Camp Myles Standish - 64 Years Later
by Jim Koller, Hqs/3Bn/276

64 Years Later

During 2008 Thanksgiving dinner in East Providence, Rhode Island with my wife and two of our sons and their families I found myself reminiscing about my first Thanksgiving dinner in New England sixty-four years ago. The regiments of the 70th Division had just arrived at Camp Myles Standish in the vicinity of near-by Taunton, Massachusetts, to prepare for shipment overseas. My two sons responded by suggesting that we devote the following day to finding and exploring the site of the base.

With the aid of maps and information on the 70th Division Association website they were able to locate the original main gate of the base at the intersection of Bay and Watson Streets about three miles north of Taunton. Nothing remains of the camp entrance and it is very easy to miss. However, it is marked a few yards away by a low stone monument dedicated by the Taunton Allied Veterans Council in 1961. The plaque on the monument reads:

 “TO COMMEMORATE THE SITE OF CAMP MYLES STANDISH, THE MAJOR TROOP STAGING AREA OF THE BOSTON PORT OF EMBARKATION THROUGH WHICH 1,531, 711 PERSONNEL WERE PROCESSED FROM OCTOBER 1942 TO JANUARY 1946 AND SENT FORTH TO ENGAGE IN WORLD WAR II."


Picture shows the original main entrance, the monument and some site area interior with son Steve and myself (on left).

According to documents we saw later, the camp became fully operational in 1943 and covered approximately 1600 acres. In addition to its original role the camp later served as both a receiving station for troops returning from Europe and as a holding area for prisoners of war. It was closed permanently in 1946. During the 1950’s the central portion of the site, which had contained the camp administration and service facilities, became the Paul A. Dever school complex, a state institution for the education of developmentally disadvantaged youths. The northwest portion of the site now makes up part of the Myles Standish Industrial Park, reported to be the largest industrial park in the northeast and headquarters for many national and regional companies. The original ten miles of rail sidings, which accommodated the massive troop movements, have been reduced to a single spur leading into the business park. It appeared to us that some of the northeast portion of the base may now be undeveloped woodland.

Under the supervision of security personnel we were permitted to drive through the area on the cracked and crumbling original streets. It is now marked primarily by the rapidly decaying buildings of the Devens school which ceased to operate in the 1990’s. Only one of the original camp buildings, Service Club #2, is still standing. It is now faced with brick and clap-board but photos confirmed that, like the rows of one-story barracks I remember, its exterior was also originally covered with “tar paper”. We were told that the nearby theater had survived until a recent fire. A religious grotto constructed by Italian PW’s still exists and is accessible through the industrial park. The entire area was more open than I remembered and it is likely that the 276th was billeted in a more heavily wooded portion of the area to the north. The odor of coal smoke recalled by Frank Lowry in his history of Company A has long since dissipated.


Service Club #2, the only surviving original building, with sons Steve and Chris and myself.

After the tour we visited the museum of the New Colony Historical Society in Taunton. It contains a small exhibit recalling the army post and its function. There we were permitted to examine several folders of unsorted documents and photographs relating to the camp. Among other interesting facts we found that, along with the 70th, sixteen other combat divisions departed for the European theater from Camp Myles Standish between late 1943 and early 1945.

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