Mess Hall
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Camp Croft, South Carolina
US Army Infantry Replacement Training Center

Seventy-five tons of food was delivered to the 91 mess halls on a daily basis. Each man was allotted 5-1/2 pounds of food per day. Each training company had its own mess hall with four barracks to each mess. Squads took turns acting as "table waiters" for their fellow soldier and can be clearly seen in the bottom photo wearing white "tank top" style undershirts.
"Your mess is supplied with the finest food that money can buy. Because the Armed Forces are in a preferred status regarding food, civilian food rationing is necessary. Since civilians are making sacrifices to support our war program, it becomes essential that we conserve our food supply and prevent food waste. The Army is not entitled to all it wants. It is entitled to only that which it needs. The lack of food in the last war helped to bring about the final collapse of Germany, and will likely contribute the collapse of the Nazis in this one. To make sure that the same thing does not happen to us, we must all cooperate. We are not only the arsenal of democracy, we are the breadbasket as well. Food is an important instrument of war. Food keeps the civilian population going; food wins the favor of neutral states; it wins friends and gains allies.  Food must not be wasted." --- from the "Information Hand Book For The Soldier - IRTC, Fort McClellan, Alabama", c1944

The Old Mess Hall! 

 By Joe Lipsius

I remember with much pleasure my first encounters with the Mess Hall of Co C, 32nd Inf Trng Bn, IRTC, Camp Croft, SC, just outside of Spartanburg, SC.  For almost 2 years prior to entering the army, I was living in Montgomery, AL. on my own, eating catch as catch can, in restaurants, cafes, a Morrison's Cafeteria, drug store soda fountains, hole-in-the-wall hamburger and hot dog joints. There were no fast-foods! I think maybe a Toddle House, but I am not sure.

The Mess Hall, just a few steps from my barracks, fed around 200 men from Company C, three square meals a day on a regular basis, all hot and steaming except for Sunday night cold cuts.

The major-domo of the Mess Hall was a Sergeant Stout, a regular army veteran of many years, who took pride in feeding his men what I soon called "Good Chow."  I was always trying to get in the Mess Hall early for each meal and would be among the lingering eaters which earned me a name as a "Chow Hound."  My taste for Sgt. Stouts's food soon paid dividends.  I began to gain weight and went from a paltry 112 pounds to about 125 which my father and sister noted on my first visit after being in the army about 2-3 months.

The Mess Hall had its bad side, though. That was when you had to work kitchen police, better known as "KP."  By some magic formula which was never explained, we all had our turn working in the kitchen in various jobs such as "firing the boiler", working the "pots and pans" sink, etc.  After three or four turns at "KP," I finally earned Sgt. Stout's respect to the point he offered to make me a cook if I wanted to work in the kitchen.  I said, "No thanks, Sarge, Sir.  I like the food and I don't mind the kitchen work, but I like close-order drilling and marching better so I'll stick to doing it."