They put us in the Army and they handed us a pack
TOO many early arrivals at the Allentown Fairgrounds, the officers running the training camp, established there in the spring of 1917, seemed to be obsessed with the necessity of going on a hike. When we look back on the congestion in the camp in those first few months we can easily understand the philosophy behind the hike. The men were pouring in in such numbers that if a battalion were not taken out on a hike, utter chaos would have developed. These familiar names stand out --- Saylorsburg. Kern's Mill, Wernersville, Gettysburg, Betzwood, Valley Forge, Slatington, Bath, Weaversville, Lehighton, Catasauqua, Delaware Water Gap, Emmaus, Tobyhanna. There are few towns or hamlets around the great city of Allentown that failed to see these rifleless soldiers stirring up the dust or wading through the mud in the years 1917 and 1918.
Speaking of remembering, it seems correct to quote the one man who had more to do with keeping the soldier at the Fairgrounds out of trouble than any officer, the Rev. William E. Brooks.
"Ours was a little camp. Before the great-days came it had been a Fairgrounds devoted for a week of each year to horse races and prize pigs, and the rest of the year to silence. Then in the summer of '17 the buildings had been cleared of booths and the cattle sheds painted and fumigated, and boys from all over the land filled them, lured by the certain assurance of the wise ones in Washington that in six weeks they would be driving ambulances in France. They did not get there in six weeks, but they did get there finally and mighty tales of great adventure are told of them and hundreds of decorations prove the worth of the tales. Through that long, hot summer they had drilled here until every blade of grass was worn away by their feet, and thousands of other feet that followed them in '18. Even the fence surrounding the oval race track had been removed to make more room for drilling and dismantling and assembling automobile chassis. Near the main gate there was a grove of trees. Here under these trees stood tents of the medical staff where they shot us full of vaccines and viruses and made us sore physically and mentally, particularly mentally. There were the horse-stalls and the oft told tale about the rookie that wandered in late one night still in "cits," with his new issue blankets and folding cot under his arm. "Where am I?" he asked of a group around a candle. And they paused in their game long enough to answer, they got the startling reply. "Then I'm in the wrong place, I was ordered to the pig-pens."
"Here was the big mess hall under the grandstand, where we first formed that acquaintance which ripened into intimate fellowship, with "tinned Willy" and beans. And over yonder the big recreation hall crowded o'nights, when boxing bouts were held. No one can ever forget that last big night before the Italian Contingent sailed and two thousand howled themselves hoarse about the padded ring in the center. The ground within the track was the parade, and leaning over the outside fence, we saw the clouds of dust and the lines swinging by as the old CO. reviewed them for the last time. He was a bully old CO., with a lot of plain American common sense, and he knew the value of using it as he turned these American boys into fighting men.
"And then there was that time when they would sound retreat and we would stand near the big flagstaff beside headquarters. This was always the most solemn hour in the camp day, that hour when the slow bugle blew, and the colors began to fall. There was a song the band played as the bunting fluttered down, while everywhere over the camp, men stopped as they were, faced toward headquarters and stood at attention. The K.P.'s peeling potatoes at the doors of the mess hall, the prisoners digging ditches or working on the coal pile, the guards walking their posts, the officers with their ladies over under the trees, every man of the camp, buck private, shave-tail and big chaps with eagles on their shoulders, stood stiff and steady during those proud imperious moments. Even the Q.M.'s forgot their lordly grandeur, and ceased scorning the humble crew on whom they had just thrust blouses that did not fit, as they listened to that call. It was a moment when one remembered why he was there, why men were dying on the other side of the world, and ideas like liberty and freedom and right possessed our souls. And as the band crashed out the final chords, their echoes rang through our hearts with a high resolve that ----
"That scene, night after night repeated, helped to keep the men steady through those long slow days of training, through the monotony of drills, through the horrors of the hours when we learned to use gas-masks, through the cold and heat, the dust and mud, the snow and rain, and sent every man, with strong heart, ready for action overseas."
So much went on at the Fairgrounds in the early stages, it is hard to select the high spots. From the very beginning when the clean-up crews came through the gates on May 17, 1917, until the final closing of Camp Crane on April 10, 1919, the swirl of men coming and going is a hard story to keep up with. One man tried, and we are indebted to him for the following chronological review. Some important dates are missing, such as when and by whom did the Fairgrounds take on the name of Camp Crane. Further in our story the source of that name will be told; right now let's listen to Richard Short's "Soldiers All."
May 24, 1917---
Officers of the Lehigh County Agricultural Society signed a lease with the government for establishing at the Fair Grounds a training camp for the U. S. A. A. Corps. Col. E. E. Persons, U. S. Medical Corps, was named commander of the camp.
May 28 ---
A telegram was received by the Chamber of Commerce stating that the Secretary of War had approved the rental of the Fair Grounds for a year as a camp site at a cost of $37,000 with $7,500 additional for alterations.
Fifty more recruits arrived at the Fair Grounds. A number were put at work assembling ambulance chassis and bodies. Headquarters offices were opened in the grandstand.
June 9 ---
Announcement was made that General Pershing and his staff had arrived in London. An ambulance corps unit recruited at Washington, D.C., arrived and almost swamped the American Hotel when they all entered the dining room at once. The population at the Fair Grounds camp now numbers 1300 with arrivals daily.
June 10 ---
An ambulance unit from Bucknell arrived at the Fair Grounds. Other units arriving today included 72 men from University of South Carolina. They were assigned to a place in poultry house No. 1.
The cement sheds for cattle at the Fair Grounds were fitted up with 100 showers for the soldiers. Large details were busy digging trenches for latrines.
On Sunday, June 10, a chicken dinner was served to 1248 men in seven minutes. Religious services were held in the afternoon with Rev. W. E. Brooks in charge. The address was delivered by Hon. F. M. Trexler of Allentown.
The upper tiers of seats in the grand stand were being removed to make room for sleeping quarters.
June 12 ---
Lt. Col. E. E. Persons arrived and assumed command of the camp.
Ambulance men numbering twenty-seven arrived from Amherst College today.
Chamber of Commerce officers were looking for quarters for wives of officers on duty at the Fairgrounds camp.
Arrivals at the camp numbered 1,800 and daily drills were being scheduled.
June 19 ---
The Pasadena, Calif. unit arrived. There were 126 young men in the contingent. They reported ovations at all stations enroute.
The unit being organized in Allentown for duty with the Ambulance Corps reported twenty-eight men enlisted.
A schedule for daily drills was put in effect.
Dictionaries of French and English words were being distributed. Quartermaster officials at the camp said they were looking forward to the arrival of shipments of 1500 pairs of shoes from Boston; a carload of coats from Chicago and 1,000 blankets from Philadelphia.
Local barber shops reported a rush of business.
June 21 ---
Units from Spokane and New York arrived. The latter unit was from Columbia University.
A fire in the kitchen at the local camp caused a lot of excitement. Very little damage resulted.
The men of the St. John's Lutheran Church discussed plans for holding a social in the near future for the members of the Lutheran Church among the soldiers.
June 22 ---
Units from University of California and Yale arrived at the local camp.
Two new units arrived in camp today, one from Brown University, and the other from Chicago.
There was some disappointment at the camp because some of the units which numbered upwards of fifty men, were being split into units of thirty-six men to conform to the French Army standards. Men left over were placed in a casual group and they objected to being separated from their comrades.
