Archive for Sunday, August 13, 2017

World War I in Lawrence: Soldiers report to Robinson Gymnasium for drills

August 13, 2017

Editor’s note: As the U.S. marks the 100th anniversary of its entry into World War I this year, local writer Sarah St. John will compile reports of what it was like to be in Lawrence at that time.


Several National Guard units were camping in Lawrence this month to undergo federal examination and mustering in. The process started in Robinson Gymnasium on the KU campus, where soldiers filled out all the necessary forms and received the first of their typhoid and smallpox vaccinations. During the two-week period, those men living in Lawrence were permitted to sleep at home, but they reported daily to McCook Field, which was reported as “a smooth, convenient place for drilling the men. All sorts of formations are gone through in the course of the afternoon so that the recruits are getting on to the commands rapidly.”

Recruits from the seven military organizations were extended the privileges of the YMCA facilities during their stay. According to the Journal-World, “the reading room is always occupied by some one writing to his friends on the stationery provided by the Association. During the hour of mess the reading room is too small to take care of the men at one time. Yesterday there were approximately 225 men who took advantage of the shower baths. This is 50% of the entire number who are stationed down town.” A basketball game was scheduled for Aug. 8 between the Second Hospital Corps and the First Kansas Regiment; however, it was later announced that the game “did not take place. The Hospital Corps was vaccinated last night and did not feel able to play.”

Other than their presence on campus and at the YMCA, the recruits were not making much of a stir in town: “A noticeable feature of the work here is that the soldiers are orderly and find little time for chasing around. The soldiers give as the reason that when night comes they are ready to go to bed and stay until they are called in the morning.


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