Smitty – Camp Polk and the Louisiana Maneuvers

Entrance to Camp Polk

Entrance to Camp Polk

It took 22 trains and one week to transport the proud and cocky division to Camp Polk in the west-central area of Louisiana.  This was the home of the armored forces and it would not take long for the two units to clash.  But first, they planned to enjoy the improved living conditions and the 3.2 beer.  They found time to “hit the town” and often it was a place called “Scotty’s,” just outside of Southern Pines.  The tank units did not take kindly to the finely tuned troopers who were in the best shape of their lives (and they knew it!).  The 11th would often “unboot” the tankers when they were in town, forcing them to return to base barefoot and find their footwear neatly lined up in their barracks.

building a pontoon boat in Calcasieu Swamp

building a pontoon boat in Calcasieu Swamp

Beginning Jan. 10, the men underwent harsh training in preparation for the tests at the hands of the Third Army.  The Louisiana Maneuvers began Feb. 5 with the troopers bivouacked near Hawthorne, LA.  There were 4 tactical maneuvers lasting 3 days each.  First, they jumped and marched immediately after.  Then they attacked and defended using an attack sequence of “flags & umpires.”  Finally, the “enemy” broke through and they would retreat.  The weather in the Calcasieu Swamp was snow, hail, sleet and enough rain to swallow a jeep.  The men joked that the camp should be a naval base.  On Feb. 20, the 11th airborne division took and passed their infantry tests.

Leesville, LA 1940's

Leesville, LA 1940’s

About this time, Gen. Swing was pleased to be told that the troopers were being sent to the Pacific and MacArthur would consider the unit his “secret weapon.”  This turned out to be one reason for the lack of newspaper coverage for the division until they landed in the Philippines.  I discovered this after an extensive search in the Australian library and newspaper archives.

001 (800x634)

Click on photos to enlarge.

The 11th was restricted to base for one month.  Swing decided the men should travel to their POE (Port of Exit/Entry) Camp Stoneman, CA incognito as Shipment # 1855 in an effort to bypass the Inspector General’s men.  Orders were to look and act as a “straight-leg” unit; ALL paratrooper I.D. and clothing to be stowed away.

News from home:  The Banner (Broad Channel newspaper sent to servicemen) reports:  NY Governor Dewey signed a bill that would allow fishermen of Jamaica Bay to shoot an unlimited amount of eels, but the shooting had to be done with bow and arrow.  Smitty’s mom says:  everyone is still trying to figure that one out.

###########################################################################################

Fellow blogger, Carl D’Agostino at “i know i made you smile”, sent me his father’s pictures and information.  Arthur D’Agostino had been with the 8th Armored Division.  They were stationed at Camp Campbell, KY until 1943 when they were moved to Camp Polk, LA to prepare for combat.  The division was sent to the European Theater on 5 December 1943, but Mr. D’Agostino was in recovery from surgery and was spared the journey.  Carl’s blog can be found HERE.

Click on images to enlarge.

#######################################################################################################################

Military Humor –

Camp Polk humor, WWII

Camp Polk humor, WWII

Now, this is what we tell the commander...

Now, this is what we tell the commander…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

military-humor-funny-joke-soldier-army-tank-toll-fare-highway

 

#####################################################################################

Farewell Salutes –

Albert Behrendt – Olmsted, OH; US Army, WWII

Nick Casertano – NYC, NY; US Army, WWII, CBI, 457th Infantry Regiment260637844_god_bless_them_all_xlarge

Charles Keating IV – San Diego, CA; US Navy, Iraq, Spec. Warfare Operator 1st Class, KIA

Elmer Lowry – Brandon, OR; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 188th/11th Airborne

Leon Martin – Reading, PA; USMC, WWII

William Newcomb – Needham, MA; US Army, WWII

Judith Rodrigues – Aiken, SC; US Army, WWII, Nurse Corps

Robert Sanford – Louisville, KY; US Navy, WWII

Charles Smith – Largo, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne

Phil Tillman – Mt. Vernon, TX; US Army, WWII, PTO, Field Artillery

#####################################################################################

 

Advertisements

About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on June 11, 2016, in First-hand Accounts, Home Front, SMITTY, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 72 Comments.

