Army Quartermaster Museum - Fort Lee, Virginia


THE QM SCHOOL-Past and Present

COLONEL LLOYD L. COBB, Q.M.C.
The Quartermaster Review
May-June 1946
 

MORE than 32,000 officers, officer cadets, and key enlisted personnel were trained at The Quartermaster School between July 1,1940, and December 3, 1945.  In this four-and-a-half-year period The Quartermaster School transformed the army storekeeper and lawyer into a soldier, who knew how to protect himself and his supplies from air, mechanized, and chemical attack.  He had learned to use the bayonet, to prepare explosives, and to hurl grenades.  He had been toughened by long marches, overnight bivouacs, and hours on obstacle courses. He had crawled and crept and run through simulated battlefields while machine guns spat above his head and land mines exploded about him.  He had taken refuge in foxholes of his own digging and had learned to be still while tanks passed over his biding place. He had become proficient moreover. in the many technical fields of quartermaster service.

For thirty-five years The Quartermaster School-known until 1936 as The Quartermaster Corps School has met national emergencies.  It had its beginning at the Philadelphia Quartermaster Depot on March, 1910, when a fourteen-week course was opened to

Train sergeants ďin the duties of storekeepers."  Its first programs of instruction embraced manufacture, inspection, and property accounting-about all the knowledge that a quartermaster of thirty-five years ago was thought to need.  In 1915, though war of a new and terrible kind was being waged in Europe, the authorized strength of the Regular Army was but 4,823 commissioned officers and 85,965 enlisted men. The Quartermaster Corps was allotted but 183 commissioned officers and 403 enlisted men, and its actual strength of 6,000 men was not counted in the strength of the Regular Army. During World War I, however, the Quartermaster Corps formed some twenty-eight organizations for the performance of the work with which it was charged and its authorized strength was 19,949 officers and men.

According to  Major General Henry G. Sharpe, Quartermaster General at the beginning of World War I, the trained quartermaster sergeants who were Commissioned as Reserve officers were "of great assistance in the critical period of expansion."  Fortunately, for several years before the United Statesí entrance into the war,  the little school at the Philadelphia depot had been giving a five-month course for sergeants and a four-month course for sergeants, first class.

On March 21, 1917, two weeks before the declaration of war, The Quartermaster General authorized the setting up of a correspondence course at The Quartermaster Corps School.  By July, 650 students were enrolled. The first class of quartermaster officers was also trained in Philadelphia. Early in 1918, however, The Quartermaster School was moved to Camp Joseph E. Johnston, in Florida, which had been opened for the training of quartermaster officers and enlisted men.  The creation of quartermaster companies brought to an end the old haphazard system of supply. Yet the two weeks of military training prescribed during World War I did little more than give men the manners and appearance of soldiers.  Indeed, only a few organizations, such as motor truck and motor-cycle companies, were armed.

The signing of the armistice briefly interrupted quartermaster training.  On December 1, 1919, however, The Quartermaster General directed that the school be reestablished at the Philadelphia Quartermaster Depot.  It was opened on January 9, 1920, "for the training of the higher grades of enlisted men."

In the fall of 1921 The Quartermaster Corps School was moved to the old Schuylkill Arsenal, where quartermaster supplies had been stored since 1800.  An officers' division was then inaugurated, and the sessions for officers and enlisted men of the Regular Army were lengthened to nine months. In the spring of 1925 short courses for Reserve and National Guard officers were begun. Between January 1920 and July 1940, 1,638 officers, warrant officers, and enlisted men were enrolled at The Quartermaster School.

German victories in the late spring and early summer of 1940 brought forth startling directives from the War Department.  On the 15th of June The Adjutant General directed the establishment of new courses at The Quartermaster School to meet the needs of training.  The first of a series of special courses for officers and the first of a series of special courses for enlisted men were begun in July 1940.  The officers' course covered the entire field of quartermaster functions.  The courses for enlisted men gave training in the duties of first sergeants, sergeant majors, and company clerks; regiment, battalion, and company sergeants;  and  railhead  transportation clerks. In August the Extension Department entered upon an expanded program of manual and scenario writing for the purpose of implementing training throughout the Quartermaster Corps.

In the summer of 1941 the enrollment exceeded the capacity of the Schuylkill Arsenal. In July, 293 ROTC students were enrolled in an eight-week course; 153 candidates entered the first quartermaster officer candidate class; and two groups of Reserve officers were given refresher courses.  The school commandeered the armory of the 111th Infantry and converted it into classrooms for ROTC students. Clearly, more space had to be provided for the training of quartermaster officers, officer candidates, and key enlisted personnel.  The headquarters of The Quartermaster School closed at Schuylkill Arsenal at midnight on the 5th of October 1941, and opened at Camp Lee, Virginia, on the morning of the 6th.  The old Schuylkill Armory was again to be an army storehouse.

The area now occupied by Camp Lee figured in the first written history of English colonization in America and has played an important role throughout all succeeding years.  On the Appomattox River close by, John Smith and his band of adventurers were entertained in 1607 by the Indian queen Opussoquionuske.  Before the white manís arrival the land that belongs to Camp Lee was an Indian fighting ground. Its subsequent history covers a 300-year period.  It was the scene of conflict during the civil war that was known as Bacon's Rebellion; it was raided by the British during the American Revolution; it was a battleground during the Civil War; and it was the home of one of the largest contonments during World War I.

