Honoring Veterans: Camp Shelby in WWII

Maybe you’ve seen the commercial from a chain steakhouse saying how proud they are of our veterans and to show how proud, they’re offering vets a free fried onion and beverage. Well, some might question whether a free full meal wouldn’t show even more pride, but at least it got me to thinking about Veterans Day and Mississippi’s military history. Until 2001, many people might not have realized how vital a role our own Camp Shelby plays in the training of our military services: not just the National Guard, but also reserve units from around the country come for training, many of them now on the their way overseas to Iraq or Afghanistan. According to wikipedia:

[Camp Shelby] is the largest state owned training site in the nation, has a long history of serving the country and is considered by many as “a national treasure.” During wartime, the camp’s mission is to serve as a major, independent mobilization station of the United States Army Forces Command (FORSCOM). Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center is the largest reserve component training site, covering 136,000 acres (550 km2), allowing up to battalion level maneuver training, Gunnery Table 8-12, excellent FA Firing Points and a wide range of support facilities.

This is not a recent development. Camp Shelby was opened in 1917 for use in World War I, acquired by the State of Mississippi in 1934 for use by the National Guard, and mobilized on a massive scale in World War II. Not much remains from this early period, but two structures on the base are listed on the National Register, a WWI ammunition magazine, and the building known as the White House, built in 1938.

As I was thinking about Camp Shelby, I remembered this really cool set of postcards I bought a few years ago. They’re a small set of 20 cards, clearly meant to be sent as a set to family and friends during World War II. They measure about 2.5 by 1.5 inches each, with black and white photos on the front and some fairly extensive prose on the reverse. I learned alot about the Camp and about World War II from these cards, and I figure one good way to honor veterans is to reprint them here, at twice their original size. Because of the long text associated with the photos, I can’t do my normal slide show, so I’ll be posting a group for the next three days.

Admittedly, this is not a bloomin’ onion or a beverage, but I hope it’s still an acceptable way to show how proud I am of those who have served our country in war and in peace.

HQ INDUCTION AREA, CAMP SHELBY. The Induction Center registers the drafted men sent from their home areas to this camp. After certain examinations and preliminaries, the selected men are qualified and passed on to the reception center. The disqualified men are sent back to the point of origin in this selective draft.

The DHQ of the 37th Division, on highway 24, Camp Shelby houses the personnel including the Commander, Staff, etc., which functions at HQ of the Division. On war-time set-up it calls for 31 Officers, one Warrant Officer, and 70 Enlisted men. The Basis Troops of the 38th are the National Guard troops and inducted selectees from Ohio. Major General Robert S. BEIGHTLER is the youngest Divisional Commander in the United States Army.

At the Reception Center at Camp Shelby are facilities for the care of the inducted selectees held for medical or other reasons before assignment to various units.

FOURTH AVENUE, CAMP SHELBY. A one way bus street and heavy traffic for camp needs. The avenues Highway 24, 2nd Avenue, and 4th Avenue, carry the Camp Vehicle traffic and 66 Streets connect them to company and regimental areas. A Company Street is the open space in front of or between the company tents.

SECOND AVE., CAMP SHELBY, MISSISSIPPI. Yes, the clouds are breaking, and it will be a pleasant evening for the boys of the 38th. Highways dry and paved and fast, if they care to visit Hattiesburg some 15 miles north.

56th ST. AND 2nd AVE., CAMP SHELBY. This is the business avenue of the camp. Most of the regimental Post Exchanges and regimental recreation buildings face this street. Crowds can be seen evenings, days are for work, so do not think Camp Shelby is empty. 55,000 are training to help keep United States free and safe for the folks at home.

Camp Shelby, Mississippi is now occupied by the 37th and 38th Divisions; V Corps and Third Army Troops. Major General Robert H. TYNDALL, Commanding General of the 38th Division, is Camp Commander and that is communicated to you by the device of displaying the United States Flag and the Divisional Flag before his DHQ. The Camp Commander is the senior officer present for duty with a command.



Categories: Architectural Research, Cool Old Places, Hattiesburg, Historic Preservation

27 replies

  1. Camp Shelby also has an outstanding military museum that highlights the role Mississippians have played in our country’s military and wars that have been fought. It is free, and open to the public.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Malvaney, you’ve outdone yourself on this one!!! These are beautiful. Thanks for taking the time to post ’em. I’ve noticed that if you attend Veterans Day services in just about any American community, you get to learn a whole lot in a short period of time. Anyone with kids should NOT miss this opportunity. Find one everybody, and go to it if you can. They’re having one here in Georgia at a historic cemetery tomorrow with guns, trumpets, decorated soldiers, and everything. All I have to bring is my stiff upper lip. We live in the best country in the world, folks!
    P.S. Yes, the only reason those restaurants do that stuff is to sell more food, not really to honor our veterans.

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  3. I lived in barracks like those most clearly seen in your top 2 pics at Fort Bragg, NC from 1973 to 75. In the gables, though/thankfully, there were big exhaust fans, so if you could get everyone to cooperate and only open their windows a bit, you could get a halfway decent draft of air flowing past your head late at night.

