A reception center for selectees following the end of World War
I, the camp was designated a demobilization center. Camp Devens
processed more than 100,000 selectees into the Army, and as a demobilization
center, processed more than 150,000 men out of the Army. On September
1, 1921, Camp Devens was declared excess to the U.S. Armys
needs and was put on caretaker status. From 1922, through the summer
of 1931, Camp Devens was utilized as a summer training camp for
New England-based National Guard troops, Reserve Units, ROTC cadets
and Citizens Military Training Camp (CMTC) candidates. In
the summer of 1928, construction of the first two permanent buildings
got underway, one a regimental barracks and one a battalion barracks.
In 1929, Robert Goddard, pioneer in rocketry, used the post for
his rocket tests.
In September, 1931, the 13th Infantry Regiment was
garrisoned at Camp Devens along with three companies of the 1st Tank
Regiment. The following month the camp was declared a permanent
installation, and in 1932, it was formally dedicated as Fort Devens.
At that time, the three tank companies were inactivated and immediately
reactivated as the 3rd Battalion, 66th Infantry
(Light Tanks). A limited building program continued at Fort Devens,
along with a post beautification program throughout the 1930s,
with much of the funds coming from the Works Progress Administration
(WPA) and Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).
Following the outbreak of World War II in Europe, plans were formulated
to increase the U.S. Army. In 1940, the first peace-time draft
in the United States was instituted, and Fort Devens was designated
a reception center for all New England men destined to serve for
one year as "draftee."
A massive building program was instituted at the post in 1940.
More than 1,200 wooden buildings, including two new 1,200-bed hospitals,
were constructed at a cost of $25 million. In 1941, the Fort Devens
airfield (Moore Army Airfield) was built at a cost of more than
$680,000. The Whittemore Service Command Base Shop was constructed
in 1941-1942 and when it reached its peak load of repairing all
damaged U.S. powered vehicles in the First Service Command area,
it was known as the largest repair facility in the world.
World War II
Three divisions trained at Fort Devens during World War II. The
1st, 32nd and the 45th, along
with the Fourth Womens Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) Training
Center opened on post in April, 1943. Three months later, the WAAC
became the Womens Army Corps (WAC). In February 1944, a Prisoner
of War Camp for 5,000 German and Italian soldiers opened at Fort
Devens. It remained in operation until May 1946. In addition to
training combat soldiers in World War II, Fort Devens was the home
of the Chaplain School, the Cook and Baker School and a basic training
center for Army nurses.
Following the end of World War II, Fort Devens once
again was designated as a demobilization center. On June 30, 1946,
Fort Devens, for the second time in its history, was again put
on caretaker status. On September 1, 1946, the post was utilized
as an extension of the University of Massachusetts so veterans
could continue their education.
The U.S. Army reactivated Fort Devens as a class one installation
in July, 1948. With the outbreak of the Korean Conflict, Fort Devens
was designated as a reception center for the third time in history.
No divisions were assigned to Fort Devens during the 1950s but
two regimental combat teams were assigned, along with two signal
battalions; the United States Army Security Agency Training Center
and School; the 56th AAA Brigade; the First Army Chemical
Defense School; and many smaller units. During the Vietnam Conflict,
the 196th Light Infantry Brigade and the 1st and
2nd Battalion, 2nd Brigade, were sent from
Fort Devens to Vietnam. During Desert Storm, Fort Devens prepared
active, reserve and National Guard units for deployment to Saudi
In its 79 years of service to the country and the New England
area, more than 400 units (including a U.S. Navy Air Squadron)
have called Fort Devens home. In 1991, the Base Realignment and
Closure Office recommended that Fort Devens active duty mission
be eliminated and a small reserve enclave and training area be
maintained for use by the Reserve and National Guard.
Fort Devens closed its doors as an active duty installation,
March 31, 1996, and the next day, it was business as usual at Devens (RFTA).
Effective May 2007, the Devens Reserve Forces Training Area was renamed Fort Devens.