!” (Laughter) So I admitted him. Of course I stated on the form of his condition and everything else. That little boy followed me around just like a little poodle. I couldn’t do anything. He was a remarkable, remarkable recruit. And I kept him until the end of that CCC.

What was the matter with his legs that he was walking—?

Infantile paralysis.

And how long were you involved with this?

Three years, almost three years. I am coming to that now. Well, after my service there we went, as I said, we had this organization set. I had these medical officers come over – we always get twenty-four hours notice of a hospital train coming in. A hospital train will bring in about sixteen hundred to two thousand. And we would always have notice of one day. And I had in this group that we’d have, I divided them into teams.

These are people who are injured?

Practicing medicine and practicing _____(?) instead of—

Oh, these are physicians who are coming in.

Yes, physicians. Dentists, physicians and so on. And we had them in specialties. So I would notify them. But in each team I had a captain. And he was responsible that he’d notify the others to be on hand. And I had a standby of two that I only used certain times in which they would fill in in an emergency, so that we never had any absenteeism of any type. They were just perfect. They would come. And they worked.

It was the organization that was needed.

They had organization and we had good results out of it. So that we went that way for almost three years and then the last year, of course, we were processing out. They were going out, so I got the same outfit. Practically all the same men; we processed them out.

Then I was ordered to Walter Reed Hospital again. And I was ordered to take a course there, of six months, in tropical medicines and so on, that I had never had, having never attended [an] army medical school.

When you were in the Conservation Corps did you see any difference in the physical condition of the men before, when they entered and when they left?

_____(?) I saw some of the same boys, see. They recognized me and came up to me. Managed to talk to me. I saw some of the same boys; they spoke to me, “Please, yes sir, no sir.” _____(?), talk to me. They talked to me without that “you’se” and all that stuff. You would be surprised. They went to those camps; they had instructors from the neighborhood schools. They learned to read and write, and do things of that nature. It was something I never hoped to see.

And how about physically?

Physically perfect. They were just perfect. They were just a different group of boys. And they would come to me and say, “It’s the greatest thing that ever happened in my life.” And I felt good about that. And so then, I had a note to myself to mention how wonderful they were. And even the General came down and said, “What a remarkable change in these people.”

Now then, I got down to that medical school and I had another break. The colonel at Governor’s Island was then the surgeon general.

Reynolds? He was a surgeon, too.

He was a surgeon, a good surgeon, too. But he was the surgeon general. I was ordered _____(?) down at the medical school _____(?) – issued orders – I didn’t get them, I was told underground that I was ordered to Fort Omaha, Nebraska with Colonel Hall and two others that I had trained _____(?). They wanted me out there and they were doing work with still some of the Conservation [Corps] people – they didn’t take them all in at one time. They were still out in Nebraska. And I didn’t want to go out to Nebraska. So I thought well, I said. “I’m going down to talk with the Surgeon General and get the orders changed.” So I went down and called upon the surgeon general. And he was very glad to see me and I said, “General, do you know the last conversation I had with you on the telephone when I was at [Fort] Dix and you were at Governor’s Island?” He said, “No, I don’t recall.” And I said, “Well, I’ll [recall] it for you. You said, ‘If ever you want anything from me and I can do it, all you have to do is ask.’” He said, “All right, what do you want?”

I’m sure he was used to that sort of thing.

I said, “I’d like to go to China. I’d like to go to China.” I said, “My wife would love that.” _____(?) China. So he sent for the personnel – the _____(?) army personnel. And I’ve always stopped and talked to them. And I didn’t plan on China, but they knew that I wanted— See, that I’d talk to them before. So I went to them. I said, “I’m going to see the General.” And they said, “Well, we know what for.” And I said, “Well, that’s what I’m going for.” So he called them over and said, “What’s the status in China?” And they said, “We were going to issue orders for a surgical man to go – but we had a listing for ______(?).” So I was sent to China.

What was going on in China then? Is this when Kuomintang was in power?

Chiang Kai-shek. Chiang Kai-shek. Nothing was going on. The Communists weren’t doing anything.

What were we doing in China?

We had troops in China. We had troops in Shanghai, Peking and Tientsin.

Under what auspices?

That was the status from 1902.

The Boxer Rebellion.

From the Boxer Rebellion.

I hadn’t realized it lasted that long.

The marines were at Peking with Major [Joseph] Stilwell and I’ll cover that later – General Stilwell – later. And so then I was ordered out to Tientsin. Now before I get that far I want to say that finishing at the medical school was—

Did your wife like moving around like this?

Oh, yes. She enjoyed it very much.

Did you have any children? Did they go to school in different—

No. We had no children. We had no children. I meant to say that while on duty at [Fort] Snelling, in 1929, I was on duty at Snelling at the summer camp, the ROTC. And then the man who was supposed to go down to Fort Leonard Wood for CMTC to take charge of the processing there was ill and so they asked me _____(?) if I wouldn’t mind going down and taking up the _____(?) down there at Leonard Wood. So I said, “No. I’ll be glad to do it.” We had a cottage on the lake up there so I left my wife and her two sisters and an automobile at the lake and got on a train and went down to Leonard Wood. And during that time I met with [Dwight D.] Eisenhower. Eisenhower was a captain and he was in charge of one of the companies and he had to bring the companies – they had to come up for sick call – a company officer used to accompany them. So I met Ike. Of course I didn’t know Ike, I didn’t know anything about him. He didn’t mean anything to me at that time. But I always remember Ike coming in and getting the sick book and I’d sign the sick book and everything. So that was my meeting with Ike. I never met him after that, but that was the time I met Ike.

So you went to China. When,’34?

I went to China in 1934. I enjoyed that. I sailed from New York for China.
Went through the Panama Canal.

I went through the Panama Canal and then I went to up through San Francisco and then through Hawaii and then through Guam and then through the Philippines and then to China. And another break I got -the man that was to take charge of the troops in China was on the transport with us from New York and we became very good friends. Colonel Lynch, who became General Lynch; so that I got a good break there. Because we were in, of course, a clique in China. And it was a good thing— I can tell some of these things because I am out of the Army now. (Laughter)

But anyhow we had a nice trip on the transport and I didn’t get sick because I had vanine(?) on that trip and I never got sick a day on that trip by taking vanine(?). The first time I had taken a trip overseas, I _____(?); they didn’t give me anything. I was sick on the transport then. I never got sick at all by taking vanine(?).

In China I became chief of [the] surgical service. Of course I had the other things – obstetrics, gynecology and so on, sick call and things of that nature, general work. And I had a Colonel there that was China-struck. And he spent more time in China and so on than he did with his work. And so all the work he should have done I had to do. But he took a dislike for our commanding officer and the commanding officer took a dislike for him and that’s the one that was on the transport with us. So that we had a funny experience there. The surgeon general’s problem came in again with me. We got to Tientsin and they decided they didn’t like Colonel Lynch. The wanted to get rid of him. They couldn’t get rid of him except by physical means, by medical. So they decided they knew that he was subject to little attacks of asthma and stuff, and so on, and China was dusty and dust [affected him]. They figured this out about three or four months after he arrived. He started having an attack. [Unintelligible sentence.] And he would be put in the hospital a couple of times and we gave him oxygen and so on. _____(?) physical examination came up then, in about eight months, nine months. Six months – because we had arrived there in July. Physical examination. Colonel _____(?) – that was his name – Colonel _____(?) [turned] to Colonel Lynch and said, “Your physical examination [is coming] up and we have to all get them in the first two weeks of January. I’ll be glad to take you any time you want.” The Colonel came back to me and said, “I’ve got a heck of a wheeze.” He says, “I don’t feel good. What do I do?” “Don’t do anything.” I said, “Don’t you appear before the physical examination without my telling you to go.” I said, “Anytime he asks you, just say, ‘I’m too busy now, I’ll come soon.’” Well, a month went on, two months, [it was] coming towards June. And we were supposed to have them by June. Got to have them by June or explain why. So in May I said, “Well, now is the time. I’ll [speak] to the Colonel and I went there [and said] ‘What’s my time?’” When the Colonel of the hospital, this one day, went to Peking – he would usually go there and stay three or four days. When I knew he was on that train (laughter), when I knew he was on that train I was pretty safe then. So I went over to the Colonel. I said, “How do you feel?” He said, “I feel like the devil.” I said, “Well that doesn’t matter.” It was about ten o’clock. I said, “How about the physical examination – can you be at the hospital at eleven o’clock?” He said, “[unintelligible sentence] He’ll get me sure as the devil.” I said, “No he won’t, he is in Peking.” I said, “I am a full surgeon now, and I am in charge of the medical program.” And I said, “I want that examination done and I want the report in the mail.” So he said, “I’ll be there at eleven o’clock.” I said, “Whatever you do, don’t ask for me. Ask for Colonel Demmer. Ask the sergeant – you tell him, ‘I want to get my physical examination.’” So I think the sergeant suspected me but he _____(?) anyhow. He said, “Well, I’m sorry, Colonel, but Colonel Demmer is in Peking.” He said, “Major Carroll” – oh, I was a lieutenant colonel then – he said, “Lieutenant Colonel Carroll is in charge. He’s a surgeon.” He said, “He’ll do it if you want.” So I said all right. The colonel came in and asked for Colonel Demmer. He said, “Well, Colonel Carroll will take you.” So I examined him and I had one fellow who was a very good friend of his – a medical trainer – and I was a little afraid of him. I said, “Now if you put anything that is not true in this report – if you want to make a supplemental report – if you put anything that isn’t true, I will make a supplemental report too telling you how wrong you are and ask for a board to investigate.” He said, “Well you won’t have any trouble with me.” So the colonel had his physical examination and his _____(?) and everything else – onward to the States and so on.

About two weeks after that, this medical colonel met him at a dance – no one told him that the colonel had been examined – met him at a dance and said, “Colonel, you are supposed to have your physical examination.” The colonel said, “Well, I had my physical examination – I had it two weeks ago. I had a medical.” Then the Colonel came to me – they came at me and I said, “I didn’t _____(?) him, Colonel. I was post surgeon at that time.” I said, “He wanted an examination and I gave it to him. That’s all there was to it.”

Well now, getting back to the point.

What were most of the cases that you had?

Just general hospital. The surgeons didn’t have much interest in those. We had no real hard tasks. Infantry drill, guard duty.

Was it exciting?

