Army Post Offices of Malaria Control and Survey Units of WWII
(Published: September, 2007, Volume 7, Number 2, Issue #23) (Table Of Contents)
(Author: Kelly Horn)


History

There have been a number of wars in which the effects of various diseases were more debilitating than combat. Bubonic plague, typhus, and malaria have each altered the course of history because of their impact on the attacking fighting forces.

The United States did not want to be included in the litany of failure because of the incidence of an insect-borne disease. Therefore, at the start of World War II, the United States began an intensive program to control mosquitoes and the diseases they carry that resulted in the creation of malaria survey units and malaria control units. The program included both training centers and combat areas. In addition to mosquito control, survey units would also be checking for elephantiasis and typhus, and control units often controlled other insects such as sand flies, bed bugs, fleas, and tse-tse flies. The units also assisted in the control of rodents.

Training

Malaria rates declined rapidly after 1943 and this decrease can be directly attributed to the increase in the number of special malaria control units deployed in the different theaters of the war. One hundred fifty-nine control units and 69 survey units served overseas, with 133 control and 66 survey units trained in the United States and the remainder with locally trained personnel. More than 60 malariologists, 350 officers, 2500 enlisted men, and thousands of troops and native laborers were part of the malaria control and survey units (Coates, 1963).

It usually required 6 to 8 months from the time a request for malaria unit was issued to the arrival of the unit at its overseas destination. There was never a time when a reserve of malaria units was available. Tables 1 and 2 identify the number of malaria units and their relative destinations during the war.

Table 1. Status of Malaria Units in Overseas Theaters, 15 February 1944
Theater Present En Route Activated and Scheduled Total
Survey Control Survey Control Survey Control Survey Control
South Pacific 9 14 --- --- 11 6 20 20
Central Pacific 2 2 --- --- --- --- 2 2
Southwest Pacific 12 24 5 3 6 26 23 53
China-Burma-India 4 10 2 5 --- 2 6 17
North Africa 5 7 --- --- --- 3 5 10
Middle East, including Central Africa and the Persian Gulf 3 7 --- --- --- --- 3 7
South Atlantic --- 1 --- --- --- --- --- 1
Total 35 65 7 8 17 37 59 110
Source: Coates, 1963

Table 2. Status of Malaria Control Organization in Overseas Theaters 30 September 1944
Theater Malariologists Survey Units Control Units
Present Scheduled for Shipment Present Scheduled for Shipment Present class="article-title"Scheduled for Shipment
Pacific Ocean Areas (Central and South) 16 --- 13 --- 13 ---
Southwest Pacifica 21 --- 32 2 66 2
China-Burma-India 7 --- 6 --- 25 8
North Africa 9 --- 6 --- 17 ---
Middle East, including Central Africa and the Persian Gulf 3 --- 3 --- 9 ---
South Atlantic 1 --- 1 --- 1 ---
Caribbean Defense Command 1 --- --- --- --- ---
Total 58 --- 61 2 131 10
a Includes 10 malariologists, 9 survey units, and 13 control units which were transferred from the South Pacific to the Southwest Pacific when theater boundaries were redefined on 1 July 1944.
Source: Coates, 1963

One of my interests is to locate the whereabouts of the malaria units during WWII. Part of the information comes from covers and part from historical records, mainly the National Archives in Washington, DC. Table 3 and 4 contain the information that has been gathered from these different sources. Some information is repeated because some of the units were assigned to work together.

In regards to postal markings, a War Department Directive commanded that APO number be removed from the entire postal markings, effective from 1 July 1942 to 10 March 1943. However, cancels can be found during this period with APO numbers. Cancels after this period can be found without numbers because indicia were not available for some time after the directive was rescinded (Billings, 2006).

Because the units were reassigned to larger organizations during the war, the name of the units changed from malaria control (survey) units to malaria control (survey) detachments. Some were also redesignated as medical composite units. Included in this report are examples of covers representing different aspects of the APO units.

From Solomon Islands, patriotic cover and from Malaria Control Unit #1.

