From 1919 until the end of 1940 the site of the World War I era Camp Lee, Virginia, lay in peaceful somnolence as a wildlife preserve, protected by the state’s Commission of Game and Inland Fisheries. The only thing resembling a military activity was a Civilian Conservation Corps camp which operated in adjacent Petersburg National Military Park.
Then, in September 1939, World War II began in Europe and storm clouds drifted over the Atlantic during the following months. The nation began to prepare. In October 1940, the War Department ordered the construction of another Camp Lee on the site of the earlier installation. More than twelve and one-half million dollars was initially set aside for the work.
Construction began on 25 November 1940 -- as hundreds, then thousands of troops poured into the "tent city." By mid-1941 there were 15,000 trainees at the newly created Quartermaster Replacement Training Center (QMRTC). Their number grew to 25,000 in 1942, and peaked at 35,000 in 1944.
By the end of World War II nearly 300,000 enlisted soldiers received basic and branch training at Camp Lee, while another 50,000 soldiers went through Officer Candidate School.
Sixty years later, Fort Lee remains the U.S. Army’s center for logistics training -- and Home of the Quartermaster Corps.
Compiled by Dr. Steven Anders, former Quartermaster School historian
Event: Camp Lee construction begins
Date: November 1940
"To lead an untrained people to war is to throw them away."
- Confucius, Analacts, xiii (ca. 500 BC)