Yes, I know: it should be a 48-star flag... The 115th A.A.A. Gun Battalion, 1943 to 1945

The United States (Part 6)

CAMP SHANKS, NEW YORK, POE

Thanksgiving Day, 25 November 1943: After much scurrying and in spite of the tender ministrations of Group and Corps, the organization entrained from Fort Dix to the then great unknown -- Camp Shanks. All organizational equipment with the exception of those few items to accompany troops had been turned in to the proper supply branch. With all baggage and equipment well in hand, the rest of us were left with no greater worry than how in the hell to get in and out of the truss that some one had mistakenly called a roll pack, truly an ingenious device for torture. As there was no diner furnished for such a short haul, Thanksgiving dinner was a luxurious repast of salami and cheese sandwiches, washed down with luke-warm water from the supposedly iced cooler in that fugitive from the Atlantic Coast Line in which we were riding.

Upon our arrival at Shanks we were marched, roll pack and all, up a disgustingly steep hill to our billets and given an office which we with two other units, as confused as we were. Personnel section began to make their forty copies of everything and the supply sections began merrily undoing all the damage resulting from the application of prior instructions at Dix. All personnel had new type gas masks issued, resulting in yet another trip through the gas chambers. All EM's drew complete new uniforms and individual equipment after each daily show-down inspection, becoming without doubt the best equipped unit in the U.S.Army. Still more "must" pictures were seen; there were the inevitable jabs of the Medico's needles. APO's were designated and censorship instigated while one final surge of insurance, powers of attorney, and last will and testament details were added to the valiant Unit Personnel Section's overload. All this was done with utter secrecy and to all intents and purposes we might have been already overseas with the slight exception of the one or maybe two final leaves to New York.

Volumes could be written about those nights on the Gay White Way, but suppose we only say that many a man found the price of a coca cola varies considerably between Cafe Zanzibar and the local store in Long Prairie, Minnesota. Probably the most interesting phase of going to town was trying to make the bus which left at 0400 hours so as to get the personnel back to Camp by 0600 hours as was required. It is questionable which was the more loaded -- the bus or the people in it.

But at last the outfit was clothed properly, packed properly and all papers in good order. The day of embarkation drew nearer and nearer, until at 2400 hours, 4 December, we buckled ourselves back in our trusses with the additional weight of duffle bags and Val packs, staggered to the train which was to carry us to the P. of E. A most miserable ride of approximately 3 hours and we packed aboard ferry which carried us across the Hudson to a pier on which an Army band was playing us a disconsolate farewell, "The Jersey Bounce". Judging from the music, they were just as disgusted at being up at such an awful hour as we. Off the ferry to the pier, an interminable walk to the gangplank of our ship, and the load each individual carried made us very regretful that more time had not been devoted to physical proficiency courses. Red Cross gals made with spongy doughnuts and just tepid coffee, as the checkers called off "Doe", and Doe answered with "John D", until finally the battalion was swallowed into the bowels of "HMS Strathnaver".

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travels by train on Thanksgiving Day, 25 November 1943, to Camp Shanks, NY. Final overseas departure preparations are made while enjoying final leaves in New York City. At midnight, the 115th is off by train for the Port of Embarkation, boarding HMS Strathnaver just before dawn, 5 December 1943.
 
Updated Tuesday June 07, 2005 09:11:36 PDT
The original text of The Story of the 115th A.A.A. Gun Battalion, published by the unit in 1945, is in the public domain. So how, you may ask, can I claim that the contents of these web pages are protected by copyright?

The answer is that it is my own transcription of the text and images into electronic format, and compilation into these web pages that is copyrighted. In addition, the web design, art, and annotations, plus all material from my father's personal albums are copyrighted original works. I reserve all rights to how all these materials are used. You may not copy them or store them in any retrieval system without permission.