Camp Devens - Examining The New Arrivals - WW1 Cantonment 1918
This picture shows a lieutenant of the medical corps examining a group of newly-arrived draft men. It is illustrative of the care which the men have received from the beginning.
Each man who was drawn in the draft was examined by a local board and passed or rejected by them. Every man who underwent this primary examination, and was subsequently accepted by the local board, was theoretically in good physical condition.
The army regulations stated specifically that none but the physically fit should be taken into service. The medical authorities were greatly surprised and annoyed when, on superficial examinations like this one, they found men who were obviously unfit for service.
After the men had been in camp for a few days, they were thoroughly looked over by the officers of the medical corps. In many cases the latter found that flagrant violations of the rule had been made by the local physicians.
Men came to the camp who could see nothing without glasses. Some had missing fingers or toes. I saw one man whose right leg was three inches shorter than the left. A medical officer told me that certain districts were worse than others.
This state of affairs caused much unnecessary trouble for the authorities. When a superficial examination was so fruitful in bad results, complete examinations were of course necessary. Men who could not be retained were sent home immediately ; those whose condition might be remedied by treatment went to the base hospital until they were fit for duty.
The great majority of the district boards did their work well, according to the officers; many have clean records. Those which refused to comply with the regulations in order to fill the quota from their districts not only hampered greatly the efforts of the camp doctors, but also caused great and unnecessary expense to the government.