Social diversions were being organized. Already there were more than half a dozen pianos among the units.
June 26 ---
A committee of the Chamber of Commerce was arranging to have local bands give concerts at various times at the Fairgrounds for entertainment of the men.
One hundred and twenty recruits arrived at the Fairgrounds, bringing the total present in camp to 3,333. It was stated that by the end of the week all recruits would be supplied with uniforms.
One of the units at the camp attracted a lot of attention on the streets as they hauled a piano, secured down town, to the camp on an army truck, with one of the men tickling the ivories on the way up Hamilton Street.
Among the Y.M.C.A. workers at the camp was Henry Colgate, son of the perfume manufacturer. He had charge of entertainment.
June 27 ---
Entertainment of the men at the camp by local organizations and citizens was becoming a rapidly growing custom. The Men's Club of Salem Church sponsored a "military night." Members of various fraternities represented among the men at the camp were arranging get acquainted banquets.
A motion picture machine was installed at the camp and shows were given nightly in front of the grandstand. An instructor arrived at the camp to take charge of group singing which helped to while away the evening hours.
Washington, D.C., announced the arrival in France of the first detachment of the U.S. troops.
Col. H. P. Birmingham, second in command of the Surgeon -General's office at Washington, arrived in the city to make an inspection of the camp at the Fairgrounds.
During the heavy thunder shower at the camp, the cesspools under the grand stand overflowed into the mess halls and the soldier boys had a busy time battling with the flood.
Today was the third anniversary of the assassination of Arch Duke Ferdinand at Sarajevo, which led to the World War.
July 7 ---
To harden the men for field service, three battalions of the rank were ordered to hike to Tobyhanna.
Units from Yale and the Univ. of Texas arrived at camp. The members of the Allentown camp were given their second inoculation of typhoid prophylaxis.
A junior military dance was held at the newly opened College Hotel, sponsored by the mother of one of the soldiers and attended by. a number of the city's prominent debutantes.
A baseball team was organized at camp. College stars were numbered among the recruits.
Collegiate stars among the men at the Fairgrounds camp participated in a track meet July 4th.
In order to enlarge the drill grounds the fence between the race track and the track enclosure was removed. Two new barracks buildings were under construction.
It is getting to be a common sight to see local citizens call at the camp with their autos, load up a number of soldiers and take them away for some entertainment,
The Epworth League of the Linden St. M. E. Church entertained one hundred and fifty young men from the ambulance camp.
The population of the ambulance camp reached a total of 4,500. The latest arrivals were two units from Detroit
Mayor Reichenbach issued a call for a public meeting in Zion's Reformed Church for the purpose of organizing a "Big Brother" movement to take care of the men at the camp.
A unit of ten men from the camp was placed on provost duty at Central Park to preserve order among the soldiers at the park during the evenings.
A number of tennis stars from the camp participated in a tournament at the grounds of the Allentown Tennis Club.
Three battalions from the ambulance camp left this morning on a hike to Tobyhanna. The men were equipped in heavy marching order and were to sleep in their pup tents. The hikes were planned as part of the program to harden the men for field service. The first day's march was to take them to Saylorsburg.
It was announced that the strength of the ambulance units was to be increased from 36 to 45.
The officers at the camp enjoyed trout for their Sunday dinner with the compliments of General Trexler.
More than 400 cakes of various sorts were contributed for the Sunday dinner for the men by the ladies of the city.
Battalions of the men were to be seen hiking along the roads about the city daily as part of the hardening process.
Brides were turning up almost daily at the camp and numerous weddings were taking place.
The post exchange at the ambulance camp reported sales of $400 worth of candy daily and an equal amount of cigarettes and other tobaccos. A cafeteria had also been added to the exchange.
A group of 125 men from the camp were invited to attend a dance at the country club as guests of the members.
Plans were under way for the celebration of Bastille Day, July 14th.
The payroll at the camp was estimated to be $155,000 per month. Yesterday was pay day and the men stood in line for hours in a heavy rain.
The details from camp off on hikes were considerably hampered by the muddy roads caused by the heavy rains. They made twenty and a half miles the first day and stopped for further orders.
Various individuals and groups applied to have units assigned to them in the "Big Brother" movement.
July 12 ---
There was mud galore at the camp the last two days.
A large vocal chorus was being organized among the soldiers. Rehearsals of the French national anthem to be rendered Bastille Day were under way.
The appointment of Col. J. R. Kean to succeed Col. Persons at the camp was announced.
Thirty-six colleges and universities were represented in the 116 units thus far organized at the camp.
The report of the previous week to the effect that Col. Persons was to be succeeded in command of the ambulance camp proved groundless.
Col. Persons and Major Franklin of the camp were guests of the Rotary Club at a meeting held at the Elks.
Bastille Day was celebrated at the camp with a program of sports, speeches, music, etc.
A number of USAACs were made guests of picnickers at Dorney Park when they went there to take a swim.
July 17 ---
A Unit from the University of Chicago arrived at camp.
July 18 ---
Scores of parties and entertainments were being held nightly, when men from the camp were guests.
Major General Wm. C. Gorgas, Surgeon General of the U.S. Army arrived in the city to make an inspection of the camp.
The Arion singing society of the city gave a concert in front of the grandstand for the USAACs.
Members of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity at the camp were entertained at the local chapter house, 731 Turner St., by Dr. Fred R. Bausen. Lawrence H. Ruff gave a talk on "The Young Soldier of France."
And here we must assume that Short went overseas --- so we conclude these personals and chronological notes with some items from the pages of the local Allentown newspapers.
July 28, 1917, USAACs entertained at "Millerheim," the home of Mr. and Mrs. David A. Miller, No. 2221 Chew St., was the setting for entertainment last evening for Section 590, Univ. of Michigan. In the party were Robt. A. Ambler of Bristol, Tenn.; Cyril E. Bailey of Paw-Paw, Mich.; Harry C. Barriett, Ann Arbor, Mich.; Theo. I. Bauer, Traverse City, Mich.; Albert M. Boyd, Bradford, Ill.; Donald M. Campbell, Geneva, N.Y.; Donald W. Crabbs, Morenci, Mich.; Clarence H. Ciego, Jackson, Tenn.; Little S. Field, Grand Rapids, Mich.; James G. Frey, Dubois, Pa.; Lawrence M. Gould, Laotta, Mich.; Wm. E. Grainger, Kansas City, Mo.; Matthew Jaap, Cleveland, Ohio; Roy L. Muskratt, Onteonagon, Mich.; Earl E. Pardee, Akron, O.; Lee Parker, Cleveland, O.; Floyd Reynolds, Croswell, Mich.; Cecil R. Richmeyer, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Archie L. Swift, Shenandoah, Iowa; Robt. R. Tanner, Corning, N.Y.; Donald J. Thorp, Chicago, Ill.; Howard D. Tubbs, Selley Creek, N.Y.; Ed. P. Turner, Highland Park, Mich.; Robert F. Wieber, Houghton, Mich.; Geo. W. Williams, Pringhar, Iowa.
Mr. and Mrs. Miller were assisted in entertaining by Misses Erdley, Hunsicker, Wickert, Kern, Eyer, Weinsheimer, Mosser, Dietz, Pickin, Henninger, Shelly, Meas, Kuntz and Weil.