  1. We lived about an hour from Ft. Polk for a number of years. I didn’t get down there much, but always thought it’d be interesting to explore more of its wartime existence. I did get to old Camp Livingston on numerous occasions, and it was both fascinating and tragic to see how time and vandalism has taken such a toll on such a historic site.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you MR D’Agostino for your service too.

    Like

  3. Great entertaining post gp, your story bought the unit to life as well as the men and incidents on their relocation.
    I think the eels and bow and arrows will forever remain a mystery to all.
    Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I give up GP the T beneath the stripes? Only thing that comes to mind is ‘Tanks’

    Like

  5. Great post it was a fun read

    Like

  6. We deployed to Ft. Polk for training and it SUCKED! Literally, the swamp sucked at everything, the mosquitos were the worst. We could not wait to get back to Hawaii. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m always fascinated by the symbiotic relationship be military bases and nearby towns.,

    Like

    • Thank you very much, Penny. When dad was alive, I tried to get him to have his letters, etc. published, but he scoffed at the idea that anyone would be interested. I hope he’s seeing the reaction here these days!!!

      Like

  8. Thank you ich wünsche dir einen schönen Sunday Interessanter Beitrag wieder lieber Gruß und Umarmung Gislinde

    Like

  9. I’ve heard of bootlegging, but boot de-legging? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Another very interesting story. Thank you! -Jennie-

    Like

  11. Enjoyed the “unboot” story. Boys will be boys.

    Like

  12. You know times are tough when you enjoy 3.2 beer.

    Like

  13. Another interesting read by an outstanding blogger. Actually, this was a fun read. Will you be writing about how they did in the Pacific? Am also curious. Have you written about Fort Benning in Columbus Georgia before and during World War II? cMy Dad did his boot there. We live an hour and 15 minutes away from there. He never told us where his Boot actually was only that there was a town off limits for everyone across the river (It still is). After visiting aWWII barrack at their museum I figured it out.

    Like

    • I’ll be following the Smitty (Dad) and the 11th Airborne as they train enter the war. I’m afraid I did not do anything on Fort Benning. As it was your father who was there, perhaps that should be a job for yourself? I love reading posts like that on other blogs.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t know enough about it other than what I learned at the museum. They told us that Patton commanded Ft. Benning before WWII and actually had tanks go over to that town threatening to blow up the jail house unless his men were released from jail.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. I am thinking the guys probably went through the toll to check out the toll booth staff! As for the boot caper, I can see why the tank guys might be just a little irritated. I’d be tempted to see how well the 11th’s tents stood up when being driven over by a tank. 🙂 –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Interesting story. There must have been a few bruises as a result of the unboot process.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Great stories!
    My oldest brother was at Ft. Polk in LA before going to Vietnam. I was just a little girl, but I think it was called Fort Polk when he was there. He was at Ft. Bliss for basic training…in El Paso, TX…not sure it was blissful there. 😉
    We went to visit him when he was there. I remember that road trip. 🙂
    It was the first time he (a boy from the West) saw an armadillo. 🙂
    HUGS!!! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  17. I really enjoy the Smitty stories. I identify with them so much.
    A paratrooper is a paratrooper be it the 40’s or the 50.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Mr D’Agostino isn’t showing too many of his 90 years. I hope I look as good if I get that far!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Very interesting and agree a long walk back without shoes. Smiling at the humor section with the toll..lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Fascinating. I love how clever we are when that line in the sand is crossed.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. This was a fascinating post. I enjoyed seeing the pictures and learning more about the war in the Pacific.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. This was a fun read. Boys will be boys, regardless of age. Love the idea of sending them back without their boots.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. That must have been quite an experience. I’m sweating, just thinking about summers, there.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. My prospective son-in-law likes to wind me up by sitting in my favourite chair, and leaving his mark on it. I tend to be in bed much earlier than him. One morning recently, I came down to find his, very clean, shoes on the seat. He came down later and found one in a waste paper basket. The other took him rather longer to seek out.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Always interesting to read about the rivalry between different units. I bet that was a long walk back, minus their boots!
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Wow, I think my dad spent time at Polk. Not jail time, but military time. 🙂 Not sure, but the name sounds part of my upbringing.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. I particularly enjoyed the Camp Polk humor. I was at what by then was called “Fort Polk” in 1968 and it looks like nothing had changed.

    Liked by 3 people

  28. Thank you very much!

    Like

  1. Pingback: My Article Read (6-11-2016) – My Daily Musing

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: