World War I

Cut It Out

During WWI, citizens were urged to plant gardens to raise more food for their own use. Responding to the call, twenty-eight faculty members organized a "Factato Club" to raise potatoes. Once they had prepared the soil, the Factaters met in the basement of Morrill Hall to cut the seed potatoes.

The group was not given any instructions as to the method used in cutting seed potatoes for planting, no doubt believing that men in an agricultural college knew the process. In addition to a sharp knife, each man had brought a large pan to hold his cutting and when filled, would empty it into a barrel.

During the proceedings, one man emptying his pan let out a whoop and wanted to know "who in h--- is cutting French fries!" The samples he displayed to the group showed them to be skinless, eyeless, and cut out with geometric precision. The culpable instructor was then given the job of collecting and emptying the filled pans of the cutting crew.

Paving the Way

Prior to World War I, there were no sidewalks on campus, just cinder paths and during the spring mud season numerous duckboards were used to cover the worst places. The first sidewalks were laid with the help of the concrete division of the Student Army Training Corps. It was such a needed improvement and a great stride forward that it was felt that somehow it should be noted. Bronze plates carrying the inscription "NHC Training Detachment N A 1918" were implanted in the fresh concrete in strategic locations.

As the campus grew and the old sidewalks were relocated they were, for the most part, hauled off to the dump with the rest of the rubble. One marker remains today and can be seen implanted in the sidewalk just in front of Thompson Hall.

For Old Glory

Before the metal flag pole, the college went through several wooden flagpoles. Leon Batchelder '29 recalled the making of the second flag pole by the Student Army Training detachment during WWI.

A tree was selected in the College Woods and roped down, as they didn't want to take a chance of having it broken, or 'wind shook' if it was left to fall free. It was rigged up on two sets of wheels and George Ham and Fred Pulumbo hauled it up onto the lawn in front of T-Hall on the north side of the present walk, near the street where it was fairly level.

The bark was then taken off and the log was laid out into the largest tapered square that it would go. After the log was hued square (with axes), other marks were made on it and it was hued to a hexagon. After this was done the hexagon was divided in two again and hued out, and so on until it was down small enough so that the remaining edges could be planed off with a hand plane and made round. This took most of the summer.

Tactical Retreat

military drill line-up
Both the Morrill Act of 1862, establishing funding for the land-grant colleges, and the act of the New Hampshire legislature, incorporating the New Hampshire College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts in 1866, required the teaching of military tactics. In reality, this offering had to wait nearly thirty years until the college moved from its original location in Hanover to Durham.

Prior to then, it was impractical to consider assigning an army officer to command a group of students that never exceeded fifty people and was generally closer to half that number. The first professor of military science, Lt. Henry C. Hodges, Jr., was assigned to the college in 1894.

In 1912, trustee Lucien Thompson offered this optimistic comment on the necessity of the requirement: "The military drill, optional in the senior year, is a useful training for many, but will be abandoned with the growth of the college into a State University, for the time is hastening on when international arbitration will keep the peace of the world and the nations shall learn war no more."

Training for War

In the spring of 1918, to meet military needs for technicians, the US War Department organized eight-week courses to be given on college campuses to train auto mechanics, machinists, blacksmiths, draftsmen, cooks, and bakers. As UNH was chosen to be one of the first to offer this training, a committee was appointed to take charge of what came to be known as the Vocational Section of the Student Army Training Corps (SATC).

The first detachment of 341 men arrived on the 9:23 AM train on May 16, 1918. When only six weeks of the Vocational Section program had been completed, a request came for "Forty carpenters, fifteen gas engine men, and three heavy duty truck drivers for immediate overseas duty." During the seven months in which the vocational work was carried on at the college, a total of 1,269 men were trained and equipped.

When the word of the Armistice was verified early on the morning of November 11, 1918, President Hetzel and Major Stanley G. Eaton, the commanding officer, declared a holiday would start at 10 AM. The festivities began with a bonfire and a snake dance on DeMeritt Hall's lawn, after which all gathered around the flagpole. Sergeant Jack White led the crowd in songs and cheers, and President Hetzel spoke.

It was voted to parade to Dover, after lunch, with the women students riding in army trucks. The Dover Band met the procession at Sawyer's Mill and led it through the main streets to the City Hall. A Thanksgiving service was held in one of the churches, after which the city provided refreshments. After a brief rest, the company began the long walk back to Durham, and peace.

The College is Floored

To meet military needs for technicians during World War I, the US War Department organized eight-week training courses to be given on college campuses. As soon as it was known that the men were coming, a place had to be provided to feed them, so the gym (New Hampshire Hall) was turned into a mess hall. But traffic on the gym floor by so many heavy-footed GIs left it in bad shape. The college lacked the money to replace the floor, but on the other hand, the floor was in no condition to be used for basketball or dancing.

Students offered to provide the labor if the college would provide the materials. On "Floor-laying Day," everybody pitched in. To enable more students to work at the same time, one line of flooring boards were laid down the center of the gym, using a chalk line as a guide. The students were divided into crews of about eight each, working on both sides of the guideline. Some did the fitting, some nailed, and some fetched and carried. In this way, the entire floor was laid in one day.