Camp Croft, S.C.
CAMP CROFT'S FIRST YEAR
Camp Croft's first year was a
fast moving drama,
crowded with as many events, perhaps, as world history saw
The complacent America of a year ago, superficially and apparently safe
from immediate war danger, could have been compared to the tranquil
and farm fields on which now stands one of the most modem of infantry
training centers in the nation.
Crackling rifles and machine
guns disturb nature's
quietude and marching soldiers trammel upon ground where cotton and
once grew - but all of this activity represents Camp Croft and its
answer to Pearl Harbor and Singapore.
A virtual city with a
population larger than a typical American town, the modern camp rose
was in full operation within four months. Turning out fighting
by training them in all phases of infantry combat is the major job of
Croft, which during its first year has seen four different permanent
Col. Louis A. Kunzig was the
first to take
the reins of the cantonment. He was followed by Major Gen.
Oscar W. Griswold, who was succeeded in turn by Brig. Gen.
Alexander M. Patch, Jr. In recent weeks another change came when
Gen. Clarence R. Huebner became the new camp commander.
Negotiations for the proposed
identified simply as "a site in Delmar about five miles south from
were finally completed in late November, 1940, after the War Department
announced its intention of establishing a camp here. The early
of December saw conferences of land titles and awarding of contracts,
principal ones of which went to Fiske-Carter Company of Spartanburg;
Jones Company of Charlotte, N.C.; and Boyle Road and Bridge Company of
Ground-breaking ceremonies were
held on Dec.
5, and within a week some 300 carpenters, electricians, laborers and
masons were at work.
Construction was under the
direction of Major
Neil McKay, who had been named by the War Department as camp
quartermaster, to supervise all camp construction.
In mid-December first thoughts
on a name for
the camp were heard. Chief among them was the suggestion of
Kunzig, who presented the name of Camp Croft, to honor the late Chief
Infantry Major General Edward Croft, a native of nearby Greenville, who
died in 1938. The name was approved immediately by the
City Council, but official War Department approval did not come until a
Machinery of all sorts, shapes,
and sizes roamed
and rumbled over the new activity-filled area as a new city rose
By Christmas of 1940 more than 3,000 men were at work tearing down
grading, building offices, installing wires, mixing cement, and laying
Late in December and early in
problems were faced by construction engineers. Long sieges of
shortages of materials and labor, and a serious influenza epidemic
the progress engineers had achieved early in their work. The
of Jan. 16 saw more than 2,000 workers fail to appear for the starting
whistle. Contractors met the problems with determination and
several weeks sunny skies and quick recovering workers put smiles on
once gloomy faces of foremen. On Jan. 24 contractors estimated
were at work on the project.
calculations, and estimates
had reached astronomical numbers by mid-February. With an
$2,000,000 allotted for camp construction, the War Department announced
its approval to build a $345,1000 laundry establishment. Plans
announced for a 2,230,000 gallon water tower to rise in the
area, while laborers were hard at work on a water-line to connect the
and Spartanburg proper. The line was to be a 14-inch pipe to be
over a distance of some 19,000 feet.
Sightseers from many miles
around took sunny
Sundays drives to the multimillion dollar project and resulting jam on
Pacolet Highway led state highway officials to close the road.
Late in February the cantonment
but ready for occupation, and on March 7 the first newly enlisted men
and were assigned to B and C companies of the 33rd Battalion. The
outfits became proud and boastful, and justly, for they were the first
to be activated at Camp Croft. Several weeks before their
regular army troops, forming the camp's training cadre, had been
to the camp. By the end of March the entire 33rd Battalion was
and Camp Croft's training history began to be written.
Newly drafted men continued to
pour in during
April, and with Spring in full swing, eight battalions, the 32nd
the 40th, were filled and actively at their grim work. During
period the 50th Battalion, comprising negro soldiers only, had also
Simultaneous with the
of men, the construction quartermaster announced that approximately
in additional construction would soon get underway. The
program would include an officers' club, chapels, and several other
With the "new" city rapidly
importing its population,
Spartanburg, its nearby "old" city, became active in its interest in
Croft. Religious, social political and welfare organizations
their efforts to make the strangers at Croft "at home." Recreation
of all sorts were planned and with it strict enforcement of vice laws
urged. Post headquarters announced the appointment of Mrs. D. B.
14-year Spartanburg resident as Camp Croft's senior hostess.
April also saw the appointment of Miss Lucille Davis as junior hostess.
A blanket declaration in the
the range area -- nearly 16,000 acres of Piedmont farmlands -- also
in the developments of April. The filing of this document gave
"go" signal to Major James Barksdale, then camp engineer, in the
work of providing drill grounds, rifle, bayonet, and landscape
anti-aircraft courses, and ranges for machine gun and 60 and 81
mortars and hand grenades.
Four major events occurred in
May as Camp Croft
continued in its progress. On May 5 the first public parade saw
33rd and 34th Training Battalions impressively march in review.
Service Club was dedicated on May 10 and seven days later all
under the original contracts was declared "completed." Plans were
on May 22 for a $250,000 beautification program. The landscaping
included 1,000 acres of Bermuda grass. And so what five months
had been a barren stretch of land became in the month of May 1941, a
military camp with a perpetual busy hum of activity.
A highlight of June was a
parade in honor of Colonel Kunzig, who was then camp executive
The entire camp personnel took part. Camp Croft's first commander
had been assigned to command Camp Blanding, Fla. Less than a week
after the departure of Colonel Kunzig the first graduates of the
basic training course departed from the 33rd Battalion for the 28th
in Indiantown Gap, Pa. June also saw the opening of a USO drive
The ensuing months saw
increased training activities,
added USO entertainment features for the soldiers, and special programs
to make the average soldier's brief stay at Camp Croft a happy one.
Taking the limelight for
September was a 4,500-man
parade which marched in review before Mrs. Maribel Williams Croft wife
of the late General Croft.
Not to be outdone in sports
organized a top-notch football team. Known as the "Croft
and under the able direction of First Lieut. Joseph Katalinis, former
University star, the team played nine games, winning six, losing two,
tying one. With the aid of Stanley Krivik, former Fordham
the Crusaders scored 144 points to their opponents' 32. Boxing
basketball also were participated in commendably by Croft soldiers
A religious activity long to be
at Camp Croft was the solemn Pontifical Mass celebrated on Oct. 5 on
parade ground by the Most Rev. Amleto Giovanni Cicognani,
Delegate to the United States. More than 8,000 persons, soldiers
and civilians, attended the mass, which was a feature of the three-day
12th annual conference of the Charleston Diocesan Council of the
Council of Catholic Women. On Oct. 27 special ceremonies were
as six Camp Croft chapels were dedicated.
Dances, plays, games, fun --
-- coupled with hard infantry training makes Camp Croft for any
man a place to long for --- and for any about-to-leave soldier a
And so the camp goes on --
turning out fighting
men to fill Uncle Sam's infantry divisions in the nation's all-out war
effort against the Axis. The history-making pages of this
camp-the crossroads of the nation-continue and look forward-forward to