The Camp Roberts Historical Museum notes, “Camp Roberts officially began its mission as one of the world’s largest training sites in March 1941. It featured the world’s largest parade field (the length of 14 football fields) and hosted an Infantry Replacement Training Center and a Field Artillery Replacement Training Center.
436,000 troops passed through an intensive 17-week training cycle. A peak population of 45,000 troops was reached in 1944, with thousands of these soldiers quartered in huge tent cities.”
20,000 new Camp Roberts soldiers moving to combat units in eight weeks (1942)
The Salt Lake Tribune (Salt Lake City, Utah) Jan 5, 1942
Camp Roberts, Cal., Jan 4th — Twenty thousand new selectees at Camp Roberts have begun an intensive training schedule with the beginning of the new year with men in field artillery training units to be graduated to combat organizations at the end of eight weeks, it was announced Sunday by Brigadier General A.W. Lane, camp commander.
Previously field artillerymen trained 12 weeks. Under the new schedule, new men are classified as to the branch of service for which they are best fitted in one day instead of four, as formerly.
Hours of training have been lengthened and training continues Saturdays and holidays, it was announced by Major K.H. Hunter of Midvale, assistant plans and training officer.
Compensating for the intensive schedule and extra hours General Lane has ordered six-hour passes, at the discretion of officers, for as many as 25% of the camp personnel. Passes, except in cases of emergency, have been denied since war was declared. A survey is being made to determine if shorter training for infantrymen would be practical.
Have firing practice
Field artillerymen in eight weeks complete basic training and firing practice with all weapons. Previously continued training has included night problems and tactical training. Under the new schedule tactical training is acquired with the units to which the Camp Roberts graduates are assigned.
Wives and families of soldiers in all parts of the country are evidencing a willingness to rearrange their home affairs “for the duration,” Robert Wiseman, American Red Cross field director, said.
Family cases in which the Red Cross assists in rearrangements of home affairs for Camp Roberts soldiers have risen to 25 percent of the work of this office and are on the increase, he said.
Red Cross swamped
Soon after war was declared correspondence coming to Camp Roberts from every state and most of the cities and important towns indicated that wives and families immediately began worrying about their soldiers. The soldiers’ in camp swamped the camp Red Cross with requests for reports through local Red Cross chapters of the welfare of their families.
MORE: Rationing during WW2: See war ration books, ration stamps, gas stamps, sugar coupons & more from the ’40s
More than 700 cases in which Red Cross assistance was requested were closed at the Camp Roberts office last month. More than 1,200 cases are pending and 200 new family problem cases a month are being brought in.
To handle the work and to make the office available to all soldiers regardless of training hours, the Red Cross staff has organized a night shift and are on duty practically 24 hours a day, Mr. Wiseman stated.
An immediate task of the camp Red Cross when Camp Roberts went on a war basis was to notify wives and families of soldiers who had taken up temporary residences in nearby towns that they should return to their permanent homes. Soldiers made 24 requests for this service the first day passes were canceled. (Find out about the Victory Gardens the wives and families planted here.)
A grand opening and dedication of the patients’ recreation building in the hospital area will be held Thursday, January 8, with a half-hour program broadcast over the NBC blue network, it was announced today by Brigadier General A. W. Lane, camp commander.
Highlight of the celebration will be a world premiere for 700 soldier patients of a Donald Duck picture, “Donald Gets Drafted.”
Infantry Training Area, Camp Roberts (1942)
Field Artillery Training Center
Playing baseball (1942)
Officers speaking to the troops
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