U.S. Army Ambulance Service, 1917. Daniel Tuthill (1897-1958) of Jamesport (back row, third from left) served with the Ambulance Service during World War I; he was also the first soldier from Suffolk County to receive the French War Cross. (Image from the World War One Pictorial Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society Library Archives. Copyright © Suffolk County Historical Society. All rights reserved.)
In April 1917, the United States entered World War I on the side of the Allies (France, Russia, Great Britain, and Italy). The British and French asked for immediate medical support because their medical systems were severely taxed. To meet the needs of war, the U.S. Army's surgeon general, William M. Gorgas, presided over an enormous expansion of the Army Medical Department. When the United States entered the war, the department consisted of about a thousand personnel, but it numbered over 350,000 when peace returned in November 1918. The Surgeon General's Office mushroomed from a staff of 153 at the beginning of the war to over 2,100 at its end. The Medical Department was authorized 444 physicians at the beginning of World War I, and had 31,530 when the war ended.
Nearly 24 percent of all U.S. physicians served in the Army. Increases in the other specialties were also dramatic. By war's end the department had 4,620 dentists, 21,480 nurses, and 2,234 veterinarians.
In addition, there were two new precursors of the Medical Service Corps. The U.S. Army Ambulance Service, formed in 1917, had 209 officers, and the Sanitary Corps formed the same year, had 2,919. The department was rounded out with 281,341 enlisted soldiers and 10,695 civilian employees.
Join us today for the opening of our Centennial World War I exhibit, "Over Here, Over There: Long Island and the Great War," at 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. Admission is free, and light refreshments will be served. Arrive on time to see our historical WWI reenactors!
This exhibit will run to January 2018. Exhibit admission is free for all U.S. veterans from April 29 to May 26, 2017.