Header stateside
In April 1942, W.F. Johnson was drafted out of college (Civil Engineering major). He went through Officer Candidate School (Engineers) and was commissioned in November 1942. He trained at Ft. Belvoir, VA (Engr. School) until May 1943, when he was posted to the 618th Engineers when it was activated at Camp Claiborne, LA. There, the 618th went through additional training until late January 1944. Lt. Johnson was a dedicated shutterbug, and he took a number of photos that give a flavor of life in the Army at Camp Claiborne. Supporting data comes from the Company History, which actually is a just a collection of one-page monthly status reports, written by whatever officer was designated "Unit Historian" at the time.
WFJ motorcycle
A young W.F. Johnson, not long out of high school, with Heavy Equipment. Little did he know ...
WWII candidate
Portrait, probably of W.F. Johnson, annotated "Candidate." This presumably refers to his time in Officer Candidate School at Ft. Belvoir, which would have been mid-August to mid-November 1942.
WWII Smithsonian
Side trip to the Smithsonian, not far from Ft. Belvoir. OCS Candidate, probably Johnson, standing in front of a dinosaur exhibit.

WWII first time
Lt. Johnson at Ft. Belvoir, on the date of his commission. Annotated "1st time."
WWII HE school 1
Original album page is annotated "Belvoir, H.E. School," probably Heavy Equipment training at Ft. Belvoir, VA. The man in the campaign hat might be the instructor?
WWII HE school 2
More heavy equipment training at Ft. Belvoir, looks like same men and machine.

WWII steam shovel
Training at Ft. Belvoir. Men with power shovel, using it to lift something.
WWII shovel bucket
Business end of shovel, plenty of mud. Probably Winter of 1942/43.
WWII shovel toolroom
Man standing in front of solid-looking wood building with sign "Shovel Toolroom." Probably at Ft. Belvoir.

WWII Anderson
Portrait of Anderson, otherwise unidentified. Original album context and brick building, which is more substantial/permanent than those seen in the Camp Claiborne photos, suggest this is at Ft. Belvoir.
WWII Schilling
Informal portrait of Schilling (not further identified). Album context suggests this is at Ft. Belvoir.
WWII three men
Informal shot of three unidentified men. Album context implies Ft. Belvoir.

WWII group of men
Informal snapshot of a group of men milling around near a possible barracks, significance unknown. US location, probably Ft. Belvoir.
WWII men sitting
Informal group portrait, significance unknown. Location unknown but album context implies Ft. Belvoir.
WWII 618th Cadre
Cadre for the 618th Base Engineering Equipment Company when the unit was activated at Camp Claiborne. They were drawn from the 614th Engineer Equipment Co. Company personnel also included Capt. Williams (CO) and apparently Lt. Johnson. Other officers and men joined later.

WWII Camp Claiborne 1
618th group portrait at Camp Claiborne. Men are unidentified but appear to be the officers of the unit. More little picket fences.
WWII 618th Orderly Room
Camp Claiborne, Louisiana. This is the 618th Engineers Orderly Room. Does Today's Army still build those little white picket fences?
WWII Claiborne retreat
Retreat ceremony at the end of the day, Camp Claiborne. Apparently Lt. Johnson was not in formation--perhaps was he the de-facto company photographer.

WWII 618th Drury
Lt. Drury, probably at Camp Claiborne. We will meet him again.
WWII Claiborne McEwen
Portrait of Lt. McEwen, posing with shovel. Fall 1943.
WWII 618th GI
Unidentified soldier, probably at Camp Claiborne. Annotated "GI."

WWII Comey 1
Portrait of Comey and another man of the 618th.
WWII Comey 2
Another portrait of Comey.
WWII Claiborne Brehmer
Candid snapshot of Sgt. Brehmer at lunch. He doesn't look too pleased at this interruption to his meal, although you'd think he'd be used to it by now; it seems Lt. Johnson was what they used to call "snap-happy." Fall 1943.

WWII Camp Claiborne 4
Portrait of Long (not further identified) in a jeep.
WWII Camp Claiborne 3
Group portrait, men not identified. Claiborne.
WWII 618th march
Group of men marching, presumably a training exercise.

WWII Camp Claiborne 2
Group of men marching, with helmets, rifles, and a flag.
WWII 618th Williams Drury
Counseling at Camp Claiborne? Annotated "Williams, Drury." Lt. Drury seems to be making a point. Williams is not further identified, nor is the little guy with the flag.
WWII 618th Nelson
Two 618th men in field, annotated "Bosch [?], Nelson". June 1943.

WWII 618th Nieman
Informal group portrait, probably vicinity of Camp Claiborne. Annotated "Nieman" (not further identified). June 1943.
WWII 618th Goldberg
Informal group portrait, probably same place and people. Annotated "Oh yeah!" (meaning unclear) and "Goldberg." The man in the middle with the canteen looks like Nieman. Goldberg is unidentified but the annotatation suggests he might be the one with the cap perched on the back of his head, doing the talking. June 1943.
WWII 618th Hobson Johnson
Two men under a tree, perhaps during some sort of field exercise. annotated "Hobson - Johnson." Johnson is unidentified but does not look like Lt. W.F. Johnson.

