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Camp Boardwalk

campboardwalk50thconvhall

There are two plaques in Atlantic City which commemorate the 50th Anniversary of "Camp Boardwalk." One is located on the front of Boardwalk Hall, and the other on the dining level of Resorts Casino by Gallagher's Burger Bar.

Boardwalk Hall plaque text:
In commemoration of Atlantic City's finest hour ...

Dedicated to the thousands of men and women of the United States Armed Forces who trained, served and recovered here from their wounds of battle during World War II—and to the devoted citizens of Atlantic City and Atlantic County who served and helped to make them feel at home.

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The marker located in Resorts Casino

Resorts plaque text:
This plaque commemorates Merv Griffin's Resorts as site of Thomas England General Hospital, the largest hospital in the United States during World War II.

From June of 1942 through November of 1945, more than 300,000 men and women worked, trained and recuperated in Atlantic City also known as "Camp Boardwalk." During that time, more than 4,500 war casualties were treated at England General.

With this plaque, we salute those brave men and women and their contribution to the United States of America.

DEDICATED ON JUNE 1, 1992
BY CAMP BOARDWALK 50TH REUNION

Additional information:
When the United States entered World War II in late 1941, no time was wasted in readying troops and facilities for combat. In 1942, Atlantic City became occupied by the military, with 47 different hotels and hostels being repurposed for the war effort. Atlantic City, now nicknamed "Camp Boardwalk," was an ideal location for military training and soldier rehabilitation. Since its once-high visitation rates were in decline, many of the resort's hotels were nearly empty already, meaning displacement was minimal. Atlantic City's coastal location ensured that valuable training exercises could be performed on the sand, something troops needed for later beachfront battles in France and Japan. The Boardwalk provided a perfectly even path for injured soldiers going through physical therapy, especially those who were now amputees learning to use prosthetic limbs. Many amputee veterans later expressed that without the help and environment given to them at Camp Boardwalk, re-entering society would have been almost impossible. From 1942-1946, Atlantic City housed over 300,000 soldiers. Boardwalk landmarks were renamed, as the massive Convention Hall became the Army Air Corps Technical Training Command Center, and the Haddon Hall hotel (later Resorts Casino) became the Thomas England General Hospital. Originally encompassing 5 different beachfront hotels before being reduced to just the Haddon Hall, England General was the largest hospital in the world at the time. The environment in the city was different too - beaches were closed at noon so that soldiers could do calisthenics on them, lights had to be turned off at night or windows covered with blue cellophane, and no girl under 18 was allowed on the Boardwalk unescorted after 9 pm. Despite the changes, however, Atlantic City's residents embraced the military presence. Many families invited soldiers into their homes for Sunday dinners, and training exercises on the Boardwalk drew large crowds. The Saturday Evening Post quoted Private Herb Dotten as saying that the spectators "give... an added snap and makes you feel the importance of a job you otherwise might think as a lot of drudgery." The military presence, in turn, helped Atlantic City return to its former glory. Celebrities once again turned out in droves to visit the soldiers; famous names visiting the resort included Bob Hope, the Andrews Sisters, Abbott and Costello, and Joe DiMaggio. Many military families also came to vacation in Atlantic City in order to see their boys off before going to war. Winners of Atlantic City's famous Miss America Pageant participated in War Bond tours nationwide during these years. In 1992, the 50th Anniversary of Camp Boardwalk was marked by a reunion of soldiers at Resorts, many of whom met again for the first time since the war's end.

For more information, see articles from:
The Sun, November 5, 1986 and February 14, 1986
South Jersey Advisor, April 10, 1992
Philadelphia Inquirer, August 28, 1986