Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations, and Airfields
Dairyland Prisoner of War Branch Camp

Prisoner of War Camp located at Dairyland (now Chowchilla), Madera County, California, reported as a branch camp of Fort Ord. Report on POW, Office of The Provost Marshal General, 1 November 1945. Also known as the Ashview Branch Prisoner of War Camp. Records indicate that the camp held 249 German Prisoners of War who were used for agricultural labor

Historical Status Card (Center of Military History, US Army)

250-man Portable Prisoner of War Branch Camps

When the need for a branch camp was identified and certified as valid to the Army, it sent a team to select a site for the camp to fulfill the contractor’s requirements while still ensuring that the prisoners would be properly housed and secured. In many cases, few or no adequate buildings were available for prisoner relocation, so the Army developed a “mobile unit” package that could be set up quickly to temporarily house 250 POWs. It consisted of 42 tents, sized 16’ by 16’, allowing 6 or 7 men per tent. Seven additional tents of the same size were used as office and storage buildings. Four larger tents were used, one each, for mess hall, shower, latrine, and chapel/recreation purposes. This entire layout was set up in a compound bordered by a single wire fence that measured 282 by 550 feet (155,100 square feet). Portable guard towers, with searchlights, were placed at opposite corners of the compound to permit clear
observation in the camp. Light poles were erected at intervals both inside and outside the camp. Each tent would have one or more light bulbs for night use.

The guard force for a branch camp of 250 POWs consisted of approximately 160 officers and men. It was composed as follows: 30 camp guards; 70 “prisoner chasers” who were the guards accompanying the POWs to and from work sites and monitoring them during work hours; 15 NCOs to oversee the guard force; seven support staff such as cooks and clerks; 33 drivers and mechanics; and five medics. Usually five officers were assigned including the camp commander, three camp officers, one supply and mess officer, one POW company commander, and one medical officer (if available).

Typical layout of a 250 man portable Prisoner of War Branch Camp.

Source Army Center of Military History and US Department of Defense

Updated 22 May 2014