FORT LEE, VIRGINIA, was one of sixteen national Army cantonments built at the outset of World War I. It was named in honor of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Over 134,000 soldiers trained here during the war. It was torn down in 1920 and made into a wildlife sanctuary for the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Camp Lee was reactivated in 1940 and became a bustling center of activity. Here was located the Quartermaster Replacement Training Center, a Quartermaster Board for research and development, and a Technical Training Center for producing doctrinal literature and training aids. Early in October 1941, the Quartermaster School moved from Philadelphia, making Camp Lee its new home. Over 300,000 soldiers trained here during the course of World War II.
Activities declined sharply at wars end, and there was talk of closing the post altogether. In the meantime, the first two permanent buildings were constructed a new Post Theater and a library (1947-48). Plans were also underway for new permanent barracks and family housing. Uncertainty about Camp Lees future was not over until the spring of 1950. A Defense Department General Order announced that effective April 15th, Camp Lee was to be redesignated Fort Lee and made a permanent installation.
That decision seems almost prophetic in retrospect. For two months later the North Korean Army crossed the 38th parallel, and our nation was again at war. Suddenly Fort Lee sprang to life in the summer and fall of 1950 to meet the new emergency.
In August the Quartermaster Replacement Training Center (QMRTC) was established to train "soldier technicians" for the Korean Conflict. The 543d Quartermaster Group came into being to handle the influx of new trainees. The Quartermaster Board and QM Technical Training Center were both galvanized into activity. The Quartermaster School was also reorganized and greatly expanded to meet current needs. And a new mission "supply by air" was handed to the Quartermaster Corps.
Clearly 1950 marked a turning point in the history of the Quartermaster Corps and Fort Lee.
QMRTC. The Quartermaster Replacement Training Center, first activated in February 1941, had as its mission then as now, the training of Quartermaster soldiers. By mid-1941, 10,400 trainees every three months were qualifying in basic military duties and technical subjects. Only a year earlier the total strength of the entire Quartermaster Corps had been 19,000. Following the creation of the Army Service Forces, the name of the command was changed to Army Service Forces Training Center. This name it retained until deactivation in January 1947.
In September 1950, the Quartermaster Replacement Training Center was reestablished to meet the emergencies of the Korean War. About 1,200 inductees began training each month.
The Quartermaster Replacement Training Center, with a total of almost 7,000 trainees and overhead personnel, consisted of two training Groups of three Battalions each, and Special Troops, under a Headquarters Commandant, consisting of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Company Q, a Reception and Holding company, and Company S, the Leadership Course Training Company.
The First Training Group was responsible for conducting the first eight weeks of instruction with the aim of training competent combat soldiers. Forty- two subjects in all were taught, including handling and firing weapons, battle indoctrination, camouflage, dismounted drill, squad tactics, compass and map reading with night and day problems, bivouacs, first aid, and defensive measures against chemical, biological and radiological warfare.
Following the completion of this basic phase of training, the trainee received technical instruction in the Second Group for the next eight weeks. Advanced individual training was offered in four areas: Unit Supply Specialist, Supply Handler, Laundry and Dry Cleaning Machine Operator, or Bath Processor and Fumigator. Trainees with added experience or leadership potential often attended an eight-week Leaders Course in the QMRTCs S Company.
The QMTC prided itself on producing "Soldiers first Quartermaster Specialists second" . . . ready for honorable service in the Far East, Europe, or anywhere else in the world where highly skilled and dedicated logistical support was needed.