First World War Training Camps

First World War Training Camps

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After men joined the army they were sent to local army camps to be turned into soldiers. As experienced officers were needed in France to organise the war against the Germans, elderly people were bought out of retirement to train the men. These men were often over the age of sixty. One sixty five year old officer died of a heart attack while on parade. Another gave out instructions while sitting in his bath-chair. An elderly cavalry officer weighed over 20 stone and the regiment had great difficulty finding a horse that could carry him. They also had to build a special loading platform so that the officer could get on his horse.

Most of the officers were recruited from universities and public schools. Sometimes men became officers without even an interview. George Gillet was offered a commission while playing cricket with a colonel. Gillet was told that any of his friends that he wanted to bring with him from Harrow could also have a commission.

Training camps rarely had enough huts for men. Most of the recruits had to sleep in tents. Conditions in these tents in winter were appalling and there were several examples of soldiers going on strike. Eventually it was decided to billet the men in local towns and villages. This also created serious problems. One soldier, Charles Cain, admitted later that the recruits sometimes took advantage of their hosts: "ten soldiers were billeted to one women who had three teenage daughters, and the mother and all the daughters finished up the family way."

One of the most pitiful things here is the incompetence of our instructors. They are nearly all illiterates and most have been out of the army some10 years. One slouches about in a bowler hat and confessed he does not understand some of the drills. The company Sergeant-Major is a weak, stupid fellow, looks 55 or 60, doesn't know his business.

In November 1914, I was in an army camp at Tidworth. Icy mud flowed over the floor, sometimes up to a height of 2 inches. Tent pegs lost their hold, with the inevitable result the each increase in mud and rain was marked by the wholesale collapse of tents. Blankets, bedding, clothes and men became plastered with mud and conditions began to have an effect on health.

"School?" enquired the adjutant. I told him and his face fell. He took up a printed list and searched through it. "I'm sorry," he said, "but I'm afraid it isn't a public school." I was mystified. I told him that my school, though small, was a very old and good one - founded, I said by Queen Elizabeth in 1567. The adjutant was not impressed. "I'm sorry," he repeated. "But our instructions are that all applications for commissions must be selected from the recognised public schools and yours is not among them."

It is not true, as some critics of the First War British high command have suggested, that Kitchener's army consisted of brave but half-trained amateurs, so much pitiful cannon-fodder. In the earlier divisions like ours, the troops had months and months of severe intensive training. Our average programme was ten hours a day, and nobody grumbled more than the old regulars who had never been compelled before to do so much and for so long.

Woolwich Common, six hundred of us, sleeping under tents, in the middle of winter. I'll never forget my first night in the army. Mother had always told me to wear pyjamas or I'd get lumbago! Well, I was putting them on when the tent flap opened and a voice said "Cor bloody blimey! Come and have a look at this bloke, he's a getting dressed to go to bed!" Well, they all had a good laugh at me. I don't think most of them had seen pyjamas before. They all seemed to sleep naked. And the foul language! I'd never heard such swearing before in my life.

We were generally handicapped by shortage of rifles and equipment, for I was doing my first two months training in the clothes I enlisted in. I received my first suit of khaki (and that a second hand one) the last week in November, my rifle about three weeks after and then another suit the week before Christmas, this time I had a new tunic and old trousers.

I am fairly bitten with the military fever and am learning all I can. I spent yesterday morning shooting on the big range. I had never shot before, so I didn't do it very brilliantly: there is quite a lot of kick and the noise is considerable. There were only four firing at once and it was quite loud enough to make one's ears ring. What is must be like in the firing line with thousands going on, besides shrapnel and explosive shell, passes comprehension.

I was loath to go. I had no romantic illusions. I was not eager, or even resigned to self-sacrifice, and my heart gave back no answering throb to thought of England. In fact, I was very much afraid; and again, afraid of being afraid, anxious lest I show it.

The ten months' training, which the battalion went through before it reached France, was therefore a compound of enthusiasm and empiricism on the part of the junior subalterns and the other ranks.

We listened hopefully to the lectures of general officers who seemed happier talking of Jubulpore than of Ypres. We pondered the jargon of experts, each convinced that his peculiar weapon, machine-gun, rifle, bayonet, or bomb, was the one designed to bring the war to a satisfactory conclusion.


Since 1917, Camp Shelby has served as a training site for various military branches. It was the second largest training site during the Second World War and played a pivotal role in training troops for overseas service during the Global War on Terrorism.

Today, Camp Shelby encompasses over 134,000 acres of Perry, Forrest, and Greene counties in south Mississippi. In its 100-year history, Camp Shelby has fostered a strong legacy of excellence in training American military personnel during war and peace.


Camp Shelby was first activated on July 18, 1917, as a training camp for National Guard soldiers during the First World War. It was one of 16 “National Army” camps established by the War Department to train mobilized National Guard soldiers. Although Meridian and Biloxi were early favorites for the base, Hattiesburg was selected.

