From the front to Latvia

My leg remains covered in ulcers in spite of the anti-infection ointment supplied.  Although they have never completely gone away, I now have two on my shin that are particularly bad.  These ulcers did not bulge outwards as they have done in the past, but burrow deep into my shinbone.  Because the ulcers will not heal, and as the prescribed cream has had no effect, the medical officer has decided to send me to a field hospital.

I have been applying the cream to my own leg.  However, the ointment is quite thick making it difficult to spread and therefore very painful.  At least if I was in a proper hospital I would have a nurse to help me.

Everything remains frozen and cold, but it is also very wet.  In these extreme conditions my leg has became a real mess. To make things worse, the medical unit ran out of bandages some time ago.  I was overjoyed to hear the medics say my leg is bad enough to get me sent to a field hospital.  The very thought of going to a place where I can get warm and dry is very exciting.  Being sent to a hospital where I get to sleep in a bed is a dream come true.

Luckily, for me, the lieutenant agreed with everything the medics said and to my immense relief, I have been cleared for travel to a military hospital.  The travel paper I have been given is no more than a large label to be worn on my tunic.  Without it, I could be shot as a deserter.

It is April.  The snow is still deep but it has started melting in places, making my path very slippery.  Walking is difficult for me at the best of times but in these conditions, my progress is very slow.

german-wehrmacht-ambulance

I cannot believe how lucky I am.  God must have been looking down on me because as I hobbled along, all alone in the snow, an ambulance came to a stop right at my side.  The driver is Latvian; he recognised my uniform with its cloth Latvian flag on the right sleeve.  The Latvian Legion uniform is the same as the German uniform except for the Latvian flag.  This kind man not only offered me a lift but also helped me to climb into the seat beside him and all he asks in return is to have a conversation in his native tongue.

I have no idea how long it will take us to reach a hospital, as I do not know how far away it is.  When the doctor placed the big medical evacuation label on my chest, I asked him where the hospital was but all he did was wave his arms around wildly and tell me to ‘just go off in that direction’.  I do not think he knows where the hospital is but when he told me to start walking, I did.

An ambulance is the best way to travel along these make-do roads because everything gets out of the way.  The military vehicles travel in convoy and so if someone is slow or has broken down, everyone else just has to wait in line but an ambulance is always waved on.  Convoys pull over.  Broken down vehicles are pushed to one side.  An ambulance passes unimpeded.  It is wonderful.

The roads are a mess for miles and miles.  There are no longer any real marked out roads as there used to be before the war.  What we have now is a series of paths cleared out from amongst the rubbish.  My driver has to negotiate craters fifty feet wide, as well as steer around fallen buildings and trees.  There are no signs any more either, not even any recognisable buildings but my driver knows which way to go because he got me safely to a hospital.