Camp Davis, located between Wilmington and Jacksonville, NC, was built in 1941, as one of seven anti-aircraft training bases for the U.S. Army’s First Army, Fourth Corps.
Though there were originally five training sites as the reservation expanded, the Fort Fisher site — located 50 miles south of the main base — became the primary firing range for Camp Davis. And as Fort Fisher’s importance grew, so did its facilities.
Original specifications called for a host of features that would make the remote firing range a self-contained post. These included 48 frame buildings, 316 tent frames, showers and latrines, mess halls, warehouses, radio and meteorological stations, a post exchange, photo lab, recreation hall, outdoor theater, guardhouse, infirmary, and an administration building.
In addition to these facilities, the site featured a 10,000-gallon water storage tank, a motor pool, a large parade ground, and three steel observation towers along the beach.
The crowning addition to these improvements was the construction of a large airstrip at Fort Fisher — an endeavor that destroyed a sizable portion of the once-formidable “land front” of the 80-year-old bastion. In these unstable times, national defense took precedence over historic preservation.
By the time anti-aircraft training operations ceased at Fort Fisher in 1944, the facility had grown to include an 80-seat cafeteria, a 350-bed hospital and dental clinic, and covered an area of several hundred acres.
After the War
Camp Davis and its satellite ranges closed in October 1944, — with nearly one full year of war yet to be waged in both theaters of conflict. The government quickly sold off the buildings to locals – at fire-sale prices and many locals purchased them and moved them to locations, primarily in Kure Beach. Today there are quite a number of these buildings still standing, being used today as businesses and beach cottages.
Next Month: Fort Fisher – Part II
The Barracks Today
How many of the old Fort Fisher barracks can you spot before next month when we run a list drawn up by A. Kure, J. Batson and J. Dugan of the barracks that remain? Would you believe there are at least 49?