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Ocean County and the Great War - WWI (1914-1918) to honor and remember 100 years

The Ocean County Board of Commissioners in conjunction with the Ocean County Cultural and Heritage Commission are honoring the memory of the involvement of Ocean County in the Great War – World War I (1914-1918). This part of our website will share photos, pension records, and stories of soldiers, statesmen, and citizens reflecting our proud history during that conflict and the history of honoring those who served.

Many may be surprised at the many connections between this world wide conflict and our Ocean County community, including: the 1912 German radio tower in newly (1890) annexed Little Egg Harbor (Tuckerton), the use of what would become Lakehurst Naval Air Station as both a Russian and then American testing grounds and Army camp Kendrick, the creation of a vast medical (General Hospital #9) center at Lakewood, the origins of Camp Dix, and u-boat raids off our barrier islands.

Ocean County business and tourism were affected by the world wide conflict even before the United States formally entered the war on April 6, 1917 by declaring war on Germany. US forces seizing all of their naval vessels in US ports. Mobilizing for the war effort consumed the nation. For the first time in the nation’s history all men of fighting age – regardless of race, creed, or affluence, were required to register for the draft.

Ocean County residents took to the war effort with patriotic zeal. The first draft took place in August of 1917, with an initial quota of 169 conscripts. Many of these soldiers were gathered at the Toms River Courthouse steps on September 19th for a public send-off before training at the newly created Camp Dix.

On February 14, 1918 one hundred and thirty nine soldiers struck with scarlet fever were transferred to the newly created General Hospital No. 9, housed in the luxurious Lakewood Hotel. Over the course of a year and a half of operations the hospital treated over 5,500 soldiers and was home to 773 doctors, nurses, and support staff at its height.

On the home front, Red Cross and Liberty Loan campaigns were organized across the county as towns competed for the honor of contributing the most to the war effort. Local Red Cross committees met weekly to hold war savings drives, gather clothing for refugees, and prepare bandages for the war effort. Near the end of the war, Ocean County even managed to top the per-capita war savings stamp drive in New Jersey

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