Stanford GSB During World War II

From the Stanford Business School Bulletin, March 1943.

The Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 and the amendments have profoundly affected the career of every college or university student who is physically fit and between the ages of 18 and 38. The law enacted by Congress is based upon the principle that in a free society the obligations and privileges of military training and service should be shared generally in accordance with a fair and just system.

In America, as in other nations, the obligation to contribute military service in defense of the common safety is as old as the law of self preservation. Conscription played an important part in the development of American armies during World War I, and during the Civil War the Draft Act of 1863 increased the strength of the federal forces.

The Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 was the first peacetime draft in the United States, and its enactment was an outgrowth of, and was accelerated by, the trend of events in Europe and the Orient during 1939 and 1940. The annihilation of the armies of Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Holland, and France required immediate steps be taken by Congress to increase the size of American land forces which were meager when compared to the armies of other nations.

Selective Service, national in scope, was introduced and has been decentralized through state organizations to local boards familiar with local situations. The sorting of the heterogeneous aggregation of manpower drawn to military service under the Selective Training and Service Act is a problem of the army. To handle this problem adequately, the army has constructed reception centers and replacement training centers throughout the United States and has developed an orderly process for the reception of selectees.


The reception of selectees into the Army of the United States is accomplished at induction stations. Men who have been called to duty are sent by their local Selective Service Boards to the nearest induction station at which physical examinations are conducted, and those found physically fit are formally administered the Soldier’s Oath. Men accepted will, upon request, be transferred to the enlisted reserve corps and furnished transportation to the place where the local board, which ordered them to report for induction, is located. These men are granted a seven-day furlough and will be required at the end of this seven-day period to assemble at a point designated by the local draft board and proceed in a group to a designated reception center.

Things to Take to Camp

At the reception center, all selectees are issued a full complement of uniforms and necessary equipment to begin their initial duty with the Army of the United States. In some instances, however, because of the large number of men being inducted, a period of a day or longer will pass before the newly arrived selectee receives his issue of clothing and equipment. Men ordered to duty will, therefore, find it advantageous to include among the personal items being taken to camp the following:

  1. A flashlight
  2. A pocket knife containing several blades
  3. A small metallic mirror
  4. A small sewing kit
  5. Brown shoe paste with shoe brush and shining rag
  6. Writing paper and envelopes
  7. A fountain pen and ink
  8. A razor and shaving cream
  9. Two towels, a washcloth and soap
  10. Several handkerchiefs
  11. A wrist watch
  12. Toothbrush and toothpaste
  13. A “Blitz Cloth” or a similar product for shining brass
  14. “Brillo” or a similar product for cleaning the mess kit
  15. Pocket money

The Reception Center

The planning, organization, and administration of the reception center is the responsibility of the commanding general of the service command in which the center is located. Each reception center has a commanding officer and a large staff of commissioned officers and enlisted personnel to supervise and handle the reception, processing, and assignment of personnel received from the induction stations. A selectee’s stay at the reception center is usually a matter of a few days. At the reception center he receives his initial issue of clothing and equipment, is given his first inoculations and a vaccination, is administered the Army General Classification Test, and receives basic orientation in military drill, the Articles of War, and military customs and courtesy. After processing the selectee leaves the reception center bound for a replacement training center where training in an arm or service of the army is received.

Inoculations and Vaccinations

Medical authorities require all men who enter the military service under the Selective Training and Service Act to receive upon induction, a smallpox vaccination and a series of inoculations. The smallpox vaccination is usually given within a day or two after the selectee arrives at the reception center. Likewise, he will receive his first of three inoculations for typhoid fever and will receive the other two at spaced intervals of seven days. During the course of the first several weeks in the army, he will also receive three inoculations for tetanus. If one eventually goes to foreign duty, he will also receive inoculations for cholera, and if bound for duty in the tropics an inoculation for yellow fever.

National Service Life Insurance

During the first 120 days of military service, selectees may apply for National Service Life Insurance without physical examination and be granted such insurance in any multiple of $500 but not less than $l, 000 or more than $10,000. If application is made after the 120-day period, the applicant is required to pass a physical examination. National Service Life Insurance is payable only in the event of the death of the insured while the insurance is in force. The insurance is issued originally on a five-year level premium term plan. It may be converted for policies of National Service Life Insurance on the ordinary life, 20 payment life, or 30 payment life plan at any time after the five-year level premium term policy has been in force for one year and within the five-year term period. National Service Life Insurance is free from restrictions as to residence, travel, occupation or military or naval service. Policies issued by commercial or mutual companies now contain war restriction clauses which provide that if the soldier dies outside the continental limits of the United States or Canada, payments under such policies will not be made, and the only payment which the beneficiary will receive is a refund of premiums with interest. The premium rate of National Service Life Insurance is a net rate based upon the American Experience Table of Mortality and the assumption that the funds will be invested, and interest will be earned at the rate of 3% per annum. It is a guaranteed level premium computed for payment on a monthly basis but may be paid quarterly, semi-annually, or annually if the soldier so desires. When a soldier subscribes to National Service Life Insurance, payments for such insurance are deducted monthly from his payroll unless premiums are paid on a quarterly or other installment plan. In the latter cases, the soldier will make payment of premiums directly to the director of the Veterans Administration, National Service Life Insurance Branch.

