The History of Camp Polk.
Camp Polk, designed and constructed for the housing and training of an Armored Division, sprang up with record speed in the piney hills of the Kisatchie National Forest in West Louisiana.
Construction was started on January 27th 1941 and by August 1st the cantonment was practically completed.
Camp Polk is named in honor of the Right Reverend Leonidas Polk, the first Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Louisiana and a Confederate general.
In the camp proper are 869 buildings to acommodate approximately 14000 officers and enlisted men. First troops to occupy Camp Polk were the personnel of the Headquarters and Station Complement, Corps Area Service Command, which is the administrative organization for the camp.
Camp Polk is the training home of the 3rd Armored Division (Bayou Blitz), commanded by Major General Alton H. Walker, and the Seventh Armored Division, commanded by General Lindsay McD Sylvester.
These two Divisions form the Second Armored Corps, commanded by Major General Alvan C. Gillem Jr. former Commanding General and organizer of the 3rd Armored Division.
After finishing the buildings at Camp Polk several units of the 3rd Armored Division came together.
When every unit entered Camp Polk you can read in the history of each unit.
Camp Polk as Prissoner of War Camp.
Camp Polk in western Louisiana housed a large contingent of German Prisoners of War until 1946. In 1943 German POW’s began to arrive in Leesville , La. by rail. The POW’s would embark at the rail depot and would march several miles to their new home at Camp Polk. These German POW’s were veterans of the AFRIKA KORPS and had been captured in North Africa. After being processed in North Africa, they were placed on ships and were transported to ports in the United States.
The German POW’s proved to be very good workers in Louisiana. Many were from farms and were good farm hands who knew how to milk cows, plant crops, harvest crops, and do odd jobs. Prisoners were not forced to work, and some refused. Those who worked earned scrip for their labor, with which they could buy such necessities as toothpaste or snacks at their own Post Exchange.They were eager to get out from behind the barbed wire.
By the time the last of the camps closed in 1946 but a lot of prisoners wanted to stay here in 1946. They didn’t want to go back, but they had to be turned over to the British and went home.
Camp Polk was changed to Fort Polk in 1955 and became a part of a region of cultural resources, including archaeological sites, historic houses and structures, and other sites of historical value. The U.S. Army has spent considerable time, effort, and money on locating, identifying, and inventorying thousands of archaeological sites on Fort Polk and the property owned by the U.S. Forest Service where the army trains.
© 3d Armored Division Memorial Group (3ADMG)