Fort Devens Museum

First Devens Historical Museum Display at Littleton Library

December 5, 2003

Adapted from article by C. David Gordon,
Copyright Nashoba Publications

The Devens Historical Museum mounted its first display of military artifacts. This first wasn't even in the museum's own display cases. This interesting first display was set up in the display case located just inside the public library in the Littleton Reuben Hoar Library on Shattuck Street for the month of November. The display now is located in the museum case in the lobby of the Devens Conference Center on the far side of Rogers Field.

Devens Reserve Forces Training Area Command Sgt. Maj. Pamela Townsend, who is a museum board member, arranged the first display. The items were gathered from many different sources. A World War I uniform and postcards are on loan from museum board member Walter Petreyko. The uniform is that of a sergeant who was a machine gun instructor with Company M of the 36th Regiment at Camp Devens. This is no mere government issue. The sergeant purchased his specially tailored uniform from Harding Army & Navy Uniform Company in Boston. The hat, a " John Stetson No. 1 Quality," came also from Harding. Along with the uniform in the display are the sergeant's grooming kit, leggings, and wrist protectors.

Pepperell resident Jeanne Blanchard gave former museum board member Ted Gentile a copy of a musical selection she found entitled "The World is Calling You (The Camp Devens Song)" This item appeared in a period newspaper. Blanchard said discovery of this unusual Devens inspired song came when she, her husband Roger and her brother were going through things in her mother's home in Northampton to close and sell the place.

Clifton S. Anthony of Providence, R.I., composed words and music for this regimental march when, as a 28-year-old, he enlisted and joined Company B of the 301st regiment, 76th Division at Camp Devens as a second lieutenant. Research indicates that Anthony had served as pianist for years at Fay's Theatre in Providence. He continued to write music, eventually opened a café of his own, and died in the 1940's.

Other pictures are on display showing music in the life of the soldier. In addition, the display holds a 1918 prayer book and a 1918 soldier's manual. A publisher's copy of Anthony's music was later found for sale and was added to the display .

The board is looking for safe spots in the area to mount future exhibits . If you have a suitable place or items to contribute, please contact the museum at 43 Buena Vista Street, Devens, 978-772-3654.