The insured, under a National Service Life Insurance policy, has the right to designate a beneficiary or beneficiaries of his insurance within the following classes: wife, child (including an adopted child, step-child), parent (including a person in loco parentis), brother or sister (including those of half blood). The designation of a beneficiary should be made at the time of the application for insurance but may be made at a later date. The insured has the right at any time and without the knowledge or consent of the beneficiary to cancel the beneficiary designation or to change the beneficiary within the permitted class of beneficiaries.

Payments of National Service Life Insurance upon the death of the insured are made as follows:

  1. If the beneficiary to whom payment is first made is under 30 years of age at the date of death of the insured, payment shall be made in 240 equal monthly installments at the rate of $5.51 for each $l,000 of insurance.
  2. If the beneficiary to whom payment is first made is 30 or more years of age at the date of death of the insured, payments shall be made in equal monthly installments for 120 months certain with such payments in installments continuing during the remaining life-time of the beneficiary. The amount of the monthly installment for each $1,000 of insurance shall be determined by the age of the beneficiary at the date of the death of the insured.

Service Men’s Dependents Allowance Act of 1942

The Service Men’s Dependents Allowance Act of 1942 was passed by the 77th Congress and signed by the President on July 23, 1942. Under this Act, allowances are provided for the wives, children, and certain dependent relatives of men in the lower grades of the army. The benefits of the act are limited to army personnel in the seventh, sixth, fifth, and fourth grade. In the army, there are classified within these grades: private, private first class, technician 5th grade, corporal, technician 4th grade, and sergeant.

The relatives and dependents of a soldier are divided into two classes: Class A and Class B. In Class A are the wife and children of the soldier and a former wife divorced to whom an allowance is payable. Class A relatives do not have to be dependent upon the soldier in order to be eligible for a family allowance. In Class B are the parents, brother, sister, and grandchildren. Class B dependents must be dependent upon the soldier for a substantial portion of their support in order to be eligible. While either the soldier or his dependents may file for the allowance, it is better procedure for the soldier to make application through his commanding officer on W.D., A.G.O. Form No. 625. If his application is approved, the allowance to his relatives or dependents will begin to accrue on the first of the next succeeding month following the date of application and will be payable to the relatives or dependents following the end of that month. Each allowance is made up of money deducted from or charged to the soldier’s pay and money contributed by the government. For each month for which an allowance is payable to relatives or dependents of soldier, $412.00 would be deducted from or charged to the soldier’s pay. This deduction or charge is made whether they are in Class A or Class D. However, if allowances are paid for both Class A and Class B, $27.00 will be the maximum deducted from the soldier’s pay. While many combinations are possible insofar as relatives and dependents are concerned a soldier’s wife with no children will receive a total of $50.00 a month. A wife with one child will receive $62.00 a month. A wife with two children will receive $72.00 a month, and a wife with three children, $82.00 a month. One parent will receive $37.00 a month, two parents, $47.00 a month or a wife and one parent will receive $70.00 a month. As previously indicated, these are only examples of payments under the Service Men’s Dependents Allowance Act, and many other combinations are possible.


Soldiers may make requests in writing on W.D., A.G.O. Form No. 29 for the allotment of certain portions of their pay for payment of life insurance policies, to banks, and for the support of relatives or dependents. At the present time, the majority of these allotments are made for the period of the war plus six months, but the soldier retains the option of discontinuing the allotment at any time he so desires. Discontinuance of allotments will be handled by the personnel officer of the soldiers unit as are the original requests that an allotment be made.