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From Roberts Field, Liberia

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From the Philippines

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From China

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From Dakar, Senegal

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From India, associated with Merrill's Marauders

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Temporary APO

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The next 3 covers illustrate the how a malaria unit's designation changed during the war.

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APO cancellation from Italy (APO 400) from unit in Algeria (APO 534) to another APO in Italy (APO 650) and redirected (APOs 766 [Italy] and 528 [Corsica]).

The 2655th Malaria Control Detachment was originally activated by the War Department as Medical Detachment 2655 to supervise malaria control activities in and around Army installations in Liberia. It had 12 administrative malariologists, 17 control units, and 6 survey units assigned to it at its peak in August 1944 (Coates, 1963).

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Table 3. Malaria Control Units and Their Army Post Offices

Malaria Unit APO, Location Date on Cover Date APO in Service Source
Malaria Control Detachment (MCD) #1 709, Solomon Islands, Guadalcanal Nov-7-1943 13-Dec-42 to 04- Nov-49 Cover
7th MCU 629, India NA 02-Nov-42 to 01-Jul-45 National Archives record, report dated 8 Jan 1945
16th, 17th, 18th, 30th, 31st, 32nd, and 43rd through 51st 885, SOS USAF CBI, India NA ??-Jun-42 to ??-Nov-46 National Archives record, report dated, 7 Apr 1944
17th MCD 885, HQ Services of Supply, CBI, India, then 465, Calcutta, then 690, Ondal, India NA ??-Jun-42 to ??-Nov-46 15-Mar-43 to 31-Mar-48 01-Feb-43 to 16-Apr-46 National Archives record, report dated 28 Jan 1946
22nd Malaria Control Unit(MCU) 763, HQ, Eastern Base Section, Constantine, Algeria Apr-23-43 (?) 16-Feb-43 to ??-Jun-43 Cover
27th MCU 601, Roberts Field, Liberia NA ??-May-42 to ??-May-46 National Archives record, report dated 31 Dec 1944
29th MCU 622, Dakar Senegal Feb-28-44 01-Jan-43 to 15-Mar-45 Cover
30th MCU 490, Mohanbari, India, (629 in return address) Jan-7-45 ??-Nov-43 to 06-Nov-45 (APO 490) 02-Nov-42 to 07-Apr-46 (APO 629) Cover
32nd MCD 431, Lalmanir Hut, India; 885, HQ Services of Supply, CBI, India NA 14-Oct-43 to 17-Nov-45 ??-Jun-42 to ??-Nov-46 National Archives record, report dated 27 April 1944; National Archives record, report dated 20 Oct 1945
43rd MCU 629, Advance Section #2, India; 493, SOS, USAF-IB, India NA 02-Nov-42 to 07-Apr-46 21-Mar-44 to 31-Jan-46 National Archives record, report dated 01 Jan 1944; National Archives record, report dated 11 Jan 1945
45th MCU 218, Myitkyina, Burma; 689, HQ, Northern Combat Area Cmd., Ledo, India, NA 17-Aug44 to 31-Oct-45 13-Jan-43 to 15-Jan-46 National Archives record, report dated 28 Mar 1945
46th MCD 689, HQ, Northern Combat Area Cmd., Ledo, India, NA 13-Jan-43 to 15-Jan-46 National Archives record, report dated 01 Oct 1945
47th MCU 433, India NA 25-Oct-43 to 16-Apr-46 National Archives record, report dated 31 Jan 1945
48th MCU 689, HQ, Northern Combat Area Cmd., Ledo, India. Aug-11-45 13-Jan-43 to 15-Jan-46 Cover
49th MCD 689, HQ, Northern Combat Area Cmd., Ledo, India, NA 13-Jan-43 to 15-Jan-46 National Archives record, report dated 19 Oct 1945
