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Camp Dix Knights of Columbus - Everybody Welcome - 1918

An Officers’ Ball in the Main Building Knights of Columbus

An Officers’ Ball in the Main Building Knights of Columbus
Photo by White Studio

Gathered around the Pool Table in a Knights of Columbus Building

Gathered around the Pool Table in a Knights of Columbus Building

Main Building, Knights of Columbus Situated on New Jersey Ave.

Main Building, Knights of Columbus Situated on New Jersey Ave.

"Everybody Welcome"

That is the sign above the insignia of the Knights of Columbus, wherever it may have been seen, in camp or up near the battle line.

The Knights have four buildings in Camp Dix, where every soldier is welcome to enjoy the movie shows, the dances, the pool tables, reading matter and general sociability.

Not satisfied with a series of well-equipped buildings in which to entertain, the Knights went forth and performed work that will never flicker in the memory of the men who have made Camp Dix their military home for a day or a year.

Rookies usually came in during the night. The Knights met them with a cup of hot coffee. Only those who have been rookies are qualified to tell the cheer of that reception.

The largest and best boxing shows in camp were arranged for and brought off. Outdoor movie shows during the influenza epidemic will be long remembered as an evidence of ability to adapt amusements to the need of the occasion.

The organization of a Wild West show from among the men of the 303rd Remount Depot not only gave zest to Camp life, but the outfit was taken to the nearby cities and seen by a quarter of a million people.

Adaptability and keen appreciation of the right thing to do at the right time is best exemplified by the work of the Knights during the days before the departure of the 78th Division, when the camp was closed to civilians.

The men understood they would leave very shortly; they were all ready, and every sign pointed to an early embarkation. The telephone booths were jammed with soldiers sending the word home; the mails were swamped with special delivery letters, and likewise the telegraph system.

On one Sunday, it is estimated that nearly one hundred thousand relatives and friends visited camp. A closing order was necessary, but the folks came just the same, only to be stopped by the military police at the outposts of the reservation.

The sadness of the situation was simply appalling. The Knights rose to the occasion, hired a store in Wrightstown, requisitioned every available automobile, installed telephones and thus enabled relatives to talk to the men in camp.

Inside of camp was a system that allowed the men to be notified to go to the phone. Also 7600 packages were delivered to the soldiers through this efficient, the impromptu organization, and only two bundles remained undelivered.

That service was rendered to the heroic 78th Division, a division of which America must ever be proud. Relatives will always remember the Knights who enabled them to perform one of the last tokens of affection to those who gave their lives on the fields of France.

The first camp general secretary of the Knights was Thos. J. Neary, but he was soon succeeded by “Jimmy” McGovern. There was never a man in camp more popular than this genial and most capable executive—and Jimmy now lies buried in France.

He was rejected for a minor physical defect by his local draft board, but literally fought his way into the army and became a buck private. Ten minutes after going into action Corporal McGovern paid the supreme sacrifice for his country.

When James P. McGovern joined Company C, 311th Infantry, Frank P. Wandle took his place and carried on the good work with an intensity of purpose and executive ability of which the spirit of his heroic predecessor and everyone else may be justly proud.

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