Monday, April 20, 2009

About the Abbot Engineer

The Abbot Engineer was the official Camp Abbot weekly newspaper. It began publishing on May 21, 1943 before the arrival of the first soldier. At first the paper was four pages but eventually expanded to eight. It was distributed free to camp personnel and available at various subscription rates up to $1.50 for one year. Most of the written contributions, artwork, and photographs were provided by Camp Abbot personnel. Additional material was provided by the Camp Newspaper Service of the War Department.

Besides general camp news and the dissemination of official U.S. Army information, the paper featured regular “Notes” from the various battalions describing current activities of their units. These were informal articles that gave a more intimate picture of the weekly activities in camp. “Abbot ‘n Around” listed entertainment on and off the post for the coming week. This included USO activities in Bend such as dances, open houses, breakfasts, and game nights. The entertainment listings also showed scheduled Service Club activities and the weekly theater schedule.

Not surprisingly, “cheesecake” was a prominent feature of the paper. The comic strip “Male Call” by Milton Caniff, “The Wolf” by Sansone, and a variety of glamorous photos of scantily attired young women populated the pages.

Sports also provided diversion for the men and were featured on the last page of each issue. Team records and statistics were given, including league standings, box scores and bowling team scores. The format was much like that one would see in a regular city sports section.

It is interesting to follow the chronology of Bill’s letters with that of the Camp Abbot Engineer. The depiction and description of camp events in the “official” newspaper are very often at odds with Bill’s “G.I.” version as outlined in his letters. The rosy, public relations viewpoint of the camp publication is tempered by Bill’s skeptical cynicism.


  1. The fact that the Abbot Engineer started publication before it had a readership reflects the extent to which the War Department and the administration as a whole wanted to control the message of the war effort. The image being presented is that of a happy, organized, efficient camp. This is a good thing as you transform civilians into soldiers.

  2. Despite the "backwater" nature of Camp Abbot, it is clear after reading an issue of the newspaper that the training camp is a thorough and complex operation. The U.S Army seems to have left no stone unturned. In additon to it's primary function as an engineer replacement training facility the Army has created a community with all the elements that one would find in a large city.


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