MOBILIZATION AND TRAINING CAMP FOR MEDICAL DEPARTMENT UNITS
CAMP CRANE, ALLENTOWN, PA.a
Camp Crane was established in May, 1917, primarily to afford a mobilization place for recruits for the United States Army Ambulance Service, the recruiting center for which was located in Philadelphia; later it was used for the mobilization of Medical Department units of all kinds.
The officers who had been detailed to develop this service were ordered to Philadelphia and were directed to recommend a site in the vicinity of that city for a mobilization camp. They were instructed to secure a camp site which afforded as much shelter already constructed as possible, as military necessity required the War Department to conserve the limited amount of canvas on hand, and it had no funds, at the time, available for the construction of buildings. The grounds of the Lehigh County Agricultural Society, at Allentown, which had a dozen or more permanent buildings of construction more substantial than is usually found on fair grounds, and which were easily accessible for troops and supplies, were secured for the purpose, and were formally turned over to the Government on June 1, 1917.
All of the buildings and some of the stables and sheds that had been used for fancy stock, were utilized for shelter for the men, and later additional space was provided by the erection of frames over which tarpaulins were stretched. The most useful building on the grounds was the grand stand which was modern in every particular, constructed of brick over a heavy steel frame. It seated 10,000 people. In one end of the building were spacious offices, an express office, telegraph office, and a small jail room. The greater part of the space under the grand stand seats was occupied by restaurant facilities, consisting of a dining room, which seated over 2,500 people, with large kitchens at either end, each equipped with eight gas ranges and some large cooking utensils, such as are usually found in hotels. The building also had large lavatories in which there were over 100 modern flush closets. Seats were torn out of the greater part of the grandstand and it then afforded the preferred assignments as section quarters.
The space inside the half-mile elliptical race track was utilized for parking cars and for the garage, while the track afforded space for practice in driving cars. All of the larger buildings were equipped with running water and with electric lights.
a Unless otherwise indicated, the facts herein given are based on: History of United States Army Ambulance Service. History of Camp Crane, Allentown, Pa., by Lieut. Col. E. E. Persons, M. C. Copy on file, Historical Division, S. G. 0.
As soon as practicable the Government erected 12 two-story barrack buildings of the standard type adopted for cantonments, a camp infirmary, and 2 buildings for officers’ quarters. A year later 4 more barrack buildings were erected. The Young Men’s Christian Association built a small “hut,” the Young Women’s Christian Association a “hostess house,”and the Knights of Columbus a house for recreation purposes.
A central steam heating plant, with a battery of three large boilers was installed, at a cost of about $125,000, to heat all the occupied buildings except the officers’ quarters, in which a small heating plant was included. One of the largest and best of the permanent buildings was fitted up as a machine shop and garage, and as soon as the congestion in the camp was relieved by the completion of the new barracks, the largest of the fair ground exhibition buildings was turned over to the entertainment committee for amusement purposes.
Early in July several of the best noncommissioned officers of the Medical Department of the Regular Army were detailed to the camp, assistant quartermasters were assigned, clothing and supplies began to arrive, individual mess kits were issued, and the camp settled down to a comparatively normal routine.
UNITED STATES ARMY AMBULANCE SERVICE
The United States Army Ambulance Service was unique in the history of military organizations of our Government. It was the only unit ever assembled by the Government which was intended primarily for use as a part of a foreign army, organized and equipped in a manner indicated by another nation.
When the United States declared war, the several European powers then at war with Germany sent delegations to the United States for consultation concerning the conduct of the war. Before it had been determined that America should make immediate preparations to send troops to Europe, a conference was held in Washington between the representatives of our War Department and the French High Commission, led by Marshal Joffre, with a view to determining how the United States could best aid France in her prosecution of the war. At this conference, Marshal Joffre asked, among other things, that arrangements be made to furnish France with some ambulance service; and at the request of the American representatives at the conference, he outlined the organization and equipment of the French ambulance sections, a plan of organization which he considered best adapted for the ambulance work desired. To comply with this request of the French Government, it was directed that the United States Army Ambulance Service be organized as follows: 2
II. (1) Under authority conferred by section 2 of the act of Congress “authorizing the Presidcnt to increase temporarily the Military Establishment of the United States,” approved May 18, 1917, the President directs that there be organized for the existing emergency, the enlisted strength being raised and maintained by voluntary enlistment or draft, as a part of the Medical Department, the United States Army Ambulance Service, consisting of the following personnel:
Commissioned: Colonel 1; lieutenant colonels, 2; majors, 8; captains, 32; first lieutenants, 160; total, 203.
