Camp Beale (1942-1947) - A U.S. Army training camp established in 1942 during World War II in Yuba County, California. Named after General Edward F. Beale, California Militia, western explorer and pioneer. The camp was deactivated in 1947 and transferred to the U.S. Air Force in 1948 and renamed Beale Air Force Base in 1951. Now an active Air Force Base.
Camp Beale opened in October 1942, as a training site for the 13th Armored and the 81st and 96th Infantry Divisions. Camp Beale's 86,000 acres were home for more than 60,000 soldiers, a 1000 man German prisoner-of-war (POW) encampment, and a 1,000-bed hospital.
Construction crews established the POW camp by converting several WWII style barracks between D & E streets and 2nd & 4th streets into a POW compound. A tall barbed-wire-topped fence surrounded the compound and two concrete guard towers with searchlights overlooked the compound. The compound came to contain 17 barracks, 4 mess halls, a canteen, 6 storehouses (multi-use), a chapel and a set of 10 concrete solitary confinement cells. Only the confinement cells and the rubble from the guard towers remains.
The POW Camp opened on 17 May 1944 just before the 6 Jun 1944 D Day landings. The Camp Beale POW Camp served as a base camp for five other camps located in the area at Windsor, Davis, Arbuckle, Chico, and Napa. Each of the camps was to hold about 1,000 prisoners.
All of the POW camps provided workers for the local farmers and ranchers and a significant number worked at support jobs on the post. The POWs were paid $0.80 a day, as per the Geneva Convention, in coupons. The coupons could be redeemed in the canteen for cigarettes, newspapers, ice cream, and even beer (2 glass limit). Movies, newsreels, and books were also available.
The POW camp closed in July 1946.
Camp Beale itself closed in 1947 and the property was transferred to the U.S. Air Force in 1948. See Beale Air Force Base.
Currently an active Air Force Base, Beale Air Force Base, Yuba County, California The POW camp is well marked and has some explanitory signage.
Visited: 11 Oct 2015