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Ranger Medic ?

Posted: Wed May 14, 2008 23:46
by 916matt
Hi, a mate sent me this photo taken on weymouth harbour , it looks like ranger medics going on what there wearing, but what is the guy on the right carrying ? thanks matt.

( i would of put this in the general section but can't find anyway to up load photo's in it )

Posted: Thu May 15, 2008 00:05
by Ben
Hi Matt,

Well thus far I have been unable to determine what the item is that the aid man standing at right is carrying. However there are a number of photographs taken on or before D-Day which show medical personnel all carrying a similar type of object (indeed I have seen a photograph of an aid man landing on Utah, carrying a similar item). I'm sorry that I can't be of more use, but judging by the rather exclusive context in which I have seen this item being used, I surmise that it was perhaps some kind of waterproof container containing medical supplies (in addition to the large rubber bags that were also used).

Out of interest, do you know which battalion the men in the picture pertain to, since they do not seem to bear any diamonds on their helmets indicating such.

Thanks for sharing this photograph with us,
Ben :D

Note: I have also taken the time to move your topic into the "General Discussion" area, and will investigate your claim that you cannot post attachments in that forum, since a number of users report the problem. Thanks.

Posted: Thu May 15, 2008 04:39
by sgtpeter
I think what you are looking at is a mortar shell outer carrier that was adapted for medical supplies.

ETO General Board Report 093 discusses this in Chpt 3. It says the information is from the 4th Inf Div but was similiar to other units:

b. All medical enlisted men carried a 60mm mortar shell outer container, M51A1, packed with 12 1/2 lbs of surgical dressings, drugs and blood plasma. To permit carrying in the manner of a golf-bag over one shoulder a ring of light wire was soldered on each metal end of the container and a 32-inch canvas strip with buckle was attached. A 6in white circle, housing a 6in Geneva Red Cross, was painted on each side of the container.

Here is an example of mortar containers.


If you look at the big tubes on the right, they were designed to carry 6 60mm mortar rounds each and I believe this what is referenced for Overlord. During Operation Torch, they used a 60mm mortar container for medical supplies. Its hard to tell from this photo the scale to see if it was the same container.


Let me know what you think.

Posted: Thu May 15, 2008 09:58
by 916matt
Hi Ben, sorry no idea about the battalion its just a guess they're rangers looking at the hbt's & jump boots, peter i think you're right it certainly looks like a mortar ammo tube, thanks for the quick replys, matt.

Ben, when i post in general i get the add a poll box underneath and nothing else,thanks matt.

Posted: Thu May 15, 2008 12:49
by Ben
Hi Matt,

The reason I asked as to the battalion which is pictured is due to the fact that the only examples of these carriers being used on D-Day was by the 4th ID on Utah (although it is interesting that they wear Jump Boots). I have attached a couple of pictures showing this. I was aware of the practice using the 60mm mortar containers, but I think the item that all of these men carry is far too large to be the individual tube. In addition, the item certainly looks to be a single cylinder, as opposed to double container shown to hold 6 x 60mm mortar tubes.

Interesting discussion though, and the item is definitely not one issued specifically by the Medical Department.

Here are the photographs showing medical personnel of the 4th Medical Battalion carrying similar items on to Utah Beach:


I hope that the above will be of some use to you Matt, and thanks for your interesting post Peter. This is certainly evidence that I have not read before. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Ben :)

P.S. I can't see any reason why you shouldn't be able to post attachment in the General section Matt. I have made some minor changes, so let me know if the problem persists. Thanks for helping me resolve this issue.

Posted: Thu May 15, 2008 19:58
by sgtpeter
I'm sorry if my description regarding the morter tubes wasn't very clear.

If you look at the big tubes on the far right of the mortar picture, that was actually three tubes held together by metal end caps. Each tube carried 6 individual M49 60mm mortar tubes with a total of 18 for the whole carrier. Based on the description that a 6in circle was painted on each end, that's what I'm assuming is the referenced mortar tube.