The 507 acres upon which the school was built served the needs of the rapidly expanding training' program. Landscaping, begun for the utilitarian purpose of preventing erosion, resulted in The Quartermaster School's becoming one of the most beautiful of army installations. By the summer of 1942 there were buildings and demonstration and training areas adequate for the 5,000 students attending the school, for a staff and faculty numbering 362 officers, for 1,373 school troops, and for 195 civilian employees. The Quartermaster Association procured for the schoolís use a tract of land known as Lake Jordan and consisting of an 84-acre lake, ninety-nine acres of wooded land, and ten acres of cleared land. Here amphibious and other supplementary field training are conducted, and here personnel of the school and their families go on outings.  Less than sixty miles from Camp Lee is the A. P. Hill Military Reservation, where excellent facilities and a variety of terrain are available for the completion of training under actual field conditions.

With limited military training being given during the days in Philadelphia, The Quartermaster School progressed to a program that gave students such rigid military training as had formerly been considered necessary only for infantrymen. Physical conditioning of officer candidates was implicit from the beginning of the officer candidate training program. In the summer of 1942 a field training area was set up at the School and a four-week period of field exercises was instituted.  When the officer candidate course was lengthened to seventeen weeks on July 5, 1943, the program of instruction provided approximately eleven weeks of academic training and six weeks of field maneuvers and military training.  The following December the program was further strengthened. As a result, young men who are commissioned as second lieutenants in the Quartermaster Corps possess the highest qualities of military leadership.

Between July 1940 and January 1946 the Officer Candidate School enrolled 29,660 students and graduated 24,561.

Emphasis upon the quality of candidates and the individual attention each student received contributed to the excellence of the work done in The Quartermaster Officer Candidate School.  Students who had officer qualifications but who needed additional military training were taken out of their officer candidate classes and placed in a military' development platoon. If a man overcame his deficiency within a two-week period, he was enrolled in the next officer candidate class. Most of the men who returned ranked high in their classes.

Records contain information bearing upon the personality, potential leadership, attitude, alertness, and other general characteristics of the candidates.  Because of this information, help can be given students, and the faculty board can determine what disposition to make of borderline candidates.  The story of a manís four months at the Officer Candidate School is kept on a permanent form known as the consolidated military leadership and performance record.

Though almost half the student personnel were enrolled in the Officer Candidate School, twenty-four other series of courses were conducted at The Quartermaster School. Of the five major courses that began in 1942 or early in 1943, only the ASP Depot Course had been discontinued on February 1, 1946. Between July 1940 and January 1946, 12,622 student officers were enrolled and 11,286 were graduated; 9,289 key enlisted men and women were enrolled and 7,549 were graduated; and a depot selection course trained 366 civilians, of whom 316 were commissioned.

The courses gave basic and advanced training in practically every field of ASP supply.  They were attended by officers from many foreign countries; Great Britain, Canada, the Philippines, China, and Mexico, Peru, Venezuela, Brazil, and other Latin American countries. Special courses were given members of the Women's Army Corps, and Wacs were en-rolled in other classes.

Instructors at The Quartermaster School have been carefully chosen and carefully trained.  Under the leadership of educators, the Instructors' Training and Guidance Section has given all prospective instructors two weeks of classroom work and has subsequently supervised their performance.  The course covered such subjects as the student learning pattern, approved army methods, proper use of visual aids, testing and measuring devices, platform mannerisms, voice control, lesson planning, the art of questioning, and the motivation phase in teaching. Each student was required to do practice teaching and was subjected to the criticism of the class and the instructor.

The search for competent instructors began in 1940 and has known no ending. As officers returned from oversea assignments and as men with oversea experience enrolled in OCS classes, they were carefully screened in order that potential instructors might be discovered.

In the difficult task of teaching vast numbers of men in the shortest possible time, the Quartermaster Corps, as well as the School, has been served by the agency that began in 1938 as the Extension Department of The Quartermaster School and became the Quartermaster Technical Service.  Set up to write instructional material for the School, this department expanded its program to include the production of training literature and training aids for many agencies within and without the Quartermaster Corps. It can be likened to a large publishing house with a staff of writers, artists, photographers, and printers. The Quartermaster Technical Training Service is now rewriting publications in order that lessons learned during World War II may be incorporated.

Since the defeat of Japan all old courses have been revised to meet the needs of peacetime training, and the Food Service Instructors' Course and the special course in Repatriation Activities have been established.

More recently the Physical Training and Athletic Directors School, formerly located at Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Virginia, has been established at The Quartermaster School. Officer and enlisted students from the Army Service Forces and Army Ground Forces attend a four-week course in athletic leadership, fundamentals of physical training, and methods of organizing and directing physical training programs. Nine previous classes have been trained in this course.  Class No. 10, the first to be conducted at The Quartermaster School, started February 6 and comprises 130 officers and 65 enlisted men.

The Quartermaster School is prepared for the efficient continuance of the work with which it has been entrusted.

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