303rd Infantry at Camp Devens - 1918
The men of the 303rd Infantry are the only ones at Ayer who were not residents of New England; they come from northeastern New York state, from Albany, Schenectady, Johnstown and other towns and cities in that section.
The Mess Hall
The lower floor of each barracks contains a spacious mess-hall and kitchen for the members of the company. The mess-ha'il is filled with long wooden benches and seats. In the rear is the kitchen, where the food is prepared and cooked on large ranges.
The cooks are permanent members of the culinary department, and were originally selected on account of previous experience in that field, but the waiters and helpers, the “kitchen police,” as they are called, are only on duty temporarily.
Each day a detail is selected from the company roster to act as kitchen police. These men are relieved from military duties and are under' the orders of his Majesty, the Cook.
They carry in the supplies from the trucks, peel potatoes and onions, and at meal time act as waiters, bringing the food to the tables from the sideboard which separates the kitchen and the dining hall. This duty is not sought by the men and hence is often given for days at a time as punishment for some laxity in discipline.
When the mess-call blows the men throng to the tables upon which the food has already been placed. As soon as they are allowed to sit down there is one grand rush for the plates of food. Smith has the potatoes, and Jones the platter of meat.
After Smith has taken all the potatoes he wants, he gives the dish to Jones, who in turn passes back the meat. Meanwhile, Brown, Green and Black are industriously heaping their plates with bread, beans and prunes. After a while this mutual interchange is completed and most of the men are happy.
Those who have not obtained enough howl for the distracted orderly to bring them more. It is all done good-naturedly, however, and no matter how hard a time a man may have in getting what he wants when he wants it, he is never hungry when he leaves the mess-hall.
For this is one of Uncle Sam’s cardinal rules for the health and happiness of his boys, — good food and plenty of it.
The Mess Hall Shown Here Is That of a Company of the 303rd Infantry. The Kitchen Police, One of Whom Has a Mop in His Hand, Are in the Foreground; The Cooks Can Be Seen Behind the Sideboard. GGA Image ID # 13a5ff423b
The 303rd Infantry
The Day Is Over for These Men From the 303rd Infantry. GGA Image ID # 13a6a10eb5
The quarters of the 303rd and 304th Infantry are at some distance from those of the other two units of infantry, and stretch along the road which runs parallel to the adjacent Depot Brigade, in the southeastern part of the camp.
The men of the 303 d are the only ones at Ayer who were not residents of New England; they come from northeastern New York state, from Albany, Schenectady, Johnstown and other towns and cities in that section.
In imitation of the Boston regiment, they call themselves “New York’s Own,” but from the jocular manner with which they pronounce this designation, one understands that they do not mean it seriously, but are merely poking fun at their neighbors.
The company in the picture is returning to the barracks for mess, after several hours of strenuous “fatigue duty.” The regiment is commanded by Colonel J. F. Preston.
Men from the 303rd Infantry Constructing Front Line Trench at Camp Devens. GGA Image ID # 13a95eb9ab
At the Trenches Men from the 303 d Infantry are seen digging a first-line trench. While one shift of men is working, the rest receive explanations and instructions.
In order to train the draft men under conditions resembling as closely as possible those that they will later encounter in France, the authorities have ordered that a complete set of trenches be built, both for the practice in constructing them, and for the training in their use which will follow.
All the men of the line will take part in the exercises. Officers and non-commissioned officers from the French and Canadian armies, who have seen active service, and realize the actual conditions of trench warfare, are supervising this work at Camp Devens.
The United States has no standard trenches; those which will be eventually adopted will be a combination of the best points of the systems used by the allied forces. The trenches at Ayer are really only experimental, but they answer their purpose in demonstrating to the infantrymen the characteristics and uses of those which are employed at the western front.
The soldier will learn to distinguish the first, second and third-line trenches and the communication trenches which connect them. He will know how to dig the trenches, to build the firing step, the berme, the parapet, the parados, and he will become acquainted with the function of each.
He will learn how to build dugouts, how to construct revetments, how to drain the trenches, and many other details which are mysteries to the uninitiated. When the system is completed he will be taught to defend them, and from them to conduct a strong offensive.
No matter what system is finally adopted, the men from Ayer will have a thorough knowledge of the fundamentals of trench construction and trench warfare, and with this to work on, they will be able quickly to pick up whatever new details may develop.
Men from the 303rd Infantry in a Communication Trench. GGA Image ID # 13a9ae9950
The picture shows some men of the 303rd Infantry in a communication trench. The wooden frame-work constitutes, in military parlance, a revetment of fascines, which has been constructed to obviate any possibility of a cave-in.