Enlisted: 168 ambulance sections, each consisting of: Sergeants, first class, 1; sergeants, 2; corporals, 1; mechanics, 2; cooks, 2; privates, first class, 26; privates, 11; total, 45.
(2) The following transportation is authorized for each section: Motor ambulances, 20; motor truck (2-ton), 1; motor truck (¾-ton), 1; motor car (5-passenger), 1; motor cycle (with side car), 1.
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This was amended later as follows: 3
1. Paragraph 1, Section II, General Orders, No. 75, War Department, 1917, organizing the United States Army Ambulance Service as a part of the Medical Department, is amended so as to provide for a total of 34 captains, 169 first lieutenants, and 169 ambulance sections.
The orders quoted above were based on the general plan that one of the sections would be assigned to a division of the French Army; that for each 5 of the sections a repair shop and general supply depot would be established in command of a captain; that for each group of 20 sections an inspector with the grade of major would be provided, and that the higher administrative work of the service would be conducted by 2 lieutenant colonels and 1 colonel. This general scheme, like many other preconceived plans for the operation of Anlerican troops abroad, was ultimately modified beyond recognition. The senior officers of the organization, with a few sections, went to Italy for duty with the Italian Army, while the larger number of sections in France operated under the command of an officer commissioned in the Medical Corps and not in the Ambulance Service.
Plans for securing personnel and equipment were begun several weeks before the first order above quoted was promulgated by the War Department. An officer of the Regular Army at the time inspector-instructor, sanitary troops, Pennsylvania National Guard, was directed to begin recruiting for the ambulance service in Philadelphia. Applicants were enlisted in the Medical Enlisted Reserve Corps. Two experienced officers of the Medical Corps were ordered to Philadelphia to take charge of the recruits for this service. The headquarters and chief recruiting center for the organization was temporarily located in Cooper Battalion Hall, at Twenty-third and Christian Streets, Philadelphia, a building placed at the disposal of the Government for the purpose by the Episcopal Church of the Holy Apostles. Here members of the Medical Enlisted
The rumor spread rapidly that an ambulance service would probably be among the first organizations to be sent abroad, and applications for enlistments by men who were impatient to get overseas immediately were received from all parts of the United States. Colleges asked to be permitted to form complete sections of their own men, and the War Department granted their request, making the organization unique in this particular. Over 40 colleges and universities furnished one or more sections of 55 men, who were sent to Camp Crane in charge of one of the party who had been selected as leader. In addition to the men recruited at the Ambulance Service recruiting station at Philadelphia, and the large number of men enlisted at the colleges and universities, a considerable portion of the personnel was derived from the American Red Cross ambulance companies, which desired immediate service. A number of cities and a few industrial corporations contributed complete sections to the service, and a very considerable number of men came from Army recruiting stations throughout
the country which were authorized to send applicants for this service to Camp Crane. Volunteer enlistments furnished personnel for all the sections of the Ambulance Service except a few which were organized just before the armistice from drafted men, and the enlisted personnel of the service as a whole was of a very high grade. With the exception of one or two instances, all enlistments were made in the grade of private, and promotions were made on the basis of ability demonstrated after arrival at camp.
MOBILIZATION AND EQUIPMENT
Headquarters of the Ambulance Service moved from Philadelphia to Camp Crane on June 9, 1917. The first organization to arrive was the Red Cross ambulance company from Washington, D. C. When Allentown had been definitely decided upon as the site for the mobilization camp of the Ambulance Service, 3 carloads of supplies, including blankets, cots, galvanized-iron cans, tools, etc., were sent there at once under convoy of a soldier from the Quartermaster Department depot in Philadelphia. Detachments of students who had been impatiently waiting at their colleges for the announcement of the location of the camp began to pour into the camp before clothing and individual mess equipment were available. Soon after the camp was opened the number of men who reported exceeded its capacity, and from the middle of July until the 1st of December, 1917, it was necessary to keep some organizations out on practice marches constantly to relieve the congestion. No organization retained its quarters in camp while on a practice march.