It was boring except for the customs and the people of China. You would find something laughable everyday. Something would come up. For instance about two weeks after we were there we went to the picture show. The picture show [for] the civilians. They had good enough pictures over there and here came this old Chinaman – and he was at least seventy-five years old – with his twenty concubines to see the picture. They occupied two rows of the movie theater and they were all giggly kids about twelve, thirteen, fourteen years old. Things like that. You’d go along the streets and you’d find the fellow at the corner there cooking grasshoppers in oil. And they would eat them. You would pay a penny and eat a grasshopper.

They probably thought our methods were equally ridiculous.

Well, it’s along the same line of toasted peanuts and stuff, you know. But, they would have their own tea. They would have tea carried [in] on their shoulders and they would sit down and [have] tea and everything else.

The consul – the American consulate in Tientsin – was a very fine person named Carwell and he didn’t get along with this medical colonel either. He knew that things were not what they should be. He knew that there was a clique – as I say – a number of men and the colonel and so that we had to be on an alert most of the time. That’s a hard thing for an Army officer to say, but I’m no longer in the service, so I can say those things because they didn’t happen but once in a lifetime [anyhow]. One day we missed our servants. The head of the tong taking care of all the American people was this medical officer’s number one boy. And the General – he’s a General [by] then, the Colonel was a general then – the General and myself and the quartermaster who was our friend and three or four other of our friends lost their servants – [they] all pulled out on us. Five servants and we knew what was wrong. The general says, “What are we going to do?” He says, “I don’t want to make too much about it.” He says, “I don’t want to give them the satisfaction.” I said, “Well, I’ll tell you what we’ll do, if we do it right away. The colonel is in charge of the inspection of all the servants, and they can’t go on duty at anyone’s house without the inspection. I said, “Notify all the passes(?) immediately and appoint me as medical inspector.” And I said, “They won’t be allowed to go in anyone’s house until they get a pass.” They did that and before I got a chance to issue anything at all, the tong leader came to me and said, “Colonel, you’ll have all of your servants and everybody will be all right and you won’t have any more trouble.”

Just when people don’t have enough to do, they think of things like that. It sounds like a school boy episode.

It wasn’t so schoolboys if you were in it, you see. Another little incident that happened about the General – we always got a kick out of it – we used to go out to the British club – they had a very fine club and that’s where we went bowling and played pool and [had] dances and everything. And this one night we had a big dinner and the British were all out in force and there was a lot of drinking going on. Everybody was feeling pretty good; in fact it was New Year’s. The General wore civilian clothes out there, he had a tuxedo and everything else, and he wore his derby hat out and he turned it over to the hat check people in there and we were all in there and we had finished eating the dinner and they said, “Oh, we’ll going to entertain on the dance floor.” They said – some of the British – said they were going to have a little fun with hockey – they were going to play a little hockey game.

Well they started out playing with a puck there, but all of a sudden they changed to a black derby, see. And here they came around beating this black derby all over; playing hockey with it. And it had gone past a couple of times and all at once [the General’s wife] said, “George, that looks like your derby.” (Laughter) Sure enough. He said, “Oh, it couldn’t be.” And he went back and sure enough, it was his derby. Well, the British consul and everybody was apologizing over there – these two drunken fellows, three drunken fellows, came up and they apologized, and this is what it was. The colonel got a good laugh out of it.

Did you see any of the rest of China or did you stay all the time at Tientsin?

No, we had a summer camp at Chinwangtao [Qinhuangdao]. At Chinwangtao is the beginning of the Great Wall of China. And we would go down there about six weeks in the summer. But then we would go to Peking on about an average of about once a month – we’d go for a couple of days.

Peking is north.

Peking is north, you see. You would have a trip up there on a train. You would go at seven in the morning and get there at ten. If we wanted to stay all night we did, otherwise we would take the train back at four and come back. So that we saw that area of China. But, of course, sightseeing up there was not too good because a lot of bandits were in the area. So we didn’t like to take too many chances.

And how long were you in China?

Two years. Two years. That was the tour of duty in China. We were assigned—

Another thing about there – Major Stilwell was on duty with the legation in Peking. And his son, Joe – Joe, Jr. – was with us in Tientsin. And Joe had an acute appendix attack. I took out his appendix. His father was worried and came down, you know, and his mother was worried and came down. And—

Did you ever get to see Chiang Kai-shek or any of the—

No, I’ll come to that later— I saw quite a few of the big ones, particularly the Japanese.

Anyhow, I took his appendix out and Joe and I became friends and we used to go to Peking from time to time where Stilwell lived and we used to stay at their house, several times at night-time over there. And they would come down to Tientsin and stay at our house. So we got to know Stilwell very well.

Some of our people went out to see them execute the—


Not the bandits, but the prisoners. If you stole over there and they caught you it was a death sentence over there. So they had to do that in order to maintain [order]. So they would go out and make them dig their trench, you know, and let them kneel down and then they come up behind them and shoot them in the head and let them fall in and throw the dirt in.

That’s traditional in China, going on for sixteen—

That’s traditional in China. Yes. And then of course there is so much dope going around too, they had to be careful about it.

Now then—

When you came back from China, was when? About nineteen—?

Nineteen thirty-nine. No, no, no. Nineteen thirty-seven. Nineteen thirty-seven I came back from China.

And where were you sent when you came back?

Jefferson Barracks.

Jefferson Barracks is where you—

That’s what I say. I was sent back to Jefferson Barracks.

I went to Jefferson Barracks and I had something to do with the guy who was post surgeon this time. And I had my regular tour there, but I did the surgery also there. And served from then until – two years. I served two years there.

Just before World War II?

Just before. Then I was ordered to the Philippines. Now then, October the first, 1939, I was ordered to the Philippines and I arrived December the tenth, 1939. I was ordered to Fort Stotsenberg, that’s about 80 kilometers north of Manila. And that’s the sight of Clark Field; that’s our big air field and right to the east of it was the Langer(?) Field which was the dry dock for the Navy. That was their Navy set up there in addition to their Navy institutions down in Manila.

The War had already started in Europe—

Oh, yes. No, no – it hadn’t started in Europe.

In ’thirty-nine, in October of ’thirty-nine. Didn’t it start in September?

Oh yes, yes. It had started there. I was thinking about Pearl Harbor. Oh, yes, it had started in England, sure.

Well, I arrived there in December of 1939 and was ordered to Stotsenberg. And as post surgeon. We had the regular duties there. I had the surgery there also and duties for a surgeon. And a funny thing happened that I didn’t understand and I never really understand to this date. I guess the people who knew about it are all dead. But we got orders to incorporate the Philippine Army into the United States Army. Now that was the year before the attack came. We got orders to take those – I think there were about nine thousand at Stotsenberg – which we had the physical examinations and inoculations and everything. I didn’t think of war at that time but, even to this day, did someone know about this or not. I still doubt whether somebody in Washington knew that something was going to happen. But, there wasn’t anything _____(?) in particular involved except we told to get a good reserve of supplies and things like that in, and ordinarily that’s what you would do anyhow. So that I spent my time there and then in – May of ’forty-one – I had just been there not quite a year, word came out to send the dependents home. Why did they do that? Why did they do that?

It was all those negotiations going on between Moscow and the American government. And it was on and off for a long time.

Well, they were ordered to send them home. They must have suspected a lot of trouble, because my wife, everybody – we had to send everybody [home].

I had cousins who lived in Manila and they were evacuated back at that time, too.

So they were evacuated and we examined these troops and everything else and we were doing our ordinary duties and I was ordered down to Manila to command the Sternberg General Hospital in Manila because the commander there had stepped up to the surgeon of the Philippines and he was the surgeon that had got him back to the states. And in the regular routine, I was senior medical officer and so I moved down to Sternberg. And it was the regular duty as a [medical officer] of a general hospital, but I didn’t really professionally— But also, then I head up the reserve units of the Philippines. That is, what hospitals we could establish in case of emergencies, then we would do what facilities would take over and everything else, so I outlined a pretty good beef-up and the regular duties went on until the day before the attack came. The day before Pearl Harbor.

We went out to Fort McKinley, which was outside of Manila – it’s out about a thirty minute drive outside of Manila. We played golf on it and we’d pass along the bay. And as we passed by we’d always see the fleet, the Asiatic fleet, maybe forty or fifty vessels there – battleships, destroyers, spy ships, and everything. Well, we went out Saturday and played golf and the fleet was there. Everything was just as normal. Sunday afternoon – no, that Saturday night a funny thing, (no, that’s another thing) – Sunday afternoon we went out to play again and as we were driving along one of the officers said, “Look. There is not a ship in the harbor. Not a ship in the harbor.” There was _____(?) at all.

Had the attack already hit?

No, no. That’s the day before, the day before.

This was on a Sunday though?

It’s different time [zones]. This is Sunday. We were twenty-four hours ahead.

So it was Monday over there.

It was Saturday at Pearl Harbor. As I say, I went to the show with one of my assistant officers there, a psychiatrist, and we saw “Sergeant York.” Of all the pictures to see the night before the war started, it was “Sergeant York,” the war picture. And we came back and went on our ordinary duties and we went to bed and so on. At four thirty in the morning, the telephone comes – that was four thirty in the morning of our time Monday. And that was four thirty—

Sunday of our time.

—at Pearl Harbor. And the call came through and— No. Yes, that was when the call came through. The time was just a little bit different. I never did straighten it all out. But anyhow, we got a call on the next morning at four thirty. Well, it couldn’t be because they didn’t attack there until seven o’clock. So three hours is just a little bit wrong in here. The time is mixed up a little.

[ed. note: The Philippines are on the western side of the International Date Line, and thus one day ahead of Hawaii. The attack on Pearl Harbor occurred shortly before 8:00 am Sunday morning in Honolulu, which was 2:00 am Monday morning in Manila.]

I wanted to day that the call came through from the War Department earlier in the morning. Later in the morning than that, because the attack had already taken place at Pearl Harbor and they called and said, “Get on the defensive because Pearl Harbor has just been attacked by the Japanese.” So that’s when we were in the War. Immediately the word went out – of course we were to all take our stations that we were supposed to occupy at the time. And General MacArthur and his staff then proceeded to Manila right away. And. I was left in charge – as the medical officer, I was left in charge of Manila – as the whole charge _____(?). It was my duty to take care of the defense of Manila.

