Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals
Whenever I was near the location of the US Army’s 8055 Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, (it was in Uijongbu for a long time) I would drive past it at a snail’s pace, hoping to get a glimpse of its nurses. My slow speed meant that if I spotted one, I wouldn’t crash the jeep. The nurses were dressed in olive drab but you could still imagine the pulchritude under the rough uniform and, because they were Americans, they were still very appealing to this young Canadian.
When the movie M*A*S*H came out in 1970 I went to see it, hoping to recapture some 1951 memories. I nearly left the theatre after the first half hour’s viewing. I had never before seen such a lot of nonsense. My wife had to shush me, for I was exclaiming aloud about the crap I was seeing. Years later, the TV series came out and I started to watch it. I finally caught on that it was a spoof, a comedy series, not meant to be taken seriously. (Well, that’s not entirely true, some of their episodes try to make a point) I still watch and enjoy repeats of the program today, but never without making a mental note about incidents that are far from the reality of the 1950s in Korea.
For those who might take M*A*S*H seriously, here are a few of its many inaccuracies:
- long hair on the doctors
- Corporal Klinger as a woman – would never have been tolerated
- Hawkeye’s still for producing alcohol (I doubt it very much)
- Lousy mess tent food
- Powdered eggs. “We haven’t had fresh eggs for a year!”
- A camera stolen at the MASH was reported to I Corps HQ (much too small an incident to involve a corps HQ)
- Frequent enemy shelling near the MASH
Only seriously wounded would end up at a MASH. The way it usually happened for Canadian casualties is that they were given first aid while still in the line. If they needed more treatment they were taken to the Regimental Aid Post (RAP) where the battalion medical officer was located. If further care was needed, they were evacuated to 25 Canadian Field Ambulance. If necessary, they were then sent to a MASH. Since Canada liked to pay its way in all things, it assisted the MASHs by attaching Canadian field surgical teams to them. If more care or convalescence was needed, the wounded were sent to a field hospital, the base hospital in Japan, or were repatriated to Canada.