History and images have been compiled from various sources including, among others, the 1987 National Register of Historic Places, Stack & Beasley's 1902 Sketches of Monroe and Union County, Union County Public Library (Patricia Poland, Genealogy & Local History Librarian), the Heritage Room Photo Collection, North Carolina Map Collection, Rootsweb - An Ancestry.com Community and Ancestry.com family histories.

Camp Sutton

J. Ray Shute:
WAC Parade in Monroe
Wash Room on Jefferson St.
"I was serving when the War broke out in '41, and we immediately began working to get an Army camp here. We had had the Carolina Army Maneuvers here in '41. They had completed their maneuvers, I think, in October before Pearl Harbor in December. The general headquarters for the maneuvers were located here in Monroe; I went to Washington and got them to do that. General Drum, who was the Commanding General of the First Army, was so pleased with the relationship with the civilians of Union County that when they got instructions to locate four staging camps for immediate temporary training of troops after Pearl Harbor, we prevailed upon him to use the headquarters that we had built on Sutherland Avenue here in Monroe as a nucleus for a new camp which I got them to name for Frank Sutton. He was a Monroe boy who was a flight sergeant in the Royal Canadian Air Force and was killed at Tobruk the same day that the Japs bombed Pearl Harbor. So they did; they named it Camp Sutton. 

"That camp meant a great deal to Monroe. The camp was built in '42. From then through '45, when the War was over, Monroe enjoyed a prosperity not equaled by any of the surrounding cities.Because of the control of building materials and the wage and price controls and everything else, a lot of the towns suffered during the War from an income standpoint and a job standpoint, but Monroe boomed during that period. Every house was filled. Empty rooms were filled, garage apartments. We got permits from the Government and built a lot of housing and apartments and additions."

NC Highway Historical Marker Program Essay:
"Soon after the United States entered World War II in December 1941, North Carolina assumed a prominent role in preparing the country’s armed forces for duty overseas. Along with Camp Butner, Camp Davis, and Fort Bragg, Camp Sutton was among the largest military training facilities in North Carolina (and the nation) during the war. Each of the installations was also the site of a prisoner of war camp. At these and eighteen smaller POW camps scattered across the state, more than 10,000 prisoners were housed in North Carolina between 1943 and 1945.

"Camp Sutton was organized as a training site for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and opened as a temporary “tent” camp in the spring of 1942. The base covered 2,296 acres about three miles east of Monroe in Union County. Located on U.S. Highway 74, Sutton was naturally divided into two halves by Richardson’s Creek, and a railroad line also ran through the camp. The troop quarters were connected by dirt roads to outlying tactical areas of the base. The white and African American units stationed at Sutton were segregated, and racial tensions often ran high. The installation was named in honor of Frank H. Sutton, a Monroe native who was killed over Libya in 1941 while serving as a pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force.

"Engineering units received training in both fixed bridge and pontoon bridge construction. Richardson’s Creek was used for the fixed bridge training, while areas along the Catawba River in South Carolina were used for pontoon bridge and river-crossing instruction. Base depot companies, base equipment companies, dump truck companies, utilities detachments, general service regiments, graves registration companies, and construction battalions also underwent training at Sutton. A total of 16,000 men in 49 units trained at the base during the course of the war. 


"The foreign prisoners of war, however, made the biggest impression on the local citizens. Hundreds of German POWs from the Africa Corps, and later Normandy, were interned at Camp Sutton. The inmates worked hard, and maintained discipline within their ranks in keeping with their former military hierarchy. Thanks to the Geneva Convention, the inmates were afforded a relative life of comfort while in captivity. Remembering their meager rations while on the front lines, many of the captives marveled at the generous portions of food they received.

"The foreigners worked as laborers (sometimes through contract work), and held other jobs from cooks to sheet metal workers. They were paid in coupons that could be redeemed at their own canteen at Sutton. The captives forged relationships not only with their guards, but often with nearby families. Many worked on the base itself, but were also employed in cutting trees for pulpwood, or by local farmers in picking cotton and corn, or other farm chores.

"The prisoners attended religious services and had their own library (thanks to the German Red Cross). For recreational activity, they enjoyed games and sports such as ping-pong, volleyball, and soccer. Tensions did exist, but most of the inmates viewed their overall experience as positive, given the circumstance of captivity. There was often an undercurrent of tension among the inmate population at facilities like Sutton—because not all German prisoners were supporters of the Nazi regime.

"Camp Sutton was deactivated in January 1945, but the last of the German POWs were not shipped out until the spring of 1946 (nearly a year after the war ended). After the war, buildings on the property housed facilities used to treat polio patients."

5 comments:

  1. Looking for any information on Lt. Jack Hughes Smith, commanding officer of the Camp Sutton POW camp 1945-1946. He was my mother's first husband and was killed in an accident in February, 1945 near Chapel Hill. Anything you can provide would be most welcome.

    Thank you in advance.

    David Dubov-Flinn

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  2. I've got an ORIGINAL 26" x 7" PICTURE of: 302nd, 3rd Battalion, H.Q, & Service Company, in Camp Sutton, N.C., with Captain F.F. Troderrman, Commander. I'm really curious about the approximate year of this Original 26" long photo, has a few faint fold lines. Looking for an interested buyer as I am listing it on Ebay. I'm a Navy Veteran myself and place high value on something like this. Guessing approx. 150 Men in this long photo. Will count. Interested? Call Scott Massay @ 903-217-8187 or scottmassay@yahoo.com, on Ebay, seller name: scottmassay2010. Thank You.

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  3. looking for anyone named j.d. white. He is the father of my mother and ran off when she was born. Her name is Joyce Joann Helms. Looking for any information on J.D. White. please contact leigha.helms@gmail.com

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  4. I am daughter of Cecil Riddle from Arizona who met my mother in Monroe or Charlotte, NC. They were engaged before he deployed. Now that I am retired and have a little more time, I want to learn more about him. I lost my Mom in 1976 and relatives who knew him are also gone. She told me about him when I was about 12.

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  5. What about italian POWs in Sutton?

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