Hattiesburg received the training camp due to the efforts of local area physicians, businessmen, and other civic leaders directly petitioning the United States Army. The effort was led by Dr. Walter W. Crawford with the help of Dr. George A. McHenry and several others.

The City of Hattiesburg proposed the camp be named Camp Crawford in honor of Dr. Crawford and his efforts to obtain the camp for the Hattiesburg area. The Army selected names for all of the new camps, however, and the “Hattiesburg Camp” was officially designated Camp Shelby on July 18, 1917. The name was chosen in honor of Isaac Shelby, a hero of the Revolutionary War and War of 1812, renowned frontiersman, and the first Governor of Kentucky. Shelby’s life was spent in western Virginia (later West Virginia), Indiana, and Kentucky. National Guard soldiers from these states were assigned to the 38th Division, which was sent to Camp Shelby for training in 1917. The 38th Division adopted its nickname, the “Cyclone Division,” as a result of a tornado that struck the camp on April 17, 1918.

More than 4,500 civilian contractors built 1,206 buildings, including a large base hospital and rail depot. Troop capacity exceeded 40,000. Besides the 38th Division, elements of the 3rd, 4th, 9th, 17th, 39th, 42nd, and 92nd Divisions also trained at Camp Shelby in the First World War. The 101st Division was established at the camp in late 1918, but was disbanded before the full division was assembled.

With the end of the First World War, Camp Shelby was closed on October 15, 1919. All of its assets had been sold as surplus by the end of 1920.


In 1934, the State of Mississippi acquired the site for use as a summer camp by the National Guard. Camp Shelby served as the center of operations for the 1938 Protective Mobilization Maneuvers held in the De Soto National Forest. With the Second World War looming, Camp Shelby was again reactivated as an Army training camp in 1940.


After reactivation in 1940, the camp was rapidly rebuilt by 17,000 construction workers. The new, larger camp featured more than 1,800 buildings and included an airfield, hospital, prisoner of war stockade, and 250 miles of roads. The cost exceeded $24 million dollars. The new camp was the second largest training base in the United States (after Fort Benning, Georgia) with a troop capacity of 85,000. The camp exceeded this troop capacity, topping 100,000 in 1944. Camp Shelby also had the distinction of being the second largest city in Mississippi after the capital, Jackson.

The first unit to arrive for training after reactivation was the 37th Infantry Division of Ohio in 1940. The “Buckeyes” were joined in early 1941 by the returning 38th “Cyclone” Division. Other major units training at Camp Shelby during the Second World War included the 31st “Dixie” Division, 43rd “Winged Victory” Division, 65th “Halbert” Division, “Fighting” 69th Division, 85th “Custer” Division, and the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team made up of Japanese-American volunteers. Women served at Camp Shelby in the 45th Women’s Army Corp (WAC) Detachment and as nurses in the base hospital. Over 2,300 German soldiers were held in an adjacent prisoner of war camp. Most of the German prisoners were captured in North Africa while serving in the famous Afrika Korps under Field Marshal Erwin Rommel.

After the Second World War, the post was again closed. The War Assets Administration sold the federally owned property. Even the water pipes were dug up and sold, most of them going to Oklahoma City, where some are still in use.


During the Korean Conflict, Camp Shelby was developed as an Emergency Railhead Facility, and $3 million was spent to restore rail, water, and electric services. In the summer of 1954, non-divisional National Guard units trained at the post, and in 1956, the Continental Army Command designed Camp Shelby as a Permanent Training Site, under the direction of the Third Army Headquarters.

In 1965, during the Vietnam War, the 199th Light Infantry Brigade performed combat training at Shelby prior to their deployment to Vietnam. The unit was honored with a community salute entitled “Shelby Sunday” before their departure, which featured a concert by Pete Fountain, Dizzy Dean, Gov. Paul Johnson, Jr., and local beauty queens. It was the first time the newly-finished Reed Green Coliseum, on the University of Southern Mississippi campus in Hattiesburg, was filled to capacity.

Since the Vietnam War, Camp Shelby has been widely utilized for training by the National Guard, Reserves, and regular forces, including Air Force, Navy, and Marine personnel. Designated as a Power Support Platform (PSP), Camp Shelby was tasked to mobilize, receive, train, and support Reserve Component (RC) units required to expand the Active Army Component (AC) to meet emergency requirements.


The post was activated on June 1, 2004, as Mobilization Center Shelby and tasked to train United States military personnel for overseas service in the Global War on Terrorism. The 278th Regimental Combat Team (Tennessee National Guard) was the first unit deployed from Camp Shelby to Iraq. Eight other brigades and numerous smaller units have followed. The number of military personnel training at Camp Shelby in 2007 exceeded that of the First World War, making the Global War on Terrorism the second largest mobilization effort in the post’s history.

