Tuesday, July 2, 2013

More Myron Davis Of LIFE Magazine At Fort Holabird

I had some minor outpatient surgery yesterday and so I have a few days off from work to recover (and just plain enjoy summer with my two sons and wife!). So seeing as how its a rainy and miserable day and my duties are limited to nothing strenuous, I felt that I may as well get right into those additional Myron Davis photos that I mentioned on Sunday. I had found these through the Google archive of LIFE magazine photos some time ago last summer and had just plain forgotten about them as I was presenting the bulk of his and other LIFE photographers work. But this was a nice surprise and I hope that you enjoy these rare views into the history behind the jeep.
The credits given on the photos list them as having been shot at Fort Holabird, just outside of Baltimore, Maryland. Originally titled Camp Holabird it doubled as a testing and training ground as well as an Ordnance, Quartermaster and Signal Depot and of course, as the site of the famous delivery in September 1940 of the very first “Old Number One” Bantam. These shots are listed as being taken in the cold of February 1942 which made for alot of great mud slinging and trail riding action. The men in the photos are listed as of being ‘generals,’ but I haven’t a clue of who they are. They sport armored division patches of the 4th Armored Division which was officially activated April 15, 1941, less than a year before these pics were taken.
Another great thing about these photos are the pure joy that you can see in these guys faces. I mean, what jeep lover wouldn’t love to splash through the mud and dirt in these Willys slat grills, Ford GPs and Bantam BRC-40s! At the time they were driving the newest innovation in military transportation, something that the public was excited and ramped up about and the new war effort. Keep in mind that these were taken just three months after Pearl Harbor, so the excitement to get into a new military vehicle would be high.
Wondering what Fort Holabird looks like now? Abandoned since the early 1970’s unfortunately, but the three testing hills, hill climb obstacles built in stair configurations apparently for testing different types of surfaces like mud or sand or dirt were built up in easy, medium and steep grade climbs and have become a bit of a mecca for jeep history lovers. Last January, my friend Mike Gardner took his restored 1945 CJ2-A to Holabird to climb the obstacles. You can see his videos on YouTube. Here’s one and for more info on what’s left of the fort, read up on Derek Redmond’s piece for the CJ3-B Page here.
Come back next week when I hope to have more of the Willys Industrial Equipment binder and over the next couple of days off I hopefully will find time to update the whole of the LIFE Archive section. In the meanwhile, check out all of the photos by Myron Davis here!

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