After supper Miss Mary Kuntz played piano selections, Miss Erdley sang and the men with violin, cello and banjo played college and camp songs. A delightful evening was provided.
July 29, 1917, Section 530, Penn State, was entertained in the home of Rev. W. O. Yates, No. 816 Walnut St. Miss Frances Gilwick of Harrisburg gave a piano recital. In the party were Sgt. H. R. Bowman, J. C. Barklow, I. C. Brown, B. J. Gulp, A. S. Frommeyer, G. M. Hess, M. J. Kone, J. E. Lyon, M. F. Orton, H. H. Richter, M. S. Laxman, J. C. Simons, K. M. Smith, I. D. Strause, and J. A. Uneholtz.
July 30, 1917, Section 546 was entertained on the roof of the Perkin Apts. on Sixth St. last evening by their Big Brothers, Perkin and Rapaport. Dancing and other forms of amusement were enjoyed by the boys.
Thirty-five men of Section 584, Susquehanna Univ. were entertained by H. A., C. W. and J. Frank Grammes at Dorney Park. The men enjoyed a swim and other amusements, the day being topped off with an excellent luncheon.
As a memento of the occasion, each man received a watch fob made in the Grammes plant. The fobs were coined of Nevada gold with the Ambulance Corps emblem on one side.
July 31, 1917, the Auditorium of the Allentown High School was completely filled last evening for the excellent vaudeville show, presented by the Usaacs.
Sergt. Wood of the Provost Guard and his men did the ushering. The affair was sponsored by the "Woman's Club."
Section 587, Oberlin College, furnished a double quartet, Victor Egbert of Penn State excelled as a chalk artist, Cornell and Darlance did some clever clog dancing and Roy Westeman of Battle Creek, Mich. did an exhibition of baton swinging. The Jazz Band of the California contingent was a feature.
August 13, 1917, Lieut. Col. Elbert E. Persons, commander of the U.S. Army Ambulance Corps, has been promoted to a Colonel.
The new Corps, which has been formed thru a new ruling, is sending all lieutenants in active medical work into the field.
This transfer will leave the command of sections to other officers and the Colonel has sent to Washington the names of top sergeants in command of sections to be advanced to lieutenants.
GOSH WHY DID I MAJOR IN ANTHROPOLOGY?
August 15, 1917, Section 575 was entertained at the Hotel Windsor, in Center Valley, by Messrs. W. D. Fitzgerald, Joseph F. Gorman and E. C. Spring. They provided a bounteous chicken and waffle dinner. As Sergeant Wood expressed his gratitude on behalf of the Section, he said, 'Rest assured when they get to France they will never forget the hospitality shown by the people of Allentown and it will give them much to look back upon."
The affair was given as a farewell to the boys who expect to leave for France at any moment.
The evening ended up at Central Park where the men enjoyed the amusements and danced to a good orchestra.
August 16, 1917, Section- #2 Stoneman's Fellowship of Phila. were entertained last evening by "Big Brothers" W. F. Greenawald and Ezra H. Smith.
Their hosts took them to Dorney Park where at the hotel of N. W. Kuhns they were given one of his famous chicken and waffle dinners.
Speeches were made by Major Yale, Lieut. Green, Sergeant Huf and Mr. Smith.
The following men were present: Sergeant Huf, F. W. Strause, F. J. Roeser, I. Dangler, L. V. Miller, C. Camp, F. W. Garber, F. C. Cassaday, H. W. Gross, J. Davis, E. W. Felton, E. A. Freund, W. H. Heilner, C. C. Klein, A. C. Wendenhall, A. J. Meyer, F. H. Mitchell, G. L. Moore, E. L. Ostman, W. N. Price, R. M. Sloanmaker, J. L. Shurster, J. T. Smith, G. Vallance and J. K. Hornbeck.
August 17, 1917, the announcement that in the neighborhood of two hundred second lieutenants would be chosen out of the ranks in a short time, has caused a stir among the men and there will be many applicants for the jobs.
The examinations will be held as soon as the application blanks have been received and distributed. The examinations will consist only of military technique. (Ed. Umph!)
Nearly all of the units are arranging for funds which they will carry with them to France and on which they can draw in time of need. Others will have private accounts. It is said the Pasadena Units have a fund of $25,000. (Ed. --- Fortunately Cochran of Section 565 did not win all of this before the contingent left for Italy.)
Col. Persons yesterday gave orders that all ambulance drivers must respect local traffic regulations.
While there has been little trouble on this score, there have been several instances where drivers either thru a misunderstanding of the traffic regulations here, or thru the belief that they had the right of way over civilians, have had arguments with local police. (Ed.-Could be.)
August 18, 1917, the Usaac Band of thirty-eight men will give its first concert in the grove at the Fairgrounds, 3:15 o'clock tomorrow afternoon. Under the direction of Harold Wegmilk of the Univ. of Indiana Unit, the band has been whipped into shape in very short order, and the soldiers are very proud of their organization. Mr. Wegmiller was leader of the Second Indiana Infantry Band on the Mexican border.
The four Pasadena Units presented their commander, Captain Lockwood, with a fine 1918 passenger touring car. The machine is to be used by both Captain Lockwood and Col. Persons.
Every man in camp is to be examined for mental and nervous disorders and work on the examination will begin at once.
August 19, 1917, a number of men of Section 614. Univ. of California and Section 544, a Boston Unit, were entertained last evening at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Robert W. Kurtz, No. 29 S. 10th St. The evening was spent in music and contests. (Ed---Contests---Could it mean African Golf?) The music was an octet of the California men who were formerly members of the Univ. of Calif. Glee Club and a Jazz Band.
A violin solo was given by Private Garland. The winners of the contests were Sergt. Wells and Private Crall.
August 25, 1917, word was received at the camp that the first contingent of the Ambulance Corps has arrived safely in France and is ready for duty. The information came by cable from Col. Percy L. Jones, the commander of the contingent. The news was received with enthusiasm by the boys in Camp, especially so when it was learned that not one of the members of the group was even sick on the voyage across.
August 27, 1917, Johnny Schiff the California featherweight arrived in camp on Tuesday with the Univ. of Chicago Unit and is quartered in the Fairgrounds. Schiff is one of the best known boxers in the country. Among those he has met are Johnny O'Leary, the Canadian lightweight champion, Johnny Kilbane, Johnny Dundee, Ted Kid Leis, Preston Brown and Irish Patsy Cline.
September 8, 1917 --- Training Usaacs seen in movies An exhibition of more than passing interest took place Thursday afternoon at the Pergola when the first showing of films of the Ambulance Service were given.
Well, the name given to the Fairgrounds was a most interesting selection even if we cannot find out who chose it. The name, Charles Henry Crane, was not one which came down in our history books of the Civil War era. Research in the Medical Library in Bethesda, Maryland, revealed in a medical bulletin the following:
"Charles H. Crane, born July 19, 1825, in Newport, R.I., the son of Captain (later Colonel) Ichabod Crane of the Artillery Corps. His childhood was spent in army posts until he was sent to the Maple Grove Academy in Middletown, Conn., to prepare for entrance to Yale where he later received the degree of B.A. in 1844.
