WWII Prisoner Of
Louisiana, Pike County, MO
There were over 1.5 million POW's in the United States during the WWII. Some of them of German heritage and others of Italian heritage. In Missouri alone there were 4 main base camps. These camps held anywhere from 2,000 to 5,000 prisoners. They were:
Attached to these main camps were branch camps to which they sent prisoners. These branch camps held 50 to 250 prisoners and were placed in communities in which the prisoners could be of use to community businesses such as bakeries, farms, maintenance jobs, dock workers for the railroad and riverboats, and factories. Branch camps in Missouri were:
Those branch camps listed as being "on a riverboat" contained naval officers who helped the Corp of Engineers with river traffic. They would live on a riverboat and only come ashore during work hours. They helped keep citizens safe during any river flooding. Some of these POW's helped in sand bagging when floods were occurring to save a town from destruction. They would also help the Corp Of Engineers with the dredging of the river and levee repairs.
The actual number of prisoners in Missouri was over 15,000. Some lived in make-shift tent cities. Most of these prisoners were treated very well, some even made friends with U.S. citizens. Seeing the freedoms these prisoners enjoyed angered some citizens. Other citizens accepted the freedom easily believing the treatment showed the prisoners that we, U.S. citizens, truly believed in freedom for all peoples, that we are all God's people. When these prisoners were returned to their homelands, some kept in contact with U.S. friendships while others came back to the U.S. and became citizens.
Here in Louisiana, Pike County, Missouri prisoners were housed near 14th Street and North Carolina by the foundry (which closed in 2003). They helped a famous local business continue to thrive during the war. These prisoners provided a big part of the work force for our own Stark Bros Nurseries. Those who worked at Stark's worked along side these POW's.
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