Letters from War – At a “Northern Camp” in November 1943

This is part of our “Letters from War” series documenting the World War II letters of Irvin Schwartz of Pine Grove, PA. The letters were all published in the West Schuylkill Press-Herald between 1943 and 1945. 

Read the previous letter here

After a brief furlough at home with family in Pine Grove, PA, PFC. Irvin Schwartz returned to Fort Meade before traveling north by rail through Philadelphia and New York to a staging area for shipping out to England.

PFC. Irvin Schwartz in 1943

On November 1, 1943, the soon-to-be anti-tank gunner and correspondent of his hometown West Schuylkill Press-Herald penned a letter home from his temporary quarters. He wrote this letter to publisher and editor of the newspaper serving communities between Tremont and Pine Grove, Mae A. Bashore.

At a Northern Camp

Monday, November 1 [1943]

Dear Miss Bashore:

Well, I didn’t stay at Fort Geo. G. Meade, Maryland very long, Uncle Sam has transferred me to a northern camp – the name of which I may not write for the sake of military precautions.

This camp is small and most of the barracks are new. Others are only being built. However, this place has more theatres, service clubs, libraries, P.X.’s, gymnasiums, etc., than did Camp Shelby or Fort Meade. This camp situated in these beautiful mountains is a real contrast to “Shelby and Company” down in “Old Mrs. Sippie.”

I do hope you send the Press-Herald to my new address. I can’t thank you too many times for your courtesy in presenting the weekly letter to the Pine Grove and Tremont men and women in the service. Keep backing the attack and victory will come.

We do get passes to New York City, and if we’re still here on Saturday, I will see the nation’s 1943 greatest grid game – the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame from South Bend, Indiana, versus the cadets of West Point, New York. The game takes place in Yankee Stadium.

On our trip here we had the opportunity of seeing places like Radio City, Brooklyn, the Statue of Liberty, City College of New York, the University of Pennsylvania with the famed Franklin Field, and the Palestra, and many of the largest hotels in New York City.

Until next time, may God bless you and the entire Press-Herald staff.

Sincerely yours,

PFC. Irvin Schwartz

From details in the letter, it is likely that Schwartz was writing from Camp Shanks on the Hudson River just north of New York City. This was a major staging area for American soldiers preparing to embark for the European Theatre. It was a relatively new camp in the autumn of 1943 and sat just south of the Catskill Mountains.

A photograph of Camp Shanks in Orangeburg, New York. (Hudson Valley Magazine)

PFC. Schwartz’s time in the United States was short by this time. He and his fellow soldiers were soon to be bound for war-ravaged England.

Featured Image: Philadelphia skyline in 1943. Schwartz and his comrades passed through the city by rail on their way to a staging camp in New York State. From Flickr user Nathan Hughes Hamilton.

This is part of a series titled: “Letters from War.” Read more of the letters written by Irvin Schwartz during World War II

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