Monday, February 9, 2009

Letter 15- October 31, 1943

October 31, 1943
(Camp Abbot, Oregon)

Dear Mother,

This is the conclusion to the letter I started this morning. I had to go out on a short detail for about one half hour. After that I came back to the barracks and put on my O.D.s. Then I went out for a walk to find out what Camp Abbot looks like. Talk about a postman’s holiday. Well, anyway it was a beautiful day; sun out and blue sky. I went down to the service club first of all and got myself a nice big malt. It was darn good, but it ought to be for 25 cents. Other stuff is pretty cheap. There are a lot of comfortable chairs there and a good, if small library.

For lunch we had for the first time a really good meal-ham (plenty of it with pineapple), corn, lettuce salad, potatoes and gravy, and plums for dessert. After that I went to the show and saw this picture “Flesh & Fantasy”. What a picture! After the picture I went back to the service club for a sundae, and there I met the other fellows from Co. ‘A” who were down at Fort MacArthur. They had thought I was in the hospital with pneumonia-typical accuracy of a Camp Abbot rumor.

For dinner tonight we had Spanish rice. It was as lousy as the noon meal was good. However, for the first time they had canned tomatoes. Most of the fellows at my table didn’t care for it so I was able to eat all I could hold. Hot dogs!

Better close now.




  1. While it might be obvious, Bill writes on a Sunday. Camp Abbott's service club with a fountain and movie theater speaks well of some of the planning for the post. There was undoubtedly a list of features to be built for every installation. I wonder if by this time the service clubs served low-point beer.

    Bill doesn't mention crowds of men attempting to avail themselves of sundaes, malts, and theater seats on their one day off a week. But standing in line is probably so normal to Bill that it doesn't warrant mention.

    Greg, do we know when Camp Abbott's population peaked?

  2. David, I will have to get back to you on your question, but I have a great deal of information on the day-to-day activities at Camp Abbot because I was able to procure the entire run of the "Abbot Engineer", the official newspaper of Camp Abbot. It is fascinating to compare the weekly issue of the camp newspaper,which promotes the official Army line of events,with Bill's letters of the corresponding week which tell "the real story." The entire issue of the "Abbot Engineer" is available on microfilm from the University of Oregon library for a nominal fee of $25. In the near future I will post a blurb about the "Abbot Engineer" and the "Camp Abbot Panoram" a 2 issue run of the camp magazine which I was able to purchase on ebay.

  3. David,I do not have definitive information as to when Camp Abbot reached its peak population level, but it is reasonable to assume that it had reached a peak of 10,000 by the time Bill arrived in October of 1943. According to a letter I got at the University of Oregon research library dated 8 July 1943 written by the Camp Abbot Commander, Col. F.S.Besson to the War Production Board, “Camp Abbot, Engineer Training Replacement Center recently activated near Bend, Oregon will reach full strength of 10,000 officers and men this summer.” When one reads the camp newspaper it is apparent that Camp Abbot it a beehive of activity both on the training fields and elsewhere.

  4. Wow, 10,000 soldiers in one place. All I can imagine is that Bill learned to stand in line. Maybe that is where we Baby Boomers got the information "stay in line, wait til your name is called."

  5. Over 90,000 men and women went through Camp Abbot during it's 14 months of existance. The WAC's arrived in June of 1943, but because the men out numbered the women 15-1 when they had a dance at the Service Club they had to import women from Bend.


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