Military Bases in San Diego - World War II 1921-1945

The Marines moved from Balboa Park to the new Dutch Flats installation after it was commissioned Marine Barracks Dec. 1, 1921. It was officially named Marine Corps Base, Naval Operating Base, San Diego on March 1, 1924, with seven barracks buildings on 676 acres for the 4th Marine Regiment that returned from 8 years service in Santo Domingo, and would be sent to China in 1927. The base became headqurters Fleet Marine Force in 1935. Expansion began in Septmeber 1939 as the base became a recruit training depot.

Camp Matthews began in 1918 as a Marine Corps rifle range in La Jolla. The first buildings were added 1927-1929. On March 23, 1942, it was commissioned as Camp Calvin B. Matthews and served as the firing range for the Marines with a permanent garrison of 700 men. In 1965 the firing ranges were moved to Camp Pendleton and the marine Corps transferred 577 acres to the Regents of the University of California for UCSD.

U.S. Naval Training Station, San Diego, was officially commissioned June 1, 1923, with 10 officers and 50 enlisted men for the purpose of training 1500 naval recruits every 16 weeks. By the end of 1923, four schools were operating on the base: radio, yeoman, bugler, band. In 1939, the base began to expand as the bay was dredged and 130 acres of fill land were added to the base. By 1942, the number of recruits reached 40,000 for a training period of 3 to 7 weeks, and 41 schools were active. In 1944 the base became a group cammand center, with Recruit Training Command, Service School Command, and Naval Administrative Command.

Naval Air Station, Miramar developed on the site of Camp Kearny. Charles Lindbergh made test flights with the Spirit of St. Louis in 1927 from parade grounds of the abandoned Army camp. The Navy built a dirigible mooring mast at the camp in 1932 and during the docking of the airship Akron May 12, 1932, two sailors died after falling from the mooring line as the ship suddenly raised up during docking. In 1936 an asphalt landing strip was constructed for small planes. In 1939 the Navy took ownership of 423 acres of Camp Kearny and built more runways in 1940 and a new landing area called West Kearny in the summer of 1941. New construction by 1943 added longer runways for P-38 and PB4Y planes and the field was commissioned Naval Auxiliary Air Station, Camp Kearny Feb. 20. By the end of the war, the base covered 1101 acres and all facilities were combined and commissioned as the Marine Corps Air Station, Miramar May 1, 1946.

Camp Holcomb was built in 1934 on part of the old Camp Kearny by Marines for artillery and machine gun training. On June 14, 1940 it was renamed Camp Elliott in honor of the 10th Commandant of the Marine Corps 1903-1910, General George F. Elliott, and became the Fleet Marine Force Training Center, West Coast, to train replacements for combat units serving overseas. The camp became the home of the 2nd Marine Division Feb. 1, 1941. Additional land was acquired Apr. 8, 1941, creating a base area of 26,034 acres. After Pearl Harbor, the 2nd Marine Division became responsible for the defense of the California coast. During World War II, the base included Camp Linda Vista on the site of the old railroad station, Green Farm Camp northeast on the Escondido Road, and Jacques Farm Camp south near Grantville. On May 6, 1942, a Marine parachute school was established on the base until it was transferred in September to Camp Gillespie. On July 21, 1943, the Headquarters Company, Women's Reserve Battalion was organized on a separate part of the base east of Highway 395. As Camp Pendleton took over Marine training during the war, Camp Elliott was taken over by the Navy in 1944. Camp Callan was established at Torey Pines in March 1941 as a Coast Artillery Training Center on 710 acres leased from the City of San Diego. When decommissioned in 1945, it had 500 buildings including a hospital for 1116 patients.

Camp Pendleton began in March 1942 with the Navy purchase of 132,000 acres of the Rancho Santa Margarita y Las Flores


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revised 2/13/99 by Schoenherr | History Department