The post was re-designated as Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center in 2006 to reflect its role in training personnel from all branches of the armed forces. Camp Shelby has undergone rapid growth to meet the need for training for the Global War on Terrorism. Several full-scale “FOBs,” or Forward Operating Bases, train soldiers and other personnel for conditions they would later encounter overseas. Other high-tech simulators cover nearly all other aspects of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The C-17 Assault Strip allows the aircrew of the largest of the United States Air Force’s transport aircraft to train at Camp Shelby. Camp Shelby ended its mobilization and demobilization mission in support of the Global War on Terrorism in March 2014. From June 2004 through March 2014, over 280,000 American and Canadian military personnel trained and/or demobilized at Camp Shelby.


The history of aviation training in the United States military began on 8 October 1909, when Wilbur Wright began instructing Lieutenants Frank P. Lahm and Frederic E. Humphreys on Signal Corps Airplane No. 1, which the Army had recently purchased from the Wright brothers. Each of the two men received a little over three hours training before soloing on 26 October 1909. [1]

The Army airplane trials had been held at Fort Myer, Virginia in 1908 because of its proximity to Washington, headquarters of the Army and its Aeronautical Division, but the commandant at Fort Myer (a cavalry and field artillery post) refused to relinquish the parade ground for further flight training. He was already disgruntled because the trials had disrupted his summer training schedule of mounted drills. Moreover, the Wright Brothers expressed reluctance to teach beginners to fly on the small, enclosed area. [2]

Another site was found near College Park, Maryland, about eight miles northeast of Washington, D.C. The Signal Corps agreed to lease the site. However, the winter weather meant the College Park site could not be used for year-round training. Various sites in the south and west were used during the early 1910s at Fort Sam Houston, near San Antonio, Texas, North Island, San Diego, California, and Augusta, Georgia. [2] However flying training in the Army remained on a small scale until the USA joined World War I in April 1917. [1] In February 1913, the Aviation School contingent in Augusta, Georgia, along with two pilots who had been training in Palm Beach, Florida, transferred to Texas City, Texas, to join ground forces on duty along the border. This meant that the Army Aviation school was concentrated on North Island, San Diego. [3]

When the United States entered World War I, the exhausted British and French forces wanted American troops in the trenches of the Western Front as soon as possible. By 1917, aerial warfare was also considered key to the success of the ground forces, and in May 1917, The French, in particular, asked the Americans to also bolster Allied air power. The French wanted the Americans to supply 5,000 pilots and planes, along with 50,000 mechanics to supplement the French and British air forces already in combat. [3]

The training system of the Signal Corps at that time would simply not be capable of producing such numbers. It was decided to establish a system, similar to the British training program of a ground school, then a primary flight program, then a specialized program to train new pilots in the three basic areas that had been developed by the French and British air forces, pursuit, bombardment and observation. [3]

Preflight Training Edit

The Air Service instituted the first phase of air training, ground schooling, first, because a vast reservoir of eager and qualified young men that volunteered for the Air Service, and also because this phase did not require flight instruction or aircraft. The Signal Corps sent several representatives to the University of Toronto School of Military Aeronautics, where they attended classes, listened to reports from the war zone, and gathered instructional materials and regulations used at the school. The Canadians enrolled a new class every week, graduating students in six weeks' time. Successful ground-school graduates proceeded to flying school. The system served to weed out some unfit or incompetent students early, conserving time and instructional and equipment resources. The American committee decided to adopt the Canadian program in its entirety, only lengthening the course to eight weeks (later extending it to ten weeks, then to twelve), using existing American universities for instruction. [3]

During World War I, approximately 23,000 volunteers entered flying cadet training. Eight private and state universities offered preflight (ground school) training. [4] This was conducted at:

  • Princeton University, New Jersey
  • University of Texas
  • Cornell University, New York
  • University of California
  • University of Illinois
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Georgia School of Technology
  • Ohio State University

Upon successful completion of preflight training, flight cadets were sent to Camp John Dick Aviation Concentration Center, located at the Texas State Fairgrounds in Dallas. There the cadets would be processed and placed in groups for their primary flight training. [4]

Primary Training Edit

Primary and advanced training became a major issue with the United States' entry into World War I. In April 1917, the Army had fewer than 100 flying officers and only three flying fields—Hazelhurst Field, Mineola, New York Camp Kelly, San Antonio, Texas, and Rockwell Field, San Diego, California. There was also a seaplane base, Chandler Field, Essington, Pennsylvania. [4] However, Chandler Field was closed in the summer of 1917 as inadequate, and its personnel and equipment transferred to the new Gerstner Field, Louisiana. [1]