The commander of the camp and of the Ambulance Service took charge of general administration and procurement of camp supplies. The personnel for entire sections was furnished by individual colleges, cities, and in some instances by corporations. These groups of men usually arrived in charge of some man whose capacity for leadership and whose enthusiasm had placed him at the head of the party. On arrival at camp this man was usually designated as acting sergeant, first class, and he assisted in selecting the other noncommissioned officers for the section. Each section was required to furnish two cooks and one man for dining-room service in the mess. Sometimes two men were found in the section who confessed to having had some meager experience in cooking, and they were detailed as cooks; but as a rule two men had to be selected at random and designated as cooks. The section mechanics were selected in the same way.
Ordnance for equipping the individual soldier, including mess kits, web belts, and other accessories were among the last articles received at the camp. The difficulties encountered in securing clothing and other personal equipment were due to inability of the depots to get the required goods and to delays in transportation.
The organizational equipment was obtained without delay. As soon as it was definitely determined what the unit equipment was to be, the necessary orders for motor equipment for 120 sections were placed.
The French High Commission was insistent in its recommendations that Ford ambulances, touring cars, and light trucks be used, based on their experience during the first two years of the war. It was stated that the lightness of
the car, its durability, and the ease with which parts could be interchanged gave it great superiority for the work to be performed. Orders were therefore placed for approximately 2,400 Ford ambulances, 120 Ford trucks, and 120 Ford touring cars, 120 Packard trucks, and 120 motor cycles with side cars, with an allowance for replacement and a fair allowance of spare parts. By special effort on the part of the manufacturers, early delivery was secured. This large bulk of motor equipment arrived at the seaboard before cargo space was at a premium, was immediately sent across, and landed at St. Nazaire to await the personnel for which it was intended. Later, reports came from France that the spare parts which were urgently needed had not arrived with the shipment of cars, and the matter was investigated here, but it was finally found that the parts had been shipped but had been abstracted by the Quartermaster Department and used for their cars needing repairs.
The purpose and scope of the activities of this camp are set forth in the following communication: 4
1. These instructions are intended to coordinate the work at the various medical camps of instruction so that it will he carried out on common lines.
Also that the instruction given at these camps, and that which it is proposed to give the medical personnel necessarily serving with troops to meet their needs in the field and at posts, shall have similar basis and method.
To the end that the instruction to be given, and the results to be secured, shall be standardized, the general provisions of this letter will he carried out. You are authorized to modify the general outline of instruction given in paragraph 14, to meet limitations imposed by tune and the technical nature of the ambulance service. All details of execution are left to you arid you are held responsible for proper results.
2. The course is intended to give student officers a general idea of the basic duties of a medical officer and prepare them for service with troops in the field.
Training will be intensive and pushed as rapidly as possible. It will be borne in mind that the services of thousands of instructed medical officers must be available at an early date. Also that your officers, though now assigned to ambulance work, may he detailed to duty with troops or hospitals and should be grounded in the duties pertaining thereto.
3. The training to be given is intended to prepare these officers to conduct the service of the Medical Department without either the supervision of experienced medical officers or the aid of well qualified noncommissioned officers. The limited number of these two renders it probable that few, if any, will be available for regimental duty, or with ambulance companies and field hospitals.
For this reason, also, upon the reserve medical officers will fall the duty of themselves drilling and training the very many thousands of enlisted raw recruits which will be assigned to the Medical Department, and they must be put into a condition to carry out effectively this most important work.
4. Student officers will be assigned to sanitary units, and receive advanced systematic instruction coincident with the more elementary instruction they will he expected to give to their subordinates.
5. You will make such assignments to instruction duty as you deem best, making due effort to assign to each subject officers known to you to have given special attention thereto and to possess ability to impart information.
You are authorized to use as instructors any strident officers found specially qualified in any subject, and to give them special authority while serving, irrespective of rank.
6. Instruction by lectures, except in special subjects, will, as far as possible, give place to recitations. Lectures are not considered as effective as recitations in imparting detailed
information, nor do they afford opportunity to test the capacity and grade the student. Further, your personnel of trained officers is not large enough to cover all subjects by lectures.
