HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN FIELD SERVICE

di George Rock

On 1 January 1944, L. G. Bigelow, at the RAP of the Inniskilling Fusiliers at Capracotta, was ordered to evacuate a Polish Captain and a British fever patient to the ADS at Carovilli. «On leaving Capracotta,» Major Snead reported, «it was snowing heavily and it was doubted whether the ambulance could get through the drifts; but it was decided to try, as to remain would render the vehicle snow bound in any event. On the way down the mountain, the snow stopped him. Bigelow then took his patients out of the ambulance and got them through the snow to a farmhouse. Two other vehicles which tried to get through were subsequently found with the drivers frozen to death.

The snow continued for 3 days and nights, during which time the emergency food ration from the ambulance was consumed. For this period Bigelow looked after the patients, sleeping only at odd moments. On the fourth day the snow stopped, and with the Italian from the house Bigelow set out on foot through the snow to another farmhouse at a road junction which had been serving as a Car Post. The distance was some 3 miles, but he reached it and procured food and medical supplies, making two of these trips on foot that day...

The following day he returned to the junction and arranged for an ambulance to wait there. He then organized a party of 13 British soldiers and 2 AFS drivers and from what materials were available constructed a sled. The party set off with the sled to the house where the patients were. Meanwhile, the fever patient had recovered, but the Polish Captain was in need of further care. He was put on the sled with blankets and bricks warmed by a fire. The party then, under the supervision of Bigelow, pulled and carried the patient the 3 miles through the snow to the ambulance waiting at the junction».

At the end of this period there was one more casualty no less tragic than the others. Charles Kendrick Adams, Jr., died on 14 January while being repatriated by hospital ship. He had been keen and eager to be of service, and he fulfilled this desire until his health broke. Unfortunately, before he could reach home he succumbed to the illness which had stricken him shortly after his arrival overseas.

  • G. Rock, The History of the American Field Service: 1920-1955, American Field Service, New York 1956, pp. 272-273.

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