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When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again

June 18, 2012

As the SS Montclair Victory approached Boston’s Port on November 20, 1945, its passengers were given a schedule of debarkation.  They’d been on the ship for 8 days, away from home in some cases, like Al’s, for 3 years.  They’d also been up early; breakfast was served to enlisted men that morning at 4am, to officers at 5:30 am.  So now, it was time to wait their turn again.

The schedule of debarkation was as follows:
Unit/ Individuals                   Number
Miscellaneous Civilians                14
Medical                                          2
WAC Detachment *                        8
Individuals                                    13
RE-3249                                       82
RE-7403-EE (Hosp Train)            53
RE-7414-RR (768 FA Bn)           456
RE-7414-AAA ( 957 QM)            195
RE-7414-CCC ( 3198 QM)          232
RE-7414-EEE ( 4090 QM)          237
RE-7414-BB (301 MPEG)            150
RE-7409-F (548 QM}**                218
RE-7408-E ( 999 Sig)                   295
Source:  Original Montclair Victory Herald Souvenir Edition.  Al’s original copy, dated November 19, 1945. 

* WAC Detachment: Women’s Army Corp.  About 150,000 American women served in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps  and the Women’s Army Corps during World War II. They were the first women other than nurses to serve with the Army.

** 548th Quartermaster Depot Co. – Al’s Unit- Unfortunately, the next to last unit to get off the ship.

Boston’s Port of Embarkation

The units left the ship at the Boston Port of Embarkation, at the South Boston waterfront.  Almost 800,000 military members and civilians passed through between 1942 and December, 1945, either leaving to serve or return from duty (this count  also includes some Prisoners of War). Ships pulled into the Boston Port of Embarkation at all times of day and night.  Troop ships pulled up to the pier to disembark.  The troops were loaded directly onto railroad cars for the trip to Camp Myles Standish.

Camp Myles Standish

Built in 1942, Camp Myles Standish was a huge, sprawling facility ,not unlike an assembly line.  The Camp was named after Myles Standish (1587-1656), an English born professional soldier hired by the Pilgrims as a military adviser for the Plymouth Colony.  In time he became a full member and eventually, a valued leader of the community. The camp which bore his name was located in Taunton, Massachusetts.  New Haven Railroad, which had responsibility for troop train movements, had a switching yard at the camp.  It was New Haven Railroad’s train cars which brought Al and the others to Camp Myles Standish.

What Happened at the Camp?

The Montclair Victory Herald issued to the units before they left the ship informed them that they would only be there for 24 to 48 hours.  Once at camp, they were

  • assigned quarters (Each area had tailors and “fully-stocked” PX’s.
  • given physical check-ups, reviewed personnel records and received pay (Note: On-board information instructed that they would NOT be paid at this point.)
  • assembled to hear an orientation speech on discharge procedures
  • divided into groups based on the separation centers where they’d be discharged.

Other information indicated that they would have an opportunity to turn in surplus equipment, and convert foreign currency into “good old US legal tender”, unless “you want a couple of souvenirs for that hell-raising little nephew of yours).  There were also recreational opportunities such as movies (15 cents admission), libraries and service clubs.  The soldiers could send letters or telegrams or make phone calls.

Al would have learned here at Camp Myles Standish that his separation center would be Fort George G. Meade, in Baltimore, Maryland.  Fort Meade processed over 400,000 back to civilian life.  Now Al would be on his way.

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From → History, World War II

4 Comments
  1. I really like your blog so I am nominating you for The Reader Appreciation Award. You don’t have to accept the award if you’re not into that, but I think your blog is awesome and I am tuned in for your next post. Keep on Blogging! (The post is http://wp.me/p2eEip-oE here)

  2. Thank you so much! I’m a little unsure about the timing of posting the news, since I’m working on my next post which releases Al back home. Do you think it’d be bad to wait until that’s posted before I acknowledge and address the award? Once that’s done, I have a few other posts to do, but it would be a better place, timing wise. But thanks! We all love to be patted on the back by our peers.

  3. Enjoying you blog very much. I’ve also nominated you for an award. It’s the One Lovely Blog Award here: http://jgburdette.wordpress.com/2012/06/22/a-few-blog-awards-and-two-people-who-could-pass-for-twins/

    • Thank you so much. I apologize for being slow to respond but I’m grateful for your nomination of Al’s War for “One Lovely Blog”. I’ll take care of the requirements this weekend.

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