Friday, January 6, 2012


While waiting for AJ’s posting of Monday’s agenda this is another little Berlin tidbit from “Old Doc’s War”

The Southwest portion of Berlin, which was part of the American sector, was relatively untouched. The occupation forces were quartered in houses and other large buildings. I shared space in a private house with another officer. The owner of that house had an extensive library consisting of every paperback English edition of Zane Grey’s novels published in Germany. I had plenty of reading material

From the early days of the occupation there were flourishing black markets in Berlin especially for consumables such as coffee, cigarettes (which were also a form of currency) and medical supplies especially the new miracle drug penicillin. Consequently, the Berlin Command had issued an order prohibiting the administration of penicillin for treating GC, without a positive gram smear. The slides had to be sent to the Berlin base hospital laboratory for diagnosis, which would only take 24 hours.

My medical responsibility was not only the 376th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion but also the Division Brig. I saw those who were sick at my daily morning sick call.

One day a GI, who had been in the brig continuously from Africa, reported for sick call with an obvious fresh classical gonorrheal discharge. Evidently, confinement in the brig did not limit accessibility to life’s pleasures.

Although the diagnosis was clinically obvious; I had to follow the protocol. The soldier was incensed. There are certain remarks that will forever remain in memory and this is a true quote; of his outburst, ""the last eight times I had gonorrhea I got immediate treatment".

I assured him that it was an order which I had to follow. The next day the report was back and at sick call I gave him his “shot” and forgot about the incident

About three weeks later, I received an official inquiry from the Inspector General's office as to why I had not promptly treated this man. Apparently, he or a relative had complained to his congressman, who initiated an investigation.

There was no problem since I had the directive which I quoted in my official reply to back me up. On the other hand, this was another example of a politician putting ill advised pressure on the military.

Not as tightly controlled was each Medical detachment’s supply of medicinal grain alcohol. When mixed with either one of the canned fruit juices or the “tang” substitute that we were issued it made a palatable drink. Canned grapefruit juice was the preferred diluent to produce “moose milk”. In Berlin, “someone” at the officers club was mixing the alcohol with burnt sugar syrup which gave it a caramel coloring. The result was referred to and bottled as brandy. The BOC’s brand was of professional quality.

1 comment: