US Army Quartermaster Foundation
Fort Lee, Virginia


The Manufacturing Branch of the Philadelphia Quartermaster Depot
By
CAPTAIN WILLIAM R. BUCKLEY, Q. M. C.
The Quartermaster Review
September-October 1929 

THAT the Philadelphia Depot is primarily a manufacturing depot is not generally known to the field, even among Quartermaster Officers. It is quite evident that even though some may realize that it is a manufacturing depot, they have very little conception of the size, variety, or importance of the work turned out. It is the frequent and almost unanimous observation of visitors to the factory, whether they be Officers of the Quartermaster Corps, Officers of other Arms or Services whose work may bring them in contact with this Depot, or even prominent civilians, that they had not the remotest idea of the extent, variety, or magnitude of the operations; that an organization which makes scores of military articles ranging from gorgeous National colors, and flags for the President and War Department Officials made of silk and done by hand, down to ordinary working clothing and tentage for shelter, is something unusual, and not found anywhere else to their knowledge. 

While the Manufacturing Branch is for purposes of organization, part of the existing set-up at the, Depot, it is so operated that in case of emergency, with the rest of the Procurement Division it can be readily divorced from the other Depot activities and become part of the procurement scheme to be operated in conjunction with other munitions activities under The Quartermaster General and Assistant Secretary of War as provided in the general procurement plans. 

GROUP OF FACTORIES 

The Manufacturing Branch of this Depot ordinarily is called the factory, but in reality it is much more than "a factory," being composed of a group of fourteen to twenty factories as the occasion may require. These factories or sections of the factory correspond to complete factories found in the industrial world. In the industrial world the output of a factory in the clothing or allied industries is one or at the very most a very few items, while here at the Philadelphia Depot, there are manufactured ar­ticles covered by a great many industries. 

It is not the intention in this article to describe the physical set-up of the factory or to point out by mere statistics the output, but rather to give the reader some idea of the magnitude of the work and how it pertains not only to the furnishing of supplies to the Army in peace times, but its value as an experimental institution for the constant development of types and improvement of equipment, and also how it acts as a reservoir which should be invaluable in an emergency, and which undoubtedly in the last emergency saved the Government millions of dollars. 

THE ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT 

The factory has been in existence in one condition or another since the Civil War. Tents were the first articles of manufacture and for many years most of the canvas of the Army was made in the Philadelphia Depot which at that time was at the old Schuylkill Arsenal, 2620 Grays Ferry Road. The present location, 21st Street and Oregon Avenue, has been in use only since the recent War, and the manu­facturing activities carried on there only since 1922. A section was later organized to make coats for enlisted men. From this beginning and especially since the World War, there have been added from time to time other articles until at present there are manufactured here practically all of the outer clothing that the soldier wears, except shoes, hats and caps, and in addition many articles of individual and organizational equipment. 

In the beginning there were about sixty employees engaged. This number increased from time to time as the activities were enlarged up until about the time of the Spanish American War when it might be said the first real factory was in operation. After that War there was another decrease, but, however, the factory remained larger than it had been at any time prior to that period. At the beginning of the World War expansion again began until all avail­able buildings at the old Schuylkill Arsenal were used and a large modern manufacturing building in the vicinity covering about one city block and six stories high was commandeered. Here manufactur­ing of uniforms, shirts, denim clothing, flags, both silk and bunting, etc. was carried on on an enormous scale, and in addition to the people engaged within the factory building, there were about 10,000 persons, chiefly women, who took the cut work to their homes and performed all sewing operations.  After the Armistice, it was necessary to release the commandeered building and the facilities of the old Arsenal would no longer meet the manufacturing requirements, with the result that the present building at the new Philadelphia Quartermaster Depot at 21st Street and Oregon Avenue, was altered to provide for factory facilities and was equipped along the most modern and up-to-date lines.

This building is 960 feet long by 160 feet wide, and divided into seven bays or sections. The lay out of the factory was so organized that all the raw materials required were brought into the Receiving Section in the extreme western end of the building, and traveled from there through the various operations until the extreme eastern end of the building was reached, where the shipping or transfer section is situated. This section transfers the completed gar­ments to the Storage and Issue Division of the Depot, where it remains in the hands of the Prop­erty Officer until shipped on requisition to other Depots or Stations. The interior set-up was so de­signed as to have each succeeding operation bring the article nearer to the shipping section 50 as to prevent backhaul of material after it left the receiving section. 

MODERN EQUIPMENT 

The equipment installed here was the latest available at the time and is being constantly added to by the most modern equipment as it becomes available. There are many and frequent changes in sewing machines and labor saving devices with which it is necessary to keep in touch. The result has been the constant acquiring of improved equipment and the disposition of obsolete or old types which even in the case of emergency would be of little or no actual value in production and for which very little if any sale would exist. 

What precedes is a sketchy outline of what is here. which together with the pictures, is chiefly for the purpose of acquainting you with the Philadelphia factory.  From the standpoint here, the important feature of our factory is not so much where it started or how it grew, but what it is and what may be accomplished with it. It is realized that statistics are usually not only uninteresting but even bore the reader, but at the risk of doing this some are used in order to give you a clearer idea of the magnitude of the work. The following is a list of the articles manufactured at this Depot and their value. during the fiscal year of 1928. which is the latest report available. It will be noted at the end there are two items added which are activities of the present fiscal year and which are shown to indicate part of the increase which has taken place in the present fiscal year, and which will increase the value of the pres­ent year's output 50 per cent over that of last year. 

Articles Manufactured During Period July 1, 1927, to June 30, 1928

Article

Quantity

Value

  Breeches, Woolen, O. D., 20-oz

121,000

$388,410.00

  Coats, Mackinaw

5,900 

53,808.00

  Coats, White

19,500           

26,715.00

  Handkerchiefs, O.D.

1,100,000     

66,000.00

  Hats, Working, Denim

13,000

4,810.00

Sleeve Insignia:

 

 

  Chevrons, M. P

11,900

1,214.99

  For Excellence in Target Practice

15,000           

900.00

  Distinctive Service Stripes, R.O.T.C.

30,000           

600.00

  Distinctive Shields, R.O.T.C.

115,000

8,050.00

  Stars, R.O.T.C.

11,000

219.45

Insignia, Shoulder Sleeve:

 

 

  1st Division             

18,000

6,062.80

  3rd Cavalry Division

3,660 

1,211.46

  4th Division 

10,000

1,176.00

  45th Division           

1,500 

71.94

  98th Division

100    

8.39

Keystone Army A     

5,000 

365.30

Keystone 3rd Corps

3,000 

180.00

Panama Canal                     

11,000

2,258.96

Philippine Division   

5,000 

839.50

Philippine  Department       

3,000 

321.69

Tabs. Cloth, Collar, West Point

4,800 

19.20

Patches, Collar, C.M.T.C.

37,638

77.53

Jumpers, Working, Denim  

67,000           

72,360.00

Leggins, Spiral. Wool 

50,000           

42,500.00

Shirts. Flannel, O.D.

324,000

732,240.00

Trousers, Firemen's,            

52

347.36

Trousers, White Duck

31,000

44,640.00

Trousers, Working, Denim  

216,000         

226,800.00

     Total          

 

$1,681,757.57

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Uniforms, Wool, 0. D., 16-oz.,National Guard

73,850

$1,157,229.50

     Total          

 

$1,157,229.50

Article

Quantity

Value

Leggins, Canvas, Altered Foot to Mounted

40,880

$25,672.64

Shirts, Cotton, O.D

6,631

2,738.50

Undershirts,

2,150

221.88

     Total

 

$28,633.12

Special Measurement Clothing

 

 

Coats and Breeches, Wool, O. D.

45,353           

573,565.79

Breeches, Cotton, O.D.

1,407

3,837.03

Coats, Cotton, O. D.            

1,570 

6,138.39

Trousers, Cotton, O.D.        

621    

1,669.62

Overcoats, Wool, O.D.        

2,508 

31,312.88

 

 

$616,493.71

Brassards,  Flying  Cadet,  Machine Embroidered

2,425 

1,285.25

Caps, Field, O. D., Flying Cadet    

655    

543.65

Coats, Cotton, O. D., Flying Cadet, Roll Collar

1,563 

4,465.33

Coats, Wool, 0. D., Flying Cadet, Roll Collar 

1,278 

10,042.78

Trousers, Cotton, 0. D., Flying Cadet 

2,463 

4,347.69

Trousers, Wool, 0. D., Flying Cadet

1,377 

7,685.60

Insignia, A. C., Flying Cadet, Machine Embroidered

2,393 

239.30

Insignia, U. S., Flying Cadet, Machine Embroidered

2,393 

143.58

     Total          

 

$28,753.18

Coats, Gabardine, Slate Blue, Flying Cadet

462    

5,719.56

Caps, Gabardine, Slate Blue, Flying Cadet

1,155 

1,351.35

Trousers, Gabardine, Slate Blue, Flying Cadet

1,502 

8,245.98

Shirts, Cotton, Slate Blue, Flying Cadet

2,310 

2,956.80

Shirts, Flannel, Slate Blue, Flying Cadet

1,386 

4,199.58

Chevrons, Coat and Overcoat, Slate Blue, Flying Cadet  

80 pr. 

40.65

Chevrons, Shirt, Slate Blue, Flying Cadet           

382 pr.           

69.94

Insignia, A. C., Bullion Embrd., Flying Cadet

2,079 

1,725.57

Insignia, U. S., Bullion Embrd., Flying Cadet

462pr.

328.02

     Total                      

 

$24,637.45

Coats, Summer, D. B., Soldiers' Home

700    

3,968.65

Trousers, Summer, D. B., Soldiers'      Home 

1,200 

2,453.76

Coats, Winter, D. B., Soldiers' Home

500    

2,921.25

Vests, Winter, D. B., Soldiers' Home

500    

856.25

Trousers,  Winter,  D.  B., Soldiers' Home           

900    

1,953.18

Overcoats, D. B., Soldiers' Home   

200    

1,982.68

    Total

 

            $14,135.77

Uniforms, White, Nurses

207    

447.12

Total               

 

$447.12

Bags for Baling Tents          

6,700 

6,695.31

Bandoleers (Ordnance Dept.)        

1,558,874     

224,789.63

Bars, Mosquito, Single

30,000           

123,000.00

Bars, Sandfly

3,000 

5,370.00

Cases, Pillow           

152,000         

28,880.00

Colors, Service, C.M.T.C. & R.O.T.C.

44       

543.96

Colors, Regimental, Silk     

27       

6,968.97

Cot Covers   

18,000           

22,140.00

Flags, Ensign, 2.37'x4.5'     

1,015 

2,821.70

Flags, Ensign, 3.52 x6.69'  

873    

3,701.52

Flags, Ensign, 5'x9'6"          

750

5,422.50

Flags, Ensign, 10'x19'         

4         

78.16

 

 

 

Article

Quantity

Value

Flags,  Storm

2,500 

18,075.00

Guidons, Service, All Kinds

1,495 

3,199.30

Halyards, Garrison, Post or Storm, 220'

24       

124.80

Sheets, Bed, Single 

310,000         

220,100.00

Sheets, Fly (Horse Cover)  

72       

252.31

Standards, Regimental, Silk

32       

5,442.88

Straps, Adjustable, Traction (Med. Dept.)           

150    

34.96

Straps, Web, Tying for Cots

70,000           

6,937.70

Strips, Tearing, for Paper Boxes   

1,887,300     

5,284.44

Tents, Pyramidal, Large      

14,500           

677,730.00

Tents, Wall, Large    

600    

29,832.00

Tents, Wall, Small    

2,500 

64,650.00

     Total          

 

$1,462,075.14

Cases, Pillow, Altered         

100,000         

2,500.00

     Total          

 

$2,500.00

Window Shades, Averaged @ .35. 

10,000           

3,500.00

Window Shades, Averaged @ 1.10

7,336 

8,069.60

     Total                      

 

$11,569.60

Articles for Army Transport Service:

 

 

  Awnings (All Sizes)

22       

2,044.16

  Bags, Laundry        

20       

4820

  Bunk Bottoms         

1,500 

4,455.00

  Covers, Chair (Portable & Swivel)

340    

317.00

  Covers, Buffet         

1         

2.81

  Covers, Desks       

2         

3,22

Covers, Engine Room Standard Telegraph      

2         

2.68

Covers, Life Boat     

9         

227.60

Covers, Searchlight 

1         

425

Covers, Settee         

200    

232.00

Covers, Table (All Sizes)    

61       

280.79

Covers, Ventilator    

1         

5.27

Curtains, All Sizes, Prs        

414    

297.37

Mats, Bathroom        

100    

49.00

Mats, Floor, Stateroom       

150    

238.50

Runners, Special      

100    

439.00

Tarpaulins, All Sizes

80       

3,819.19

     Total          

 

$12,466.04

Total Value of Articles Manufactured

 

$5,040.69820

 

 

 

Uniforms, Coats and Breeches, 16-oz-.

 Melton           

125,950         

1,628,533.50

Overcoats, O. D. for the Regular Army

118,423         

1,226,86228

 

 

 

Total for Principal Orders in Present Fiscal Year    

 

$2,855,395.78

At the beginning of the present fiscal year, July 1, 1928, there were approximately 1,000 persons employed. This number was greatly reduced during the summer of 1928 until on October 1, 1928, there were about 850 people on the roll. From that period on, the number grew gradually until in May of this year the number reached 1,632, the largest employed at any time in manufacturing activities at this Depot except during and immediately following the recent War. At the present writing, the roll shows 1,609 employees. The number of employees from the lowest paid laborer up to and including the General Superintendent, depends wholly upon the amount of work authorized for the factory.  All charges for all employees must be paid from the al­lotments for this work, and in the event there were no work, all personnel would have to be dispensed with. In other words, there is no overhead fund required for the operation of the factory except that taken from the allotments made for work.  It can thus be seen that the Government is carrying no expense to maintain the factory unless the factory is producing.

PIECEWORK SYSTEM 

Of the employees shown 90 per cent are on piece­work, and only such employees carried on a per diem or per annum basis whose duties are such that they cannot be placed on piecework. All, however, are charged to cost of the given article. Where a per diem employee is engaged solely on one article, his pay is charged against that particular work. The salaries of the supervision and other general labor whose duties cause them to work on several items or in connection with several of the manufacturing sections are charged to overhead or general labor, which is prorated against all jobs. 

The factory is in charge of an Officer who reports directly to the Commanding Officer of the Depot. Under the Officer is a General Superintendent, a Manager, a Superintendent, and a Superintendent of the Custom Tailor Shop where officers' work is done. The officer has charge of carrying out all of the policies laid down by the Commanding Officer or higher authority.  He is assisted in this by the Manager, who has charge of the office force, accounting, receipt and disposition of raw material, estimating, personnel, finance, and sanitation.  In a military sense he is Executive Officer to the Officer in charge, and issues all orders and instructions, etc., as directed and keeps informed at all times of the business status of the Organization.  The General Superintendent of manufactures is in general charge of all operations of all sections of the factory from the receipt of material until shipment of the com­pleted articles. He is the technical advisor to the Officer in charge, and issues all orders and instructions, etc., in connection with actual manufacture, recom­mends changes and improvements in methods, sys­tems and layouts, and advises the Officer in charge on all questions in connection with the actual conduct of manufacturing. In the military sense he is the second in command of the factory, and in the absence of the Officer in charge takes his place and is responsible for all activities. The General Superintendent is assisted by a Superintendent who is in charge of the detailed operations, flow, workman­ship, and quantity production. These two executives are on the floor of the factory during the entire day, personally supervising. As the work is completed it goes into the inspecting and examining section where each article manufactured is individually inspected. Each section of the factory is in charge of a foreman and in some sections the foremen have from one to three assistants. Some sections are in charge of forewomen who may have as­sistants if the work requires it. These supervisors are further assisted by operatives who are used for instructional and detailed supervision purposes. For instance, where the activity in a given section or shop reaches a point where the regular supervision must be increased, an operative is put in charge of a certain group or work in order that it may be followed through without interruption or delay.  In each section or shop, there are checkers or room clerks whose duties are to keep account of all work done and credit piecework employees for the purpose of computing pay. 

EMPLOYEES TRAINED IN SEVERAL OPERATIONS 

In the organization of the entire factory, versatility is kept in mind so that when the work decreases in one section and increases in another, employees and assistant supervisors may be transferred. When it is practical to do this, it permits the Manufacturing Branch to retain its experienced old-time employees, avoid discharging them even temporarily, which would result in their obtaining work in other places and not being available when wanted here again. Discharge of old employees because of lack of work, necessitates bringing in new employees when work is obtained, with the result that the new employees would have to be trained and much time would elapse before they would reach the degree of efficiency of the former old-time, trained employees. It has been calculated that every new employee costs the Government $50.00 before he or she is properly trained, and the normal efficient results acquired. This even applies to employees who may have been trained in other establishments because of the great difference in the character of work performed in a military plant as compared to a civilian clothing factory. 

DIVISION OF LABOR 

As in all institutions of a similar character in the industrial world, the Philadelphia Quartermaster Depot Manufacturing Plant is operated on a mass production basis, which calls for a highly refined division of labor. This means that every article manufactured has at least two operations in its making, and which increases as the manufacture is more complicated, up to the service coat which has eighty operations. As an example, the service coat has the following operations: 

Coat, Service-Wool, Enlisted Men-Lapel Collar 

Oper. No

Operation

Stock  Sizes

Spec. Meas.

1                     

Cutting outside including dressing of left front by shears

.065

P.D.

2         

Cutting body, flap, linings, etc

.009

.009

3

Cutting sleeve linings, pockets, stays, etc

.006

.006

4         

Cutting canvas padding and undercollar

.0048

.0048

5         

Cutting felt

.0015

.0015

6         

Cutting wadding

.0004

.0004

7         

Fitting linings            

---

.08

8         

Shade marking

.0125

.03

9         

Open bundles

---

.0325

10       

Stitch darts and tape on gorge

.013

.013

11       

Press darts

.0065 

.0065

12       

Double stitch and cut lower pockets

.02      

.02

13       

Make lower pockets

.05      

.05

14       

Overlock pockets

.0063

.0063

15       

Mark fronts for pockets and flaps

.03

.03

16       

Stitch on pockets and flaps

.05

.05

17       

Baste on canvas

.023

.023

18       

Tack pockets and hook openings

.01

.01

19       

Pad lapels and bridle

.023

.023

20       

Join side seams and tape armholes

.017

.017

21                   

Press side seams, side bodies and back seams, vent, armholes, fronts, and lapels

.043

.043

22       

Put in hooks  

.0175 

.0175

23       

Shape coat and match in lining

.025   

.025

24       

First basting of coat 

.04      

.04

25       

Tape edges and bottoms    

.035   

.035

26       

Press edges and bottoms

.0125

.0125

27       

Trim and turn coat    

.0125 

.0125

28       

Baste edges by machine    

.0275 

.0275

29       

Second basting of facing

.03      

.03

30       

Tack facing

.012

.012

31       

Baste lining   

.0        

.10

32       

Join shoulders          

.2        

.02

33

Press shoulders

.01

.01

34       

Sew across back and tack hanger

.075   

.0075

35       

Sew on top collar     

.0375 

.0375

36       

Face lapels, corners, and undercollar, tack corners of undercollar and fell

 

 

Oper. No

Operation

Stock Sizes

Spec  Meas.

 

for /2" each side

.05

.05

37  

Fell undercollar by machine          

.012  

.012

38  

Stitch edges, bottom of lining, includ­ing label, and tack vent           

.0475 

.0475

39       

Turn and match shoulder straps     

.011   

.011

40

Sew on straps and cross stitch

.02      

.02

41       

Match in sleeves      

.008   

.008

42       

Sew in sleeves         

.0475 

.0475

43       

Press armhole seams         

.017   

.017

44    

Baste part of armhole by machine and stitch on wadding

.0175 

.0175

45       

Baste balance of armhole   

.0175 

.0175

46       

Mark buttonholes in front     

.0075 

.01

47       

Make buttonholes in front    

.015   

.015

48       

Tack buttonholes in front     

.005   

.005

49    

Fell armhole, corners of facing, tack lining and side seams, fell vent and clean 

.21   

.21

50       

Press coat    

.1355 

.1355

51       

Mark buttons

P.D. 

P.D.

52       

Sew on buttons         

.0175 

.0175

53       

Fell bottoms

.012   

.012

54       

Prepare for baling    

.0112

 

55       

Make canvas

.02      

.02

56       

Press canvas

.005   

.005

57  

Make backs including tape on vent and arm holes                     

.0375 

.0375

58       

Make linings 

.05

.05  

59       

First seaming of sleeves, lining, and stitch on lining and canvas

0325 

.0325

60  

Second seaming of sleeves and lining, and stitch cuff

03   

.03  

61

Baste by machine, turn and match sleeves

.025   

.025

62       

Press forearm seam

.01      

.01

63 

Press back arm seam and turnup    

.0145 

.0145

64       

Mark cuffs for stitching         

.006   

.006

65       

Press linings 

.0125 

.0125

66       

Tack hook to stay     

.005   

.005

67       

Make flaps    

.0325 

.0325

68

Make shoulder straps

.028   

.028

69  

Seam undercollar, canvas, and stitch breakline, stitch on top collar, turn and baste                   

..055  

.055

70       

Pad undercollar        

.007   

.007

71       

Crease undercollar  

.005   

.005

72       

Make buttonholes in flaps   

.0112 

.0112

73       

Make buttonholes in straps

.0042 

.0042

74       

Crease pockets       

.0045 

.005

75       

Trim flaps      

.014   

.014

76       

Hem pockets

.006   

.006

77       

Press undercollar seam      

.0025 

.0025

78       

Mark pocket opening           

-----

.0055

79       

Match in canvas       

-----

.0055

80       

Per diem       

.1349 

.5871

Each of these operations is performed by a different individual, necessitating a highly developed system of processing the garment through the va­rious groups and a very definite method of checking and crediting individual employees for the work performed. For the purpose of carrying this method out, each piece going into any garment is marked with a ticket printed by an especially adapted machine, which carries a shade number so that each garment will be made up from the same piece of cloth; a job number so that when shipped it will be applied to the proper order; a bundle number so that it may be credited to the proper employee and no duplication of charges may occur; and the size of the garment. This Operation is performed immediately after the material is cut from the data placed on the bundles of cut material by the cutter, and is done in the cutting and marking room as shown in the illustration herewith.

The description and explanation given above per­tains to the manufacture of articles of issue made up in stock sizes and, of course, is the great bulk of the work turned out by the factory here. However, two other important activities in so far as production is concerned are carried on, and it is desired to particularly stress them here so that any information given the reader may be of value to him in making requisitions or in making purchases as individuals. The special measurement uniform for enlisted men and the custom shop for officers are the activities in mind. 

SPECIAL MEASUREMENT UNIFORMS FOR ENLISTED MEN 

While in quantity this work is not large in com­parison to the rest of the output of the factory, it is highly important and is one of the phases of the work which brings the factory in direct touch with the field, and if not properly conducted either here or in the field is a cause of serious complaint and dissatisfaction.  In 1923, when it was decided that the War stock of garments on hand was wholly unsuitable for use in connection with ceremonies, reviews and special occasions, the War Department decided to furnish to each enlisted man one special measurement uniform for each enlistment, to be made of especially selected melton or serge, depending upon the Corps Area. The men were individually measured in the field on blanks furnished for this purpose and the blanks forwarded through channels to this Depot for the making of the uniform and returned for issue to the individual. In the beginning, due to the unfamiliarity of the field with the method of taking measurements and due to the great variation in the methods used by the company, regimental, and post exchange tailors considerable difficulty was met in obtaining correct measures. For the first year approximately 30 per cent of the measurement blanks received were returned for correction or verifications, and special trips were made to large posts for the purpose of instructing the individuals there as to how to take measurements. In the meantime, a campaign of education was carried on by means of circulars for more uniform and accurate results. The development to date has been very satisfactory in that a number of blanks sent back during the past year for correction or verification amounted to only 3 per cent of the total number received, and the number of uniforms furnished and returned as misfits amounted to only a fraction of 1 per cent. Of the latter cases, investigation develops that the trouble in at least 95 per cent was still due to in­accuracies in measurements and when the garments were finally furnished it was on the basis of new and correct measurements received from the field.

It is understood, of course, that to be able to carry on this volume of business without some inaccuracies is hardly practicable, but many instances still occur where greater care would eliminate the faults and avoid delays caused by returning blanks for correction or uniforms for alteration. 

The blanks furnished by the Quartermaster Corps for the purpose of taking the measurements are pre­pared in great detail and on the reverse side was placed definite and specific instructions which if carefully followed would rarely cause the making of a uniform which would not fit the soldier. The method of holding the tape; the care to see that the measurement is taken in the place indicated on the chart; and that the individual being measured stands in a normally erect position are all highly essential to proper measurements. In addition, tailors or other individuals should follow the instructions as to taking the measurements, especially in reference to breeches. This has been a cause of difficulty in the past. While measurements can be taken over the outer garments, it is where the measurer is the man who is also going to make the garment and can make the proper allowances that a well-fitting uniform will result. The method adopted by this Depot permits of uniformity, whereas, the other method leaves too much to individual judgment. 

One of the complaints about the furnishing special measurement uniforms has been in the amount of time required between the taking of measurements and final receipt of garment. Here again the question of accuracy of measurement is very important because if the blank must be returned for correction or uniform must be returned for alteration, that much additional time is lost before the soldier is given his new uniform. It requires from three to four weeks for the manufacture of a uniform after the receipt of a blank in the Manufacturing Branch at this Depot. This time is taken up in first record­ing the blank, making out the necessary tickets to go with the uniform, then the editing of the blank by the assistant foreman of the cutting room to check for inaccuracies or abnormal measurements, the requisitioning of the cloth. sponging, and shrink­ing before it actually reaches the cutting tables. At least one week's work must be in hand before the first operation, that is cutting, is begun, in order to permit a flow so that a group of cutters reasonably permanent can be employed. The balance of the time is required for actual manufacture in the coat and breeches shops, pressing. inspecting. and transfer to the Storage and Issue Division for shipment to the field. 

This problem has been very carefully and continuously studied to reduce the time limit required here to the absolute minimum, and the above at the present time is the shortest period of time that can be practically put into effect. Of course, it should be understood that a given number of garments could easily be furnished in a shorter period by about 40 per cent of that indicated, but this would mean the constant building up and cutting down of the special measurement section to a point where the quality would be greatly sacrificed and the results wholly unsatisfactory. An idea of the extent of the work carried on in this section can be obtained from the following which cover a period from July 1, 1928 to June 11, 1929:

38,808

Wool uniforms

     485

Coats, wool

  1,653

Trousers, wool

     823

Breeches, cotton

     599

Coats, cotton

  2,016

Overcoats, O. D.