    But it was still miserable in the summer. Don’t miss ’em a-tall.

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    • I was at Ft. Bragg (visiting) in 2005, and there were still a number of those barracks there and in use. I heard that the plan was to tear them down, but that the deployments associated with Iraq and Afghanistan had brought them back into use. I have to admit, they were pretty depressing places, mostly because they were very poorly maintained.

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  4. I’m the archaeologist and cultural resources program manager for the Mississippi National Guard. My office is at Camp Shelby. My job is to document, preserve, and protect historic resources at Camp Shelby and Camp McCain. In addition to the two buildings on the National Register, we also have eight additional buildings that were built in 1937 and are listed as Mississippi Landmarks because of their association with pre-World War II construction and the last surviving examples of that time. We also have over 150 acres of World War I training trenches and World War II graffiti scrawled on the back of numerous artillery ranges. Camp Shelby is FULL of history and archaeology.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Ms McCarty
      My father trained at Shelby during WWII, I am looking for information. My name is Chris Tompkins. He enlisted 3/9/40, was at Fort Bragg and went to Shelby according to his dc papers. He went to Europe 15 July 44, was in the Rhineland and Central Europe campaigns. I couldn’t get much info from him, I guess too traumatized by the war. Tried to get info in 1982 when I returned from a tour of Europe. Didn’t get much, and he passed away in Oct of 82 at 60. Any insight would be appreciated. He was in the 63rd of US Army. Was Van Dorn and Shelby one camp?
      Thanks for any assistance
      Chris Tompkins

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  5. Please contack me. I could share alot of information with you. My father was the Miss. National Guard care taker of Camp Shelby from 1937 — 1941. (Sgt . Roland Harvey). After returning from WWII He returneed as a Major and Came back to
    Camp Shelby as The State Maintance Officer for the the Miss. National Guard. Our
    family (Mother, Dad, my two sisters, and me moved into the headquarters building
    (now the Mississippi White House). We lived there from 1946 t0 1951 (5 years)
    which is far longer than any family or Commaanding General live there. In 1951
    we moved to Hattiesburg where me and my two sisters all graduated from Sacred
    Heart High School.. Look forward to hearing from you. I now live in Florida and my
    phone numbers are (H) (407)-366-3953 and (C) (407)-758-3358.

    Tom Harvey

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    • Hi Mr. Harvey,
      I tried to call your cell phone, your mailbox is full :-) My father trained at Shelby during WWII, I am looking for information. My name is Chris Tompkins. He enlisted 3/9/40, was at Fort Bragg and went to Shelby according to his dc papers. He went to Europe 15 July 44, was in the Rhineland and Central Europe campaigns. I couldn’t get much info from him, I guess too traumatized by the war. Tried to get info in 1982 when I returned from a tour of Europe. Didn’t get much, and he passed away in Oct of 82 at 60. Any insight would be appreciated. He was in the 63rd of US Army. Was Van Dorn and Shelby one camp?
      Thanks for any assistance
      Chris Tompkins

      Like

      • I started my search to learn more about my father’s service at the public library from old articles in the local newspaper to books on the history of Camp Shelby to of all places Facebook where I finally found a picture of him at Camp Shelby during Basic Training. I’ve seen the book for sale online for either ungodly sums of money or in such poor shape it wouldn’t be worth it. The book I am still trying to obtain is a Pictorial History of The 38th Infantry Camp Shelby 1941 I found copies of all the pictures on Facebook I knew he was at Camp Shelby from pictures he had when I was a kid but were lost but didn’t know any more than that when I started but I learned a lot. Camp Shelby was and still a huge place back then there were many different divisions of the army that trained there. I know other divisions have similar books that were published From the pictures on Facebook I now know that he was with the First Battalion of Company C. Put in some long hours online and some footwork at the library You will be amazed by what you’ll learn more than just what unit he was with but also where they fought how many lives were lost. The real costs of freedom in this country that many don’t know or understand

        Dig Deep you won’t regret it

        PS: If anyone has a family member who may have been there with my Dad I would love to share any info I have. His name was Cecil Sherrick

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  6. My father was retired LT. Col. Roland V Harvey. My family lived in what is now called the “Mississippi White House” from 1946-1951 as mentioned by my brother Tom Harvey. I had many pictures of my dad BBQ-ing got the dignitaries such as General Wilson and Col Doltan, and young military men. I wish I could have shared these pictures but with many moves in the past 10 years I had to part with them. We have many memories of growing up there.
    Carol Harvey Warner

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  7. My grandfather was based at Camp Shelby in August 1942, his name was William Paul (Paul) Stewart and he was born in Yazoo in 1916. I would love to find out more about his days in Camp Shelby. I do know,that he came to Norwich, Englad during the war and thats,where he met my grandmother. When he,returned to the US, my mum was born ….. Thank you in advance for any helo.