Because it would take a long time to construct adequate training facilities in the United States, Canada provided flying bases at Deseronto and Camp Borden in the Toronto area during the summer of 1917 so that several hundred American cadets could begin primary flying training under the tutelage of the British Royal Flying Corps. The British also operated three flying schools in the United States, located at Camp Taliaferro, Fort Worth, Texas. [1] Among the benefits of the arrangement was the integration of aerial gunnery into the U.S. flight training program. A few Americans who had taken an aerial gunnery course in Canada returned to become instructors at American flying fields. By late 1917, about one-third of Hicks Field, Texas, had been given over to the RFC School of Aerial Gunnery. There, Canadians supplied the planes and equipment to train both Americans and Canadians. [4]

When the United States entered World War I, only the North Island field was a usable military airfield. Essington had been a quarantine station and Mineola, an exposition ground. In May 1917, construction began on Wilbur Wright Field near Dayton, Ohio. Soon afterward, Chanute Field opened at Rantoul, Illinois, as did Selfridge Field near Detroit. By October 31, fourteen facilities had been built, of which nine had begun flight training. [4]

During 1917, a number of fields provided primary training: Hazelhurst Field (Mineola, New York), Selfridge Field (Mt. Clemens, Michigan), Wilbur Wright Field (Fairfield, Ohio), Chanute Field (Rantoul, Illinois), Scott Field (Belleville, Illinois), Camp Kelly (San Antonio, Texas), and Rockwell Field (the old North Island site in San Diego). Proposed advanced schools at Houston, Texas, and Lake Charles, Louisiana, were also used for primary training until the necessary equipment could be supplied for specialized instruction. [4] All of these new airfields were named after Americans who lost their lives on aeronautical duty, some of which in the days when aviation was in its infancy. Three civilians who were pioneers in aeronautics were also honored. [5]

On December 15, 1917, the five northern schools closed and cadets transferred to the two southern schools. Because of year-round training, southern schools permitted a more even flow of students. Each training field consisted of 100 airplanes and 144 cadets, with several training squadrons and a Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC). [4]

Between June and late November 1917, manufacturers met the immediate demand for primary trainers with the delivery of 600 new Curtiss JN-4A Jennies, as the airplane became known. The famous Jenny remained the ubiquitous primary trainer throughout the war. [4] Depending upon the vagaries of weather, equipment, and individual ability, the aspiring pilot needed six to eight weeks, including forty to fifty hours of flying time, to earn his wings. [4]

Advanced Training Edit

Over 11,000 flying cadets received their wings and were commissioned before entering four weeks of advanced training. [1] Advanced training in the United States adopted the scheme used by tactical squadrons in France of classifying flying personnel (pilots or observers, the latter including all non-pilots) according to mission. [4]

  • Pursuit instruction took place at Rockwell Field, Carlstrom Field, and Dorr Field
  • Observer instruction took place at Call Field, Post Field, Langley Field, and Selfridge Fields.
  • Bombing instruction took place at Ellington Field and Gerstner Fields.

Supposedly, all combat airmen had taken some aerial gunnery instruction. Advanced gunnery therefore followed the pursuit pilot at the pursuit schools and the others at advanced aerial gunnery schools. The burden on the Army, as it tried to build the capability for advanced training in the United States, was ultimately insurmountable. Airfields might be used for primary as well as for advanced training, or they might be converted from one type to the other as weather conditions dictated, as equipment became available, or as demand for specialists increased or decreased. [4]

By the end of May 1918, a bombing school was located at Ellington Field near Houston a pursuit school at Gerstner Field, Lake Charles, Louisiana, and three other fields to be converted from primary to pursuit observer schools were at Langley Field, Virginia, and at Post Field, Fort Sill. There were gunnery schools at Selfridge Field, Mt. Clemens, Michigan at Ellington Field at Taliaferro Field No. 1, Fort Worth, Texas and at Wilbur Wright Field, Fairfield, Ohio, which also served as an armorers' and instructors' school. [4]

The Training Section also established auxiliary schools at Wilbur Wright Field taught armorers, Brooks Field and Scott Field contained the principal instructor's schools. Radio instruction was taught at Carnegie Tech University, Pittsburgh, Austin University, Texas and Columbia University, New York. A photography school at Langley Field was also developed. [4]

Because the United States was in World War I only for a year and a half and entered it so unprepared, only about 1,000 of the 11,000 aviators trained during the war were actually involved in operations against the enemy. Most of these operations consisted of artillery observation or air-to-air combat. Rapid demobilization followed the end of World War I, and many of these flying schools were closed and turned over to local authorities as airports, although some remained in service though the 1920s, World War II, and into the modern era. [1]

Flying Fields (United States) Edit

Aviation Section, U.S. Air Service Edit

First Reserve Wing Edit

Headquarters: Hazelhurst Field. The First Reserve Wing. The Wing controlled all flying fields on Long Island its principal function, aside from the defense of New York City, was the training of squadrons as units for overseas duty and development of teamwork in advanced flying

Second Reserve Wing Edit

Headquarters, Park Place, Houston, Texas

** Camp Taliaferro was a flight training center under the direction of the Air Service which had and administration center near what is now the Will Rodgers Memorial Center in Fort Worth, Texas. Flying airfields consisted of Hicks Field near Saginaw Texas where US flight cadets and Canadian aerial gunnery students trained, Canadian and British cadets trained at Barron Field in Everman and at Carruthers Field in Benbrook. From 1917 to 1918 British Royal Flying Corps instructors trained 6000 flight cadets at the facilities making up Camp Taliaferro.

