The Second Camp Lee
With storm clouds again rising in Europe, Congress approved the call-up of nearly 300,000 Guardsmen and Reservists in late August 1940, In September Congress passed a Selective Service Act that allowed the drafting of up to 900,000 more men for a year. And in October the War Department issued orders for the rebuilding of Camp Lee, on the same site as before. Overnight the area became a beehive of activity as thousands of civilian laborers swarmed into the Petersburg-Hopewell area and began building at a furious pace.
Even before the first barracks were constructed, raw recruits for the Quartermaster Replacement Training Center moved into tents in the heart of Camp Lee to begin training. In October 1941 (two months before Pearl Harbor) the Quartermaster School moved from Philadelphia to Camp Lee to begin training officers and noncommissioned officers in the art of military supply and service.
Over the course of the war Camp Lee’s population continued to mushroom until it became in effect the third largest “city” in Virginia, after Norfolk and Richmond. More than 50,000 officers attended Quartermaster Officer Candidate School. Over 300,000 Quartermaster Soldiers trained here during the war. There was a Regional Hospital with scores of pavilions and literally miles of interlocking corridors capable of housing over 2,000 patients at a time. Here too was located the Army Services Forces Training Center, the Quartermaster (Research & Development) Board, a large contingent of Women’s Army Corps Soldiers, and for a while a prisoner of war camp and the Medical Replacement Training Center. Camp Lee enjoyed a reputation as one of the most effective and best-run military installations in the country.
Following V-J Day in 1945 troop strength rapidly decreased, but Camp Lee continued to serve as the major Quartermaster field installation and as an out-processing center for those leaving the military.