Lessons will, therefore, be assigned in the authorized textbooks, and quizzes held thereon, for the purpose of grounding them in theory and insuring that a competent knowledge of methods and principles has been acquired.
7. Coincident with this theoretical instruction, the student officers should as far as possible be made to visualize the organizations, apparatus, and methods concerned. In addition to study and lectures, it is most important that they should learn by seeing and doing. So far as possible, instruction will be made practical.
To this end, for example, specimens of all sanitary appliances and methods likely to be of use in field work will be procured or constructed and continually kept in effective operation at the camp, and the officers will be shown their purpose and practical use.
Bombproofs for trench warfare and gas chambers for practical trial of protection against poison gases will be constructed.
In connection with paper work, all papers required by the medical and other departments will be actually made out until familiarity therewith and correctness of result is secured.
Mess management, taught in theory, will be actually demonstrated in the organization kitchens. Applied camp sanitation will be taught by sanitary inspections. Drill will be taught until every officer can himself effectively handle and instruct therein the units and detachments of the Medical Department.
The internal economy and administration of regimental detachments, ambulance companies, and field hospitals will be thoroughly taught.
8. The training course \u000bill he divided into three periods. The first, while instructing the officer as such, is intended especially to familiarize him with the duties of his enlisted subordinates whom he must shortly train. The second takes up his training in his own special functions as an officer. The third carries on and completes the work of the second period.
Now, training classes should as far as possible be started at the conclusion of each month’s training period. However, to meet immediate needs, officers needing training ivill be organized at once into groups for instruction.
9. The following textbooks are authorized for the course of instruction: Army Regulations; Manual for the Medical Department; Field Service Regulations; Drill Regulations for Sanitary Troops; Manual for Courts-Martial; Army cook books.
These hooks will he invoiced to you without requisition. You will issue one copy of each to each student officer, who will take them with him when he leaves camp for duty elsewhere for reference and use in training his subordinates.
Maps and war-game sets will be sent out on requisition.
You will procure maps of the maneuver grounds in the vicinity of your camp from the commanding general of your department. One map should be available to each student officer.
10. The following school textbooks will be sent you without requisition. They are for use in your training work and will not be taken away by officers.
Field Physical Training of the Soldier, Koehler. (Special Regulations No. 23.)
Manual of Physical Training, Koehler.
Technical Military Dictionary (English-French and French-English), Willcox.
Manual for Noncommissioned Officers and Privates of Infantry, 1917.
Handbook for Sanitary Troops, Mason.
Medical Service in Campaign, Straub.
Elements of Military Hygiene, Ashburn.
Principles of Sanitary Tactics, Munson.
Military Hygiene, Havard.
Sanitation in War, Lelean.
Gunshot Injuries, LaGarde.
Military Surgery, Penhallow.
Surgery in War, Hull.
Also Merton ‘s life-size first-aid charts.
In addition, a miscellaneous assortment of reprints, bulletins, etc., will be sent you for reference and distribution; also a series of current medical publications.
11. The daily instruction, except Saturday afternoon and Sunday, should approximate seven and one-half hours daily.
It is left to the commandant of each medical officers’ training camp to prepare schedule for the hours available in each period of instruction among the subjects and time therefor required. This will enable the meeting of the needs of emergency, stormy weather, etc. Copies of the detailed schedules so prepared by you will be furnished this office as soon as possible.
12. The following general scheme is suggested as a daily schedule:
11.30 to 12.55..........................Dinner, rest, etc.
6.15 to 6.30.............Setting up
1 to 1.55 p.m............................Quiz or lecture.
6.35 to 7.25.............Breakfast; police of quarters.
2 to 2.55...................................Quiz or lecture.
7.30 to 8.25.............Drill (marching).
3 to 4.25...................................Drill
8.30 to 9.25.............Drill (special).
4.30 to 5.55...............................Care of
9.30........................Quiz or lecture
10.30 to 11.25..........Quiz or lecture
13. On this general plan, 180 hours of formal instruction will be given monthly. No evening exercises are contemplated. Time will be needed for study. Saturday afternoon should he a rest period. Officers should be encouraged in ambulance work on Sunday.
