Dr. Swan writes from Normandy, 1944

A rare opportunity and interesting view into the medical miracles performed during World War II. Dr. Swan was a special person; one of many, who performed their difficult tasks under terrifying circumstances. Veritable heroes, fighting their medical and surgical fight, along with the combat soldiers. Have we thanked them all enough?

Circulating Now from NLM

By Susan Speaker

“Operation Overlord”—the invasion of France’s Normandy coast that began on June 6, 1944—was the largest amphibious military operation in the history of warfare, and the turning point for the Allied Forces in World War II. Among the thousands of troops that waded onto the beaches, there were over forty surgical teams from the U.S. Army’s Third and Fourth Auxiliary Surgical Groups (ASGs). Dr. Henry Swan, a surgeon in the 4th ASG, described his team’s initial experience in a letter to his wife:

A formal portrait of Dr. Swan in dress uniform. Dr. Henry Swan, ca. 1943
National Library of Medicine

“On June 7 we arrived off the British beachhead from which they were attacking Caen. The channel crossing was calm. A solid bridge of boats of all sizes shuttling back and forth. We stayed aboard that night, and there was considerable activity overhead that night. The next morning, we sailed toward our landing area on…

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