Balloon Observers Schools Edit

  • Army Balloon School
  • Army Balloon Detachment
  • Army Balloon Detachment
  • Army Balloon Detachment
  • Army Balloon Detachment

Other Training Airfields Edit

Support facilities Edit

  • Aviation General Supply Depot, Middletown, Pennsylvania
  • Aviation General Supply Depot, Americus, Georgia
  • Aviation General Supply Depot, Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Aviation General Supply Depot, Wilbur Wright Field, Ohio
  • Aviation General Supply Depot, Houston, Texas
  • Aviation General Supply Depot, Kelly Field, Texas
  • Aviation General Supply Depot, Los Angeles, California
  • Aviation General Supply Depot, Sacramento, California
  • Aviation Repair Depot, Montgomery, Alabama
  • Aviation Repair Depot, Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Aviation Repair Depot, Dallas, Texas

American Expeditionary Force Training Edit

Upon deployment to France, additional training was conducted by a series of Air Instructional Centers (AIC)s in France using French and British aircraft that were used in the combat squadrons at the front. This supplemental training was provided because of a lack of necessary equipment in the United States. [1]

Early intentions to conduct only advanced training in Europe immediately went awry. Because the structure for primary flight training had yet to be erected in the United States and because European facilities appeared to have space, it was arranged for several hundred American cadets to be admitted to French training schools, and he contacted the British and Italians to obtain similar commitments. The English accommodated about 200 men, and approximately 500 cadets went to Foggia, Italy, for primary training. [4]

The largest number of men found themselves in France. The Air Service partially gave over the Third Aviation Instruction Center (3d AIC) at Issoudun Airdrome, France, originally intended for advanced instruction, to primary training. Negotiations for aviation schools at Tours Airdrome and Clermont-Ferrand Airdrome to be turned over to the U.S. Army-the former for observation and the latter for bombardment - were also in progress. But Tours, too, was converted to primary training. The old French aero school, located on a plateau across the river at Tours, came into American hands as the 2d AIC in September, and it remained the principal American primary flying school in France until the program's end. [4]

Tours and Issoudun conducted primary training for as many cadets as possible, even though some were left to languish, while other European schools also accepted trainees at overflow levels. Some new arrivals stayed at the Beaumont Barracks in Tours others lodged at St. Maixent still others were quartered at AEF headquarters in Paris. In January, 1918 the Training Section attempted to introduce some order by having all untrained cadets, of whom no more were authorized, removed from the schools and sent to St. Maixent, site of an old French barracks. It was to serve as the concentration point for all aviation troops arriving in the AEF. [4]

The French employed a variety of aircraft, in combat and in training. Americans at Avord learned on the Bleriot or the Caudron promising cadets then passed to the much admired Nieuport for advanced pursuit training.I4 The French could most easily spare the Caudron G-3 for the American primary school at Tours, which was itself modeled directly on the Caudron course at Avord. The Caudron G-3 was a single-engine reconnaissance airplane of 1914 vintage, already outmoded by bomber models developed from it. [4]

The Italians agreed to host as many as 500 cadets in a school at Foggia, about 200 miles southeast of Rome.” In September 1917, the school, officially the 8th AIC under joint American and Italian jurisdiction, began training the first detachment of forty-six cadets, all honor graduates of American ground schools. The detachment had been sent first to Avord, but when plans for training in Italy crystallized. [4]

Aviation Instruction Centers

  • 1st Aviation Instructional Center (1st AIC)
  • 2d Aviation Instructional Center (2d AIC)
  • 3d Aviation Instruction Center (3d AIC)
  • 4th Aviation Instruction Center (4th AIC)
  • 5th Aviation Instruction Center (5th AIC)
  • 6th Aviation Instruction Center (6th AIC)
  • 7th Aviation Instruction Center (7th AIC)
  • 8th Aviation Instruction Center (8th AIC)

* The 5th Aviation Instruction Center at Bron (now Lyon–Bron Airport) was located at the French Air Service Mechanics School. The first Americans were sent to the school in mid-September, 1917. The school was overcrowded and was lacking in proper quarters and mess facilities for the Americans. Also a lack of English-speaking instructors led to the decision to withdraw the Americans from the school. Students were sent to the 3d AIC at Issodun, with the last departing on 4 December 1917. [9]

  • 1st Artillery Aerial Observation School (1st AAOS)
  • 2d Artillery Aerial Observation School (2d AAOS)
  • 3d Artillery Aerial Observation School (3d AAOS)
  • 4th Artillery Aerial Observation School (4th AAOS)
  • 5th Artillery Aerial Observation School (5th AAOS)
  • Artillery Officers School (Aviation Detachment)
  • Cazaux Aviation Instruction Center
  • St. John-de-Monts Aerial Gunnery School
  • I Corps Aeronautical School**
  • II Corps Aeronautical School

** The I Corps Aeronautical School was a temporary school, located at the French Air Service machine-gun training school at Gondrecourt-le-Château. About 225 men were sent to the school during March and April, 1918.

