The original Camp Barkeley was one of the United States Army's largest training installations during World War II. The base was located southwest of Abilene, Texas near what is now Dyess Air Force Base. The base was named after David B. Barkley, a Medal of Honor recipient during World War I. The camp was 70,229 acres in size and had a population of 50,000 at its peak of operation.
Construction of the camp began in December 1940 and was completed in July 1941. Before it was finished, the 19,000 man 45th Infantry Division began to occupy the camp. Other units that trained at the camp include the 11th Armored Division, and the 12th Armored Division. The Medical Administrative Officer Candidate School was established at Barkeley in May of 1942.
On February 1, 1944, the 1846th Unit POW Camp was activated at Camp Barkeley. At its peak, in March 1945, the POW camp housed 840 German prisoners.
Camp Barkeley was officially closed in September 1945 and dismantled. The land, which was leased, reverted back to the original landowners. Today, only the original concrete roads remain to mark its location.
To learn more about Camp Barkeley visit the 12th Armored Division Memorial Museum, located at 1289 North Second Street in Abilene. Open 10am to 5pm, Tuesday through Saturday.