History of Camp Sharpe (5/15)

BY CYRIL ACKERMAN / MAY 2015

Drafted from information in Beverley Eddy’s Book: Camp Sharpe’s “Psycho Boys”: From Gettysburg to Germany

available on Amazon.com.

What was to be Camp Sharpe (up to Nov 9, 1943) was called CCC Gettysburg and was located in area of McMillan Woods. It housed an African American unit of the Civilian Conservation Corps charged with clearing brush, building bridges, roads, outbuildings and beautifying the battlefield. Camp Sharpe was named for George H Sharpe who was Gen. Meade’s Intelligence Officer during battle here at Gettysburg. The first (of five companies in all) Mobile Radio Broadcasting unit was established at Ft. Richie Md., and proved so successful that the army asked for four more MRB companies, which were all to be given specialized training at Gettysburg’s Camp Sharpe. Much secrecy surrounded the operation of the camp, “it was surrounded by such secrecy that it was not even connected by telephone.” The army’s goal was to employ psychological warfare techniques to shorten World War II by lowering morale of enemy and provide the transition in Germany from Nazi control to American controlled democracy. In all there were 800 men trained in Gettysburg. They were instructed in 1. Prisoner/civilian interrogation, 2. Broadcasting, 3. Loudspeaker appeals, 4. Newspaper/Leaflet production, 5. Technical support. All soldiers trained at Camp Sharpe were required to be fluent in at least two languages; many of the men were foreign-born, and a large percentage were Jews. Soldiers with strong language skills, writing experience, broadcasting expertise, photography and printing experience were selected to serve in companies 2,3,4. The 5th company was formed primarily of language specialists for broadcasting services.

Those with Pa. connections:

Arthur Jaffe was born in Butler, Pa., graduate of Penn State (in Classical Greek). A job at the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh started his life-long passion for book arts; he was the founder of the Jaffe Center for Book Arts at Florida Atlantic University. During the war he was commanding officer in charge of the 2nd MRB company and wrote the history of that company.

Gaston Pender (descendant of Confederate General Dorsey Pender), who died of wounds received at Gettysburg) married Kathryn Dentler (6th grade teacher from Biglerville in 1944. He was a top salesman for General Mills in North Carolina.

Clarence “Ace” Seeman, a North Dakota native, also married a local woman, Josephine Howe. He settled in Biglerville after the war, was employed by Knouse Foods and retired in 1977 as director of purchasing. Was a member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Upper Adams Lions Club and active with Meals on Wheels.

Robert Collier from Philadelphia. Worked in radio and TV from 1960 – 2011. Radio interviews included Pres. Eisenhower, Gen Alexander Haig, Philly mayors F. Rizzo and Wilson Goode. Show business personalities included: Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, Bob Hope, Charlton Heston, Julie Andrew and Helen Hays.

Glenn Bernbaum, born in Philadelphia, attended U. of Pennsylvania, and was the founder of the chic Mortimer’s Restaurant in New York City, which catered to politicians, movie stars, and leaders in the arts (Henry Kissinger, Jacqueline Onassis, Gloria Vanderbilt, etc.)

Cyril Ackerman is a board member of Cumberland Township Historical Society. Beverley Eddy will make a presentation on Camp Sharpe on June 1 at 7 p.m. at CTHS public meeting at Church of the Brethren on Biglerville Road.