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WWII Chronicles


POW Camp and Infantry Training

Cooke County

Junction of FM 1202 and I-35
NW of Gainesville, Texas

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Camp Howze TX Bridge Building
Bridge Building at Camp Howze, Texas, ca.1942
Courtesy The Will Beauchamp Collection


  • History in a Pecan Shell
  • Camp Howze Historical Marker
  • Company A, 57th Battalion › next page
  • Camp Howze Today Photo Gallery
  • A Letter from a Former POW
  • Camp Howze Chronicles
  • Camp Howze Plot Plan Large Image

  • Camp Howze, Cooke County, near Gainesville  Texas
    Camp Howze Today
    Photo courtesy Sarah Reveley, 2007

    History in a Pecan Shell

    Established in 1942 as an Infantry-training camp, Camp Howze once covered 59,000 acres of Cooke County land that was acquired from local landowners shortly after Pearl Harbor.

    It was named to honor Major Robert E. Lee Howze, who had won the Congressional Medal of Honor and had served during the Indian campaigns, the Philippine Insurrection following the Spanish-American War, and World War I.

    The base was activated in August of 1942, and had a capacity of just under 40,000 men.

    Several hundred thousand men received their training here over the course of the war and the camp later became a Prisoner of War Camp for captured German soldiers.

    An estimated $20 million was spend on the camp during its construction and use, providing hundreds of jobs for Cooke County residents.

    After the war, the camp, like most others, was deactivated. The buildings were sold as scrap and today only the cement foundations, chimneys and water towers remain.

    In an interview with a former trainee, he recalled how demoralizing it was to see German prisoners playing soccer while his unit was enduring a forced march. The war was over for them, but it hadnt even started for us.

    Camp Howze  Historical Marker, Cooke County, near Gainesville  Texas
    Camp Howze Historical Marker
    Photo courtesy Sarah Reveley, 2007

    Historical Marker:

    Site of Camp Howze

    (One mile west)

    In operation from 1942 to 1946, Camp Howze served as an infantry training facility during World War II. It was named for General Robert Lee Howze (1864-1926), a native Texan whose distinguished career in the United States Army began with his graduation from West Point and included service in France, Puerto Rico, Germany, a South Dakota Indian War and the Philippine Insurrection, 1899-1902.

    Clifford McMahon of the Gainesville Chamber of Commerce first contacted Federal authorities with the idea of establishing a military installation here. Attracted by the community's active endorsement of the plan, the government activated Camp Howze on August 17, 1942, under the command of Colonel John P. Wheeler. In addition to infantry training, the base was also the site of a German prisoner of war camp and an air support command base, now part of the Gainesville Municipal Airport. Services provided for the soldiers included camp exchanges, libraries, chapels, theaters, service clubs and a base newspaper, the "Camp Howze Howitzer."

    The economic and social impact of Camp Howze on Gainesville was significant and was instrumental in the town's rapid growth and development.

    Texas - Camp Howze Company A, 57 Battalion 1945
    Company A, 57th Battalion, Camp Howze, Texas › large image
    March 22, 1945 photo

    Courtesy The Glenn D. Beard Family
    Subject: Camp Howze Company Photo 3/22/1945

    "My dad was at Camp Howze in 1945. He did make it back but passed away in 1975. Here is a company picture. I had it restored. Not sure how many of these are out there. Please post so all can enjoy." - The Glenn D. Beard Family, December 17, 2011

    TX - Camp Howze Plot Plan
    Plot Plan of Camp Howze, dated November 7, 1942
    Click here for large image

    Courtesy Thomas Reprographics, submitted by Len Brown October 17, 2014

    Camp Howze Today
    Photo Gallery

    Camp Howze  foundations, Cooke County, near Gainesville  Texas
    Photo courtesy Sarah Reveley, 2007

    Photographers' Notes:

  • "These are the most visible remains of WWII Camp Howze NW of Gainesville. When the grass is low there are a great many small foundation supports stretching across the countryside.

    There are a number of small structures there but the water towers stand out.

    The camp was 59,000 acres (92+ sq mi).

    From a story related by a friend whose parents owned a farm/ranch within the camp boundaries. The army came in one day and said we're buying your place and bull dozing your buildings, you have x days to get out. They were allowed to repurchase the property following the base closing if they wanted. Most had relocated and could not afford to do so. Large chunks were made into two ranches." - Mike Price, September 27, 2007

  • "Turned off for the roadside marker. It was quite eerie, and beautiful, because the foundations looked like tombstones. I stopped and talked to a couple of men working on the road, they said those foundations were everywhere." - Sarah Reveley, October 31, 2007

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  • Camp Howze  chimney, Cooke County, near Gainesville  Texas
    Photo courtesy Sarah Reveley, 2007

    Camp Howze  foundations, Cooke County, near Gainesville  Texas
    Photo courtesy Sarah Reveley, 2007

    Camp Howze  water tower, Cooke County, near Gainesville  Texas
    Photo courtesy Mike Price, 2007

    A Letter from a Former POW

    Subject: Your Camp Howze story and pix

    To Sarah Reveley

    "I stumbled onto your pictures and story concerning the German POW camp at Camp Howze. Thanks for bringing back memories.

    I was one of those POWs at the camp from Mar 45 to Spring of 46. There were 3 compounds for the prisoners, all next to each other. Most of us worked on area farms, I had the fortune of working at the Camp Howze laundry plant. In the Spring of 46 we were shipped home, which turned out to be a journey to England where we had to work for another few years as POWs for the Brits.

    In the mid 50s, I with my family emigrated to the US. I had opportunity to visit Camp Howze (or what was left of it) in the early 70s during a trip to Dallas. At that time I met with and talked to a farmer who had built his homestead where the camp was located before. He told me that I was the first and only former POW he knew of that ever came back. Thanks again for your story and your pictures." - Wolf Weber, February 15, 2011

    More on WWII

    Camp Howze Chronicles
  • Flagpole by Mike Cox

    This story is about a mystery involving the flag staff that once stood at Camp Howze, a sprawling World War II Army base at Gainesville...

  • More WWII

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