Wilmington's World War II German POW Camp sign dedication

Published: Sep. 18, 2008 at 8:10 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 23, 2008 at 5:23 PM EDT
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Posted by Debra Worley - email

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - There was a dedication of the WWII German POW Camp sign located on the corner of 10th and Ann Streets Thursday.

The WWII Wilmington Home Front Heritage Coalition co-sponsored the event, and Mayor Bill Saffo participated in the ceremony.

Wilmington hosted three German prisoner of war camps from February 1944 to April 1946.

Thousands of POW's were dispatched to camps in America. Wilmington was one of a number in North Carolina, including a larger site at nearby Camp Davis in Holly Ridge.

The locations of the camps were:
        Intersection of  Carolina Beach Road and Shipyard Boulevard
        Old Marine Hospital site - a  four-square block area of 8th and Ann (main camp)
        Satellite camp at Bluethenthal Army Air Base, now ILM

Area businesses and farms employed the POW's.  As more local men went off to war, the POW's served as manpower in the war effort.

Local businesses asked the army and city to relocate the Carolina Beach facility closer to downtown in 1944 because the facility was overtaxed.  The camp moved to the Marine Hospital location so that it was easier to transport the men to workplaces and save on gas.

After the war ended in August 1945, the POW's remained until the government made arrangements to sent them home.

Some maintained contact with locals in the following years including visiting Wilmington.

At their peak toward the end of the war, the main camp held approximately 550 Germans.

The sign identifying the main camp across from Gregory School on 10th Street, installed in 1999, has been missing for months. The sign being dedicated on September 18 is a redesigned replacement.

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