Postwar reorganization Edit

In early 1919 the Air Service's hopes ran high. The War Department determined to purchase and maintain fifteen flying fields and five balloon schools for training purposes. Of those, the government already owned Rockwell, Langley, Post (at Fort Sill), and Kelly Field No. 1. Early plans anticipated opening several primary schools and separate sites for advanced training in bombardment, observation, pursuit, and gunnery. However rapid peacetime demobilization led to the closure of the leased wartime facilities and by the end of 1919 most were deactivated as an active duty airfields, and a small caretaker unit was assigned to the facilities for administrative reasons. [4]

Additional Flash Versions

As the United States entered World War I in 1917, troops began to train and deploy from newly constructed camps or bases. The two camps mentioned in the images are of Camp Jackson (now Fort Jackson), which opened on September 1, 1917, and Camp Moore, (now the Pine Ridge National Guard Armory). South Carolina was an ideal location for military training facilities, due to the warm climate and cheap labor. The opening of new camps and expansion of old bases brought new jobs and economic growth to the state that would continue to anchor the state&rsquos economy throughout the twentieth century.


&ldquo2nd Regiment, Camp Moore, Styx, S.C., photograph by Blanchard.&rdquo Photograph. (13201.4) South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina.

&ldquoCamp Jackson, Columbia, S.C., taken from 100 foot tower.&rdquo Postcard. (Postcards rich. co. 423) South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina.

&ldquoPay day, 9000 men, Columbia, S.C., Camp Jackson.&rdquo Postcard. (Postcards rich. co. 417) South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina.

Correlating SC Social Studies Academic Standards:

Standard 8-6: The student will demonstrate an understanding of South Carolina&rsquos development during the early twentieth century.

Indicator 8-6.2 Explain the impact of World War I on South Carolina, including the building of new military bases and the economic impact of emigration to industrial jobs in the North.

Standard 8-7: The student will demonstrate an understanding of South Carolina&rsquos economic revitalization during World War II and the latter twentieth century.

Indicator 8-7.5 Explain the economic impact of twentieth century events on South Carolina, including the opening and closing of military bases, the development of industries, the influx of new citizens, and the expansion of port facilities.


If successful in the various tests, new volunteers had to make a solemn promise to do their duty. In a ceremony led by recruiting officers, new soldiers swore an oath of allegiance to the King upon a Bible. But, with so many men eager to join up, the process was often rushed. Sometimes men were asked to recite the oath simultaneously in groups to speed the process up, as seen in this photograph. The oath required every new recruit to swear to 'faithfully defend His Majesty, His Heirs and successors…against all enemies'. It also required each man to promise to obey the authority of 'all Generals and Officers set over me'. Recruits pledged to serve as long as the war lasted.

US Army Training Centers - History and Photographs

New England didn't pay a great deal of attention to Camp Devens at first. Afterwards the camp became the hub of our own particular little universe. Scarce a family in the six New England States that didn't have some relative or friend at Devens. It would be difficult to find a person in these Northeastern States who was not in some way interested in it.

Camp Dix, New Jersey was named in honor of Maj. General John Adams Dix, U.S. V., who served as Secretary of the Treasury under President Buchanan. Established July 18, 1917, to serve as training camp for 78th Division (National Army), which occupied the cantonment, August 1917 to May 1918.

Camp Dodge, Iowa was named in honor of Maj. General Grenville M. Dodge, U.S. V., who commanded Iowa volunteers during the Civil War. Established on June 18, 1917 to serve as training camp for 88th Division (National Army), which occupied the cantonment August 1917 to July 1918.

Camp Funston is the only Cantonment possessing a Zone of Camp Activities, representing an invesment of over $1,500,000, financed and built by private capital, without cost to the Government, planned under the personal direction of Captain Dick B. Foster. It is four city blocks long, containing an arcade where refreshment booths are established.

Named in honor of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, U. S. A., Commander-in-Chief, U. S. A., 1864-69, and President of the United States, 1869-77. Established, July 18, 1917, to serve as training camp for 86th Division (National Army), which occupied the cantonment, August 1917 to August 1918. Construction started June 24, 1917 and continued through 1918.