We began then to organize the services – the hospitalization and patients. So I immediately got the units that I had talked to before and they were chiefly Sisters’ hospitals, Sisters’ convents and schools. I took the normal school of the Philippines and I took the Brothers’ School of LaSalle University and I took the German Club, which hadn’t been occupied by any German troops or anything but it was German people only. I took them over for the nurses’ home. And then I took over the Convent of the Holy Angels out near Quezon – _____(?) – house out in the outskirts of town. Those were immediately set up in order to establish hospitalization facilities. We had our storehouses all with cots and beds and supplies. So we immediately set up an institution of – to take care of—

In Manila?

In Manila. Yes. I took over the Jai Alai building. Do you know what jai alai is? You know jai alai games.

It’s a game.

Well jai alai was quite a game there. They had a beautiful building there in which they played jai alai and it was a club. They had coolers there. They had supplies to last a year. They had everything. Beef – they got from Australia. They had rows and rows of beef and all kinds of food and everything else and I took that over as my headquarters for my surgical teams. I put all my surgical team in jai alai. I had six teams together there and then they could feed them and everything; the nurses would have quarters and everything. So we established the headquarters there. Thank God, we didn’t have to use much of it because the ones that were brought in to us were all dead. On the morning that they attacked the first thing they hit in Manila was the air field at Nichols Field. They destroyed that and then they went to the Navy building – the Navy communications center building which was right on the bay near the Manila hotel near the Army/Navy Club [was] and they blew them to pieces and practically everybody that they brought in to us was dead. We had about between four hundred and fifty and five hundred that were killed at that time.

Nichols Field didn’t have any casualties because they got away from them before they knew. They couldn’t move a plane. They destroyed the runway immediately. They couldn’t get a plane in the air so they just abandoned everything and—

And where was MacArthur at this time? Had he gone to—?

No not then. He was in Manila, Manila City. And so, of course, we got the word right from MacArthur to be on duty. So he went and got his launch and so on they went to Manila. And then of course, at the same time they attacked Nichols Field they attacked Clark Field. That was our big center – eighty miles up – and that was Stotsenberg which I had been in – Stotsenberg. Then they took the air field at Eagle which was up on Lingayen Gulf and that’s where the Japanese landed. That’s where a lot of them landed. So they destroyed all of our planes. The fact is, I think we had three or four planes left. And also they located – they knew where our tanks were and they destroyed our tanks. I think we had about fourteen, fifteen tanks and they destroyed those tanks by bombing there.

When they came over Manila – of course every time we heard them, why, I would go out to see them [unintelligible]. One time I saw flights of fifty to sixty planes in the air, glistening in the sunlight. They were going after their targets. And we don’t know where. They were going towards _____(?) at that time. They were going down towards San Durango (?) where we had troops – so that we couldn’t tell where they were but we were hoping that they wouldn’t bomb Manila. Well, we were told later by the Japs themselves that they didn’t want to bomb Manila because they wanted to use that as their base of operations and so on.

Well then, as I say, we didn’t have too many battle casualties because we couldn’t get them from over from Bataan, now the troops had all gone to Bataan and Corregidor. And the casualties were happening in Bataan, but we had moved all of our hospitals and everything in Bataan so that they were well able to take care of their own plus Corregidor hospital. So that we didn’t get anything to amount to anything in our hospitals except the ones that were sick and _____(?) of that nature. Then they had a lull for some reason or other and they were able to get over by these great big transport [ships] – LSTs, the LSTs – they were able to get a bunch of wounded to us. We got about three hundred. And they had been taken care of in the hospital, but they had had that chance to evacuate them so they evacuated them to Manila. On December the fifteenth I had gotten word from [unintelligible], the naval officer. As soon as he heard that they were going to attack Manila he got these groups together and they went over to their emergency set-up. They just abandoned everything in the big communication center because they couldn’t do anything. And they knew that would be a target, so they brought their emergency stuff – had brought their emergency stuff into Manila. So they went and stationed themselves in Manila and got ready to use that as the communications center.

Well, they had a communication [center] in Corregidor all right so they could use that. So he, when they got into Manila, asked me if I could put him up. And I said, “Sure. I’ll put you up here in jai alai.” I put him up with his stuff and ate in there and I fed him and everything else. When he found out that things were not going to go so good – that we were going to have to evacuate everything in Manila, why we got to be pretty good friends. He said, “Listen, before I knock down this equipment, I’ll try and get a call through to your wife for you.” He said, “It’s no use just abandoning all of this stuff and breaking it up. I’ll try and get a wife call [through for] you. He said, “Will you make yourself available – I couldn’t possibly get it through” – I remember the date, it was about the twentieth, I guess – he said, “I couldn’t possibly get it through in three or four days. But,” he said, “if you’ll make yourself available, let them know at all times, because,” he said, “once you start lining up the call,” he said, “it might be just about two or three hours.” So I said, “Fine, I’ll be available at all times.” So on the day before Christmas, he called me and said, “General” – I forgot to mention I’d been promoted to General, at Stotsenberg. He said, “General, I got the call through.” He said, “I can get the lines in the States all set for a certain time.” He said, “Eleven o’clock on Christmas morning. Their time, eleven o’clock, I can get your call through.” So they cleared all the lines including the party line that was on Helen’s line. He said, “Don’t use the telephone.” They got my father to there. So sure enough the call went through and I talked to my wife. She found out I was alive. She’d thought I was dead. So that was a Christmas present for her.

That must have been awfully nice.

She was thinking that because she had been sent word by General Marshall that I was to evacuate the _____(?) Manila to Australia. He said that there’s a ship in the bay and he said make the best of it. So there was a little ship – a little inter-island boat called the Maxan – in Manila Bay. He said, “I’ve instructed the Red Cross to take all of the responsibilities of getting the ship painted white and so on. And go under the _____(?) of the Red Cross. But it will be a military ship. You will not take any officer except yourself and a nurse, and a chaplain.” Didn’t pick anything but Filipino people – nurses and doctors. So I lined up six Filipino doctors, and ten Filipino nurses, a Jesuit chaplain that I had available there – they could get him, and myself, and we had this boat. And we loaded this boat on the last day there and the day before – the last day of the year. We loaded that – we started loading that boat at ten in the morning. Got everything ready and at eleven thirty that night we sailed from Manila, Manila Bay. We passed Corregidor about two in the morning. [Unintelligible] didn’t come over. He sent Marshall. He said the General wasn’t feeling very good, but he said General MacArthur expressed his best wishes and for a safe trip. He said that he hoped to God he’d see us through and _____(?). So we went on through. We hugged the line as close as we could to the shores of Luzon because we thought if they did spot us and found us at least we could beach the boat and maybe save some lives that way. But apparently they didn’t expect anything to go out and by the time that we were out far enough down south, they hadn’t gotten down that far yet, so that we did get down safely.

How long did it take to get from Manila?

Well, I’m going to cover that in a minute.

We left, as I say, December the thirty-first at midnight. We passed on Corregidor. We went down past Borneo. We went down past the Celebes; we got to the Celebes – Makassar. And we had to get our own supplies. So we stopped there and then two days out of Makassar I had two of the boys die. I knew we were going to stop at Makassar, so I didn’t want to bury them at sea. It was hard to keep them, but we did. So when we got to Makassar we went and we buried them in the Dutch cemetery, one of their cemeteries there. And got supplies and so on, and got our instructions to try and make Java. We hadn’t gotten started from the docks there at Makassar when the words came in to cancel that and said the Japs have already gotten into Java. So try for Darwin. That’s the north beach of Australia.

So we went down through the Torres Strait and so on and landed at Darwin. And the Australians, of course, were very, very helpful. But when we got down there we found that the Japs had bombed there several times. And here we were with a load of 225 wounded and so on to put off on them and they were short of supplies and everything else, so then we got busy. And we got our orders cancelled and to go through the Straits and everything and go down to Sydney, Australia. So that we spent only twenty-four hours getting supplies. We went down through the Straits, landed at Sydney, Australia. The Australians were wonderful people. We put all of our patients in Australian hospitals, and then I was to proceed to Melbourne, Australia where the Army had already sent a staff from the United States.

Something I learned when I got down there that you drawed my attention to already was the fact that they had sent a previous staff down there of twenty-two officers and they had landed in Honolulu, of course, and the next stop was at Canton Island. That’s halfway between Honolulu and Australia. And they missed the runway at Canton and all twenty-two were killed. Twenty-two were killed. So they had to immediately then send another staff. So that by the time I got down there this staff had only been there three or four days. It took me twenty-seven days to get from our place there. (I’d given a paper about—) We were so glad to get there, you know. We had had our American flag floating through the night, evening, and through the storm and through the winds and when it got down it was all in tatters. And the patients all voted that I was to be the custodian of the flag that brought them all down to Australia to safety.

[Tape is changed]

This is the second part of the interview of General Percy J. Carroll on his experiences in World War II and elsewhere. The next voice is General Carroll.

Upon arriving at Melbourne, I reported to the Commanding General of the United States Troops. Of course, we only had a very few there; and was immediately appointed chief surgeon of the troops in Australia.

The Japs had already landed in New Guinea, between eight and ten thousand strong. They were all very, very large Japs – well trained in jungle warfare. Well able to use flame throwers, et cetera. And so we knew that there was going to be a lot of trouble ahead.

Did you say they were “large” Japs with a special—

Practically all were over six feet.

Oh, they were specially selected for this job.

Yes. Most of them were over six feet. Some, of course, were smaller but they were apparently trained in jungle warfare for this same operation.

I did not realize they had done that.

The Australians, of course, sent immediately what few troops they had up to meet the Japs as they knew they would come down from the northern part of New Guinea to the South to get down into Port Moresby and then be closer to the Australian shoreline. That left practically no Australian troops in Australia. The Australian Army had been sent to England at the beginning of the War in Europe and so they were naturally short of personnel, supplies, et cetera.

I briefed the staff, our American staff, on all the events when they attacked on December the eighth to the arrival in Australia. And they were very much interested in knowing what had happened to their friends – Those that went to Bataan and so on.

The future of our troops, of course, was very uncertain. We had a problem that we knew was very hard to solve. One thing we did know was the fact that we would not get very much equipment or supplies from the United States until the European theatre was well supplied, and we knew that we would have to depend upon what little the Australians had. But they were wonderful and shared very, very well with us.

