D-Day Diary Introduction by Harlan Hermann, MD
WWII Battalion Surgeon, 442nd Regimental Combat Team
1LT Harland Hermann, Battle for Po Valley, Italy, WWII
Dr. Walter Marchand and I worked together at the Fort Meade Veterans Hospital at Fort Meade South Dakota for several years. He was in the Medical Department and I chief of Psychiatry & Neurology, so we shared patients but had somewhat different orientations. Dr. Arthur Hagelstein was chief of medicine during those years and he and Dr. Marchand had known each other years back and were very good friends.
I remember one very special thing about Dr. Marchand when he came to Fort Meade – included in his duty was the care of our ‘chronic neurological’ ward which had almost 240 patients. The first thing he did was to very thoroughly examine each one of them as if they did not already have histories and physicals and progress notes – which took a lot of time -- and I knew right then that this doctor had exceptionally high standards of patient care. Later he moved to our acute care medical section and shared the care of patients there with Dr. Hagelstein.
All those years we worked together at Fort Meade we neither of us ever had conversations in any detail that we had both been Battalion Surgeons in WWII, he in the D Day invasion of France with the 4th Division, and myself in the final campaign in the Po Valley of Italy with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. But I did realize his profound appreciation of the experience of doctors in military service because he shared with me a paper of which he was co-author in 1945, ‘Combat Neuroses, Development of Combat Exhaustion’, published in 1946 by Roy L. Swank, M.D. of Boston and Walter E. Marchand, M.D. of New York – published in the Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry in March, 1946, Vol. 55, pp. 236-247. I have passed copies of this paper to dozens of my students at the Unversity of South Dakota School of Medicine and most of my professional friends and others strategically placed in the community. I have never read anything else which covers the impact on people of these war experiences as keenly. The course of relentless deterioration into neurosis from unbearable stress, unless timely relief or amelioration can be managed, has its corollary in psychiatric diagnoses of post-traumatic stress syndrome as found in peacetime or military life, including analogies with the onset and course of psychiatric and psychosomatic illnesses in general.
Years later when in retirement we began to share a bit more of our personal histories. I quickly realized that my exposure to the rigors of combat were puny compared with what Walter went through. From my own brief combat exposure to the German Army I had only a hint of what he went through, but it seemed we felt the bond of family which comes to those who have been to similar schools of life.
Walter’s wife Elaine found this diary in recent evaluation of material which had been saved these many years and never discussed while Walter was living -- the diary ‘accidentally’ turned up when she wanted to see if there might be something to contribute to the WWII museum being established in Louisiana. In our letters as friends I happened to share with her my own accounts of my experiences in Italy and she has now shared this diary with me, with a copy she typed out as well as photocopy of the original diary in longhand.
On the back of the diary, a list, presumably of his Aid Station personnel. Not evident at what point they arrived for this duty, but some came with the unit on D Day.
Oliver – conversion hysteria
Hill – killed (airport-Cherbourg)
Leutherman – (killed – Sainteney)
Hebert – killed (s. crossroads, outside Ozeville)
See also the WWII story of Eji Suyama, a fellow psychiatrist at the VA Hospital in Sturgis.