WWII POW Camp Being Built
In a previous “Postcard,” we reported a portion of the history of a World War II Italian and German prisoner of war camp near Douglas. As previously noted, land was obtained and construction of the camp was completed in 1943.
Here’s more of the story as taken from an internet report:
“The officers quarters, clubhouse and softball field were located at the north main entrance to the camp, outside the double rows of wired fencing – the inner fence was electrified – and guard towers that surrounded the rest of the complex. The hospital area and the troop barracks were built directly inside the fence. Beyond that, the prison complex was organized into three compounds, separated by wire electrified fencing, each with a capacity of approximately 1,000 men.
“Auxiliary areas for prisoners included a large outdoor recreation area near the river, a softball field and one football field. The camp also accommodated a variety of operational functions in buildings designed for the motor pool, a heating plant, warehouses, corrals, K-9 dog unit and a sewage disposal plant, as well as a salvage yard and gravel pit.
“The Douglas mayor urged local residents to rent any spare rooms in their houses to the incoming military personnel and their families, as a housing crunch was inevitable in the town. The town leaders eagerly put their best foot forward in the home front war effort and quickly established a Service Men’s Center in the downstairs room of the Moose Lodge. Moose members cleaned and remodeled the room, while the ladies of the lodge scrounged up furniture and curtains from local donations. The Moose Lodge basement became a popular hangout for servicemen, with daily hours from 5 p.m. till midnight and stayed open till 2 a.m. on Saturday nights. The Center affiliated with the national USO organization during the final days of the war.
“The local newspaper focused on the anticipation and excitement of the arrival of the U.S. Army coming to their town, especially the officers, and downplayed any apprehension people may have felt about having an enemy population one mile away that outnumbered the townsfolk. No press was given to any opinion that may have differed from the positive spin the paper put on the POW camp.
“Part of that bubbling enthusiasm may have been directly related to the role planned for the prisoners” … halt!
We’ll march out more info next time we write.