Now, facts about Australia. It’s about the same size as the United States. The roads were practically nonexistent for any trucks or any heavy loads of any type. The railroads were very poor and very slow. At each state, or each province, the railroad gauge of tracks changed. Things had to be unloaded from one train to another. Union labor was such that they didn’t care how long it took regardless of what the supplies were or how urgent they were needed. They were very uncooperative. Airplanes were practically nonexistent. We couldn’t use anything. We had a few Dutch old planes there that we had to use but none for ourselves. Ships, of course, were the main source of supply for us to get things up further North in heavy loads.

Doesn’t Australia have a great desert in the middle?

In the center, in the center.

So that you want to go around roads and across the desert.

Practically, you want to stay at both shorelines if you are going to get anything done because the desert is very severe.

April 1942 General MacArthur arrived. We knew then that there would be some facts of what we may do, but still he said, at that time, we do not know. We can’t go into New Guinea after the Japs any more than we are at the present time because another force may strike Australia and we would be helpless if we have everything in the New Guinea campaign. But of course practically everything had to up there because the Japs had to be stopped or else they would have annihilated the Australian forces.

Was Papua in this as well as New Guinea? Papua?

Yes, yes. It’s practically the same.

We didn’t know whether the Japs would attack Australia – that was the main thing. In July 1942, two American National Guard Divisions, the 31st and 42nd, arrived and they were immediately sent up to New Guinea to reinforce the Australians. Now the medical department, of course, had to plan for the care and the evacuation of the sick and wounded in New Guinea because the Australians hadn’t _____(?) heretofore.

Very shortly after this we had received some general hospitals and evacuation hospitals. The Fourth General Hospital – Western Reserve went to Melbourne. The 118th General Hospital – John Hopkins Unit went to Sydney. The 42nd General Hospital – Maryland Unit went to Brisbane. The 105th General Hospital – Harvard Unit went to Gatton. Three 750-bed evacuation hospitals – tent hospitals – and one medical regiment arrived. We had them in reserve for a short time and then immediately sent them up to New Guinea to do the hospitalization [and] care of the sick and wounded. Now of course, one has to understand New Guinea. It is practically all jungles – jungles, hills, lakes, swamps, trees, animals, bugs, mosquitoes.

And Japs.

And Japs and natives. We had no airfields, of course, until we could possibly get troops up there enough to cut some strips for us. No roads. So everything had to be done by litter bearers, natives.

You mean you evacuated the sick and wounded by litter bearers?

Yes, we did that. [We] had to do that.


We couldn’t have any hospitals up there. The only care they got in the front lines was [from] the company aid men and battalion aid stations and they would prepare—

That sounds like before the Civil War, before Letterman [ed. note: Jonathan Letterman, the Medical Director of the Army of the Potomac] arranged for the hospitals and the wounded in the Civil War.

Well of course in the Civil War they had different terrain. Here you couldn’t get them up. They just couldn’t get anything up there except what they carried on their backs so that you had to depend on that. Of course, one of the big things that bothered us in the beginning up there was the malaria. We were short on Atabrine. It hadn’t been tested out properly and we didn’t know exactly what it was going to do and the quinine was in short supply. I was very much upset at the time that I found out that a ship, a Dutch ship, was in Darwin with five hundred tons of cinchona bark on it and they would sell it to me for a million dollars.

But they wouldn’t give it to you?

They wouldn’t give it to us. I tried to get the War Department to authorize the million dollars immediately, but two weeks later they authorized it but the Dutch ship had sailed with the bark and I lost the whole thing.

Do you know where they took it?

I didn’t have [any] idea where they took it. But if it went out on the waters very far the Japs must have gotten it. A little later on I almost got one of the Dutch hospital ships but the captain couldn’t close the deal and he couldn’t get the authority from Holland and so I lost that Dutch hospital ship.

Did you have many cases of blackwater fever there?

No, no, no. Malaria, dysentery were the chief things outside of the wounded. The supplies, of course – to get up to the front lines – was difficult. As I say, everything had to be carried up. We couldn’t get anything that they didn’t drop by air outside of the litter bearers and, of course, had difficulty getting those out of the jungles. So we were rather stripped, a little bit.

I tried to get the Surgeon General to authorize the making of khaki-colored bandages. Our soldiers in the combat there, with white bandage on them, were targets for the Japs. And I tried to explain to the Surgeon General’s office that it would be a very, very fine thing if we could get them into production. But they even laughed at us and said, “Use the white ones.” So that we had a hard time making out.

The Australians had a very good blood bank developed by the Australian Red Cross. So that we were able to get blood. I contacted Johnson and Johnson about sterile supplies and they went into production to making up a sterile pack for surgical operations of the various types, you see – they would have [one] for an abdominal or a head or maybe an amputation of a leg— They would have certain packs in which they put them in sterile containers and we did have those dropped by plane, so that the towels and everything else we would save and send back to the rear by the carriers and then we would wash them and sterilize them and use them in our hospitals in the rear.

The Germans did that in their army, too.

Well, I didn’t know that they did that. We did that for our front.

Now the morale – I was thinking about the morale – the morale in New Guinea was very high. The morale, that is, in our hospital – I’m talking about the medical department, because they were busy. The morale of our units in the Australian mainland was rather poor because they weren’t getting any cases and they were just sitting and they of course were arguing, “Why are we here and not getting any cases?” Well, I tried to tell them that thank God we didn’t fill them up with wounded. They ought to be happy that we didn’t have all those wounded.

These were the university units?

University units.

Did they report to you or was there another chain of command?

No, it was to [me] – as Chief Surgeon. I sent them to the places that we wanted them. Then they functioned under the base section surgeon, but through my office, so that I really controlled the general hospitals.

Was there any difficulty with them as opposed to regular army officers?

We didn’t have any— One unit in three would have a regular army officer at the head of it. The rest had their own army officers. The regular army officers had no trouble with them at all.

And you didn’t have any trouble with them in comparison with your regular units?

In no way at all. Well, as I say, the complaint that they had nothing to do. Well, supposedly they thought that we had an excess of hospitals. “Well,” I said, “when the time comes, we’ll thank God that we have the hospital.” We’ll have a _____(?). When the malaria, 100 percent cases of malaria, started coming through, we had to evacuate quite a few and the hospitals then started getting crowded.

Since you didn’t have quinine or Atabrine, how did you treat them?

We had quinine. We had quinine but it was a limited supplies. And Atabrine – limited supplies. We had to be very careful that we didn’t give too heavy doses and probably we didn’t [give] enough because we tried to have some for each person. But then, later on, we got a pretty good supply of Atabrine, and we had no trouble.

Now then, I’ll go back to the malaria and the treatment of these sick and wounded. Just, put in this place that General MacArthur sent for me and said that the War Department asked if we could take the First Marine Division from Guadalcanal and from the islands to the north – they were ridden with malaria and dysentery and wounded and so on – if we could take them and rehabilitate them. Well, luckily I had kept the Fourth General Hospital at Melbourne. And the Melbourne City Hospital had just been completed, a five hundred-bed hospital. The Australians turned it over to me, in its entirety. It was near a training camp of the Australian Army in which they had [containment] buildings that could accommodate about ten to twelve thousand people. So I moved the First Marine Division into the Fourth General Hospital and the [containment buildings] and they had very, very fine care, I’ll tell you that – because that Western Reserve Unit was a very high tech unit.

Now we worked out a system of supplies, we called it automatic system, in which units – they had bandages, various drugs of all types, were based upon a usage and the Surgeon General’s office would send that each month. They would send an increment to our needs. Now, of course, if we used any in excess or if we had an excess left over, we would telegraph them and have them change it, but it worked beautifully. In fact, the chemical warfare and the quartermaster and other units adopted the same system and it worked out very well.

In 1943 we were reinforced by the Sixth Army and the Eighth Corps. Now that added about thirty thousand troops to our command, which was very helpful. The bad part about that was that the Army wanted to work independently of the headquarters in Australia, but they wanted to draw on the forces of Australia – the supplies and the hospitals and everything else – but they didn’t want to cooperate to our demands.

They wanted to [have] their cake and eat it too.

So that we had a rather difficult time with them for a while. We converted a small ship into a hospital ship – that the Australians had this little excess ship – and we converted that into a hospital ship that came to our advantage a great deal in our transporting bad cases from New Guinea into Brisbane and so on.

A little incident happened that we were very sorry about. Our Air Corps – we only had a few planes. But the goal was the Jap station on New Britain and we were bombing it from time to time and accidentally we bombed a Jap hospital ship. And we had communications from the missionaries in New Britain, they were keeping our people informed of the Jap movements and everything by radio and so on. And we got word from them that this hospital ship had been bombed and that we might have retaliation by the Japs. So I went to General MacArthur and said, “I reckon that we need to send an apology to the Japs saying that it was a true error and we will see that it was not done again.” But he wouldn’t do it. He said, “We won’t communicate in any way, shape or form.” About two weeks later the Japs sunk an Australian hospital ship and we lost about four hundred and fifty lives. So I think that had we done – I don’t know whether the Japs would have paid any attention or not – but they had never attacked anything prior to that.

The Japs were operating outside of Australia with one-man submarines and those submarines were about thirty feet, thirty-five feet long and they carried two torpedoes. And they were dangerous because they could get inside the barrier reef in which most of the shipping took place but they couldn’t—

They couldn’t get back again, it was like suicide.

So that they sank very few of our ships or anything. So we had very good luck.

Was General MacArthur generally a pretty stiff person who wouldn’t bend, such as to apologize?

No, no, no. He was a good operate with. (I tell [about] him in different places.) I had three occasions in which he rejected my recommendations and they kind of bounced back. The last time something came up he said, “Well, I’ve had two so far, so I’ll accept your recommendation.”

After we started getting wounded and so on we learned a lot about the types of hospital that we should have. Luckily, I had gotten enough evacuation hospitals and small camp hospitals that were in tents. Hospitals that had to depend upon permanent buildings were practically worthless, so when our general hospitals had to be moved up we had no place to put them.

Again, they found that out in the Civil War, too.

That’s right. They had some of that. But not knowing – as I say getting back to the same thing – not knowing how long we would be there, we ordered prefabricated units from the Australians and they got busy and we did put three or four of the hospitals in New Guinea in prefabricated buildings.

But when they were ordered out, they had to abandon everything. [We] had no tents then, but in the meantime we had requested tents for the general hospitals too – from the States and we got it.