WWII 614th Driving School 2
Annotated "Driving school." Jeeps can go anywhere. The Driving School photos, and a number of the portraits, involved the 614th Engineers, apparently a sister unit at Camp Claiborne and the source of the cadre for the 618th.
WWII 614th Driving School 5
Cross-country driving. They must have torn up the landscape around Claiborne a little bit.
WWII 614th Driving School 6
Driving school. Going up or coming down? And why is he looking at the camera instead of the, er, "road"?

WWII 614th Driving School 3
More driving school. Annotation says ""Look OUT!!!". Lord only knows what the guy in back thinks he's doing. Wonder what happened next ...
WWII 614th Driving School 1
Driving school evidently included maintenance training.
WWII 614th Driving School 7
More driving and maintenance training. What kind of vehicle is that?

WWII 614th Driving School 4
Driving and maintenance school. The annotation, which says "Pinkus (Don't you believe it)," is mysterious. Was he not known for mechanical aptitude? Guy on the left looks like the origin of the term "grease monkey."
WWII 614th Ville Platte
The ubiquitous jeep. Ville Platte is a small town in south-central Louisiana. Photo is associated with the 614th, suggesting this trip might have been part of the driving-school curriculum.
WWII 618th ready
Car of some sort climbing a bank, annotated "Ready for action". Perhaps related to the completion of driving-school training.

WWII Claiborne huddle
Meeting of the minds at Camp Claiborne among Sgts of the 614th Engineers. Another shot of this group is annotated "Huddle (NCOs)".
WWII 614th Adams
Sgt. Adams of the 614th Engineers at Camp Claiborne. Photographer's shadow suggests the photo was posed a little bit.
WWII 614th mess hall
614th mess hall

WWII 614th NCOs
NCOs of the 614th Engineers. They might be preparing for some sort of exercise.
WWII 614th person walking
Unidentified man of the 614th
WWII 614th two men
Two men of the 614th in some sort of discussion

WWII motor march 2
Annotated "motor march" during training at Camp Claiborne.
WWII motor march 1
Portrait of a man posing on the running board of an unidentified car. Another print of this image is annotated "motor march," evidently at Camp Claiborne. Coat and gloves suggest maybe Winter 1943.
WWII autocar
Odd-looking vehicle towing a trailer, annotated "1st auto-car." In the same context as the following construction photos but there is no evident connection.

WWII gas generating plant
Construction of a gas-generating plant. They are preparing to lay the concrete base. Probably in the vicinity of Claiborne.
WWII Chiriano
Construction site resembles gas-generating plant and album context implies this is part of that activity. Chiriano (assume a name) is not further identified.
WWII Claiborne grader
Man operating unidentified equipment, possibly a road grader. Album context implies relationship to the previous photos but that cannot be determined.

WWII Claiborne Reese
Reese (not further identified) driving a bulldozer. Album context implies relationship to previous photos but that cannot be determined.
WWII Claiborne survey
Unidentified surveyor at work. Squared-off pond behind him and other characteristics of the scene bear a resemblance to the gas-generating plant site.
WWII lunchtime
Picnic lunch under the trees. Album context suggests this was taken during construction of the gas-generating plant. Vehicle is carrying several lengths of pipe--possibly gaspipe?

WWII Rifle range pits 1
In the pits at the Camp Claiborne rifle range, Summer 1943. The 618th were not combat engineers, but you have to be ready. There's a war on.
WWII Rifle range pits 2
Another view of the rifle-range pits. Looks like a hot day out.
WWII Rifle range chow
Chow line at the rifle range, served from the back of a truck.

WWII Rifle range Mac
Looks like another view of the chow line, with man squatting next to large bucket (possibly intended for washing utensils?) while everybody else stands in line with messkits. Annotation is unclear. Mac might be McEwen but we can't tell.
WWII Claiborne well bailing
Bailing out a well at Camp Claiborne. This and following photos document well-drilling activities. W.F. Johnson later told of a severe drought during his time at Claiborne; presumably this activity is related. Original album page is annotated ""Well-drilling w/ Failing rig. Fall '43, Claiborne."
WWII Claiborne well Calloway Grothe
Calloway and Grothe at work, looks like they're pouring concrete. Original album page is annotated "Pump mounts for deep well - Claiborne."

WWII Claiborne well Grothe
Grothe and others engaged in construction of the well pump mounts.
WWII Claiborne well Hill
Hill and others pouring concrete for the pump mounts.
WWII Claiborne well Whitley Hill
Hill, Whitley, and others building the pump mounts.

WWII Claiborne well rig 1
Looks like a drill rig for the well. This and the following photos are on the original album page annotated "Well-drilling w/ Failing rig. Fall '43, Claiborne."
WWII Claiborne well rig 2
Unidentified people engaged in well drilling or preparation, might be near completion of the operation.
WWII Claiborne well Brehmer Davis
Sgt. Brehmer, Davis (not further identified), and two other men posing in front of what looks like a well-drilling rig. Success at last?

WWII Claiborne possum
A possum in a tree, Louisiana. Somebody (not the photographer) is pulling his tail, which is probably unrecommended.
WWII Claiborne church
Beautiful little country church, with cows. Louisiana.

All contents copyright © L.S. Johnson and C.A. Johnson, 2017.
All rights reserved.