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Camp Grant Gallery Five
The soldiers setting up their pup tents that were used at Camp Grant on overnight training missions in the field
In the field the soldiers would use their mess kits they first received when inducted into the army. Food was prepared on portable stoves and served to the hungry men who stood in line expectantly. Shown above are soldiers cleaning up their mess kits after a day of training out on the field.
Buildings at the camp were arranged to increase control by the company commander. Each training company was assigned four barracks, one administration building, and one mess hall, grouped so that the company commander could keep close watch over all activities in the company area. When selectees arrived at the center, they were assigned to standard, semi permanent barracks, designed to house sixty three men.
The line at one of the mess halls at Camp Grant where the soldiers were fed nutritious meals to maintain health, strength and endurance and also boost the morale of the men. There was one mess hall for every four barracks.
The soldiers dining at the mess hall where six to eight soldiers would sit at each table. They did not have to stand in a cafeteria line as the World War One soldiers had, but rather the food was placed on platters on the table and passed around the table. The soldiers would enjoy their meat, potatoes and bread on dishes and use silverware.
The Army provided many recreational facilities such as the War Department Theater shown above
Post Exchanges, or the PX as it was known was where the soldier could buy about anything he would need, for notions to beer. The PX was a place where soldiers could also gather to read, write, chat or play games.
Another view of the PX, soldiers would get the lowest prices possible on all of their needs here.
The Service Club featured plenty of entertainment. There were concerts, variety shows, radio broadcasts, social mixers or a soldier could read books or write letters to home.
"Social Mixer" Camp Grant, Illinois. Dancing at the Camp Grant Service Club is enjoyed by every soldier. All types of entertainment are to be had here, including books, concerts, amateur shows, radio broadcasts, and impromptu gatherings. The Service Club houses one of the most modern cafeterias in the middle west, and offers a haven for the army man who wants "something to do" or merely wants to sit down and write a letter to the folks back home." From the reverse side of the postcard.
The Officers Club at Camp Grant was located near the Rock River and provided a place for the officers to socialize. Social and recreation centers provided clean and wholesome diversion from strenuous routine of life in camp. Dances, games, swimming, movies and other forms of entertainment were provided for the soldiers.
Camp Grant was said to be one of the most beautiful camps in the country. Supplies and instructors for the common specialist schools and the special training unit were provided by the U.S. Office of Education, through the Illinois Board of Vocational Education. Instructors for the Cooks and Bakers School, the Clerical School and the Motor Mechanics School. The board also furnished tools and garage supplies for the Mechanics School, and most of the typewriters and machinery used by the Clerical School.
This cooperative effort continued until December 1941, when the commandant of the center was notified that supplies and instructors would have to be withdrawn because the U. S. Office of Education could not provide funds for their further support. Through special arrangements, the equipment provided by the board was retained until February 1942 when the War Department was able to fill requisitions for replacements. Of the twenty three civilian instructors, fifteen were retained as civil service employees for the duration of the war. The remaining vacancies were filled by military personnel with civilian teaching experience.
"The Chapel in the Trees", the exterior of Saint Paul's Chapel at Camp Grant. Within the camp religious facilities were available to the men of all denominations, below is a pictorial of some of them.
Saint Paul's Chapel Interior view with a service in progress
Saint Mary's Chapel exterior view with soldiers posing in front
Saint Mary's Church Interior with a service in session
All Saints Chapel Exterior View, appearing almost identical to Saint Mary's Chapel
All Saints Chapel Interior View
Shown above are the medical corps at Camp Grant being reviewed on the parade ground
Camp Grant also served as a POW detention center and in 1943 special facilities were built to house the German prisoners of war. Upon arrival they were helped by clerks who took the prisoners fingerprints and filled out forms containing their personal information, stripped of their clothing since they still were wearing their German army uniforms and issued brand new underwear, shirts, shoes and socks and green uniforms like the American soldiers wore, but marked with a PW on the sleeves, one pant leg and hat to identify them as POW's.
The detention center was surrounded by guard towers which were occupied by machine gunners, searchlights and barbed wire. The barracks for the POW's had a kitchen and office along with sleeping quarters. The center provided medical care and there was a large recreation area for the prisoners. During it's existence the center employed upwards of six thousand civilians. There were around 2,500 Prisoner of War in the camp, not one prisoner escaped during their stay at the camp. The detention center was closed in 1946, the prisoners of war were returned to their homeland.
After the war Camp Grant also served as a separation center for returning GIs. The Army established new regulations and the Medical Training Centers were designated as Army Service Forces Training Centers. Camp Grant was one of three centers training troops for the Medical Department, and all were being taxed to provide a combined capacity of 50,000 trainees. When troop requirements were increased to 70,000 in mid-1944, Camp Grant was unable to provide facilities for further expansion. In June 1944, the medical training center began the process of transferring to Fort Lewis, Texas where additional training facilities were available. As classes graduated, buildings were closed, and the staff and equipment were shipped to Fort Lewis. The last of the staff departed for Fort Lewis on September 30,1944, and on October 15, the center at Camp Grant was officially disbanded.
Many of the buildings were dismantled and sold. For many years after the war, some of the remaining barracks buildings of Camp Grant were converted into makeshift apartments. These homes were utilized by returning GIs that had young families. By the late 1940s many of Camp Grant's buildings were torn down and residents moved out, the few that still remained were renamed to Morningside Heights. The Chicago Rockford International Airport occupies much of the land that used to be Camp Grant. Much of the remaining camp land was purchased by Seth B. Atwood in the 1950s, who would later donate the former Camp Grant rifle range to the Rockford Park District, who would name it the Seth Atwood Park in his honor.
The most famous trainee at Camp Grant was Jack Ruby – assassin of Lee Harvey Oswald, accused assassin of President Jack F. Kennedy
In 1953 the moving of the first of twenty-six Camp Grant barrack structures to new sites was started. They were slated to become apartments in housing projects. The heaviest supporting timbers seen beneath the former Army barrack building in the picture above measured 14 inches by 14 inches and were 60 feet in length. Four “dollies” of four, rubber tired double wheeled each permitted the structures to roll smoothly to their new locations.
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