Chapter 02: Camp Butner

On 25 August the situation took a change for the better when the battalion was moved, via truck convoy, to Camp Butner, North Carolina. Camp Butner was located about 19 miles north of Durham, North Carolina.

This movement was in accordance with Letter Order no. 103, Headquarters, Camp Sutton, North Carolina, 24, August 1943. At Camp Butner the men moved into wooden barracks. The battalion was first temporarily located on 27th Street near C Street, and subsequently in the assigned quarters at 26th and C Streets. The battalion was assigned two barracks for troops, a battalion orderly room and a mess hall.

Bob Butchet at Camp Butner NC.

This is the only photo that I know of that Bob sent home from Camp Butner.

At this time the battalion had 19 officers and 117 enlisted men divided as follows:

Hq       Co. A              Co. B               Co. C

Officers                 8            4                   3                        4

Enlisted                26          31                  31                      29

During the week of 4 September training tests were given to all enlisted men, 2nd Lieutenants and warrant officers.  The tests were in all basic subjects and were given by the Camp Butner Training Officer.  Results were generally satisfactory. All officers in the battalion scored above 80%.  These tests did have the advantage of revealing the weaknesses of the personnel so that corrective action could be instituted.

The 13-week basic training course was completed on 18 September.  Advanced and refresher training began on the 20th. In this phase of training came such things as the obstacle course, the attack on a village, combat firing, street fighting, instruction on the bazooka and carbine, technical training, practice convoys and troop movements. Bob told me once that when they were on convoys the drivers would sometimes put their tin ration cans on the manifolds of the motor to heat up as they drove. When they stopped they would open the cans and have hot food. The trick was to punch holes in the lids before heating on the motor. Sometimes the “new guys” would forget to poke the holes and partway down the road their rations would explode all over the motor. He seemed to get a real kick out of that.

On 1 November, the battalion was reorganized and re-designated in accordance with General Order No. 34, Headquarters, Camp Butner, NC, 1943. The headquarters and Headquarters Detachment was reorganized under T/O & E 20-46.  Each Company was reorganized under T/O & E 20-47. Orders for the changes were dated 31 August 1943.

Old Designation                                   New Designation

54th Replacement Battalion                             Hq and Hq Detachment                     Hq and Hq Det, 54th Repl Bn

Company A                                          209th Replacement Company

Company B                                          210th Replacement Company

Company C                                          211th Replacement Company

Each of the four new organizations was assigned to the Fourth Service Command.  The three companies were attached to the Hq and Hq Det, 54th Repl Bn, which was in turn attached to the 12th Replacement Depot.  Lt. William McLain was assigned as Platoon Commander, 210th Repl Co.McLain

During the Camp Butner regime overnight bivouacs of from one to three or more nights duration became the established custom.  In each, camouflage, slit trenches, local security, blackout, and tactical problems were emphasized.  Interspersed with these were the regular road marches two or three times a week, plus an extensive mass athletic program.

Morning reports for the period show the following movements:

5 November 1943: Left Camp Butner at 0730 by truck and arrived in bivouac area, Hickory NC, at 1530. Distance traveled – 179 miles.

6 November 1943: Left Bivouac area 0830 by truck, arrived Swannanoa NC 1230. Distance traveled – 71 miles.

7 November, 1943: Left bivouac area, 0930 by truck, arrived Camp Butner 2000. Distance traveled – 250 miles.

Lt. McLain’s timeline lists the infiltration course on 8 November, carbine familiarization on 17 November and rocket familiarization course on 9 December.McLain

The morning reports record that Robert Butcher went on a 7 day furlow from 17-24 November.   On 17 November 1943 the first of Bob and Fay’s four children, Robert Vincent Butcher, was born.

During the entire period the battalion was attached to the 12th Repl Depot (25 May-18 December), administrative work and other necessary details suffered through the insistence of the Depot Commander that nothing be allowed to interfere with training.  All personnel must be in training, whether classes, road marches, bivouacs, or mass athletics.  However, the Depot was able to arrange some work in checking service records and other papers of ground force units on the post – work that was of great benefit to the personnel who participated and which aided them in preparing for the ultimate function of the replacement battalion and replacement company.

The Depot was rather prodigal with commendations and citations. Seven Officers and 26 enlisted men were cited and an additional 7 enlisted men were commended.  Good Conduct Medals were awarded to 17 enlisted men.

On 24 June, Major Tindall had been temporarily relieved of command of the battalion to perform duties as Depot Inspector, and Major Gerald C Simpson, 019294, Infantry, was attached.  Per verbal orders of the Commanding Officer, 12th Replacement Depot, he commanded the BN until 28 June, when Major Tindall was returned to the BN and Major Simpson was relieved.  From 12 September to 19 September, Major Butler assumed command during the temporary absence of Major Tindall on leave, and again on 25 November to 29 November.

During the periods company commanders were on leave, the companies were commanded by the following officers:

23 September – 3 October          Company A                  Lt. Alton U. Robinson

23 September – 1 October          Company B                  L t. Leroy Wilson, Jr.

22 November – 26 November 211 Repl Co.                     Lt. Ira W. Hart


On 9 October, five attached medical enlisted men were added to the BN.  Later, four additional men were added from troops already within the BN. The first officer of the Medical Detachment was subsequently transferred prior to the time of the movement from Camp Butner and without having actually served in the Detachment.  Officer personnel were detailed shortly before the BN left Camp Butner.


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