"In 1847 he had completed his medical course at Harvard and was given the degree of M.D., at the same time receiving the degree of MA from Yale. His heart for a long time set upon a military career, he lost no time in presenting himself before an army examining board and in November 1847 he was appointed an acting surgeon. Filling many posts in the country, he became medical director of the Department of Key West in February 1862, and Director of the South in June of that year. In 1863 he was ordered to Washington for duty in connection with the prisoners of war. In September, when Colonel Barnes was made acting Surgeon-General, Crane was appointed executive officer. From that time, for eighteen years until he became Surgeon-General himself in 1882, he was the wheel-horse of the office to whom duties of all kinds and in all amounts could confidentially be given. Crane was of the greatest assistance to Surgeon-General Barnes, relieving him of the routine of the office and giving him the opportunity to exercise the tact and diplomacy of which he was master and of which there was so much need in dealings with Secretary Stanton, Congress and the Sanitary Commission. . . On January 1, 1865, Crane was given brevets of lieutenant colonel and later colonel. On March 13, the brevet of brigadier general "for faithful and meritorious service during the War of the Rebellion."
"With the retirement of General Barnes in 1882, General Crane was appointed Surgeon-General on July 3, 1882. He died suddenly on October 10, 1883."
The contributions made by Crane, while in the office of Assistant to Acting Surgeon General Barnes, were important factors in the degree of discipline and efficiency displayed by the Medical Department in later years. A more worthy name could not have been selected for our camp.
Although there are many dates which time has erased from our memories, or which have succeeded in hiding from this researcher, --- one big moment must be recalled in regard to the USAAC Band. Here we quote from a letter, the author of which might want to remain anonymous:
"Now you ask me about the famous Camp Crane Band . . . I do remember when John Philip Sousa came to Camp Crane, or did he? I seem to recollect that when we played under him it was in Atlantic City. What were we doing in Atlantic City? (Members of the band doubled in the orchestra for the USAAC shows.)
'Good Bye Bill" was there. I do not recall that John Philip Sousa found our playing so meritorious, although he probably was considerate enough to tell us so."
This partial quotation from a letter written by a member of the band brings out points which are confirmed by stories told by the then Major C. P. Franklin, Chief Executive Officer at the camp, who was responsible for inviting Sousa to visit the camp and help with the training of the hand. Later, it is possible that Mr. Sousa heard the music written for the show "Good Bye Bill," as records now show that he composed, at the request of Lt. Col. Franklin, the "USAAC March." A copy of the original manuscript is now owned by the USAAS Association.
"Mr. Sousa was not the only famous bandmaster to visit Camp Crane," as the letter referred to above states, so we continue to quote: "Ed. Mellon did direct the orchestra-band from time to time, and without detracting from him, I feel impelled to also mention Sergeant Otto, who went through a lot of misery with us lousy musicians. Ed Mellon, also known as 'Gunga Din' as well as 'Musk,' was first trumpet, and since he was a professional musician, commanded' the respect of us hams. When we were on parade we were led by Sergeant Jack Crow, who was the originator of the fancy pants, and he did a top job. I mention the pants because Crow had a pair tighter than had ever been seen before, and as their Drum Major, broke any ice there might have been in just criticism of what must have been at times, pretty sour music. Anyway when we paraded we were convinced we were tops...While still in camp we also played under Victor Herbert, of course as an orchestra. This had its laughable side, and without mentioning names, one of the second fiddle players was a complete ringer --- just a swell guy you always wanted around --- but who had nearly no idea of what made a fiddle squeak. So when V. Herbert rehearsed us, he discerned a certain something not just right in the second fiddle section. With that he asked each one of the second fiddlers to play part of the score all alone. When he came to our friend; he circled his forefinger overhead and brought it down aimed at that guy, saying. "There it is!" He asked him in very gentle terms if he would refrain from playing his fiddle . . . to just sit there.
"I enjoyed the band detail, in that I played the piccolo which is so small that I could carry it in my breast pocket. It was my constant companion, because getting out and into the front gate I always had my pass with me. Challenged by the guard I showed my piccolo, permitting me to spill out Band Detail."
The Big Brother Movement was one of the most interesting things of the camp's existence.
This was the part the local citizens were to take in making the boys of the camp feel at home and also to have the local people feel responsible for the entertainment of their unit and, incidentally, maintain a fatherly interest in them.
Parents of boys had a local contact through this and the boys had homes that they could feel free to visit. It proved a very interesting move. Many of the boys were entertained frequently in the homes and some lasting friendships were formed.
On the evening of July 10 at the call of Mayor Alfred L. Reichenbach, a citizens' meeting was held in Zion Reformed Church when the plan of the brotherhood idea was explained by Attorney Reuben J. Butz, then president of the Chamber of Commerce. It was decided that the families should select a unit. There were 120 units of 48 men each.
After Mr. Butz's address the mayor read the list of units and while some selected their units because of former ties, others were willing to take the units assigned to them and in a short time they all were assigned. Col. E.E. Persons was then called upon and expressed his sincere thanks saying: "You are indicating to us that our cause is your cause."
The following were the college units and their Big Brothers assigned June 10 by Mayor Reichenbach
Stoneman---Hyman Rockmaker, W. J. Greenawald, Ezra H. Smith, Rev. R. M. Kern, Louise Whiteman, Ida Kern, G. A. Bohlinger, H. M. Bachman, William F. Bower, F. G. Werley, R. S. Kistler, C. E. Amer, J. L. Cutshall, E. D. Swoyer, C. H. Horn.
Tioga---Harry S. Guth, Dr. R. C. Peters.
U. of P.---Harry J. Troxell, James K. Bowen.
Packard---E. N. Kroninger and W. P. Ludwig.
Harvard---H. R. Fehr, F. H. Lichtenwalner, Dr. G. F. Seiberling, Chas. F. Mosser, John L. Ramsay.
Washington, D.C.---Frank Rinn, M. T. Laudenslager, W. Harry Hartzell, Jr., H. R. Wagner, Edwin K. Kline, Morris C. Bastian.
U. of Va.---N. A. Haas, Dr. T. H. Weaber
Washington, D.C.---Harry C. Bloch.
Pottsville---Col. H. C. Trexler, E. C. Shinier.
Johns Hopkins--- Col. E. M. Young, W. H. Anewalt.
Johnstown---J. A. Coyle, J. A. Rupp, J. Peter Grim.
Princeton---H. B. Koch, W. Levan Lawfer, Dr. V. Fred Herbst.
Bucknell---L. E. Stoudt, Chester L. Ruth, Rev. W. W. West, A. R. Berlin.
Columbia---A. E. Fischer, Willis E. Kuhns, Rev. J. T. Satchell.
Penn State---Dr. C. O. Henry, L. D. Clauss, John J. Harper, Rev. W. O. Yates, Dallas Dillinger, Robert Kleckner, George A. Wetherhold, C. A. Heckman.
U. of Tennessee---Rev. Simon Sipple, George S. Fister.
Washington and Lee---Dr. W. J. Hertz, G. W. Fowler.
U. of Florida---Harry Battersby, C. H. Roberts, W. J. McLaughlin, P. F. Hanlon.
Stoneman---G. B. Bleiler, W. F. Buchheit, G. A. Bohinger, Herbert Ely, J. W. Gnow, J. S. Smith.
Amherst---Reuben J. Butz, Harold F. Peters, El. E. Peters, John Greenall.
U. of Penna. #2---Harry S. Hartzell, Wallace E. Rube, G. Fred Kuhl..
Boston---John McCollom, G. 4. Aymar, J. Albert Barton.