14. The following scheme shows the proposed scope of training of medical officers during the first period: b
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15. To stimulate student officers to their best work, a certain number of places in the grade of captain and major, Medical Department Officers’ Reserve Corps, will be left unfilled. Appointment will be made to those vacancies from among the student medical officers who, on vote of your staff of instructors, are recommended by you as possessing such exceptional knowledge, aptitude, and efficiency as would qualify them for such increased rank.
To this end you will establish and maintain a graded system of marking, by which relative efficiency will be recorded.
16. Also medical officers satisfying the age and other requirements and after passing such examination as the Surgeon General may require, may, on your recommendation, and subject to the vote of your staff of instructors, be commissioned at once as first lieutenants in the Medical Corps of the Army.
17. If any reserve officer is found unfit for the service by reason of physical, mental, moral, or temperamental reasons, you will, on vote of your staff of instructors, recommend him to this office for separation from the service.
18. In conjunction with the above training plan for medical officers, it is desired to establish a training scheme for enlisted men of the Medical Department. As soon as possible you will prepare a tentative plan for the training of these men iii conjunction with that for medical officers and forward it to this office for consideration.
Course for enlisted men should be based on a six weeks’ period.
19. You will also prepare and submit a plan for the instruction of selected privates with a view to their promotion as noncommissioned officers.
It is proposed to appoint men who, after satisfactorily finishing the basic course for enlisted men and the additional course for candidates as sergeants, are reported by you as qualified for such promotion.
20. Receipt of this letter will he acknowledged.
By order of the Surgeon General.
Colonel, Medical Corps, United States Army.
A schedule of instruction, based on the general scheme for instruction published by the Surgeon General for use at medical officers’ training camps,5 was put in operation, with modifications suitable for the needs of the camp.
The purpose which dominated the activities of the camp was the developinent, training, and equipment of an organization for active service overseas in as short a time as possible. The greatest asset in the accomplishment of this task was the eagerness of the personnel to assist in the organization and to receive the training; the greatest handicap in the accomplishment of the task was the lack of instructors. At the beginning, Medical Reserve Corps officers were assigned to command sections. As a rule, they were exceptionally high-grade men, who entered enthusiastically into the work. They were gradually replaced, however, by men promoted from the ranks and given commissions in the Ambulance Service, so that when the armistice was signed there were few medical officers on duty with the service, and most of the commissions in the Ambulance Service were held by men who had entered the service as privates. The policy underlying the instruction was that the instructor must know thoroughly and be able to do what he was trying to teach. Mornings were devoted to strictly military instruction and afternoons to special instruction, drawing of clothing and equipment, fatigue, etc.
Automobile mechanics and others familiar with the Ford motor were assigned to duty at the garage as instructors. With the equipment available it was found impracticable to instruct more than 500 men at one time at the garage. Five men from each section were therefore detailed to the garage each afternoon, and as soon as a man showed that he was proficient he was given a “qualification card” and returned to his section and another man was sent to the garage in his place. Though it was confidently believed that most men in training during the early days of the camp would be motor drivers, they were all given instruction in the Drill Regulations for Sanitary Troops, on the principle that every enlisted man in the Medical Department should become familiar with this manual. As a matter of fact, hundreds of these men were later detached and sent to organizations where this knowledge was vital to their efficiency.
In July four additional officers of the Regular Army Medical Corps were assigned to the camp as instructors and about 100 Medical Reserve Corps officers reported, and were all assigned to some duty in connection with the routine activities of the camp, most of them being placed in command of Ambulance Service sections.
Throughout the greater part of the period from the organization of the camp to the middle of October, 1917, about half of the command was kept on practice marches of a week to one month through the surrounding country.5 This was not only for purposes of training, but because of the congested condition of the camp. It was found that a new scheme must be provided even for those left in camp, as under the schedule then in force all elements of the command pursued the same work at the same hours daily. This caused extreme crowding of the available drill grounds, so on October 15 a new schedule, providing for rotation of the various battalions on the drill grounds and in classroom, was put into effect. This provided instruction for two-thirds of the battalions, while the other third was kept on practice marches. For severe weather, when it might be necessary to discontinue practice marches, the schedule provided for handling all battalions in camp after November 11, 1917.
