(submitted by Alain Batens)


CAMOUFLAGE of Medical Installations in a Division Area

.    In a Theater of Operations, CAMOUFLAGE of Medical Installations is a command decision . However, the tactical disposition of friendly troops may be disclosed by conspicuous Medical Installations, so it may be advisable to camouflage them . Advanced Medical Installations are usually temporary in character and location. The problem of camouflage will be greatly simplified through employment of following means ;

 Careful choice of position under natural cover or in available buildings .

Hasty camouflage measures to supplement inadequate natural concealment .

Selection of inconspicuous or concealed access routes before occupying a position .

Camouflage discipline to avoid making careless tracks and to prevent unnecessary exposure of vehicles, equipment, or personnel to enemy daytime observation .

Complete blackout at night

All items on checklist for bivouacs apply to Medical Installations in a Division Area, with following additions : 

1.       Avoid sites near landmarks (road intersections, bridges, hills,etc)

2.       Construct any required camouflage quickly to avoid delay in use of installations (help of wire netting or wire strands with foliage)

3.       Litter bearers must use concealed routes whenever possible

4.       Preliminary examination rooms should be light-tight (in buildings, caves, or other shelters)

5.       Tone down any metal chests, pails, and shiny objects with dull paint (use vehicle paint, or phenolic enamel)

6.       Ambulances must stop under cover and practice dispersal (avoid unnecessary tracks)

7.       Bury all empty bottles and other shiny containers

    The Battalion Aid Station is located near the sector where the greatest number of casualties is expected and close enough to the action so that Litter carry is short ! Litter Bearers should follow concealed routes so as not to disclose the exact location of the Aid Station . Ideally, the elements of the Battalion Aid Station should be arranged in a position so they blend with the surroundings well enough to eliminate the necessity of adding cut foliage or debris, or erecting other camouflage materials . Having taken maximum advantage of overhead concealment, additional camouflage (if necessary) should be constructed swiftly to avoid delay in prompt evacuation of the wounded . Inadequate overhead concealment may be improved by erection of camouflage nets garnished to match surroundings . an overhead network may be quickly constructed to support small cut trees and/or branches; such foliage must of course be replaced as soon as it wilts …

 Instructions for Collecting Stations : 

1.        Must have sheltered places for vehicles to load, unload, and turn

2.        Turn-off roads from main roads to Station must be concealed or carried past the Station

 The Medical Battalion’s Collecting Station is located as far forward as Ambulances can safely operate during daylight hours . It is necessary to provide a sheltered place with lots of natural cover . When existing buildings are available, they could provide an ideal location, but they should be utilized without changing their civilian appearance ! When it is necessary to add overhead cover to partially destroyed buildings to render them  serviceable, debris should be used to blend with the rough and jagged lines of the background .

Instructions related to Clearing Stations : 

1.           Locate in any large civilian buildings when possible . Permanent cover is always preferable to tents

2.           When tents are required, erect minimum number needed, and only under overhead concealment

3.           Color and camouflage tents to match surroundings

 The Clearing Station is a sizeable medical installation farther to the rear than the Collecting Station . It is where the ultimate position of the wounded is determined and it is best located in a small town or village where it can be easily concealed ! Ideal locations are churches, schools, hospitals, and other buildings, because means for sewage disposal, water supply, electric current and other facilities usually already exist in such structures . It is always preferable to locate a Clearing Station under permanent cover rather than in tents ! Otherwise, the size and number of tentage required make concealment extremely difficult . In case use of tents is unavoidable, they should be dispersed under adequate natural concealment (use Hospital Ward Tent or Squad Tent) . Install blackout flaps in door openings, since casualties will be brought in and out on frequent basis ! When tents are placed in sparsely wooded areas, disrupt their outlines with cut foliage, when installed in debris-littered surroundings, camouflage with broken timber and/or debris placed irregularly …  

 Instructions covering Medical Vehicles : 

1.            Keep vehicles always dispersed

2.            Cover them with drapes when parked

3.            When Red Cross (Geneva Convention) insignia are ordered covered, do not paint them out, cover same with tarpaulin or other olive drab-colored matériel

 Always disperse Medical Vehicles during daytime operation ! When parked under sparse natural cover or in the open (try to avoid this), vehicles should have drapes erected over them , shrimp nets can also be used, and windshields, headlights, and other glass materials should be covered or dulled with mud to eliminate any reflections from lights, bursting shells or flares .

 Sources : FM 5-20C War Department Field Manual, Corps of Engineers, Camouflage of Bivouacs, Command Posts, Supply Points and Medical Installations,   1 May 1944 + miscellaneous WWII Magazines & Instructions (all documents belong to author’s private collection)  


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