Camp Pike, Arkansas was named in honor of Brigadier General Zebulon M. Pike, U.S. Army, discoverer of Pike's Peak killed in action, 1818. Established July 18, 1917 to serve as training camp for 87th Division (National Army) , which occupied the cantonment August 1917 to June 1918. Construction started June 17, 1917 and continued through 1918.

Camp Zachary Taylor was established by Act of Congress for the purpose of training men for the World War. It was situated near Louisville, Kentucky. The Original tract comprised two thousand seven hundred acres which was later added to as more space was required to take care of the men assigned to this training ground. Major Lamphere had supervision of the first 1200 barracks buildings, construction of which was begun on June 22, 1917.

A Usable Past: First World War Training Camps on Civil War Battlefields

When visitors flock to America’s National Parks, the battlefields from the American Civil War are perennially popular. Every summer, thousands come to walk over the serene fields and forests where men suffered unimaginable carnage. These sites have become sacred in the American psyche, places to remember and honor the dead, educate the public, or engage in quiet personal reflection. The rolling plains, dense forests and impressive mountains of Civil War battlefields inspire awe and reverence for what author Robert Penn Warren tagged America’s only “felt history.”

Such attitudes towards our Civil War battlefields did not always exist. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, most of the battlefields were owned by the United States War Department. The War Department’s attitude toward the land was entirely pragmatic. Much of the land over which Civil War armies fought was tactically important terrain, hence the reason why generals chose to fight there. Studying historic battles has always been an important part of military instruction, and the War Department took a hands-on approach to training America’s future fighters, literally creating a usable past by recreating, drilling, and practicing tactics on Civil War battlefields. During World War One, battlefields became training grounds. Gettysburg, Chickamauga, and Petersburg, huge sites in the Civil War world, also played a role in the First World War. Gettysburg became home to Regular Infantry in the summer of 1917 and was named Camp Colt to train the newly formed Tank Corps in 1918. Camp Greenleaf, located in the heart of the Chickamauga battlefield, housed the Army Medical Corps. Camp Lee, near Petersburg, trained infantry.

Medical Officer’s Training Corps at Camp Greenleaf in 1917. (click image for full view)
Library of Congress.

At these battlefield training camps, the past collided with the future. Buildings and barracks covered landscapes such as the rolling plain of Pickett’s Charge. At Gettysburg, men at the infantry camp stationed there in 1917 discovered bodies of Civil War soldiers as they dug water lines. Pieces of uniforms, minié balls, and other wreckage of the charge surfaced in their camps, sometimes right under their tents. In 1918, tankers practiced driving their Renault tank over the uneven ground. Included below is a photograph of a tank maneuvering over the barn bridge of the Bliss farm, the last evidence of a barn that was burned by Union soldiers during the battle to keep Confederate riflemen from occupying it. Little Round Top, the site of the famous Union defense of its left flank, was used as a backstop for machine gun practice. At Chickamauga, the Medical Corps taught stretcher drill running through the difficult forested terrain. Outside Petersburg, doughboys constructed their own trench lines and practiced trench warfare.

World War One tank maneuvering over a barn bridge at the former site of the Bliss farm.
To the right of the tank can be seen markers for the 12th New Jersey (L) and 1th Connecticut (R).

Although the barracks and buildings that littered Civil War battlefields have mostly disappeared, not all evidence of these training camps is eroded. At Gettysburg, three out of the original five observation towers still stand on Culp’s Hill, Confederate Avenue, and Oak Hill. These towers were built by the War Department in 1895 to teach topography and give soldiers an understanding of using terrain strategically. At Petersburg, those trench lines built by the doughboys still exist and are often mistaken for Civil War trenches.

Dorey Halsted, Captain of 4th Infantry stationed at Camp Gettysburg in 1917.
Library of Congress.

What makes our battlefields sacred spaces to be preserved? Although the question may seem obvious and perhaps even insulting to our intelligence, I’d like to challenge you, dear reader, to consider it seriously. The Civil War was still within living memory during the First World War and there was still tremendous admiration for sites like Gettysburg. What has made our Civil War battlefields sites of historic preservation rather than pragmatic usefulness?

Camp Sherman

When the United States entered the First World War in April 1917, the nation was not fully prepared for the war effort. As a result, the government scrambled to create a system for training troops. Camp Sherman, located near Chillicothe, Ohio, was one of the new training camps. Ultimately, Camp Sherman became the third largest camp in the nation during the war. The camp was named after famous Ohioan and Civil War general William Tecumseh Sherman. Construction began in July 1917, and the first recruits arrived in September. Before World War I ended, more than forty thousand soldiers had received training at Camp Sherman. The camp was eventually home to four different divisions: the 83rd, the 84th, the 95th, and the 96th. The war actually ended before the 95th and 96th were ready to go overseas.