 It is felt that there are "yet improvements which can be made, especially in the field; as a number of cases in the past few months show that the officers responsible for taking the measurements have been unable to give it their personal attention or if personally supervising have been lax in following out the instructions given.  In some of these cases, officers have after receipt of the garments asked for authority to return them stating that they were misfits and unsatisfactory; and in cases it is shown that incorrect measurements were given by them in the first instances and when new measurements were furnished and uniforms made, the uniforms were en­tirely satisfactory. This neglect was not only expensive to the Government, but was a serious in­justice to the individual soldier and resulted in the unit not being properly clothed in as short a time as it should have been. 

THE CUSTOM TAILOR SECTION 

What has been said above in reference to ac­curacy of measurement for enlisted men's specials, also pertains to the officers' custom section for orders . received by mail.

The greatest difficulty experienced in furnishing officers' clothing where the purchaser is unable to come to this Depot for measurement and fitting, has been inaccurate measurements furnished. In some cases, in addition, individual officers have requested manufacture of garments other than those permitted by regulation. This work must be refused in compliance with instructions from higher authority and, of course, should not be asked for. 

The work of the custom tailor section has been increasing gradually during the past several years until at the present time the amount of work turned out annually is very large. The following list of the orders turned out during the Fiscal Year 1928 will give some idea of the extent of this activity here. 

Officers, Special Measurement Clothing: 

Breeches, Cotton, O. D

   150

Breeches, Wool, O. D

1,200

Coats, Cotton, O. D 

   100

Coats, Wool, O. D

1,500

Coats, White  

     50

Overcoats, O. D.,   

   600

Overcoats, O. D., Short,      

   125

Overcoats, O. D., Short,      

     50

Shirts, O. D   

2,500

Shirts, O. D. Flannel (Stock)

1,450

Trousers, Cotton, O. D        

     50

Trousers, Wool, O. D           

   600

Trousers, White Duck          

     75

 The Manufacturing Branch is continually carrying on experiments based on new patterns, and, also, experiments on special type clothing for the Chemical Warfare Service. The great value of the factory for this work is manifest when it is appreciated that doing the same work in an outside factory would entail not only greater costs, but necessitate making' contracts and going through all the other formality necessary in making Government expenditures. It can be seen that this would be a serious handicap in carrying on experiments when it is not definitely known exactly what is required before the finished work is produced. 

From time to time work is done for other branches of the War Department, such as, bandoleers for the Ordnance and flags for the Engineer Corps. Work has been done during the past fiscal year for the Navy Department, for which this Depot bid and obtained on the basis of being the lowest bidder. Work is also done for the Soldiers' Home at Washington, D.C. 

TRAINING OF INDIVIDUALS AVAILABLE IN AN EMERGENCY 

Just as the Army is primarily organized and kept in existence during peace times to be available dur­ing war times, just so is the Manufacturing Branch of this Depot of great value in the event of emer­gency. It would be the reservoir from which commercial contractors would obtain experienced personnel to at least get them underway in the manu­facture of military articles with which the commer­cial manufacturers are unfamiliar. Assistant supervisors would be highly valuable for such work and, no doubt, would be great factors in aiding the prompt execution of the present procurement planning activities in so far as clothing and allied in­dustries are concerned.

The experience and knowledge gained by the maintenance and operation of the factory would be of considerable importance in regulating outside groups. This situation did arise during the past War when the General Superintendent of this factory was named a member of various committees governing price control, production facilities, restricted areas for manufacture, and other similar activities of the War Industries Board carried on in connection with the Army.

It is hoped from the above that the reader will be able to clearly discern the advantages of' a manufacturing plant of this character, and may get some assistance from the information given in carrying on any of his activities of the field which may pertain to manufacturing at this Depot.

Return to Army Clothing History

Hit Counter visits since 21 January 2001

Return To:  Quartermaster History Page

Quartermaster Foundation Page

Quartermaster Museum Page Quartermaster Homepage