Iowa State College---F. A. Donecker, M. Herbert Beary.
New York---Samuel A. Perkins.
Temple---John E. Edwards, P. M. Shoeberger.
Post Exchange---P. W. Leisenring.
Fordham---Francis Collum, George E. Boyle, F. J. Lanshe, Chas. L. Lieberman, Martin H. Strauss, Calvin F. Ahlum.
Packard---R. W. Keck, Geo. F. Psolta.
New York---J. S. Burkholder, A. L. Youngken, W. F. Schlechter, E. H. Schlechter.
U. of the South---M. P. Schantz, H. I. Koch.
Purdue---Dr. G. Clarence Swartz.
Cornell---Rev. J. Jeremiah Schindel, Alfred L. Ochs.
Lafayette---Mrs. Lucy Huebner and sons.
Dartmouth---Francis M. Berkemeyer, Daniel W. Hamm.
Pasadena---Rev. J. D. Kistler, Harry S. Ladis, Max Hen, W. T. Harris, Harry I. Kistler, H. N. Packenham, Dr. C. D. Schaeffer, James F. Hunsicker.
Allentown---G. F. Erich, A. L. Reichenbach.
Hamline University---E. S. Landis.
Philadelphia Rotary Club---A. K. Jacks
U. of Washington #1---Major Charles Spangler, Elmer E. Ritter.
U. of Washington #2---Daniel E. Ritter.
U. of Mich.---Mrs. Daniel E. Ritter.
U. of New York---Percy B. Rube, Rev. Dr. J. A. W. Haas, R. H. Schatz, E. S. Thomas.
Williams---E. A. Soleliac, J. A. Frick.
U. of Arizona---John D. Ormrod, Francis D. Whitaker.
New York---D. H. Jacks, P. F. McDermott.
Purdue #2---Harry E. Truchsees.
Battle Creek---W. H. Appel, F. D. Kutz, Hon. James L. Schaadt, Mrs. Jas. L. Schaadt, Livingston Club.
Smith Form A Truck---Fred H. Sterner, T. H. Moyer, Geo. A. Christ.
Entertainment activities were important factors in maintaining the morale of these thousands of volunteers anxious to be about the business of war. While this was not all social ---but of course dancing and girls are a necessary adjunct to the welfare of an army camp and especially Camp Crane----Chairman Franklin of the Officer Athletic and Entertainment Committee saw to it that the wealth of college material in camp was used. The United States Lawn Tennis Association had recruited two ambulance units, which had among their members promising young tennis players who gave exhibition matches. July 4, 1917, saw the first intra-sectional track meet, which really turned into an Inter-collegiate meet rivaling the Penn Relay Carnival. Michigan won the meet with 22 points. Penn State 21, Fordham and Hamline University 15 each, Brown 9, Illinois 8, Yale 4, Bucknell, Williams, Penn, 3 each, Columbia 2, Cornell, Virginia, Temple, Oberlin, and Stanford 1 point each. The individual star was George Kline of Hamline, winning three events.
100 Yard Dash---Won by Kline, Hamline; 2nd Beck, Penn State; 3rd Kelly, Fordham; Time 10 seconds.
220 Yard Dash---Won by Kline, Hamline; 2nd Spink, Illinois; 3rd Russell, Columbia; Time 22.1 1/5 seconds.
440 Yard Dash---Won by Fontana, Michigan; 2nd Carder, Brown; 3rd Stone, Virginia; Time 54 seconds.
880 Yard Run--- Won by Fox, Michigan; 2nd Walker, University of Penna.; 3rd Carder, Brown; Time 2:04.
One Mile Run--- Won by Spink, Illinois; 2nd Borden, Yale; 3rd Reid, Michigan; Time 4:35.
Five Mile Run---Won by Walters, Michigan; 2nd Durham, Unattached; 3rd, Harvey, Cornell.
Shot-put---Won by Beck, Penn State; 2nd Fetter, Fordham; 3rd Farrell, Susquehanna; Distance 40 ft. 8 in.
High Jump---Won by Ames, Brown; 2nd Davies, Columbia; 3rd Lauchmund, Stanford; Gesselman, Temple; Gucker, Columbia, Tie; Height 5 ft. 91/2 in.
Discus Throw--- Won by Fetter, Fordham; 2nd Beck, Penn State; Ganzel, Bucknell; Distance 132 feet.
Broad Jump--- Won by Kline, Hamline; 2nd Schaufler, Willams; 3rd Marshall, New York Univ.; Distance 21 ft. 6 in.
Hammer Throw---Won by Cribbage, Penn State; 2nd Lightman, Bucknell; 3rd Bryant, Oberlin; Distance 133 ft.
One Mile Relay---Won by Michigan (Schofield, Fontana, Fox, Spink); 2nd Fordham (James, Krug, Kelly, Nupman); 3rd Yale (Durant, Voorhees, Wyman, Wasilock); Time 5 min. 31 3/5 sec.
We will leave sports for the moment just to tell that all the prowess in the ranks of the USAAS was not on the playing field. Men from the Pasadena contingent teamed up with some local talent and produced the famous play, "Seven Keys to Baldpate." It was presented on the night of November 7, 1917, at the Lyric Theatre in Allentown and repeated ten days later at the Rajah Theatre in Reading, Pa. The Oberlin College octette, of which we will hear more in another chapter, won the applause of the men at the camp as well as the townsfolks at several appearances outside the camp grounds.
Of course we cannot hope to cover every detail in this history of the wonderful record of the teams from Camp Crane on the diamond and the gridiron, but it is only fair to share with the world at this time some of the accomplishments of the athletes. There were plenty of prizefighters in camp and the brave nonprofessional boys that got into the ring learned a lot about boxing to the amusement of the soldier audience. The Basketball Team records seem to have been lost, but at the end of the scheduled season, the team was presented by their coach, Mr. Cleavitt, to Colonel Persons at Headquarters, as "the Championship Basketball Team of the United States." The Colonel spoke, "I want to extend my personal thanks and the thanks of the Camp for the faithful training and hard work you have done and for the splendid entertainment you have given us all. I want to shake hands with each one of you." There was a stunned silence as each of the men in turn gripped the hand of the colonel. The Captain in charge of Athletics called us to attention again and barked, "Dismissed" 1f If this statement seems unusually innocuous, it is made understandable when Ike Haaven, Curley Cramer, Red Phillips, and other members of the team explain that they had been out on a "bender" following the last game in Cape May, N.J., and had learned that the colonel had received complaints from the manager of the quarters where they had spent the night. The colonel, in reply to the complaint, had assured the writer that he would see to it that his men did not stay there anymore!
The Baseball Team had a good record, winning the majority of their games. The lineup for most games read as follows:
We will conclude our sports extra-curricular activities at Camp Crane with some information about the USAAC Football Team.
A call was made for candidates for the football squad on Wednesday, September 26, 1917, just three days before the first game with Penn State College, which was to be played on the Muhlenberg College Field at Allentown, Pa.
This was to be the USAAC Home Field. Coach Price of Muhlenberg agreed to coach the Usaacs, which he did for the first three games. He resigned after the 7th Infantry Officers game at Harrisburg, because he found it interfered with his contract at Muhlenberg, and it was certainly too tough to coach both a college team and an army team and do a good job. Lt. Dud Clarke of the University of Oregon then took over the job as player-coach.