But anyhow, I would recommend in all future – and I hope we don’t have any wars, but in future wars – if we have to send units away that we depend more upon on units in tentage and that we improve our tentage and have mosquito doors and so on incorporated in the tents so that you wouldn’t have to hang them over cots and all that stuff, but if they were put so that it could be folded under and things – they have that type. I also recommended that even if we had tent hospitals – if we would put up prefab kitchens and operating room facilities and everything else in tents it would help a great deal. So we did some of that in New Guinea.

Now, early in September 1943 – I better go back a little further and state that when our troops went into action, of course, we started getting a lot of casualties. And our only way of getting them back was through the litter bearers back to the hospitals, sometimes twenty-four hours after being wounded. I was up there and saw these boys, sometimes abdominal wounds, chest wounds, legs almost shot off, and hemorrhage and so on, in shock – in which they had to depend just upon company aid people to take care of them.

Did that cause a lot of infection? Did you have a great deal of infection?

Oh, yes, we had a lot of infections that way because they had no experienced people.

And was penicillin available? It was just coming in.

Yes, it was just coming in. It was just coming. But we had very little of it.

How about sulfa drugs?

We had sulfa drugs. We had sulfa drugs and we depended more on that. But after I returned from the last trip up into the jungles, I went to General MacArthur. I went to General Marshall, who was General MacArthur’s chief, and told him I had a plan. I said, “It sounds silly and I’ll get some objections to it.” But I said, “I want surgery in the front lines.” I said, “I want surgery where it’s needed.” I said, “If a man needs treatment – he’s in shock and everything else – why carry him back and he die on the way? Why not at least give him a chance?” He said, “What have you got in mind?” I said, “I have a portable, surgical hospital in mind” – which I had thought of that after I saw the wounded. I thought we’d better carry some stuff up to these people. So I went to the Fourth General Hospital and we talked it all over and their surgical staff helped me and I said, “You people go over instruments. Tell me the fewest number of instruments of the kind that we could possibly have that we could carry this up, use them for major operations in the front lines.” And through their cooperation we worked up – I had no personnel, of course, so I took personnel from the general hospitals. I took surgical teams. We had to take men that – I put the limit at thirty-two, thirty-two years of age because they had to carry packs as well as anybody else, their own packs plus other equipment with the litter bearers.

We organized that unit. We got them up there. They did surgery in the front lines. They kept cases sometimes twenty-four hours. [They] got them back on litters and many, many of them survived the trip back. So then everybody wanted portable surgical [units] so we had a hard time supplying even the Air Corps when they went out on establishing fields.

Could you see the statistical difference between the times you brought them back to be operated on?

Oh, yes. In fact, very few serious cases lived because [there was] no way to immobilize serious fractures or anything else. No way to treat shock with these litter bearers carrying them on. Any fractures, of course, with that jarring and everything else would traumatize all the tissues, cause hemorrhages and so on. So that we got very good results. General MacArthur was very, very high in his praise, as you see in the decoration there – [he] thought that we saved plenty of lives that way.

Now as I say, early in September, 1943 the Japs in New Guinea were defeated, they were practically annihilated. They wouldn’t surrender. They were very fine soldiers. They were very adept at using flame throwers, they were good riflemen. They were good bayonet people. Our people had a heck of a time combating them. But the Australians and our men were pretty well equal to the occasion, although those boys had no jungle training, but they stood their ground. And you know that, of course, the Japs had no food – they were practically starved out. We heard rumors that they had been eating their dead. We don’t know – I don’t know.

Sitting here now we know the outcome of all that, but I remember living through it and worrying very much whether the Japs were going to be successful or not.

Well, they had the Australians, who were obliged to get them themselves. [Or] the Australians would have been destroyed. When our men got in there, that made the real difference and they just went right on up and starting going up.

Now we had made plans for the evacuation of our wounded to Australia. I asked for two ambulance planes from the States. [I] asked them to rush them to me, which they did, but when they arrived the Air Corps took them. They were fine, modern planes, and they said they needed them and they couldn’t give us the officers to run them, so they took them. But they said they would fix their transport planes so that we could put litters in them, and so that served just as well because the planes bringing supplies up to New Guinea brought patients back so that we worked out that system very well. We also worked out a hospital unit of a hundred beds on motor trucks in which we were able to then supply in the Australian district where we had to send troops on special missions. We were able to supply hospitalization to them by this unit, and they had their own electric power, and their own drugs, their own store.

What did the trucks do? You didn’t put the patients on the trucks?

No, we had tents. We had tents. They were just the basic unit: the operating room, the sterilizing room, and so on. So that they worked out a very good unit – plus the tents, they’ve been in big trucks. So that it worked out very well.

Now are there any questions you’d like to ask on Australia?

I’m very impressed by all the things which you worked out there, which we now take for granted in military medicine. Such as operating teams that go into the field rather than bringing the patients back. I had no idea that they were worked out in Australia.

Well, we had them right in the front lines. Sometimes they were operating with bullets going through the tents. They tell me – I didn’t see them but I mean the reports that they gave me. And they were operating with flashlights until they were able to get better lanterns, clipped the lights up there. Of course, later on we improved as we went along and we were getting more things. And also, when the American troops got up there we were able to cut these [air]strips in which we would get small planes up and we started evacuating the real serious, critical cases by planes back to the rear areas.

You mentioned that the majority of cases were malaria and dysentery. Did you see anything like tsutsugamushi disease, which was so important north into the Japanese Islands?

No, no. We didn’t.

And into the Kurils. You didn’t see any of that?

No, no. Malaria was 90 percent of our trouble. Of course, the Australians were completely— all of them had had malaria, and so did our boys. All had malaria. As I say, when we got more supplies, we were able to put it under control. We didn’t have to evacuate over, say about 2 percent, 3 percent of those that had serious cases of malaria. And we didn’t evacuate them to the States, we evacuated them to Australia and then we would send them back to the place.

Did they have many secondary effects of the malaria? Did they have splenomegaly?

That was too early, I don’t think we— I, of course, reaching the point where I had three years in it and I’m getting to this point but I wanted to know if there’s any other information about— Australia.

I’m not curious. I’m just very impressed with all the things you did there.

I told Dr. Schwartz, you know, that I had a little difficulty with consultants – the consultants complained that I didn’t want them to go out to visit the various units as much. That wasn’t my trouble. My trouble was to keep them in the office once in a while. I mean – to get them out once in a while instead of sitting in the office. Also, I felt that if I had consultants out I wanted them to be up where the injuries were taking place, where they were handled primarily, not go down to Johns Hopkins unit and try and tell their surgical people how to do surgery. That’s the thing that I had wanted to avoid. I had, say, one surgical consultant and I don’t think that he was any better than any of the surgical people of these various hospitals. They were all from—

Where did you get the consultants?

They were assigned from the United States.

And were they regular army?

No, no. They were civilians.

And they were consultants to the medical portion or to the administration of the medical [section]?

No, to me. They were my consultants.

Helen Carroll:  Consultants at large. Like they were in Europe.

Yeah, they would go to inspect the whole theatre.

Were they inspecting it for the way in which you treated the patients or such things as the way in which you got equipment and supplies to them, or both?

No – practically, like you said – if they find a place that’s low on supplies then they would report [that] to my office.

Like the Inspector General.

Like the Inspector General. They were supposed to say if they found a hospital that had been decimated of their surgical personnel to recommend to me to get a replacement, see. But also one of the consultants, I read later on, criticized the fact that he couldn’t replace – he couldn’t take a surgical man from one hospital and put in another. Well, that was the function of administration; you’d have havoc with General Hospital 4 having their people taken away to General Hospital 17 and so on.

You can’t have two masters anyway.

No. So that I had to be the arbiter as to where they would go. And I, more or less, depended upon the staffs of these general hospitals. Who was I to go in and tell the Chief of Surgery in [Johns] Hopkins University [unit] up there how to do surgery? The idea was – how to handle it. My idea was to see that they were well supplied, see that they had the personnel, see? And that we got the cases to them in the best possible way and that we got them evacuated properly. That was the duty that we wanted to assume. But I say the consultants were very— Well, in fact, one consultant said they ought to give the consultants – make them all bigger than generals, see? Then they’d have enough authority to change personnel. Well, I wouldn’t allow anyone to go into my hospital and change personnel.

They wanted line authority and you wanted to give them staff authority.

Staff authority— in their own way to report to me – first to report to the hospital commander that they didn’t think that they were getting proper work or [that] satisfactory work was being done. Try to work out what would be done, what could be done. Then report to me if they found anything, and let me go up or let me send another officer up to see – to work out the best way we could.

But I had to laugh at the idea. At the time I was getting ready to leave, now – as I say, I had spent a year in the Philippines and two here and I was pretty well worked out. So General MacArthur, on the 15th of December, 1943, General MacArthur called into his office the officers that had been in the Philippines and came down and had spent three, four, five years [and asked] whether they’d like to go home or not. So practically everybody said yes, as long as they had sufficient personnel to relieve them. So I said, “Yes, I would like to go” because I was tired and the Surgeon General’s office said that they had a good replacement and that I’d be glad to go home. So I received orders from General MacArthur to proceed home. I was supposed to leave – I got those orders on December the fifteenth. And I was supposed to leave, oh, about the nineteenth or twentieth. I think that was on a Sunday night.

In time to get home for Christmas.

In time to – I wanted to get home in time for Christmas. I had made all the arrangements. Of course, I had to call on General MacArthur to say goodbye and so on. It was Monday night; the plane was to leave. Monday night the plane would leave at midnight. And about Saturday morning I got a call from the Air Corps transportation people. [They] said, “General, we’ve got a much better plane going out on Sunday night and if you’d rather switch, we can switch you to it, on Sunday night.” I said, “Gee, I’d love to do it, but I said I have to call on General MacArthur Monday morning. I’ve already made the appointment. So I just will have to just pass it up.” So I took the plane out on Monday night and we stopped at Canton Island, we stopped at Honolulu and, of course, we were bound for Oakland. And we made a very nice trip. And when we were getting off the plane at Oakland, one of the officers said, “It’s a good thing you didn’t come in last night.” I said, “Why?” He said, “Everybody was killed.” They hit the cliffs at Oakland. Fifty-two people.

After going that whole distance.

The whole distance – fifty-two people were killed on that plane. So that I think that the Lord was—

Was looking after you.

