some special radar training.”
Eventually O’Donnell was transferred to a POW camp where he stayed for nine months. ey had a clandestine radio that provided news of the outside world. O’Donnell said they would see low flying aircraft all heading west so we knew something was up. “en one morning, we woke up and the guards were nowhere to be seen. e Russian Army was advancing and the Germans did not want to be captured.
“Some of our POWs, the smart ones, left to join the Allied Army.
e rest of us stayed and roamed the countryside. Several days
later the Russian Army arrived and instead of releasing the prisoners, put us back in the prison camp and put guards in the towers. ey would not allow allied planes to come into the
airport to fly us out. ey threatened to shoot down any allied planes. But, they did bring in a Russian group of entertainers and put on a show for the prisoners.
“After negotiations, the Russians finally agreed to repatriate the prisoners by marching them to Brandenburg and then providing transportation to Russia. is was not acceptable and the ranking Colonel came running over to my barracks as the men were being lined up. ey had athletic equipment and he told them to grab baseball bats and break through the fences. Many escaped. Eventually the Russians allowed C-47s to come in for the prisoners. We went to Camp Lucky Strike…it was time to see Paris.”
POWS Appreciated American Better Half
During the second world war, a prisoner of war camp was maintained at the intersection of Van Buren and Citrus Lane. Since there was such a shortage of manpower, ese prisoners were required ot work in the fields either picking or hoeing cotton. Our family lived about one mile from this camp. Each day as we waited for the bus these prisoners would be driven by on flatbed trucks to the fields. We would wave to them as they passed by.
e Germans were very stoic and would not
respond to us at all but the Italians would wave and yell greetings to us. One day these pictures were thrown out to us by the Italians. One seemed to depict me waving to them and the other ones were apparently pictures of their homeland.
One night some Italian prisoners escaped and came down to our farm. Our Dad was at the front door with a 22 rifle trained on these prisoners while we kids were trying to crane our necks out the window to have a look at them!! ey obviously were not out to hurt us but to see what American home life was all about. Years later a very wealthy German industrialist returned to see this camp where he had been a prisoner. I wonder if he ever thought of the little kids watching him go by on those trailers???
Upper left: drawn by Italian prisone , donated by Beverly ootton Francis
Upper right: drawn by German prisone , Bud hauling prisoners to pick cotton, donated by Jo Ann Beck Gongaware
Lower left & lower right: drawn by Italian prisoners of their
homeland, donated by Beverly
ree rivers Historical Society meets on the third Tuesday of
each month at Goodyear Financial Building, Room 117, at 250 N. Litchfield Road, Goodyear, AZ. Notices of date, location and guest speakers are generally e-mailed. If you are computer- free, we will send your copy of the Quarterly and monthly announcements the good old fashioned way...U.S.Postal Service. Please share your copy with friends.
Be sure we have your correct address. E-mail Sally at kskiko@ cox.net.
Oral History Project Needs You
Everyone has a story and we will help you reminisce. We have the means through a fun and informal video format to help you record your memories for your family and community. We can interview you at a location of your choice and with more than one individual; so invite a few family members and friends for a trip through memory lane. Call Lenore at 623-536-1597 to arrange an appointment for an interview. We have a sense of urgency to record oral histories before it is too late.