At the beginning of March, personnel from TAC’s western office met up with BLM archaeologist George Kline to explore a potential acquisition project. They toured part of an archaeological district in the California desert related to General George Patton’s World War II Desert Training Center (DTC).
In 1942 in response to threats to the Allies by the North African campaign, Patton created the DTC as a way to train troops for desert warfare. The DTC encompassed a large expanse of desert in California and Arizona and consisted of numerous camps and various maneuver areas. While the camps acted as administrative and support facilities, the maneuver areas are where a majority of the actual training took place. It is believed that the training that was provided in the DTC played an important part in the defeat of Hitler’s forces in Northern Africa and Europe.
Kline and TAC personnel visited a portion of one of the maneuver areas. The landscape is marked with foxholes, trenches, gun emplacements, tank tracks, possible sleeping pads/areas, remnants of small campfires, and various artifacts. Seventy year old tank tracks can be tracked by following the pockmarked rocks of the desert pavement left by the passing vehicles. Old C-Ration cans are littered throughout the site, signifying what the trainees were consuming. This now relatively bare and quiet landscape once played an important role in U.S. WWII history and still yields important information from that time.