Camp Upton Reactivated for World War II

1940

Camp Upton Reactivated for World War II

Members of the This Is the Army unit rehearse "That's What the Well-Dressed Man in Harlem Will Wear." The cast was the only integrated World War II company in the armed forces.

History

On the eve of World War II in1941, as the Nation mobilized, Upton was rebuilt as a reception center that held up to 15,000 troops at one time. GIs by the thousands came to be inducted, processed, clothed, and shipped to training centers.

After Roosevelt had declared war on Japan near the end of 1941, Irving Berlin decided he should restage his surprise WW I hit Yip-Yip Yaphank. He convinced the Army, specifically Gen. George Marshall in Washington, to approve a new all-solider show. Once again Berlin arrived at Camp Upton, this time as a civilian. This Is the Army was written and composed in an old Civilian Conservation Corps barracks known as T-11.

This is the Army was a huge hit. The showed opened on Broadway on July 4, 1942. The original 4-week run was extended and the Army made plans for a national tour that took the show across the United States ending in San Francisco in February 1943. The movie rights were sold to Warner Brothers Studio. The movie cast included George Murphy, Joan Leslie, Alan Hale, and Lt. Ronald Reagan. The show raised more than $10 million for the Army Emergency Relief.

Following World War II, Camp Upton was used as a hospital to treat wounded veterans. The Camp Upton Convalescent Hospital operated for 22 months. Barracks were remodeled, warehouse space was converted into Pre-Technical Shops, the library, Service Club, dental clinic, mess halls, and music studio building were enlarged. Two large gyms, an indoor swimming pool, and a ten-acre hard surfaced game area were constructed as were academic education buildings and a 24-lane bowling alley.

During the World War II period, Upton also served as a detainee camp and a POW camp. It's reported that 218 nationals of enemy countries were held at the Civilian Internment Camp until their transfer on March 16, 1943 to Fort George G. Meade, Maryland. On May 21, 1945, 500 German prisoners from Fort DuPont, Delaware arrived at Upton. Their stay, however, was brief as on June 30, 1945 Camp Upton was once again declared surplus.

Documents / Links

This is the Army