CPS Unit Number 027-03

CPS Unit Number 027-03

Camp: 27

Unit ID: 3

Operating agency: MCC

Opened: 4 1946

Closed: 12 1946


CPS Camp No. 27 Subunit 3 at Bartow, Florida, opened at the Bartow Army Airfield in April 1946 as the facility offered space for expanded health services. The project of expanded health services did not develop as the Mennonite Central Committee had planned and remained primarily a program of building cheaper privies. The unit closed when the CPS program closed in late December 1946.

Bartow, Florida, United States
Location Description:

The camp was located in an abandoned U.S. Army base, Bartow Army Airfield. Helen Wade Alderfer recalled its condition.

Dashing through the Bartow, Florida rain into the barracks that would be our home, we saw that the preceding Air Force tenants had decorated the ceiling with pin-ups.  Someone had tried to remove them, but the glue had been tenacious and what remained were a thigh here, a breast there, and parts of heads and arms.  My husband and I only later learned how hard a crew had tried to eradicate the pin-up girls.  So we just learned to live with the fractured beauties.  (Helen Wade Alderfer in “Detour . . . Main Highway”: Our CPS Stories pp 80-81)

Camp staff:

Director: Edwin Alderfer

Dietician:  Naomi Weber

The people:

Most of the unit men had transferred in from the Mulberry subunit of the camp.

The work:

The unit planned to expand into other health services including the control of tuberculosis, venereal disease, typhus, rodents, along with hospital and laboratory work, in hopes of keeping a voluntary service unit there after the war.  However, the unit did not develop as planned and the men continued to fabricate privies at the airbase and to assemble them on the installation site.

Camp life:

Edwin Alderfer faced racial prejudice in the unit. “Volleyball was a large part of the unit’s recreation and we played teams from ‘citrus worker patches’ where we were placing privies.  We were advised by the Health Department officials that we should discontinue this play.  I did not make any protest or say anything about justice but agreed we would not continue to play teams made up of Afro-Americans.”  (“Detour . . . Main Highway”: Our CPS Stories pp. 79-80)


For more information on MCC public health units see Melvin Gingerich, Service for Peace: A History of Mennonite Civilian Public Service.  Akron, PA: Mennonite Central Committee printed by Herald Press, Scottdale, PA  1949, Chapter XVII pp. 252-275.


For personal stories of CPS men, see Peace Committee and Seniors for Peace Coordinating Committee of the College Mennonite Church of Goshen, Indiana, “Detour . . . Main Highway”: Our CPS Stories. Nappanee, IN: Evangel Press, 1995, 2000.