As for uniform of the soldiers, I went thru some of my stuff and have some more info. Some assault units adopted the jump boots as standard foot wear because of the added protection in surf and sand. Most notably it was the NBB and ESB but certainly could have been others as well. Additionally, assault troops of the 4th Div wore impregnated HBTs over their woolen uniforms while assault troops of 1st and 29th Div appear to have mostly worn wollen uniforms. Since the NBB and ESB were a mix-match of units not assigned to a division, some units would have worn their woolies while others wore HBTs.

Most photos I have seen of 1st and 29th Div soldiers had them wearing shoulder patches which doesn't appear the case with these guys. Certainly if we had a better shot of the front we could tell if the helmets were marked. However if you look closely at the second guy in line, the guy below and right of B7 with his head turned, it almost looks like he has the arc and emblem on his helmet of the Provisionsal Engineer Special Brigade. According to Jonathan Gawne's Spearheading D-Day, this emblem was not worn by soldiers of the 1st ESB going to Utah beach. Other photos show soldiers with the Provisional ESB emblem wearing HBTs or woolies with jump boots.

I think that photo shows a group from one of the medical units assigned to the Provisional ESB group heading for Omaha beach.

Ben - thanks for posting the 4th Med BN photos. They don't look like Signal Corp photos, are they from a personal camera?

Posted: Thu May 15, 2008 21:29
by Ben
Hi Peter,

I was indeed aware of the "cloverleaf" containers for the three tubes together and indeed there could still be a possibility that these are indeed mortar tubes. However if you look in the second photograph that I initially posted, looks greater than six inches. Also, none of the illustrations seem to show a 6 inch circle with a 6 inch red cross, as Report 093 would indicate, since this would seem to suggest that the crosses met perfectly with the circumference of the white circle (of course this could easily be explained by erroneous data in the report itself).

A number of sources also claim that first wave invasion troops were also issued with Jump Boots and gas-impregnated HBTs. You're correct in that NBB and ESB personnel were also issued with these uniforms so unfortunately the unit that these men pertain to and the items they're holding is still a bit of a mystery. I dare say that if we could secure some different angles on the illustrations, we might be answer this finally.

I do indeed believe that the photographs from the 4th Med Bn were actually taken by an unofficial photographer.

Thanks for the information that you have shared on this topic, and I think since the only documented evidence at this time would indicate that the containers are 60mm mortar tubes; until any information is found to the contrary, we should assume this is what the items are.

Ben :)

Posted: Thu May 15, 2008 22:48
by sgtpeter
Yup, definitely agree with your point that those containers don't appear to have 6in red crosses on them. Unfortunately those photos don't have enough detail to see the containers other than the white circle and cross. But it looks like the containers might be differenct as well. Plus does it look like the guy from the 4th Med Bn is carrying the container in his hand or do you think it is on a strap? Looks like it might be the same guy in both of your 4th Med Bn pics. I'm curious if you have any more photos from that unit.

What do you think about the number 2 guy in line on the first photo? Could it be an ESB arc on the front of his helmet or wishful thinking on my part? Somewhere I have a photo from Omaha beach of ESB medics wading ashore. I remember that pic had pretty good detail and was wondering if the little round container shows up there.

Maybe someday someone will find one of the large mortar tubes and we can build one these.

Once again, I would like to say that I appreciate the time you and Alain dedicated to building and running this website. I enjoy the sharing of information very much.

Posted: Fri May 16, 2008 00:10
by Ben
Thanks for your kind words about the site Peter, and let's hope that we can one day get to the bottom of this mystery. :)

The Forum has certainly livened up a little in recent weeks / months, and I am very grateful of that. One of the aims of this was to bring together the medical collecting and research fraternity, so we should also thank our contributors too!