The results of the instruction given were very good, on the whole.6 The congestion of the camp, the hurried preparation for and constant expectation of overseas service, the constant replacement of medical reserve officers by newly commissioned nonprofessional officers of the Army Ambulance Service, and the lack of a sufficient number of experienced officers served as handicaps of the work. This was compensated for to some extent, however, by the experience gained by every officer on duty in the camp in handling men in camp and on the march, and in managing the administrative details of an individual organization.
UNITS SENT OVERSEAS
In July, 1917, a senior colonel of the Medical Corps was designated as chief, United States Army Ambulance Service, and accredited to the French Government to arrange the details for the operation of the service and for the enlistment of the personnel of the ambulance sections of the American field service and of the American Red Cross. He visited Camp Crane before sailing for Europe, and it was arranged that 20 sections, for which complete equipment had been secured, should follow him to France, as soon as ocean transportation was available. The dispatch of these 20 sections was accomplished early in August, 1917.
In the meantime, our Government had decided to put an army in Europe as rapidly as possible, and the priority list for shipment of troops across was based on calls for them from general headquarters in Europe. Some differences of opinion had developed in France as to the number of American ambulance sections required by the French Army, and until these were adjusted no place on the priority sailing lists could he secured for the sections which were impatiently waiting transportation at Camp Crane. Finally 10 more sections at the end of December, 1917, 17 sections in January, and 5 in March, 1918, went across, making a total of 52 sections sent from Camp Crane in service in France before the armistice was signed. The French contingent of the United States Army Ambulance Service during active hostilities, therefore, consisted of about one-third “militarized” sections and two-thirds Camp Crane sections.
Events unforeseen at the formation of the Ambulance Service resulted in modifications of the original plans in such a way that 30 of the sections originally intended for France were finally sent to Italy for service with the Italian Army; and later 15 of these sections, with a few from the French contingent, were assigned to the American Army in France.
Thus it occurred that in the decisive contests of the summer and autumn of 1918, sections of the United States Army Ambulance Service were on duty with the American Army and the Italian Army.
Troops left Camp Crane for overseas as follows:
1917, July.....................3 base hospitals.
August 20...............Ambulance Service sections.
November................1 overseas gas defense service unit.
December-.............10 Ambulance Service sections; 200 casuals.
1918, January............17 Ambulance Service section.
March .....................5 Ambulance Service sections; 300 casuals.
April.....................400 casuals replacement hospitals “A”; mobile optical unit.
May.........................2 evacuation hospitals; 1 base hospital.
June......................30 Ambulance Service sections to Italy; 1 headquarters detachment to Italy; 1 hospital detachment to Italy; 2 machine-shop truck units to Italy.
July........................4 evacuation ambulance companies; 100 casuals (company No. 11); 1 mobile operating unit; 1 machine-shop truck unit; 4 base hospitals; 1 replacement unit (300 men).
August................10 automatic replacement draft units (250 men each); 1 replacement unit (100 men); X-ray unit No. 1; 1 evacuation ambulance company; 1 base hospital.
September.............1 exceptional medical replacement draft unit (241 men); 5 automatic replacement draft units (250 men each).
October.................1 automatic replacement draft unit; 31 Ambulance Service sections; 6 sanitary squads.
November............22 evacuation ambulance companies; 6 mobile hospitals; 4 mobile surgical units.
Passed through Camp Crane:
The Government property on the fair grounds was sold and removed in the early spring of 1919. The camp was formally closed, and the fair grounds turned back to the owners April 10, 1919.
(1) S. O. No. 113, W. D., 1917, detailing Lieut. Col. E. E. Persons, M. C., and Lieut. Col. P. L. Jones, M. C.
(2) G. O. No. 75, W. D., June 23, 1917, Sec. II, pars. 1 and 2.
(3) General Orders, No. 124, W. D., September 30, 1917.
(4) Letter from the Surgeon General, United States Army to the commanding officer, United States Army Ambulance Corps, Allentown, Pa., July 13, 1917. Subject: Nature and scope of instruction to be given the above personnel. On file, Record Room, S. G. O., 314.7-1 (Allentown, Pa.).
(5) Special Regulations 49a, 1917.
(6) Letter from Maj. C. C. Hillman, M. C., to commanding officer, Concentration Camp, U. S. A. A. S., Allentown, Pa., December 4, 1917. Subject: Brief history of instrution at this camp. On file, Record Room, S. G. O., 314.71 (Allentown, Pa.).