“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Edison in Middlesex County, New Jersey — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

Camp Kilmer

Camp Kilmer Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By David Weintraub, January 25, 2021
1. Camp Kilmer Marker
Camp Kilmer was the first Army camp constructed for the express purpose of staging Army men to and from the New York Port of Embarkation. In August, 1941, the New York Port of Embarkation, in accordance with a directive from the Secretary of War, named a Board of Officers to make a preliminary survey and recommendations for the site of a proposed staging area because of the threat of war drawing closer to the United States. Stelton (a section of Raritan Township, now called Edison Township), New Jersey was chosen from 22 possible sites because it most closely met the requirements. The 1,573 acres of land were purchased in 1942 for $479,532. About 900 acres of the land were located in Edison Township and about 600 acres in Piscataway Township. The camp was named after Sergeant Alfred Joyce Kilmer (see additional information on Joyce Kilmer).

At a cost of over $37 million, a civilian workforce of more than 11,000 completed construction of the following, in just a little over four months time: 1,120 two-story barracks, 10 mess halls, 5 theaters, 7 chapels, 9 post exchanges, 3 libraries, 4 telephone centers, 4 fire stations, a
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1,000 bed hospital, dental clinics, commissary, meat-cutting plant, gymnasium, indoor swimming pool, 10-ton incinerator, 28 miles of roads, and 11 railheads that fed into main railroad lines. Over the years, additional facilities were built, which included: The Kilmer Bowl – an 8,000 seat amphitheater, Kilmer Stadium with football fields, track and 15,000 seats, Post Stockade, and the Landship "Kilmer Victory,” built as a training aid. In addition, the camp offered the following services: Athletic Fields, American Red Cross, Post Office, Western Union Telegraph, Bus Terminal, and Railroad Ticketing. Off-Post troops could visit United Service Organization (U.S.O.) Clubhouses, YMCA's, and Community Centers. The young women who worked for the U.S.O. were known as "Kilmer Sweethearts."

The camp had 41 miles of paved roads and 32 miles of electrified track that served the Pennsylvania, Lehigh, and Reading railroads. As camp many as 400 Pullman cars could be filled with 58,000 soldiers within a 24-hour period. The camp had over 52 million sq. ft. of floor space in the buildings. The camp reportedly could process up to 50,000 people in a week and would issue eight-hour passes to 10,000 – 20,000 men at a time. They would visit stores, bars, and USO Centers in surrounding towns. Taxi drivers and stores did a great business. The 5 telephone centers in the camp
Camp Kilmer Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By David Weintraub, January 25, 2021
2. Camp Kilmer Marker
had a total of 131 booths to handle long-distance calls. The Central Pastry Shop had 2 large ovens capable of baking 60 cakes at one time. They could bake enough in 20 minutes to feed 1,800 men. They also had an automatic doughnut machine which produced 2,400 donuts an hour. In its fist two months of operations, the camp received 12 million pounds of supplies and put into use 27 warehouses. The camp also had 2 coal yards capable of holding approximately 100,000 tons of coal.

Some of the statistics of the camp show just how large an operation it was.
  In a Typical Year
    16 million meals served
    62,000 tons of coal burned
    12 million kilowatt hours of electricity used
    $8 million sales, Post Exchange (largest in country)
    27,000 patients admitted to camp hospital
    176,000 treated at camp hospital
    1,500,000 physical examinations given
    1,800,000 vaccinations given
    85,000 money orders cashed
    2,000 marriages performed
    3,500-4,000 motion pictures shown
    189 U.S.O. shows
  In an Average month
    75,588 bars of soap dispensed
    30,000 pencils dispensed
    40,000 rolls of toilet paper dispensed
    94,000 gallons of gasoline used
    9,000,000 pounds of food used, at cost of $14,000 a day
    $4,000,000 pay, allowances,
Camp Kilmer Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By David Weintraub, January 25, 2021
3. Camp Kilmer Marker
and travel expenses issued
    1,000,000 hot dogs & rolls sold
    204,000 long-distance calls made by 203,000 debarkees
  In an Average Day
    2,500,000 gallons of water used
    50,000 pieces of 1” class mail pass through camp
    1,500 loaves of bread used for sandwiches