Over 120 candidates reported for that first practice, and in less than four days the squad was cut to 45 players. They represented over 40 Colleges and Universities and included some of the best football talent in the United States.
The squad boasted of at least 15 All-American players from the years 1914, 1915 and 1916.
A schedule of 10 games was made up and even a Play-off game for the Servicemen's Championship of the U.S.A. was supposed to be played against the Newport Reserve Team, coached by "Cupid" Black. This game set for December 15, 1917. in Philadelphia, never took place as most of the USAAC team were called back to their outfits after the Thanksgiving Game with Georgetown University. One sports writer is quoted as follows:
The USAACs? Who are they? Whence come they? What reason for the sudden wealth of attention that they are receiving from the sports writers up and down the football world?
If these were normal times; if one William H. Hohenzollern, hadn't tried the patience of Uncle Sam just a bit too much, there would be no such bombardment of questions, for the United States Army Ambulance Service eleven would not be in existence, and Eddie Mahan's Marines, of Philadelphia, would lie beyond the imagination. Also, incidentally, the Quaker City would miss an opportunity to witness one of the greatest football classics in the history of the gridiron.
If ever a team was justly entitled to the name "ALL-AMERICAN," the Usaac eleven is that team. The squad includes sons of Michigan and Maryland, of Minnesota and Ohio, of Kentucky and Pennsylvania, of Indiana and New York, of California, Washington and Oregon.
Charles Thorne "Mike" Murphy, of Yale, son of the great Penn trainer, and last year captain of the Freshman eleven at New Haven; Hugo Francke, of the 1914 Harvard Varsity; Irvin, of Franklin and Marshall, one of the most powerful halfbacks that that institution ever produced; "Hira Hall," the crack end of the University of California; "Pike" Johnson, last year's all-Southern tackle, and his classmate, from below the Mason and Dixon line, Lindsey Moore, who holds the honor of being the greatest guard that Washington and Lee possessed in its entire gridiron history; "Tuffie" Conn, who pushed Ted Meredith into a world's record to beat him in the quarter-mile, and who at present holds the title for having made the longest run for a touchdown in the last decade, a 118-yard dash through the entire Oregon eleven; "Pud" Brewer, one of the speediest men in moleskins, hailing from the Maryland Aggies: Beck, of Penn State, who drew commendation from Walter Camp last year; 'Vic" Emanuel. Gettysburg College's All Time Great, and ALL STATE END; Wick, of the University of Washington, last year's All-Western center; "Jack" Dunn, "Hurry-Up" Yost's remarkable Michigan quarterback; Caughey, the Leland Stanford backfield dynamo, who, incidentally, holds the collegiate record for the shot put and is Pacific Coast weight champion; Hurm, the Ohio State backfield genius; "Curley" Cramer, likewise known as the "Minnesota Cyclone," who hails from Hamline University, at St. Paul, and hits a line like a 310 mm. shell ... There is not a single man on the Ambulance first team who has not made his mark as an athlete already.
At this critical time along came "Dud" Clarke. Clarke was assistant to Bezdik last year, coaching the eleven that the redoubtable Dobie refused to engage. He had coached half a dozen college and professional teams ever since the days when he held all-western halfback honors himself at the University of Oregon. He possessed that versatile mind and analytical power which mark a great director of football teams and he was playing tackle on the Usaac eleven when it visited Harrisburg and overwhelmed the Officers of the Seventh Regiment, stationed at Gettysburg, by the score of 45 to 0. That game witnessed the unique spectacle of a commissioned officer playing with an entire squad of enlisted men about him. For Clarke received his commission on the very eve of the conflict. The following week he assumed charge of the team. With sure vision and pitiless determination the new coach set to work to revamp the Ambulance team. The soldiers began to spend three hours a day on the practice field. After a bitter scrimmage Clarke would order them to run a half mile round the track before they could quit their togs.
Then the marines visited Allentown, great with the prestige of one of the most luminous stars in the gridiron zenith, one Edward Mahan of Harvard. This was on Oct. 27, 1917, which the Usaacs won 27 to 0. Now whether Eddie Mahan, who so dazzled Old Eli Yale that that gentleman is yet rubbing his eyes, whether Eddie Mahan of Harvard has been able to instill into the marines from Philadelphia the power and pep necessary to defeat the Usaacs, is the question that has all the sporting world by the ears, and has brought to Philadelphia one of the real battles of the gridiron this year. If he does, he will have sustained his reputation as the greatest marshal of victory that football ever knew. If you ask Coach Clarke about it he merely looks at you, snaps his jaw, and says nothing. The time to talk about victory is after it is won. That, in substance, is the motto of the Usaac eleven, and that is the rule enforced by "DUD" Clarke. The Usaacs won this game on Nov. 10, 1917 at Franklin Field. Usaacs 16 --- Marines 0.
||Penn State C.||
||Officers 7th Inf. Gettysburg, Pa.||
||Conshohocken A.C. (Pa.)||
||Marine Corp.. League Is. Navy Yd.||
||Ewing Ath. Club Philadelphia, Pa||
||Marine Corp.. League Is. Navy Yd.||
||Franklin F'ld||Nov. 10|
||Springfield Col. Springfield, Mass.||
||Camp Meade Officers Team||
||Georgetown U. Washington, D.C.||
||Washington||Nov. 29 Thanksgiving|
||Won 7, Lost 3|
We can only take space here to report on two of the games on the schedule. The second game with the Marines was played on Franklin Field in Philadelphia, and replaced the regular Army-Navy game of that year. It was a great game---hard fought against Eddie Mahan, the famous Harvard All-American and his strong Marine eleven. "Mike" Murphy, USAAC quarterback, kicked three field goals and Ben Cubbage scored a touchdown on a pass, with Murphy kicking a goal after touchdown. Curley Cramer rushed through the Marine line time after time, and the only thing that kept him from scoring some touchdowns was that Murphy elected to kick field goals. The starting line-up was the same as for most games:
|Cribbage,||Penn State||Left End|
|Johnson,||Washington and Lee||Left Tackle|
|Moore,||Washington and Lee||Left Guard|
|Wick,||Univ. of California||Center|
|O'Donnell,||Penn State||Right Guard|
|Emanuel,||Gettysburg College||Right End|
|Hurm,||Ohio State||Left Halfback|
|Brewer,||Maryland Aggies||Right Halfback|
Substitutes used in most games were: Wright for Hurm; Hall, Univ. of California for Emanuel; Irvin, Franklin and Marshall for Wright; Conn, Oregon Aggies for Brewer; Boyd for Moore; Francke, Harvard for Abel, University of Washington; Dunn, Michigan for Murphy; Gano, Lafayette, End; Clarke, University of Oregon, Coach & Back; Beck, Penn State, Back; Caughey, Leland Stanford, Tackle; Wear, Harrisburg 'Tech.; Houston, Lukens and Newfield.
A contingent of some 3000 men were brought to the game from Camp Crane. Gave demonstrations at Independence Square, ate lunch from mobile kitchens on Broad Street and marched to Franklin Field.
The other game we should talk about ended in defeat for the USAACs but was a most important occasion for the 800 men who accompanied the team to Washington. This was the Thanksgiving Day game with Georgetown University. It had snowed the night before the game and the sidelines at old Griffith Stadium were piled high and at game time the field was wet and muddy, especially where the baseball diamond made up part of the gridiron. An over confident USAAC team was over-powered by the running of Georgetown's Gilroy and field goal kicking of Captain Maloney, and went down to a 27 to 0 defeat.