58th MCD 343, Leyte, Philippines Jul-13-45 29-Dec-44 to 09-Sep-45 Cover
64th MCU 713, Papua New Guinea Nov-28-? 18-Aug-43 to ??-May-45  Cover
72nd MCD 631 Chakulia (India), 493, India NA 17-Dec-42 to 25-Oct-45 (APO 631) 21-Mar-44 to 31-Jan-46 (APO 493) National Archives record, report dated 28 Jan 1946
73rd MCU 218, Myitkyina, Burma NA 17-Aug-44 to 31-Oct-45 National Archives record, report dated 20 Mar 1945
73rd MCD APO not identified; HQ Advance Section, India-Burma Theater, Ledo, India NA NA National Archives record, report dated 19 Oct 1945
81st MCU 73, Base R, Batangas, Luzon, PI Apr-29-45 18-Jan-45 to 31-May-46 Cover
91st MCU BPO 7, 503 (in return address), Papua New Guinea Aug-7-44 05-Mar-44 to ??-Mar-45 (BPO 7) ??-Dec-42 to ??-Aug-45 (APO 503) Cover
106th MCU (cover 1)
(cover 2)
BPO 7, 565 (both), Papua New Guinea (cover 1), Indonesia (cover 2) Jan-20-4?
Jun-16-45
17-Dec-43 to 27-Apr-44;
28-Apr-44 to 05-Apr-46
Cover
107th MCD 689, HQ, Northern Combat Area Cmd., Ledo, India NA 13-Jan-43 to 15-Jan-46 National Archives record, report dated 21 Oct 1945
109th MCD 678, HQ, Middle East Service Cmd, Egypt NA 2-Mar-42 to 31-Oct-45 National Archives record, report dated 28 Jun 1945
112th MCD BPO 7, 503 (in return address), Papua New Guinea; no APO, Karachi, India Aug-7-44 ??-Dec-42 to ??-Aug-45 Cover;
National Archives record, report dated 31 Dec 1944
113th MCD 690, Asanol, Gushkara, Panagar, and Ondal, India, 217, Madhaiganj and Pandaveswar, India, 630, Gaya, India NA 01-Feb-43 to 16-Apr-46 ??-Aug-44 to ??-Feb-46 05-Dec-42 to 15-Dec-45 National Archives record, report dated 28 Jan 1946
116th MCD 689, HQ, Northern Combat Area Cmd., Ledo, India, NA 13-Jan-43 to 15-Jan-46 National Archives record, report dated 12 Mar 1945
117th MCD 689, HQ, Northern Combat Area Cmd., Ledo, India, NA 13-Jan-43 to 15-Jan-46 National Archives record, report dated 19 Oct 1945
118th Medical Composite Unit (Malaria Control and Malaria Survey) 601, Roberts Field, Liberia NA ??-May-42 to ??-May-46 National Archives record, report dated 1 Jan 1945
124th MCD 494, Replacement Depot No.3, India NA 22-Jan-44 to 10-Apr-46 National Archives record, report dated 14 Jan 1946
164th MCD 433, Tezgaon, India NA 23-Oct-43 to 16-Apr-46 National Archives record, report dated (no day) Jan 1946
166th MCD 689, HQ, Northern Combat Area Cmd., Ledo, India, NA 13-Jan-43 to 15-Jan-46 National Archives record, report dated 19 Oct 1945
169th MCD 465, Calcutta, India NA 15-Mar-43 to 31-Mar-48 National Archives record, report dated 15 Apr 1946
170th MCD No APO, Tinsukia, India; transferred to 627(?), Kunming, China NA ??-Sep42 to 07-Dec-45 National Archives record, report not dated
171st MCD 689, HQ, Northern Combat Area Cmd., Ledo, India, NA 13-Jan-43 to 15-Jan-46 National Archives record, report dated 21 Oct 1945
174th MCD 885, SOS USAF CBI, India (stationed at Warasup, Burma), then 671, Hastings Mills, Calcutta, India, then 433, Tezgaon, India NA ??-Jun-42 to ??-Nov-46 23-Oct-43 to 16-Apr-46 25-Apr-44 to 16-Apr-46  
2655th MCD 400, Italy; 534, Algeria, HQ North African Theater; 766, Italy; 650, Italy, HQ, 12th Air Force & Air Service Cmd; 528, Corsica, 12th Air Force Service Cmd Jun-21-44 Corresponding APO dates:
1-Nov-43 to 17-Aug-45
8-Jan-43 to 4-Dec-44
11 Oct-43 to 12-Nov-45
30-Nov-43 to 30-Nov-45
1-Mar-44 to 6-Oct-44
Cover
CBI=China-Burma-India, MCD=malaria control detachment, MCU=malaria control unit, NA=not applicable,
SOS=Services of Supply, USAF=United States Armed Forces



