Training Camps & Schools



Camp Alfred Vail

(originally Camp Little Silver, New Jersey)



      Camp Alfred Vail was originally named Camp Little Silver and was responsible for training the 1st and 2nd Reserve Signal Battalions. In June 1917, Camp Little Silver was established as a training site for signal troops with 25 officers and 471 enlisted men. That September, it became Camp Alfred Vail, in honor of New Jersey inventor Alfred Lewis Vail (September 25, 1807 January 18, 1859). Vail was a machinist and inventor, credited with having developed the telegraph code usually known as the Morse code.
      At that time, with a pressing need for telegraph operators in France, the camp began a six-week intensive training course with an emphasis on foreign codes and languages. Signal Corps radio intelligence personnel underwent training enabling them to intercept messages at the rate of 25 words per minute and to translate 15 words per minute from the German. Carrier pigeons, used for communication by armies during the war, also became part of Camp Vail's training mission.
      The Chief Signal Officer authorized the purchase of Camp Vail in 1919 and the Signal Corps School relocated there from Fort Leavenworth that same year. The U.S. Army Signal Corps developed and tested communication equipment for the battlefield. The Corps was founded in 1860 by United States Army Major Albert J. Myer, and lost no time in meeting the challenges of World War I. Chief Signal Officer MG George Squier worked closely with private industry to perfect radio tubes while creating a major signal laboratory at Camp Alfred Vail. Early radiotelephones developed by the Signal Corps were introduced into the European theater in 1918. While the new American voice radios were superior to the radiotelegraph sets, telephone and telegraph remained the major technology of the Great War.


      The 5th Telegraph Battalion, Signal Corp was organized on July 12th, 1917 at Monmouth Park, New Jersey. On August 2, 1917 the battalion moved to Camp Alfred Vail where it was redesignated on October 10, 1917 as the 55th Telegraph Battalion, Signal Corps. The battalion then deployed to France to join the American Expeditionary Force. During the Great War, the battalion participated on three campaigns: Lorraine, St. Mihiel, and the Meuse-Argonne. The battalion returned to New York on June 27, 1919 and moved to Camp Vail, New Jersey. The battalion was redesignated on March 18, 1921 as the 51st Signal Battalion.
     In 1925, Camp Alfred Vail was renamed Fort Monmouth, in honor of the soldiers of the American Revolution who died in the battle of Monmouth Court House.


~ photo: Signal Corps Camp Little Silver, N. J. - 7-10-17