—was good to me that time. So that we made that trip back. I got home and my wife was very pleased to see me. And my father.

I’m sure. Then were you still in the army at that time?

Oh, I was permanent in the army.

And where did they assign you—?

That’s what I’m coming to now. My orders were issued for me to report to Hines, Illinois to a new hospital, Vaughan General Hospital – it was just being built. It was next to the Veterans’ Hospital. So that I was to take command of that hospital and after spending a week at home, why, my wife and I went on up to see what we were going to get into. And it was a very fine fifteen hundred-bed hospital.

Not too far from St. Louis then.

Not so far, not so terribly far. And a hundred and fifteen buildings, fifteen hundred patients, a complete outfit there, occupied a hundred and ten acres. And I was very, very well-pleased with the set-up.

Having the veterans next door to us, they were able to help us with supplies and things like that as we needed them. And we had good relations with them. They helped us and we helped them. The organizations throughout the state immediately got busy. The Women’s Club of Illinois did magnificent work. In fact, the first thing they wanted to do was to put up – I think you call it an arboretum, a [place] for flowers. They put up a twenty-five thousand dollar arboretum there. To say they treat their psychiatric cases – the psychiatry man wanted one so they put that one up.

Twenty-five thousand dollars in those days was a lot of money.

Yes. Well, the Hallicrafters people wanted a radio shop in there so they put up a hundred thousand dollar radio shop. Mrs. Joseph Leather, of Leather Bags, lost a son – a navy _____(?) during the war – and she wanted a project. And so she sent out a team with leather and everything else – the tools to teach them how to make handbags and teach them how to do leather work. The B’nai Brith furnished, I think, twenty-five solariums – with complete— their different lodges, different people. [They] took them over. The people in Chicago were just wonderful – they took care of our people. We had a little difficulty in Chicago. They treated our people too nicely and we had a lot of A-W-O-Ls. The men didn’t want to come home on time and, of course, the War Department didn’t like A-W-O-Ls, regardless of how they were incurred or anything else.

So the commanding general of the core area got after all the hospitals around that area. So we said, “General Carroll, we have to work out a system, that’s all.” I said, “We’ll work out one.” So we worked out a plan that anybody that went on A-W-O-L, all he had to do if he couldn’t get back, was to make a telephone call, collect, we would take the call and we would extend it automatically. Or, if he was down home, either he could send a telegram or have the Red Cross send a telegram, asking [for] an extension and we would get it. As long as we received word, he would be extended. But if we didn’t get word, if he didn’t cooperate with us, he’d be locked up and he wouldn’t get another pass for a long time to come. Well, our rate went down just immediately, so the general got out orders that every other hospital in the area was to immediately adopt the same rule. In fact, he sent the commanding generals of two of the hospitals down to get our records to see actually how we handled the case.

We had some very prominent visitors, of course, entertainers. I can’t think of the— Eddie Cantor, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Kay Kyser, all those people put on their shows. We had the cast of “Oklahoma!” put the entire show-at our gymnasium down there. I can’t think of the blind and deaf woman’s name.

Helen Keller?

Helen Keller. She came down and she visited, particularly our blind boys. We had about twenty-five blind. And she came down and they were very interested in how she got along. She was deaf and blind.

Did you have many quadriplegics?

Well, I was just going to come to that now. I think it was just about the early beginning of ’45 the War Department sent me notice that I was to take three hundred and fifty paraplegics. Three hundred and fifty. Now some were quadriplegics, but three hundred and fifty. And I then had to immediately start plans to get different work done. I had to get ramps. I had to get hot pipes covered so that they wouldn’t get into showers and get burned and all that. And we had to get pulleys put over their beds where they lay, so that it was quite a job. I hope the union people won’t think bad of me but I have to tell that I had trouble with the unions. They didn’t want to put their men out there. We had to have concrete work, electrical work, carpenter work and they said they would only be able to give us Saturdays and Sundays at triple wages to do the work. And I said, “I can’t do that.” And “I have to have it done right away and I have to have it done completely.” So I went down to see Mayor [Edward J.] Kelly and I told him the problem. And he said, “Of course, you see Chicago is a very strong union place and they’re very much supporters of mine. The only thing I can tell you is to do what you think best. But I’m not going to advise you about using non-union labor or anything else.” He said, “I know what you came down for.” And I said, “Yes, and that’s exactly [why], because I’m going to use non-union labor.” So I told the union leaders that I was going to get the work done and now if they didn’t do it, I’d have it done anyhow. So, they didn’t believe me.

No attempt to put them in the army, and then assign them to doing it?

No, no, no. You couldn’t do that. We had to have an enormous force in there to get ready. So I put ads in the paper, and we got so many carpenters and electricians and everything else that wanted to work there that we put them up – we had some vacant barracks, of course. We put them at the hospital and [we] fed them and everything else and they did marvelous work. We did find several times – well, two times – the unions had sent in people to try and find out who they were that were working. And so I got my military police to watch them and we locked them up for twenty-four hours and then I would warn them, if I ever caught you again, I said, “I’d put you in a ward and I’d probably lose the key.” So I didn’t have any more trouble with them.

And they didn’t try any sabotage?

No, well, they did picket the fence. They did picket the front gate and so I had a problem on my hands there because a lot of people didn’t want to come through the pickets. And I couldn’t put troops out on the street. I couldn’t put any troops [anywhere] except in my own bailiwick. So that I went down to see Mayor Kelly again and told him my problem. And he said, “Well, I can help you in that.” He said, “Just a minute.” He called the sheriff. And he said, “How about making General Carroll a deputy sheriff?”

With a nice big star on your shoulder?

And [the sheriff] said all right so I got my star, my—


—badge as a deputy sheriff and then I was able to swear in any amount of soldiers I wanted, so I could send my soldiers out a couple of blocks away so we never had any union people picketing any more. So those things were taken care of.

I had another little thing I didn’t like with some of the entertainers. I don’t know why they got the idea that the soldiers were more attracted to filthy things than they were to nice things, see. So I [thought] several of them got a little bit raw. And, of course, I had the mothers and sisters and wives of the soldiers in there and _____(?) entertainers to see. Some of them even complained about it. Buddy Clark was— do you remember Buddy Clark, the entertainer? Do you remember Buddy Clark? Singer. He was a singer. He was master sergeant; he was in charge of getting the entertainments because he knew the ropes. And so I said, “Buddy, you tell everybody that comes to this hospital that’s going to entertain that I would not stand for any filthy entertainment. I would close it down.” So Eddie Cantor came to me before he went on. He said, “General, I understand what you want.” He said, ‘You won’t get anything out of mine. I have a very good program.” I said, “All right, Eddie. That’s fine. That’s exactly what we want.” And Jack Benny laughed about it. He said, “You’re not going to find anything raw in mine.” I got Benny back three times.

The good ones didn’t have trouble with it.

They didn’t have any trouble. But Kay Kyser got pretty raw. I told Kay – I had Buddy Clark tell him that if it continued on the program that I would turn off the radio. See, we didn’t have television back then. So that Kay then straightened it out. But he was mad at me. About a month later I got a telegram from him, asking me if [I’d like him] to come up and entertain again. I got him on the telephone. Kay said, “I’ll give you a fine program.” He came up and gave us a magnificent program. So that it was just let them understand that the soldiers were not filthy minded all the time. They might have some things that they do, but—

These were the days when people were generally more careful about what they said in public than is true today.

That’s right. I will say that Senator Scott Lucas, who is now deceased, was very, very helpful to me in getting things done. Also I had a very nice thing done by the owner of the Chicago American – I guess it was – William Randolph Hearst. He found all the Jewish people – the B’nai Brith’s and those people – were taking things over at the hospital, that is, our solariums and shops and everything else. So he sent his editor out to see me and said what could he do? Well, I had thought several times if I could just get somebody to help these boys get home on passes, see. They didn’t have the money to go home and we couldn’t give them funds. They were on their own. If I just had some way of paying their way home. When William Randolph Hearst talked about what he could do, I told the editor – I explained my problem. I said, “Could we get a little fund?” I said, “I can’t get the funds. You can’t give it to me, because I’d have to turn it right in.” “But,” I said, “if you would have the fund down there where you would issue that check to that— we’d give you the name of the person that’s to go. If you would make that arrangement with us, why we’d be very, very happy and we could help a lot of people.”

What was the average length of stay of the patient in your hospital?

_____(?). That’s hard to sat because if you had some of these orthopedic cases—

They might be there for months.

Long times. Amputation cases.

Did they come from all over the United States or just locally?

All over. They have _____(?) They came from all over. But they tried to get the local people in our hospital so that they would be near their relatives.

If they needed to go home some of them had to go to all the way to California or to Florida.

That’s right – across the country. So they did try to do that. They did that to the best of their [ability].

Getting back to William Randolph Hearst. The editor called me up the next day and said that Mr. Hearst had put a ten thousand dollar fund in the office of the Chicago-American and we could start any time to use it. Well, I had a fifteen hundred-bed hospital but I always had about seven or eight hundred cases out on furlough – out on sick leave. They couldn’t do anything with them – they’d have to wait, they’d change casts later on and do things. So that I made arrangements with the various services that we could keep track of more or less how long they were going to put a person out on furlough and then we would be able to use their beds for new cases. So that we ran, instead of fifteen hundred, we generally ran about two thousand or twenty-two hundred patients – but they were—


—moveable. They were out on leave and so on. And not only that, but it helped our hospitals’ diet in that we got the money from those people who were out on leave, we got that to add that to our mess. Another thing about the hospital – we had work troops from German prisoners. They sent three hundred and fifty German prisoners to our hospital They were used practically all for cleaning purposes. They had details of cleaning, they were to keep the place [clean]. And they kept it clean, I’ll tell you that.

Weren’t some of them able to do some of the work that you had non-union people doing?

