orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

March 19, 2011

Orange once housed German POWs during WWII

David Ball
The Orange Leader

ORANGE — Some Southeast Texas residents may had known there was a Prisoner of War camp at Tyrrell Park in Beaumont and in the rice fields in China, but Orange also had its share of Prisoners of War.

For instance, the field at Highway 90 near Womack Road once housed German POWs as this historical markers demonstrates.

During World War II, over 50,000 German prisoners of war were interned in over 70 Texas POW camps. Base camps were established at military bases throughout the state. The base camps operated a number of branch camps in their respective areas. Detailed from a base camp at Huntsville, about 140 German prisoners were housed in a U. S. Army tent camp near this site in 1944. Located on land owned by the Lutcher Moore Lumber Company, the camp was built with construction materials and labor provided by the Orange County Farm Labor Committee of the U. S. Agricultural Extension Service. Transported to their work details by army trucks each day, the German prisoners worked as laborers in area rice fields, helping to bring in the harvest of farmers whose employees had gone to war. The work of the prisoners became a crucial element in the area's wartime food production, and many of the prisoners enjoyed good working relationships with their employers. Although the original prison camp operated for only a short time in 1944, prisoners transported from camps in China, Texas, and Edgerly, Louisiana, were once again employed on Orange County farms in 1945.