    Kind Regards

    SOPHIE WILLIAMS, 27 WHITE HOUSE DRIVE, KINGSTONE, HEREFORDSHIRE, ENGLAND HR2 9ER

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  8. My Dad, Robert E. Donohue, Sr. came to Camp Shelby in early 1943 with the 96th Division, 383 Infantry Regiment as part of a cadre of some 100 officers and approx. 200 NCOs from Camp Adair, Oregon. Their job after being transferred to the 69th Division , 272 Infantry, was to train the “Fighting 69th” for their deployment to Germany. My Dad was a staff sargeant and served as a training instructor for the Browning 50 caliber machine gun, rifles, mortars and pistols. My parents married in Pontiac, MI in June, 1941. My mother, Florence Donohue went to Mississippi and lived in Hattiesburg with my Dad joining him after they arrived from Oregon. and then later on base in Married housing. They always remarked how friendly the people of Hattiesburg were and their great southern hospitality. In the fall of 1944, my Dad was almost killed at camp Shelby on the Mortar practice range when checking targets and a young recriut tossed what he thought was a dud mortar at my dad as a Jike. It was no joke. The mortar explode and almost tore of my Dad’s leg. Immediately taken to the base hospital, he was give the last rights by a Catholic Priest and my mother was told he may not survive. 3 days later he pulled through and was transferred to Northington Hospital in Tuscaloosa, Alabama where he stayed until the War ended and until March, 1946. That accident may have somehow saved his life because he never deployed with the rest of the 69thy Division to Germany. The Doctors at camp Shelby saved his life and he always talked about how he owed his life to them.
    Bob Donohue, Jr.
    Commerce, MI

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  9. Hello, my uncle, Vernon Fairley, from Leaf, Mississippi trained at Camp Shelby, was deployed to the Pacific, later was killed in action in Guam. My aunt had a couple of letters he had sent home a few months before he was killed, with the censorship marks, etc. I wanted to find a place for these letters to share as historical items, if possible. Does anyone know how to help me with this, if there is an archival of items like this?
    I appreciate your help.
    Take care,
    Morgan Patrick

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  10. Trying to get any photos and records of my father. James Monroe. He was shipped out of Camp Shelby around 1942 or 1943. Lost all in home fire. Would appreciate any help in receiving any info. He also received a Purple. Heart

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  11. Hello,
    I have been searching for information about my father-in-law, Mel B. Ivy, who enlisted in the Army at Camp Shelby / Chickasaw County on January 30, 1943.
    Branch immaterial /warrant officer code: Bi00
    Grade Code: Pvt. 8
    Component: selectees.
    Race: African American

    I have enjoyed reading about people’s memories there. I am wondering if anyone may remember Mel B. Or if anyone can give me an idea how to locate a photograph of him, and the location of his grave. ( He did not die in the war).

    I know that’s a long shot, but would still appreciate hearing what life at Camp Shelby would have been like for a man of his race and rank. What would his duties have been?

    Wonderful blog… Thanks, Rose Ivy

    Like

  12. I have an old group photo dated Feb 1943. Battery B, 403 F.A.
    My “cousin”? was in the picture but was killed in service in 1943 according to a note on the picture.
    Trying to find anyone who might know someone in the picture and be interested in a copy.

    Like

  13. Hi bloggers, my brother, Alfred Stricker was in Camp Shelby about 1941, waiting for deployment orders. He was an artist and painted a mural on the wall of the mess hall. Anyone know about this, or have a photo?
    Thank you, Alma

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  14. My father Elroy Bennett was at Camp Shelby 1944. My Mother sent him a letter in Sept 1944 to Camp Shelby letting him know he was going to be a daddy. He shipped out in Jan 1945 would love to find any information on him during this time. Please send info to Karen Quandt my email address is gkquandt@gmail.com. Thank youKaren

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  15. My Grandfather, Private Arthur Thomas Galbraith was released from Camp Shelby in November, 1941 before before deploying to the Asiatic Pacific and Australia in March, 1942.
    Any information on his time at Camp Shelby would be greatly appreciated as we lost all contact after his return to the US in July, 1945

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  16. There is this Black man in our church (approximately 90 years old) who insists that he was taken to Camp Shelby and stayed about 90 days. This was in 1945. He said he worked on something concerning the Panama Canal and then was sent back home to Madison, MS. In 1957, he went to the VA to get some help, but they said he did not have a number. WHAT WENT ON AT CAMP SHELBY in 1945 to give him this story. He has been saying this every Veterans Day for the pat 15 years. His mind is not THAT bad.

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    • Verna:
      It’s entirely possible in 1974 there was a bad fire at the National Archives in Saint Louis which housed service records from that era. Some records were recovered, others were recreated from other sources But sadly some were lost forever

      Like

  17. I have my fathers (Robert E. James) Honerable Discharge papers, that indicates place of separation:Camp Shelby, 110th CML PROC CO, Dec. 11, 1945. I don’t think he went to the Pacific as being in the 110th. Does anyone have info, as to what he may have been assigned to? His uniform patch says 88th.
    Thanks,
    Robbie
    Ghar110259@aol.com

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  18. Raeo D Johnson entered the United States Army in the Infantry 2 December 1943 . His basic training at Hattisburg, Mississsippi. He was killled in line of duty in France 30th October 1944. Any information would be greatly helpful
    Angela

    Like

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