Ben :D

Posted: Wed May 21, 2008 14:42
by Ben
Hi all,

I came across some additional information from the FUSA Medical Plan for Operation NEPTUNE and since I surmise that perhaps these are the items that we see in the photographs that have been posted on this thread:

(3)Special Units. Special units in waterproof containers will be carried ashore by enlisted Medical Department personnel for units indicated through D + 3, as follows

1 x unit per Inf Bn; Arty En; Chem Bn; Engr Bn; Ranger Bn.
2 x units per Coll Co, Division.
4 x units per Clr Co, Division.
6 x units per Med Bn (Engr Spec Brig).

Units will consist of approximately eight ( 8 ) small containers, which personnel may float ashore using the containers for buoyancy where required. Each unit will provide the following:

Dressings, First-Aid, Large (50 ea.)
Dressings, First-Aid, Small (50 ea.)
Gauze, Plain, Sterilized, (50 ea.)
Bandage, Gauze, 3-inch (50 ea.)
Sulfanilamide, Crystalline (10 pkg.)
Morphine, Tartrate, Syrettes (25 boxes)
Serum, Normal Human Plasma, Dried (7 pkg.)
Sulfadiazine, USP, 7.7 gr Tabs, 1000 (1 bottle)
Halazone, 1/10 gr Tabs, 100 (1 bottle)
Sterile Gauze Packet (impregnated with boric acid or vaseline) (1 ea.)

Unfortunately there was no illustration to accompany the above text, but I surmise that this is indeed the contents list for the containers seen in the photographs.

Ben :)

Posted: Wed May 21, 2008 20:37
by GauzeBandage
I smell a site update coming!

Posted: Wed May 21, 2008 20:45
by Alain
Hi Guys,
Just my 2 cents ...
There's of course quite some difference between the 'cloverleaf' containers holding multiple rounds of 60mm mortar ammo (i.e. 18 x M49A2) and the 'single' one containing only 6 rounds of the same mortar ammo .
For your info, just in case, we are indeed talking about the container for the 6 rounds, the official designation embossed in both metal ends is : CONTAINER 60MM M51 (6 ROUNDS) + 60MM MORTAR M1 & M2 ; I have one in my collection marked as such, with on top of one of its ends (stamped in white) SHELL M49A2 LOT WC-6-267 . Length of container : 21 1/2 inch - diameter of container : 7 inch .
Hope this helps .
Alain :)

Posted: Fri May 23, 2008 06:45
by sgtpeter
Ben - I saw that as well, but to be honest, I thought the list referenced was for the Wherry/amphibious chest. Now that you posted it, I see where it says each unit consisted of 8 "small" containers (not sure I would consider the tube small). The total contents is pretty close to what 8 small containers would carry, so I think you found a good reference.

Alain - thanks for sizes, now I have a better idea what to look for.

Here are a couple more photos of the correct container. This is a comparison of the single 60mm container M50 vs the container M51.


This pic shows the container has it was originally packaged with the cloverleafs.


Anybody know where these guys were unpacking stuff? We might find a couple in the bushes :cry:

Posted: Fri May 23, 2008 21:35
by Ben
Hi Peter,
From the texts above, and the description that I remember of your Wherry Box, I don't think that the same thing is being referenced here. Who knows, perhaps one day we will be able to solve this riddle, or a future member may know a little more about the boxes.
Until then, thanks for all the information that has been exchanged in this thread thus far!
Ben :D

Posted: Tue Jun 03, 2008 07:08
by sgtpeter
I think I found another photo of the mortar round carrier adopted for medical supplies as carried by Ranger Medics.
These are from a series of color photos taken in Weymouth of Rangers on British LCAs. Looks like the medic has the mortar round carrier strapped under his chin.

I found this photo on this website

When I look at the second photo, the guy on the right looks like the guy with the red cross helmet in the first pic. The guy on the left of the second photo, looks a little like the guy with the shiny rank on his helmet from the first photo. If I'm correct, the guy with the medic helmet was the 5th Ranger BN chaplain and he is carrying the medical marked mortar carrier.

What do you think?