Camp Sutton was named after Frank Sutton, a Monroe native who was Union County’s first WWII casualty. He was killed over Libya, Africa in 1941 while serving as a pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force. From 1942 to 1945 Monroe, N.C. was the site for a vibrant army of soldiers numbering around 20,000. Maneuvers that were practiced in 1941 proved very successful and the military was so pleased that Monroe was chosen as a suitable site for future maneuvers.The army camp served as a staging site for the 1942 Carolina Maneuvers. A major function of Camp Sutton was training engineers as the demand had greatly intensified due to the ongoing war. Over 3,000 Italians, former POW’s ,were also trained in engineering to later return to Europe and assist in construction and repair of the massive damage caused by war. Totally speaking, over 13,000 servicemen received engineering training while stationed at Camp Sutton.

 

Over the 3 year course of its existence, Camp Sutton experienced overlapping changes for soldiers going overseas to engage in the war effort. The 73rd Field Artillery Brigade own the distinction of being the first major unit. Still in its early stages were Tank Destroyers. Camp Sutton became the site for the 801st and 802nd Tank Destroyer Battalions. Part of the army base camp occupied property that is currently the site of Atrium Health. In those days it was called Union Memorial Hospital.

German Prisoners Held at Camp Sutton

From 1944-46, a large contingent of German prisoners were detained at Camp Sutton. The majority of German POW’s did manual labor on farms in Union County throughout their time served at Camp Sutton. More than 800 POW’s being detained, actually made friends with locals. One POW was not so lucky. An escape attempt would cost him his life As the story goes, the German POW was with a group of his comrades doing farm labor one day and decided to make a break for it. Upon the escape attempt, a warden overseeing the prisoners immediately reacted, aimed his firearm, shot and mortally wounded the POW.Historical records on Camp Sutton indicate that this individual was the only German casualty among all the prisoners being detained. A local expert told me that his body was sent by train to a cemetery in Tennessee.

 

My Personal Ties to Camp Sutton

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