Historic California Posts, Camps Stations and Airfields
Camp Ashby
by SGM (CA) Dan Sebby
Military Historian, California Military Department
Camp Ashby, February 1943. Looking down Potter Street. 6th Avenue runs left to right in this picture (National Archives)

Camp Ashby was established in Early 1942 as part of the San Francisco Port of Embarkation in order to garrison a Military Police battalion.  The Site consisted of 12.56 leased and .88 permitted acres acquired from the State of California, the City of Berkeley and the San Francisco Sulphur Company. 

Construction on Camp Ashby started on 18 February 1942, when under the terms of contract W-868-ENG-1635, Daley Brothers of San Francisco built the initial garrison of Theater of Operations type buildings.  Due to the simple design of these buildings, the work was completed on 6 March 1942.  Water and sewage services were provided to the camp by the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) while natural gas and electrical services were provided by the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E).

Constituted in the U.S. Army on 17 May 1942, the 779th Military Police Battalion (Colored)(Zone of the Interior) was activated at Camp Ashby on 1 July 1942.  As the official name implies, the 779th was a unit made up of African-American enlisted soldiers.  Officers of this unit would have been a mixture of African-Americans and Whites as was the practice in the days of the then segregated U.S. Army.  The term “Zone of the Interior” indicated that the unit was organized and equipped for service in the Continental United States where their mission would have been primarily law and order, and physical security missions.

Distictive Unit Insignia of the 779th Military Police Battalion

The original plot plan indicated that there were two existing houses inside the post’s boundary, but on a March 1943 plot plan, those two structures are no longer shown and it is assumed that they were removed.

On 8 April 1943, construction began on additional troop housing at the Site.  Lewis Construction Company of Oakland was selected as the contractor under U.S. Army Corps of Engineers contract W-868-ENG-5329.  This project added an additional latrine and bachelor officers’ quarters.  As with the original construction, this expansion was quickly accomplished and the project was completed on 1 May 1943 with the buildings being transferred to the post commander by the Oakland Area Engineer on 6 May 1943

When completed, Camp Ashby had the capacity to house 30 officers and 612 enlisted soldiers and noncommissioned officers.

On 11 December 1943, the 779th was selected by the Adjutant General of the War Department to be inactivated and its soldiers dispersed to other units.  On 7 January 1944, the battalion was transferred to Fort Ord, California where it was inactivated on 10 January 1944.  It should be noted that during its tenure at Camp Ashby, the 779th Military Police Battalion interacted with the local populace in a most positive manner according to local historical societies.

Current documentation does not indicate what the status of the post was between when the 779th quit the post and the lease was terminated on 11 October 1946.  It should be noted that as fast as the post was built, it was razed just as fast.  A aerial photograph 28 October 1946 shows that all of the building built by the U.S. Army had been removed.



Army Units Assigned to Camp Ashby

 Data Source


 Army of the United States Station List  1 June 1943
779th Military Police Battalion (Colored)(Zone of the Interior) (ASF)
AAF - Army Air Forces units | AGF - Army Ground Forces unit | ASF - Army Service Forces units | WDC - Western Defense Command


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