Camp Kilmer served the Army Air Forces, Army Ground Forces, and Army Service Forces. During WWII, more than 20 infantry and armored divisions staged through the post on their way to the European Theater of Operation. Camp Kilmer was unique among Army posts in that its only function was to serve as a temporary home for troops. Camp Kilmer was also used to house German and Italian Prisoners of War. 50,000 Italian POW's were captured in North Africa and transported to the U.S.. After Italy surrendered to the Allies, 35,000 of these POW's worked with the U.S. Army as "cooperators” in Italian Service Units. Some of these served at Camp Kilmer. Approximately 5 million men and women passed through the camp during WWII and in the post-war period until the camp was temporarily closed in 1949.

From 1950 to 1953, the camp was reopened as a Personnel Center due to the Korean Conflict and then placed on stand-by status. In 1956, the camp was reactivated again for about 7 months to house Hungarian Freedom Fighters from the Hungarian Uprising. The Hungarian
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communities in the area were very active in supporting the refugees. They greeted them in their own language when they arrived, raised and provided Hungarian newspapers and magazines. The refugees were relocated to various parts of the country, with about 3,000 settling in New Jersey. Since that time, the Army has maintained a constant presence, but most of the original camp has been sold or given away. The remainder is now occupied by the Army Reserve's First Brigade and the 78th Division Headquarters. Former land is now occupied by Rutgers University Livingston Campus and Athletic Fields, Sutton Kilmer Industrial Campus, Kilmer General Mail Facility, New Jersey Motor Vehicle Inspection Station, Edison Job Corps, Middlesex County Educational Services Commission, Middlesex County Vo-tech School, Piscataway Board of Education, Timothy Christian School, Edison Angels Softball Complex, Edison Spencer Rockman Soccer Complex, Fairway Golf Center, and many other businesses and homes.

Prior to its use as an Army camp, the land was owned by many families and businesses. Some of this land was originally settled in the 1660's, by the earliest colonists in the area. John Smalley and his family were among them. They settled 148½ acres and owned it for the next 241 years. The Smalley family was among the founders of the Stelton Baptist Church. The Smalley burial plot was carefully tended by the Army while they owned the land it was on. The burial plot still exists today and can be found to the south of the new soccer fields (see map).
Erected 2006 by Troop #17 Central NJ Council Boy Scouts.
Topics. This memorial is listed in these topic lists: Forts and CastlesWar, World II.
Location. 40° 31.181′ N, 74° 25.526′ W. Marker is in Edison, New Jersey, in Middlesex County. Memorial is at the intersection of Kilmer Road and Cliff Prescod Lane, on the left when traveling east on Kilmer Road. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Edison NJ 08817, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Invention of the Band-Aid (approx. 1.4 miles away); The Jewish Agricultural Society (approx. 1.6 miles away); Frelinghuysen Hall (approx. 1.6 miles away); Hardenbergh Hall (approx. 1.7 miles away); On This High Ground (approx. 1.7 miles away); Daniel S. Schanck Observatory (approx. 1.8 miles away); New Brunswick (approx. 1.8 miles away); Paul Robeson (approx. 1.8 miles away).
Also see . . .
1. Camp Kilmer - National Archives. (Submitted on February 10, 2021, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut.)
2. Camp Kilmer (Wikipedia). (Submitted on February 10, 2021, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut.)
Credits. This page was last revised on February 10, 2021. It was originally submitted on February 7, 2021, by David Weintraub of Edison, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 709 times since then and 208 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on February 7, 2021, by David Weintraub of Edison, New Jersey. • Michael Herrick was the editor who published this page.

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Sep. 23, 2023