We didn’t get those till after that. We didn’t get those until after that. Two of them said they were bakers. And my wife thought it would be nice to have them make some rolls some time for us. Well, they’d been accustomed to cooking in the German army – for a hundred fifty, two hundred people. So, Helen said, “Yes, make some rolls for us.” When she came back from the hospital the rolls were all over the kitchen! We didn’t know what to do. So we had to send word over to the mess sergeant to send over a truck and get the rolls. (Laughter)

But they were very, very good soldiers – I will say the Germans were very fine soldiers, they had good morale. I can tell this now because they can’t do anything about it. They were on a ration. They were not supposed to get any sugar and they’re not supposed to get any real sort of foods, supplies, or anything else. And I had to be very careful of what I did about that, but I knew that these boys were working and working hard and they weren’t going to do too good on the ration that was set out for them. I got their sergeants – they had five, I think, master sergeants and two lieutenants that knew everything about the German army and what they ate and everything else. And so I got them to get up a list of things that they knew that we could serve, but that we weren’t going to give to them. But we’d serve that in our mess and we then instructed our mess sergeant to cook a very large supple and get an extra supply in there. And our people weren’t too fond of it, so as a rule, as soon as the mess was over, down went all these things to the German mess so that we had—

Sausages and sauerkraut.

Yes, all the things that [they liked]. And sugar. We accidentally let a couple of sacks of sugar once in a while be dropped near their barracks there – in where they were all working and, of course, that disappeared. So that we had very, very good moral support. Not one ever tried to escape. Not one tried to escape, that is, that we knew of. But once Colonel Franklin Walton came up to me and said we’ve got a German soldier pretty badly beaten up. And I said, “What happened?” He said, “His own people held a court-martial and beat him.” They had a rubber hose and they gave him a good beating. He was going to go absent, so they said you’re going to spoil everything for us. And that’s the last and only time we ever had any—

Doctor Walton was under you?

He was my chief of surgery.

Oh, because we just got his papers in our archives this past week.

And he was a very fine organizer. Very good. He did a lot of surgery himself, but he picked men that did good work and he was extra fine in his work and I can’t speak too much praise of him.

The [paraplegics], of course – they were hard to take care of. Three hundred-fifty [paraplegics] is quite a load so that I knew the linen proposition and the beds and everything would be a problem so the engineer and myself got together and I built a pavilion. I guess I had twenty beds – of metal beds, sides to them and everything else, all fixed with hot and cold water, sprays and everything else. And these soiled patients, instead of trying to take care of them in bed, we’d really put them on litters that we also had reserved for that purpose, took them down to the cleaning room and they got nice baths. A nice shower bath is what it was, soap and everything else and sent them back to their nice clean beds.

Did you have any trouble getting enough nurses?

No, I got all the nurses I needed and, of course, we had the Women’s [Auxiliary], the Women’s Corp – the WACs. I was supposed to tell the graduate nurse what the patients said. They liked the WACs better than they did the nurses because they complained that the nurses wanted to sit at the desks and record the temperatures and the WACs came and made them comfortable. So then I got after the chief nurse and told her just what the complaints were and what she should do. So then she got after the WACs – and they buckled up so that they turned out to be a very, very fine—

She turned out after the WACs or after the nurses?

After the WACs. I mean after the nurses. Yes. And then the nurses came to me and said they were happy about the whole thing because they—

They went back to being a nurse.

—they had better contact with the [patients], yes – instead of sitting at the desks all the time.

This is a problem we still hear about in hospitals.

You hear about that? These girls were very, very fine and they were well trained. I can’t say too much for them.

Did you have your own orderlies? Did you train the orderlies?

Some were trained. Some were partially trained and before we actually opened we had very, very many classes in which we trained just by bedside and everything else so that even the girls, the WACs, had very little training but they soon caught on.

On-the-job training.

Yes. They did very well. A funny thing happened about that A-W-O-L proposition. Helen and I, one night about nine o’clock, we were driving along our fence. My fence, of course, was about half a mile to a mile long. We were driving down – getting a little air – and we were about half-way down when we saw two soldiers coming over the fence. (Laughs) And, it was dark. They came out and flagged us down, see – flagged us down for a ride. One soldier looked in the car and he said, “Oh, my God! It’s the General.” (Laughter) This other soldier stood there and he shook. Helen said, “I thought he was going to shake himself to pieces – he couldn’t talk, he couldn’t— He just shook.” And so I said, “Where were you two young fellows going?” After they were able to talk they said, “We were just going out to see some friends.” I said, “Why didn’t you ask for a pass?” And they said, well, they’d thought that they’d had a pass last week and the sergeant probably wouldn’t give them one. I said, “Well, now you could’ve tried, couldn’t you?” I said, “Now what you do. You obey this to the letter. You climb back over that fence and you go and you waken your sergeant up. He’s in bed now probably. But if isn’t in bed, you see him. But if he’s in bed, you waken him and you tell him what you did and what the General told you to do.”

That sergeant is going to love them. (Laughs)

Then I said, “You report to me tomorrow morning at eleven o’clock in my office and I want you to tell me exactly what happened.” So he came and he told me. He said, “General, I wish you would have bawled me out instead of the Sergeant.” (Laughs)

I’m sure.

There was something else in there about the things that I had that I— Can we stop that for a minute?

How long were you at the Vaughan General Hospital?

I was there from January the first of ’44 to October the first of ’46. Entire [year] ’44, ’45, and almost ’46. That was almost three years.

By that time we had finished with the war in the Far East as well as the one in Europe.

By the time I retired, yes. Now while I was at Vaughan Hospital and we were getting to discharge all of our patients – getting rid of them – the Regent of the St. Louis University School of Medicine came up to see me and said that the president of the university would like for me to come after retirement to come down to the medical school and be an assistant dean with the view later on of taking over. As dean, you see. At the time I was fifty-six and I didn’t know whether I wanted to retire absolutely and do nothing or just take something part-time or what I should do. But anyhow, I got to thinking it won’t hurt to go down and see if I could do anything. You see, I had been there from 1926 to 1930 as Professor of Military Science and Tactics and I had taught Hygiene to the medical students, Hygiene and Public Health. And I knew the routine pretty well of the medical school. And, then of course, I had done my surgery and had commanded hospitals, knew about the hospitalization end of it and thought [that] well, I might be able to make good progress down there. So my wife and I talked it over and we thought we’d accept it. So, after I retired, I went down – it was in, I think, around in February of ’47. And I reported down there and I was made assistant dean, all right, but after I’d spent about six months I saw that there was no prospect in the dean retiring.

Who was the Dean?

Father [Alphonse] Schwitalla. He thought at first – he was not very well – he thought at first, apparently, that he would retire in a couple of years and I currently was to be groomed for that. But—

He got better.

He got better and I saw that there was no chance of me [taking over], and I wasn’t going to stay on as assistant dean for any long time. So I told him that I wanted to get out, so I did. So I got out and—

When was this?

That was still in the latter part of ’47. I just spent six months [there]. I went in February and got out around October or November. And Helen and I took a ride down through the South and started riding around. We got the idea [that] it wasn’t so much fun after all to be retired.

To be retired. Yes, I know the problem.

So, I went back to St. Louis and thought, “Well, I’ll just wait and see what happens” – there’s no hurry about anything. One day I got a telephone call from the Regent of Creighton University.

In Omaha.

In Omaha. And Father Crimmins [ed. note: Fr. Crimmins was regent of the Creighton University School of Medicine] said he’d like to come down and talk to me. So I said I’d be glad to talk to him. So he came down and said, “I’ll get to it right away. President [William H.] McCabe knows you very well and would like you to come up as dean of the medical school.” I said, “Well, I’m not an educator. I’m not a medical educator.” And I’ve not had any experience as a dean – I’ve been an assistant dean – but I didn’t do it much at all. I don’t know why particularly you want me.” He said, “I’m going to be crude about it and tell you – he wants a hatchet man. He wants a hatchet man.”

What was he trying to get rid of?

Well, I’m coming to that. He explained everything to me. And so I said, “Well, I’ll go and talk to the president. But I want it understood that if I go, that I must have absolute control of the medical school.” I said, “Pardoning my _____ to you, Regent.” I said, “You’re at the medical school and everything else. But,” I said, “I’d only go because if I was going to be responsible to bring the school back to its standards, I had to do it and do it my way and not to be contradicted or [have] someone over me that would—

Countermand your orders.

— countermand my orders and stuff.” So, I said, “Let’s talk it over with Father McCabe.” So he gave me the same story practically as Father Crimmins – that the school was in bad condition due to the fact that all of the departments were in the hands of a clique. They had been there for years; they were not interested particularly in medical education. They were particular in holding their prestige in the community of being head of the department of medicine, head of the department of surgery, and head of the department of neuropsychiatry and so on. That was the system. The head of the department of surgery was an urologist. And in medicine it was an elderly man – he was a very fine internist and everything else, but he wasn’t active enough – and he didn’t want to take his time up. They were busy men and so on.

They had private practices as well as—

Private practice. That’s it. The whole thing was gone over with me carefully. And I said, “I’ll have to tell you, Father McCabe, the same thing I did Father Crimmins – that if I agree to come, I will only come for three years. I made that three years because I think I owe that to my wife and myself as that time to get out and quit.” I said, “I’ll only give you three years. I also feel this way – that if I can’t raise the standard of the school in three years I’m not going to do it after that because I’m getting older and that I don’t have what it takes to do it, so that it would be better to get someone else. But three years, I feel that I could at least get it to a standard that’s acceptable.” So I said, “It must be on the basis that I have absolute control. Also that my working relations with the university hospital must be almost the same – that I must be able to control the staff there if I’m going to get any place because if the sisters don’t cooperate with me I can’t do a thing.”

Was the university hospital under the medical school?

Under the medical school. Under the university, really. It was really just a speaking arrangement. But it was a university hospital.

Did it report to the dean of the medical school?

To the dean of the medical school. So I said “I want to go out and talk to the sister at St. Joseph’s – Sister Cassentia – and find out if she agrees with me.” (I have her letter in my files.) She said, “You couldn’t have said anything better. That’s just what we want. Somebody that will take the responsibility of seeing that we get the work done here.” She said, “It hasn’t been done and we’re in a bad fix.” She said, “Anything you want, you can get. We’ll just cooperate a hundred percent.” So I went to St. Catherine’s, which wasn’t a university hospital but which was a cooperating hospital, and they said the same. But I couldn’t put people in there – that is, staff members – because they had a mixed staff. They just _____(?), really. But St. Joseph was entirely our university staff. But they said. “Yes, they would cooperate the same way.” Then the Salvation Army people had been working with us and they also would agree to stricter regulations and everything.

What was the Salvation Army doing?

Obstetrics. Obstetrics.

Obstetrics. The unwed mothers?

