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Fort Belvoir's Engineer Replacement Training Center

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Journal article

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Visitors to Fort Belvoir, Virginia, are probably struck by the modern stone buildings that line the main thoroughfares. At the height of World War II, those areas were considerably different. They were home to the Engineer Replacement Training Center ERTC, located north of the main post, which was formally inaugurated in March 1941 in the ramp-up to Americas entry to that conflict. Conscription had been reintroduced in September 1940, and Fort Belvoir was transformed from a sleepy little Army post to a vast training establishment that, at the height of the war, turned out an average of 5,000 trained engineer Soldiers per month. By autumn 1940, the huge construction project was well underway to build temporary wooden barracks headquarters, training, administration, and supply buildings service clubs and chapels at the new center, which had previously been a run-down farm near the main post. In all, 253 buildings were constructed in the ERTC, including 163 barracks buildings and 36 mess halls. The first group of 250 trainees arrived on 17 March 1941. Fort Belvoirs total population expanded rapidly and by November 1942, 30,260 personnel were assigned to the post. Eventually, the ERTC was to contain a headquarters company, a truck motor company, and three engineer training groups, totaling 10 battalions. In March 1941, a 12-week basic and advanced training course was organized. The course covered 40 engineer-related subjects. By July 1942, it was necessary to form separate schools to train Soldiers as clerks, equipment operators, carpenters, cooks, and other specialists. During the 5 years of its existence, the ERTC trained 147,000 engineer Soldiers. The ERTC remained dormant until the advent of the Korean conflict, when it was reactivated in August 1950. In its 3 years of existence in this second iteration, the ERTC trained more than 37,000 Soldiers before closing down again on 31 December 1953.

Subject Categories:

  • Humanities and History
  • Civil Engineering
  • Structural Engineering and Building Technology
  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Logistics, Military Facilities and Supplies

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