The contingent of rooters from Camp Crane did themselves proud in a review before President Woodrow Wilson on the morning of the game. (The President was unable to show.)
Lost we forgot that Camp Crane was a training ground for a new organization of ambulance drivers and mechanics, we will leave the reminiscing about athletic events and turn to the hardening of these men for war. Drills, hikes, and sports all contributed to the building strong bodies but did not help too much in thinning the ranks at the crowded camp. New barracks were under construction, and a system of heating the new and old buildings was contracted for. While this was being done, the largest contingent at the camp were sent into the hills known as Guth Station. Here the men learned to dig-in just as they would be doing later in France, and in some cases in Italy. The men devised all manner of living underground or in cases. Each section vied with the next in experimenting with roofs, stovepipes and drainage construction. A typical picture from Guth Station can be compared with an actual picture of a billeting area of a French Army Division and the United States Army Ambulance Section attached to that division.
The experience at Guth Station was looked upon by some of the men as a lark, but it was a big headache to others. It did serve to keep from a large contingent of the USAACs, one of the dark moments in the life of Camp Crane---the mis-appropriation of some funds designated for the labor involved in the installation of the boating equipment back at the Fairgrounds.
While some men endured the mud at Guth Station, another contingent had set out for Tobyhanna. They were nearly washed into the river at the Delaware Water Gap shortly after staking out their pup tents. Local hotels came to their rescue. The elements kept the score even with the Guth Station mudders by again visiting the men, marching to Tobyhanna, with a wind and rain storm of cyclonic proportions, at their bivouac on the outskirts of Stroudsburg. Some men found solace in the Indian Queen and Y.M.C.A. Trucks were dispatched the next day, to carry the men the remaining miles to the questionable shelter of the Tobyhanna barracks. It is said that the temperature drop, from the floods, on the march into Stroudsburg and the arrival at Tobyhanna, must have equalled every known record. In any event, snow and winter gales made sieves out of the barrack floors and walls, on the top of the Pocono Mountains.
Before this Contingent had gone off to Tobyhanna, on its roundabout way to France, a call had been sent out for 300 volunteers to leave immediately, to fill up to authorized strength the American Ambulance sections that had been taken over by the United States Army. Some sections voted to break-up, to take advantage of the opportunity for an early departure to the front, while others wanted to stay together as a unit. This accounts for the unusual amount of transfers from one section to another, especially during the period when the authorities were making up their minds regarding the 36 or 45 man units. Those men who left made up the First Contingent for overseas duty, and their records will develop in subsequent chapters.
With the coming of the snows, in what was to turn out to be one of the most severe winters in history, the men at Guth Station returned to Camp Crane to the shelter of some new windowless barracks. During this winter, temperatures were bitter, and for those billeted in old pig stalls, there was not much you could do to keep warm. The cold and monotony of ramp life combined to spawn the first of the great Kernell and Fechheimer shows. So here, we will turn the telling of this delightful tale over to one who was there.
"One bitterly cold day one of the new barracks displayed a faint wisp of smoke out of a tiny stack up on the roof. A fire! Heat! says I. In spite of the fact that I had on practically everything I owned, I was still miserable. (Just like the fellows that reported from the Indian Queen in Stroudsburg.) So I wandered into this barracks because it seemed to promise a little warmth. The building was unoccupied except for a small bundled-up group of characters over in one corner adjacent to a smoky stove that did not draw, because of the totally inadequate flue; so the room had a blue haze and smelled of half burnt wood. At first I wasn't interested in anything hut the stove, but, after trying to make myself comfortable on a folding chair, I began to notice their discussion. No one objected to my, presence, so I drew nearer and listened in. The subject was ways and means of putting on a camp entertainment that had been put together by Sergeant Richard Fechheimer, and some original tunes by Private William Kernell. Also present were Sgt. Mellon, the Band Director, a Captain Meyer who was a short, fat, easygoing chap, and a romantic looking Lieutenant named Wolfe.
"This was about early January 1918. That meeting decided that a call would be issued for volunteer actors, musicians, singers and such, with try-outs scheduled for a certain date. Thus our show "Good Bye Bill" was born.
"There already was a good, small dance hand in camp at the time. Paul McCoy, piano; Charlie Hamp, singer and melody sax; Frank Morin, banjo; Charles Johnson, drums; Charlie Mustarde, jazz fiddle; Charles Pawlick, lead violin, Sometimes I sat in with them and played counter melody to Pawlick's upper strings, and Chuck Barlow joined the group from time to time as well. This band played a large part, along with the Big Brother Movement, in breaking down the prejudice the mothers had against the men at Camp Crane. This little band of musicians played for tea dances at the Hotel Traylor, and they finally brought along some of their buddies and the "mammas" found out Crane had a different breed of cats. And so with a jazz Band all set "Good Bye Bill" was launched.
"It was originally intended for soldiers' entertainment in the big hall across from the Grandstand, but as the loads of talent showed up, the show grew and grew until it demanded a full stage to put it on. So--- downtown it went. As soon as it left the boundaries of the camp, the public claimed it. First Allentown, then Reading, Easton, Lancaster, Philadelphia, Atlantic City, and last Broadway at 44th Street Roof for 58 performances. The show broke all records for one week at the Garrick Theatre in Philadelphia. In New York, George M. Cohan wanted to buy the show and move it to a larger theatre.
"The story goes--- 'Henry Ford offered millions to anyone who would capture the Kaiser' --- on this slender thread was hung two hours and fifteen minutes of the fastest moving, funny, impossible hilarity one could imagine, interspersed with songs and production numbers using Kernell's rich, tuneful harmonies. I was the leading lady, 'Miss America' herself. I was Lt. Allan Towne's sweetheart, I was Eddie Bonoff's dancing partner. Women cried when handsome Ray Clark sang 'Just a Little After Taps.' 'Bring Me a Blond' and 'The Ladies of London' were big full-stage production numbers that brought down the house. Charlie Lawrence from Harvard, playing Hard Luck Himself, and Geo. Kowalski, from Brown University, playing the Kaiser, rolled them in the aisles. As many times as I saw it, I laughed (just as hard the last time as I did the first) at that precious buffoon Kowalski in the medal presentation scene. He never did it twice the same, his timing and instinct for the ridiculous was deadly. He never missed. Everybody back stage watched to see what the darn fool would think of next.
"The show was never allowed to jell ... good as it was. Feature acts, skits, even songs and dance routines would be jerked, and intensive rehearsals on a replacement or change would take place. But it turned out so good that it was rumored that the show netted over $40,000.00 for the Overseas Fund."
Well, if there were constant changes in the show, the audiences never knew it. This is attested to by the newspaper accounts of March 9, 1918. Bold headlines say, "Good Bye Bill makes hit. Every song encored. Soldiers play the parts of women in great style," and then the story goes on to say if the same spirit, ingenuity and volume of enthusiasm could be concentrated into one big effort "To Get" Kaiser Bill, as was portrayed by the Camp Crane company in presenting "Good Bye Bill" in the Rajah Theatre at Reading last night, the war would be over in a short time. From curtain to curtain, the Ambulance players covered themselves with glory. Encores to the song numbers stopped the performance several times, and in the finale of the second act when "Good Bye Bill" was sung by the departing, cheering Usaacs, the entire house cheered the Rajah to the echo.