Unwed mothers. We got quite a few obstetrical cases and they cooperated beautifully with us. So that I finally told Father McCabe that I would accept the thing. I found that when I got there, of course, the first thing I wanted to know was what were the other medical schools all doing. I have the bulletin over here – the bulletin of Creighton – [and I] went over it and I tabulated the hours everybody was in physiology, anatomy, everything. I tabulated what every school I get a catalog from – Washington University, everybody – and then I got theirs and I did the same thing. And then I selected the intermediate – so many hours at something. If one [school] had one hundred fifty and the standard was seventy-five and the others had a hundred and twenty-five, I would take the seventy-five. I’d be down the middle, so that way I made the departments kind of change their schedules and so on to meet these. Then I found that the students were spending 90 percent of their time in the classrooms and not in the hospitals. Well, I’d say 80 percent of the time. The only time they were actually getting any practical experience were a few in the clinics. Well, these doctors did not want to turn over their lectures to anybody. They wanted to lecture, lecture, lecture.

How about the laboratories? Were the students getting any laboratory [experience]?

In the school, yes. In the school they were getting the regular laboratory work, but they weren’t making contact, except in the clinics, with any patients.

Throughout the four years or just in the last two years?

Throughout the four years. They had people lecturing there in medicine – they’ve been lecturing at those same lectures for _____(?) twenty years. As a result, when I looked at these other catalogs and found out where they were and everything else, I immediately then cut out all lectures. I said, “The only lectures they’re going to get is when we have a special thing, and that’s all.” I said, “You’re going to be assigned textbooks, you re going to be assigned subjects, and-you’re going to be examined on them. But you’re going to have to dig them out yourself. But you’re going to spend your time in the hospitals.” So we arranged, and we put students in St. Joseph’s and St. Catherine’s and I even had the St. Elizabeth’s in the capital there.



Was this from the very first year the students were there or only their last two years? In the hospitals.

No, I didn’t put them in the first two years. I hadn’t gotten to that yet. I would’ve had the sophomores in later, but I never got that far. I had my troubles getting the juniors and the seniors, see. They were classes of seventy-five each. That’s a hundred fifty – about a hundred and fifty juniors [and a] hundred and fifty seniors – and you had to have quite a lot of hospital space for those. But as I say the staff fell into it beautifully. Well, then I’d only been there about a month – six weeks rather – then I went to the president and said, “Now I have the line-up of the new appointments.” I said, “I’ll talk to the ones that I’m going to relieve and tell them why. And then I will get the new ones and talk it over with them, and then I’ll have you make the appointments.” He said, “That’s fine.”

So I got them together and I got young men. I got young men – people that I’d say were all between thirty-five and forty-five – they had enough experience. And my chief of surgery that I got was a Mayo [Clinic] man – he’d been at the Mayo for six years, and a man named Dr. McCarthy. And I got a young psychiatrist. And obstetrics – I got the same man in obstetrics and gynecology that we had because he was a very fine, fine person. I had a little experience with him in that his son wanted to get into medical school and he was running a C-minus grade. And we were refusing to get down to C’s if we could possibly get the standard up better with A’s and B’s – if which we did we’d had applications of a thousand for seventy-five places, so that we could be fairly [selective]. And here’s a man that had been teaching – he had the gynecology and obstetric staff, head of the department for about ten years, good man – and he had a son—

Who wasn’t so good.

—who wasn’t so good. I was, of course, in charge of the admissions committee and the staff said they didn’t want to violate the rule – they didn’t want to break the rule of taking in less than a B. Well, I was on the other hand, sitting here that I had to deal with obstetrics and gynecology and everything else.

Nebraska, I found an underhanded way – an unknown way, rather, not underhanded [but] unknown way- had contacted the boy and said that they would take him. Well, if Creighton turned him down and [the University of] Nebraska there in Omaha took him as a student, it wouldn’t be very well for his father to be still staff of the [medical school]. I was afraid his father would resign. So I immediately said, “No, we’ll take him.” He turned out to be a very fine student, in fact, I didn’t wait for his fourth year but they tell me he was up around the middle of his class, turned out to be a good student.

He was a late bloomer.

Yes, he was a good student.

Did you do much with the University of Nebraska Medical School which was also in Omaha?

We had very good contacts. Some of their men came over and some our men went over. I did run up against just a little bit of trouble with them. They wanted to get the emergency service at the City Hospital there. And St. Louis had had it—


I mean, Creighton had had it for quite a few years and I heard that they were getting a little bit fed up with the way Creighton was handling it. So then I had to get busy and get the new chief of surgery particularly busy. So he said, “We’ll fix it.” So then we took it back. And then I said, “Why don’t we get some of your people in here also? Why don’t we get some of your people in to help us. We’re going to have the staff, we’re going to have charge. But why not have your people—” So they did. They had some volunteers, which I think worked out very well.

Well anyhow, getting on further then, the—

Your new staff, were they full-time?

No, they were not full-time.

They were still part-time?

But they didn’t have the practice though that these other fellows had. They were new. And not only that, but the prestige it gave them – they were willing to work for it, they were willing to work for it and they did do well. They did very fine. In fact, the inspection just before I left said that they just were about the stage where everything would be all right. So that I was very happy that the inspecting team said that—

This story is common in all American medical schools of the 19th and 20th century – this question of full-time versus part-time, the young versus the elderly, the clinical versus the didactic lectures.

We couldn’t afford that money. As a matter of fact, I found them wasting a lot of things even with the low amount of money we had. For instance, my chief of anatomy was burning all the skeletons – burning bones and everything else – and then ordering, at a hundred and fifty dollars apiece, disarticulated—

Disarticulated skeletons.

—skeletons. I immediately then said, “Not one more cent [will] we spend. You’re going to clean those bones.” Then the next thing he did was he wrote a textbook on anatomy in which was a functional textbook. He went by function – he didn’t teach as much anatomy as he did the functions. He’d teach a group of muscles and the functions but you didn’t know what the muscles were and things of that nature. And he was going to establish that as his textbook. So—

As a surgeon that made your hair stand on end.

That’s what I said. I didn’t agree with it. So he’d been there for about eight or ten years, and – [as an aside] are you almost done? And so that I knew that I’d have to change it. So that several things he had done – I went to the president and said he’s not going to be satisfactory, I’m going to have to let him go. He had tenure but tenure didn’t mean a thing to me when the department is completely unfit to teach, so we made arrangements and—

Did you have to pay him?

We had to pay him for a year. And everything else, I didn’t have any difficulty. The sisters at the hospital were grand to me and they depended on me when they got into a little trouble to get them out of it, particularly when they were doing surgery that shouldn’t be done, taking out appendices that should have never been taken out. We had to fire two fellows out of there – two battalion boys who were just doing all kinds of surgery that weren’t supposed to be done.

And you were there for three years?

I was there for three years.

[Ed. note: Interviewer and Carroll discuss whether to change recording reels and how much longer the interview will last.]

So you were there from ’47 to ’50 and then you retired completely?

I retired completely, yes. I retired completely until an emergency happened of Dr. Werner being killed – Dr. August [Anthony] Werner in Endocrinology. He was killed and I had been relieving him—

Here is St. Louis?

—in St. Louis in the Humboldt Building at Grand and Washington. And I had been relieving him when he’d go on a vacation or he wanted a few days off. I knew a little about endocrinology and the _____(?) treatments and everything else. And he was killed instantly in an auto accident. And no one to take his practice. So Mrs. Werner asked me if I could take it until they could get someone to do [it]. He had patients that had to continue treatment so I said, “Well, I’ll take it as long as these patients need treatment, but I won’t take any new patients.” So it took me three years. Three years. And then I gave up entirely. And then I didn’t take any more work at all.

And what have you been doing now that you’re completely retired?

Just nothing. Just nothing. Working in the yard and bothering my neighbors.

Well, I’m sure you didn’t bother them, but it is good to know that people can retire like that and enjoy life. I’m just about to get to that point myself, so I’m interested in how people retire.

Well, there’s no difficulty in retiring, I’ll tell you that. As you get to my age now, I feel that everything’s fine.

Well, that’s very nice. Are we all done now? I’m afraid that this is the end of the interview on March fourth, 1981 with General Percy J. Carroll.

You wanted to ask me a question?

I wanted to ask several things but I’m not sure we’re going to get them onto this tape. I wanted to know what you thought was the difference between military medicine when you first went into it and military medicine when you retired from the Army?

Well, it’s the same, practically the same. Of course, we have better public health, better immunizations and things of that nature, but the Army medicine has progressed but not as much as the progress made by the outside people because Army people have to do other than their profession. They can’t spend their entire time doing their surgery or their entire time doing their medicine. They have to do court-martial cases, the have to inspect kitchens, therefore they can’t keep up. I would say that you can’t compare the average Army man and his training to the man outside that has his training.

In relation to that it’s been said that war is the laboratory for medicine.

But the outside people are doing no lab work.

The come into the Army—

They come into the service. Sure, we’re all administrative people.

And in that administration was there ever any problem between the fact that the Army Medical Corps had two bosses – they reported to the local Army officer who was in charge of all of the troops in that area and as well professionally to the Surgeon General. Did that ever make any trouble?

Well, in practicing medicine in the states here you never said anything to the Surgeon General at all. Everything was located in Corps areas. You had say, seven Corps areas. And you worked under the surgeon in that Corps area, so that you didn’t have any difficulty in any way, shape or form. They were only too glad to have you run your place.

That’s the Surgeon – that’s the military portion. Now how about the General who is in charge of that Corps?

They didn’t bother—

They don’t make any difficulty?

No, no. As long as you do your work. If you cause any trouble or anything, then they can take action for it.

This is the same problem I suspect that priests have where they are under the Bishop and yet they’re under the general church dominance.

Sure, sure.

Early medical officers in the U.S. Army often acted as the scientists and the research workers for the whole Army because they were often the only scientists in the area. They sent in temperature reports daily and they did work on other things. Do you feel that the Army physicians these days are all administrators or are there scientists and research workers among them still?

There’s a few. There’s a few. And there are a few good surgeons and a few good interns and things like that. Psychiatrists. They’re lucky in getting in General Hospitals and so on, but there’s only a few general hospitals compared to all the other medical corps so you can not get the same standard.

Well that brings me to the question of what do you think is the mission of the Army Medical Corps?

The mission is to take care of the sick and wounded in the Army. That’s the mission.

[Interview ends abruptly.]


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