Army General Classification Test

Every person required to report for military duty under the Selective Training and Service Act is required to take the Army General Classification Test. The test is generally administered on the first or second day after the selectee arrives at the reception center. The test is drawn up primarily to test recruits with respect to their ability to learn quickly the duties and responsibilities of a soldier and cannot be considered a test of mental abilities. It likewise gives no indication of such factors or qualities as leadership and is not a measure of advanced educational training. The Army General Classification Test is divided into three distinct divisions:

  1. Vocabulary
  2. Arithmetical reasoning problems
  3. Block counting

The score obtained in the first two sub-divisions of the test is influenced by what a man has learned. The block-counting division more closely approximates a test of abstract mental ability and the ability to reason out a situation. In this part of the test each participant sees before him in picture form a series of blocks but so grouped that all the blocks are not shown. In determining the number of blocks in the picture, it is necessary to employ imaginative or reasoning power. The Army General Classification Test consists of 150 questions and is usually given to large groups at the same time. The test is of multiple choice construction and separate score sheets are provided for each person being tested. These score sheets are tabulated by electric tabulating equipment and the score of the test is obtained and recorded before the selectee is interviewed. Test results are divided into five classifications:

  1. Very superior
  2. Superior
  3. Average
  4. Inferior
  5. Very inferior

The score obtained on the Army General Classification Test is of the utmost importance to all selectees. A score of 110 or higher is one of the prerequisites if the selectee wishes later in his army career to apply for officer candidate school, and a high score perhaps influences classifiers when making their initial assignment of personnel.

The Mechanical Aptitude and the Clerical Aptitude Tests

The Mechanical Aptitude Test is administered to selectees who are interested in mechanical work in the army. The ability to read blueprints to do shop mathematics, and to handle other subjects is tested. The test obviously measures primarily academic mechanical ability and actual mechanic performance is not involved.

The Clerical Aptitude Test is administered to selectees who are interested in clerical work or who have a clerical background. It measures the relative speed and accuracy with which the enlisted man can complete various clerical tasks. The Clerical Aptitude Test consists of 280 items subdivided into six different types of questions, such as comparing copy, vocabulary checking catalog numbers, and checking numerical figures. Both the Army Clerical Aptitude Test and the Mechanical Aptitude Test provide a reasonably discriminating measure for the selection of personnel to perform clerical or mechanical work in the army. A low score in either test does not indicate that the man would be unsuccessful in mechanical or clerical work but rather indicates that his chances of completing a standardized course of training are lower than those of a person who completes the test with a relatively high score.

The Selectee’s Interview

After the selectee’s initial tests have been completed, he is interviewed at the classification section of the reception center. The interviewer records on the Soldier’s Qualification Card, W.D.A.G.O. Form No. 20, information concerning the soldier’s family background, education, sports and hobbies, previous military training, and business experience. The interview is of great importance to each man entering the army for it has considerable bearing on the initial assignment, which he will obtain. At the interview, each soldier should bring to the attention of the interviewer any information which he believes will help him in obtaining the type of service he desires in the army. The results of the tests and the interview are used by the classification section of the reception center as the primary basis for initial assignment and once assigned to a specific job in the army, it is difficult to obtain a transfer.

The Articles of War

Every officer and soldier in the Army of the United States is subject to military law. The principles of military law are embodied in the Articles of War, which at all times and in all places, whether in the United States or abroad, govern the Armies of the United States. The Articles of War must be read to every soldier at the time of his call to service or within six days thereafter and shall be read and explained once every six months thereafter. The 104th Article of War grants commanding officers of all units disciplinary powers which they may use to enforce proper discipline, and trials by courts-martial are only used when the provisions of the 104th Article of War are not applicable to the situation. Each soldier is concerned primarily with the 54th to 96th Articles of War, which are known as the Punitive Articles. The Punitive Articles describe the offenses of absence without leave, desertion, disrespect, insubordination, mutiny or sedition, misbehavior before the enemy, willful or negligible loss of military property, and many other crimes. Ordinarily a selectee who conducts himself properly at all times and in accordance with the customary military practices has little if anything to do with the Articles of War except that they should be read to him once every six months.

Officer Candidate Schools

The various arms and services of the Army of the United States now conduct officer candidate schools, which are located throughout the United States and which furnish the majority of officers for our expanding army. During the course of training at the reception center, men who feel that they are qualified to become officers may request permission to talk with their commanding officer concerning the possibilities of attending an officer candidate school. All applicants for officer candidate school must meet certain basic requirements physical and otherwise, and appear before an examining board for an oral examination if the commanding officer and the next higher unit commander has approved their application. During the course of the replacement-training-center training any person who aspires to attend an officer candidate school should, in addition to mastering his basic military training, prepare himself by the study of numerous field and technical manuals, which are available to soldiers. The War Department through its Bureau of Public Relations has and is giving the widest possible publicity to the need for capable and competent officers, and those men who feel that they are capable of assuming the responsibilities of a commissioned officer should not hesitate to make application for an officer candidate school.

by John. R. Craf, 1st Lieutenant, Quartermaster Corps, Associate Professor of Military Science Tactics