Lieutenant Linscott and Corporal Clark charmed with their duet, "Till I Come Home to You," and Clark's "From Reveille to Taps" was received with enthusiasm. Richard Fechheimer, C. R. Middleton and Edward Bonoff, as recruiting sergeants and flivver pilots, had the audience in a good mood. (Perhaps it was because they had never seen such a brand of acting before.)
"Bring Me to Life, Mr. Ambulance Man, with a Jazz Band" rendered by Ed. Bonoff, registered a big hit, and his dancing was a real feature,
Charlie Hamp, the master jazz artist of the Allied Armies and his fellow jazzers were superb. "I Didn't Hesitate 'Cause I Knew I Was Lost" by Hamp was a wonder. (When this was written little did they know that in later years Charlie Hamp really was to become "Mr. Jazz U.S.A.") Keck and Clark in their feminine roles were exceptional, and the singing of Clark could be easily imagined to issue from the throat of some silvery voiced soubrette.
George Washington Kowalski, as the Kaiser, was one of the big hits of the show. Credit is due the entire cast, chorus, orchestra and directors. The orchestra under the direction of Private Mellon played exquisitely. Lieutenant Adolph Menjou, former leading man with Marguerite Clark, and Lieutenant Edwin Wolfe, formerly with David Belasco, directed the cast and general production. Private King directed the dancing choruses . . . And so went the press notices up and down the line.
And here again, your chronicler must bring all of us back to the realization that Camp Crane was a training camp in time of war. As things turned out it was more than just a training camp, because as the ambulance drivers and mechanics were sent overseas, the War Department continued to use this installation as a replacement command and as a pre-embarkation camp. During the period when Colonel Howard M. Snyder was Commandant, Camp Crane became the temporary headquarters for some of the biggest surgeons of the war. Base Hospital Units were mobilized here, or stopped-over to complement their units to standard army requirements. Many casuals from the ranks of the Ambulance Service joined Base Hospitals in Allentown or were transferred to these units after they arrived in France. The record shows other medical units were formed here. It is interesting to note that even in the early days of the Fairgrounds there was assembled there, Base Hospital Unit #3 The story told by Arthur O. Weinert may be news to many USAACs. "On June 6, 1917 a Red Cross unit was organized at the Episcopal Hospital, 2nd and Lehigh Streets in Philadelphia, and after being sworn in, were sent to the Allentown Fairgrounds around the end of June. Along with the USAACs present at that time, we were given cots and slept in the cleared out section of the Grandstand. Later we moved into one of the fixed up buildings used as barracks, where we were joined by a Base Hospital unit from Ohio. Our outfit consisted of 150 enlisted personnel, 26 officers, all medical men. We left the "Fairgrounds," (as we called our camp at that time as it had not yet been named Camp Crane) under the command of Colonel Devoe, who was assigned to us from the regular Army Medical Department, late in October, stopping off at Camp Mills, Long Island and embarked on the famous ship "Leviathan" at Hoboken, N.J. We went first to Liverpool, England, then crossed from Southampton to Le Havre, France . ... . The unit was finally installed in an old monastery at Nantes, France, operating as Base Hospital #34." It is true that some Base Hospitals used Camp Crane for staging purposes, but we certainly cannot remember any beautiful nurses hanging around the Fairgrounds. Other Base Hospital units to which USAAS men became attached include the following numbers: These are all that have been brought to our attention: BH #27, BH #38, BH #40, BH #67, BH #68, Evac. Hosp. #4. There were, of course, many other Base Hospitals in the theatre of war.
In the closing months of 1918 and early 1919, the camp became the battleground against the influenza epidemic. Colonel Snyder was asked by the War Department, by the Governor of Pennsylvania, and the Public Health Departments of many communities in that area, to help in combating the dread disease. Emergency headquarters were set up at the camp and teams of doctors and men were sent out as far as Shamokin, Wilkes-Barre, Pottsville, Reading and even to the shipbuilding sections near Philadelphia. It should be pointed out here, that the reputation which Camp Crane enjoyed throughout the length and breadth of the land, for excellence in its health record, was due entirely to the efficient and experienced work of Colonel Richard Slee, the original Sanitary Officer. Even during this period of the flu epidemic, he morbidity and mortality records at the camp were astonishingly low.
Three main contingents of ambulance men had gone forth to France and Italy, with smaller units leaving when shipping space was available. With these men went most of the original top officers. When Col. Persons slipped out ahead of his Italian Contingent he had recommended to the War Department Lt. Colonel Richard Slee to succeed him as commanding officer at Camp Crane. In his report, Col. Slee recalls his call back into the military service by a telephone message from Colonel Persons, who was then in Philadelphia at the USAAÇ headquarters. Major Slee (at that time) was to report as early as possible to the Allentown Fairgrounds with complete personal equipment, as it was expected the service would be "sent overseas in a matter of weeks." It is well we leave this chapter with a few quotations from a letter sent to Lt. Colonel Slee by the Mayor of Allentown, A. L. Reichenbach.
August 24, 1918
Did you imagine when we planned the affair at West Park for the Community and soldiers, that it would assume the magnitude and give the pleasure it did? I surely did'nt.
Senator Towne and Mlle. Treville, our distinguished guests, were amazed with its magnificence. . . It has been my privilege upon hundreds of occasions since the institution of Camp Crane, to speak and write about the wonderful reputation for good order in our community, with its approximately 4000 to 5000 soldiers.
If the Government wants to see a model camp in the discipline and behavior of its men . . . it must come to Allentown . . . . I congratulate our people upon the commanders who have been at Camp Crane, especially the men in supreme charge of the ambulance men, Colonel Persons and yourself.
"Don't pass harshly upon this long letter. It is the opening of the heart of a Mayor who has been charged with grave responsibilities and who is grateful for the cooperation of the officers and men under them."
With the main contingents of ambulance men already overseas, it is a surprise to most of these men to read in the Official Medical Department's History of Camp Crane, that in addition to the Ambulance Sections and Casuals, the following units left the Allentown camp for overseas duty:
|1917||July---||3 Base Hospitals|
|November---||1 Gas Defense Service unit|
|1918||April ---||Replacement Hospital Unit A
1 Mobile Optical Unit
|May ---2||Evacuation Hospital units
1 Base Hospital
|July 4 ---||Base Hospitals|
|Aug. ---||X-ray Unit No. 1; 1 Base Hospital|
|October 31---||Replacement Ambul. Units|
|October 6 ---||Sanitary Squads|
|November ---||6 Mobile Hospital Units|
|November 4---||Mobile Surgical Units|
Passed through Camp Crane: June 1, 1917 through April 10, 1919:
This total is hard to believe, but who is now available to question or substantiate these statements.
The men remaining at Camp Crane were constantly called on for parades, and therefore a new band was formed following the departure of the Italian Contingent. It was directed by Sergeant Theodore Otto and Charles Lawrence was the Drum Major. This new band was in existence until the middle of December 1918, when the beginning of the end of Camp Crane was apparent. The camp was officially closed on April 10, 1919. The Government sold the new barracks and other equipment, before turning the Fairgrounds back to the Lehigh County Agricultural Society.