In the summer of 1943, as the United States and its allies had become fully engaged in a worldwide struggle to defeat Nazi Germany and its allies, a small team of Quartermaster-led scientists, researchers and renowned mountain climbers were contributing to the war effort in a far-off corner of the world, atop Alaska’s highest peak -- Mount McKinley (now Denali).
The Office of the Quartermaster General put together the 17-member team to test new cold weather rations, clothing, and equipment. It had only been 29 years since the very first group of explorers had attempted such a perilous journey.
The wartime expedition lasted nearly ten weeks. And there were thrills and spills aplenty on the treacherous slopes. At one point their Commander, LTC Frank Marchman, QMC, slipped into a fast-moving river at the foot of a glacier and was swept downstream -- but survived. The harsh winds and thirty-below zero temperatures gave ample opportunity to test QM-designed tents, coats, sweaters, shoepacs, mukluks and other equipment.
On 23 July 1943, CPT Robert Bates, QMC, and three of his teammates struggled the last 150 feet to reach the summit of the 20,300-foot mountain … and in so doing added another bit of history to the Quartermaster legacy.
Compiled by Dr. Steven Anders, former Quartermaster School historian
Event: Army Expedition to Mount McKinley
June - August 1943
"No new weapon can be introduced without changing conditions, and every change in conditions will demand a modification in the application of the principles of war."
- J.F.C. Fuller, Armoured Warfare (1943)