Table 4. Malaria Survey Units and Their Army Post Offices
Malaria Unit APO, Location Date on Cover Date APO in Service Source
6th Malaria Survey Detachment (MSD) 74, Clark Field, Philippines 194? 25-Feb-45 to 31-Dec-64 Cover
7th, 8th, 9th, 18th, 35th, and 36th Malaria Survey Units (MSUs) 885, India NA ??-Jun-42 to ??-Nov-46 National Archives record, report dated 7 Apr 1944
8th MSU 627, HQ, 14th Air ForceServ. Of Supply, China Theater Kunming> NA ??-Sep42 to 07-Dec-45 National Archives record, report dated 2 March 1945
9th MSU 465, Calcutta, India NA 15-Mar-43 to 31-Mar-48 National Archives record, report dated 01 Jan 1944
14th MSU BPO 2, Morocco 600 (in return address), Algeria Nov-15-43 Nov-18-42 to 15-Sep-43 (BPO 2), Nov-22-42 to Dec-??-44 (APO 600) Cover
14th MSU 605, Roberts Field, Liberia Jun-07-43 Jun-22-42 to June-??-46 Cover
17th MSD 70, Philippines Jan-17-46 Jan-11-45 to May-31-46 Cover
18th MSU 689, Ledo, Assam, India, Base Section Three NA Jan-13-43 to Jan-15-46 National Archives record report dated 01 October 1945
19th MSU, later cover is 19th MSD 622, Dakar, Senegal (2 covers) Mar-21-44, Jun-06-45 Jan-01-43 to Mar-15-46 Cover
21st MSU 717, Munda, New Georgia Is, Solomon Is Jul-26-44 Nov-20-43 to Mar-15-45 Cover
26th MSU 320, Papua New Guinea Mar-04-1944 Nov-01-43 to Sep-19-44 Cover
29th MSU 622 629 (in return address), Dakar, Senegal Sep-09-1944 Jan-01-43 to Mar-15-45 (APO 622) Nov-02-42 to Apr-07-46 (APO 629) Cover
35th MSU 689, Ledo, Assam, India, Base Section Three Aug-24-1944 Jan-13-43 to Jan-15-46 Cover
36th MS? 210, China Feb-24-1945 Mar-23-44 to Dec-31-45 Cover
42nd MSU 709, Solomon Islands May-24-1944 Dec-13-42 to Nov-04-49 Cover
205th MSU 717, Philippines Oct-13-1945 Mar-13-45 to Mar-15-46 Cover
209th MSU BPO 7,
5367 (in return address), temporary APO, Philippines
Jul-15-1945 Mar-??-45 to Nov-??-45  Cover
212th MSU No APO, West African Service Command, USAF in the Middle East NA NA National Archives record, report dated 3 Jul 1944
218th MSD 81, Philippines Jul-23-1945 May-06-45 to Sept-17-45 Cover
421st MSD 12, Philippines Jun-29-1945 Jan-11-45 to May-31-46 Cover
443rd MSD 709, Solomon Islands Jul-11-1945 Dec-13-42 to Nov-04-49 Cover


References
  1. Billings, B. US postal machines of the Army Post Offices - World War II. October 2006

  2. Coates JB, ed. Preventive medicine in World War II. Volume VI. Communicable diseases. Malaria. Office of the Surgeon General. Medical Department, United States Army. Washington, DC. 1963.

  3. Forte J, Helbuck RW. A price guide to the U.S. A.P.O. cancels of the Second World War.Lake Oswego (OR): La Posta Publications. 1996.