Camp Ritchie Background

The history of Camp Ritchie dates back to the 1890s when the 638-acre site was used as a summer resort by wealthy families from Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. It is located approximately 15 miles SW of Gettysburg, PA. adjacent to the town of Cascade MD near the Pennsylvania border. In 1926, the Washington County site became a training center for the Maryland National Guard and was named Camp Albert C. Ritchie in honor of the then Governor of Maryland. It also served as a summer camp for children. In 1942, the Army leased Camp Albert C. Ritchie from Maryland and its official name became the Military Intelligence Training Center (MITC), or simply Camp Ritchie.

This post had an official flag whose two principal colors are golden yellow and purple, the recognized colors for Military Intelligence in the United States Army. Centered on the flag’s field is a green-colored wreath and superimposed on this wreath is a silver five-pointed star. Superimposed on the star is an enlarged section of a German military map, called the Pillkallen Map. Additional details include nine red and two blue rectangles representing American and German units and selected terrain features. The letters “M.I.T.C.” are found on the wreath at the top in gold. The lower half of the wreath contains the motto in Latin “Fas es ab hoste doceri” meaning “it is a duty to study the enemy”.

Camp Ritchie also had a colorful coat-of-arms which was an oblong plaque approximately three feet wide and six feet high. It was mounted on the stone fireplace in the Officers Club. The composition was approximately as follows:

On a dark blue field were two flags, a 48-star American flag angled to the left and a yellow flag with a five-pointed white star at the center angled to the right. Superimposed on these flags was an ornamental crest with four quadrants, two red and two white, in which figures are selected activities. A green banner at the top of the plaque surrounds a red circle with gold borders and “1942” in gold in the center. The banner contains the words “Camp Ritchie” and “M.I.T.C.”

In the Spring of 1941, General George C. Marshall, U.S. Army Chief of Staff, having recognized the poor state of intelligence training in the Army, arranged to have four groups of officers sent to England to study military intelligence training in the British Army. As a result of their reports, a recommendation was made for the establishment of a system of centralized training for U.S. Army intelligence personnel. Similarly, the Commanding General, Army Ground Forces, on April 10, 1942, recommended to the Chief of Staff that a school be established for training interrogators of prisoners of war, interpreters, and translators.

Some historians have concluded that there was no completely defined mission to govern the activities of G-2. Although the first two officers who were placed in charge of G-2 in the European theater, Colonels Homer Case and R. A. McClure, made serious efforts to draw up a workable organizational structure, the operation was continually evolving in a step-by-step manner. [Box 432, Folder 1].

The first class of instruction at Camp Ritchie was scheduled for July 25, 1942. Col. Thomas Robbins from the British School for Interrogators of Prisoners of War at Cambridge University was co-opted to help and was on site from June to October 1942. Prior to the establishment of the MITC at Camp Ritchie, there were several sporadic attempts to provide specialized training at other locations; this included aerial photo interpretation classes at the Engineers School, Fort Belvoir in 1941; and classes for the interrogation of German Prisoners of War at Camp Blanding, FL and at Camp Bullis, TX. The Fort Belvoir photo interpretation course was the first one given since World War I. A student of that first class was Lt. Col. Lester C. Curl (1907- 1975) who then became an instructor at Fort Belvoir and later helped start the Air Intelligence School for the Air Corps. In April 1943, he was transferred to the ETO where he served with G-2 Section, HQ ETOUSA. From July to September 1944, he became a photo interpretation instructor at Camp Ritchie and later went on to become head of a new organization, the Photo Intelligence Center (PIC) [Box 374].

The school at Camp Blanding started courses on POW interrogation on January 16, 1942 with Major Charles R. Warndof as senior Instructor and Officer in Charge. Captain G. H. Schwedersky served as Assistant Instructor. Three officers and 32 enlisted men (including M/Sgt Paul Kubala) were in the first class, which graduated 25. This was followed by a course established at the Third Army Training Center, Camp Bullis (near San Antonio, TX) starting on March 30, 1942. Upon the activation of Camp Ritchie on June 19, 1942, under the command of Colonel Charles Y. Banfill, the entire staff headed by (then) Lt. Col. Charles R.Warndof and all available training material from the school at Camp Bullis TX was transferred to Camp Ritchie. One of the servicemen trained by Col. Warndof at Camp Bullis was Lt. George Frenkel who then served first at Fort Hunt, then as an instructor at Camp Ritchie and later went overseas and served as an interrogator with Mobile Field Interrogation Unit Five.

After considering several suggested approaches, the approved plan, as outlined in a memo dated May 23, 1942, specified that the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, would operate a school under the jurisdiction of the Chief of Military Intelligence Services (MIS) and that the Military Intelligence Training Center would be located at Camp Ritchie, where summer encampments of the Maryland National Guard had taken place for a number of years. This was codified when the State of Maryland and the Federal Government signed a lease, the terms of which provided that the camp may be used exclusively for national defense purposes as deemed necessary by the War Department. The lease was for the period of one year commencing on June 1, 1942, with an option for the Government to renew from year to year at a rental of One Dollar per annum, but not to extend beyond six months after termination of the present war emergency. Except for the residence of the Commanding General, the Federal Government was given permission to make repairs and alterations to all of the camp’s facilities considered necessary by the War Department.