SharpeWe recently acquired a correspondence consisting of 37 letters between Connecticut native, Sergeant Kenneth C. Sharpe, and his family from 1917 until 1922 while he was stationed with the army during World War I along with a photograph of Sharpe. Most of the correspondence is from Sharpe to his family with some response from his mother.

Kenneth C. Sharpe enlisted in the medical department of the U.S. Army in 1917 and began his training at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis, Indiana. He writes to his family, “I had a little touch of home-sickness when I didn’t hear from anyone…It seems just as thought the ones who volunteer are forgotten, for all the fuss is made over the drafted men. Well, I know I went in of my own accord, anyway.”

Shortly after Indiana he was sent to Fort Devens in Massachusetts where he learned of the Amy’s plans to form a new squadron of 27 men with an emphasis on sanitation, and Sharpe along with his friend, Ray, put their names in to volunteer for a position.

In February, 1918 he writes, “It is a branch of the Medical Department and a part of the division. There are to be 3 squads in all, two of them going across a month before the division goes…The work is just what the name suggests, sanitation in every form and the men in the squad supervise the work, details from other units doing the actual work when the job is too big. The squads will prepare the ground for the division. Test the wells and water supply, taking specimens to be tested in the laboratory. Investigate sanitary conditions in the surrounding villages…along the route of travel to the front, disposal of waste such as manure, dead mules and horses after battles, keeping down the growth of mosquitoes and all kinds of such work.”

By World War I the need for such a division had increased greatly and after much petitioning to Congress Surgeon General William C. Gorgas was able to convince the US government of this. By June 1917 a sanitary squad had been commissioned; “the organization enrolled newly commissioned officers with “special skills in sanitation, sanitary engineering, in bacteriology, or other sciences related to sanitation and preventive medicine, or who possess other knowledge of special advantage to the Medical Department.” Less than a year later Sharpe would be among this group.

This entry was posted on Monday, February 16th, 2015 at 7:34 pm and is filed under Americana, Connecticut history, New acquisition. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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