U.S. Calls 35,000 More Guardsmen For Year's Drill (9-17-40)

The Pittsburgh Press (September 17, 1940)


Speeds Plans for Registering Nation’s Men Oct. 16 for Conscription

By John A. Reichmann, United Press Staff Writer

Washington, Sept. 17 –

State and federal governments were crating America’s first peace time conscription army today.

Staffs in each state capital were in action along a pattern developed over many years for the huge inventory of manpower to be conducted on Oct. 16, the first step toward putting 400,000 men in the army by January 1.

Simultaneous with progress on the draft, 35,700 more National Guardsmen were ordered to report for active service Oct. 15. It was the second contingent called to the colors, 60,500 having reported yesterday.

General George C. Marshall, Army Chief of Staff, in announcing the second National Guard order last night in a radio address, cautioned that the next six months might be “the most critical in the history of this nation.”

Registration Oct. 16

President Roosevelt, in the presence of Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson and other high officials, yesterday wrote across the engrossed parchment Senate Bill 4164 the signature which made peacetime conscription a law.

Mr. Roosevelt immediately issued a proclamation declaring October 16 registration day. On that date, between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m., in every community in the United States an estimated 16,500,000 men who have reached their 21st birthday but not their 36th will go to local voting places to register.

Mr. Roosevelt also issued a statement hailing the legislation as a reassertion of “an old and accepted principle of democratic government.”

Director Not Named

Universal service will bring not only greater preparedness to meet the threat of war, but a wider distribution of tolerance and understanding to enjoy the blessings of peace.

Before the conscription machinery will get into full swing Mr. Roosevelt must issue an executive order setting up the Selective Service Administration in Washington and naming the man to head it. He is expected to act on his return from the funeral of the late Speaker William B. Bankhead.

In each state capital, under the direction of the governor, units will be set up to handle the draft for that particular state. Elaborate plans have been formulated and six heavy volumes of regulations drawn up which will guide 6,500 draft boards in all parts of the country in deciding why one man shall go to camp and another be allowed to stay home.

Individual Responsible

These regulations will be given the widest publicity. The responsibility of learning whether an individual is subject to registration will be primarily his own. Mr. Roosevelt explained this point when he said:

Every person subject to registration is required to familiarize himself with the rules and regulations governing registration and comply therewith.

The first task confronting the draft machinery is the printing of millions of blank forms for registration and rating. The registration card is a three by four inch pasteboard carrying the name, address, occupation, age, race and description of the registrant. It will be used simply as a means of establishing how many men are available and where each can be reached.

Receive Certificates

Registrants will receive small certificates to establish the fact that they have registered and also giving their description.

The registration cards will be sent by election officials to county clerks, who will redistribute them to local draft boards.

Other more elaborate forms, calling for intimate details on each individual, will be prepared for use as a questionnaire. By his answers each man will establish whether he is eligible for immediate service or subject to deferment either because of physical condition, dependents or need for his services in essential industry.

The questionnaires will be mailed by the local draft boards to the registrants, when their registration numbers are drawn in the lottery that will determine the sequence in which they are to be called up for classification.

Even more important in the mechanical processes of administering the draft will be selection of the personnel of 6,500 local boards who will rate each man for military service. Governors of each state will select these boards and they will be appointed, on the governors’ recommendation, by the President.

Many Already Chosen

Many governors already have listed the men who will handle that work and will make their names known as soon as their confirmation has been confirmed.

At least one board will be set up for each county or for each of the 35,000 residents, whichever is larger.

President Roosevelt’s proclamation of a registration day a month after the passage of the act was taken to indicate that haste will be sacrificed ton caution in calling up the conscripts. Original plans had called for registration 15 days after signing the law and the first induction 40 days after signing. Now the first troops are expected to go to camp about Nov. 15.

The November elections and a wish to avoid criticism for sending recruits away from home before they vote was believed by some to be the cause of the delay. Others believed that the Army, which once had planned on having its first conscripts in August, was not fully prepared to establish satisfactory winter quarters before the November date.

More Guards Called

In proclaiming registration day, Mr. Roosevelt called on all election officials and “all patriotic citizens” to offer their services in handling the mass registration. He also asked employers to give employees sufficient time to register.

The first contingent of conscripts is expected to total about 75,000 and they will be fed into already trained Regular Army and National Guard units. Before them, a good portion of the National Guard will have been called up. Units ordered by General Marshall to report next month as the second contingent, and their training stations were:

  • 27th Division (less 27th Tank Company), New York – Fort McClelland, Alabama.
  • 37th Division (less 37th Tank Company and Companies F and I, 112th Medical Regiment), Ohio – Camp Shelby, Mississippi.
  • 32nd Division (less 32nd Tank Company), Michigan and Wisconsin – Camp Beauregard, Louisiana.
  • 102nd Observation Squadron, New York – Fort McClelland, Alabama.
  • 153rd Observation Squadron, Mississippi – Meridian, Mississippi.
  • 107th Observation Squadron, Michigan – Camp Beauregard, Louisiana.
  • Puerto Rican Department (stations to be determined by department commander) – Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 92nd Infantry Brigade; 295th Infantry; 296th Infantry; 1st Battalion, 253rd Coast Artillery, 155mm gun; 1st Battalion, 162nd Field Artillery, 75mm gun; 1st Battalion, 201st Coast Artillery, anti-aircraft; 1st Battalion, 130th Engineers, Combat.
  • Hawaiian Department (to be stationed by departmental commander) – 298th Infantry; 299th Infantry.