The camp was built on top of Hopewell American Indian mounds in the area. Some of these mounds had been destroyed by agriculture over time, but others were bulldozed to make way for the 1,370 buildings constructed at Camp Sherman. The camp was organized like a small city. In addition to barracks and offices used by the soldiers, there were theaters, a hospital, a library, a farm, and a German Prisoner of War camp. German POWs remained at Camp Sherman until September 1919, several months after the war had ended. There was also a railroad system, and the camp had its own utilities system.

Camp Sherman had a significant effect on nearby Chillicothe. It provided employment for many of the community's residents and housed many soldiers' families. Local businesses experienced significant increases in revenue because of the influx of population into the area. In addition, the people of Chillicothe tried to improve soldiers' morale by offering entertainments and hosting soldiers for dinners at their homes.

In 1918, the influenza epidemic arrived at Camp Sherman. Thousands of soldiers contracted Spanish influenza in the late summer and early fall, and nearly twelve hundred died from the illness. Although the community of Chillicothe was quarantined to prevent the spread of the epidemic, some people outside of the camp still became ill and died of the disease.

When the war ended, the camp temporarily functioned as a trades school to educate veterans so that they were qualified for jobs. A hospital for veterans was also established. During the 1920s, the United States government closed Camp Sherman and ultimately dismantled it. Today, none of the original buildings still stand. The land originally occupied by Camp Sherman now has a number of uses. It is home to the Veterans Administration Medical Center, the Ross Correctional Institution, the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, a wildlife refuge, and the Chillicothe Correctional Institution.

Why indoctrinate children?

Children were seen as the future of the country, the Nazi regime and its ideologies, and the beginning of the perfect Aryan nation. Many of the Hitler Youth grew to be obedient soldiers with a fanatical attachment to the Reich and its leader. The deterioration of the German army as the war drew to an end led to younger boys being plucked from their homes and sent to the front, beginning with 17-year-olds and, by 1945, soldiers as young as 14 or 15 years old who had been members of Hitler Youth were sent to defend their country and the Aryan race they believed in.

Furthermore, Hitler believed the indoctrination camps and organizations removed children from the influence of their parents, who may not be Nazi supporters and were obstacles to their ultimate goals. Through the Hitler Youth and League of German Girls, Hitler was able to drive the Nazi ideology into homes regardless of parents' opposition to the regime.

"Youth serves the leader," "all ten-year-olds into the Hitler Youth." Poster circa 1941. Image credit: Everett Collection/Shutterstock

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The beginning stages of the First World War saw increasing suspicion by the Canadian populace of immigrants from Germany and Eastern Europe, particularly Ukrainians, Austrians, Poles, Czechs and Slovaks. Over 80,000 immigrants from these nations were forced to carry special identity cards and report for regular interviews with local authorities. Further, 8,579 "enemy aliens" (5,000 of which who were of Ukrainian origin) were interned in twenty-four detention camps during the course of the war, the federal government confiscating their property and monies in the process.


Students will gain the following understandings:

- That the perceived emergency created by participating in the First World War impacted the relationship between collective rights and individual rights of citizens.
- The trials of a war that seemed to continue with no prospects of victory, aroused intense and hostile feelings towards specific minorities within the Canadian community.
- That the actions and policies of other nations influence the actions and well-being of the Canadian people and the unity of the Canadian nation.
- That within each society, a divergence of views exists concerning key societal relationships, including whether the well-being of the society should take precedence over the rights and well-being of individual members or groups within the society.


The beginning stages of the First World War saw increasing suspicion by the Canadian populace of immigrants from Germany and Eastern Europe, particularly Ukrainians, Austrians, Poles, Czechs and Slovaks. Over 80,000 immigrants from these nations were forced to carry special identity cards and report for regular interviews with local authorities. Further, 8,579 "enemy aliens" (5,000 of which who were of Ukrainian origin) were interned in twenty-four detention camps during the course of the war, the federal government confiscating their property and monies in the process. No evidence of disloyalty on the part of the internees or the registered ‘enemy aliens’ was ever produced.


Proceed to a larger class discussion using the following questions:

1. Why do you think the Canadian government chose to place these residents of Canada in concentration camps?
2. Did the Canadian government have solid evidence to support their action?
3. Was the Canadian government justified in taking this action, given the political/military/social realities of that time?

- apply the fundamental elements of dialectical evaluation (gathering information defining the issues within the information testing the viewpoints for factual accuracy testing the viewpoints for their morality evaluating the factual and moral testing and, forming a conclusion about the issue)
- apply moral tests (role exchange, universal consequences, and new cases)
- practise making hypotheses based on reasonable assumptions and inferences
- practise identifying connections and interactions
- practise identifying cause and effect relationships
- practise applying the thinking skills of: stating the criteria that can be used to determine decisions and actions and, evaluating consequences as a means to evaluate the criteria selected


Supporting documents for this Learning Tool

Supporting documents for this Learning Tool

Watch the video: British Recruits Joining Up 1914-1918 (June 2022).


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