Odebolt, Iowa - Adams Ranch War Prisoners

World War II Italian Prisoners of War at Fairview Farm

July 25, 1943 article from the Des Moines Morning Register

Click images to enlarge

The article tells about the prisoners at the Adams Ranch, and also information about the Ranch itself.

Also see a letter telling the
memories of one of the guards (.pdf file)
from Wayne Carlson.

Anthony M. de Martino, interpreter for the prisoners


Taken from clippings from The Odebolt Chronicle, July - September, 1943

100 Italians For Farm Work Here

Adams Brothers Sign 60-Day Contract for Use of War Prisoners
July 1943

     In a telephone call Tuesday morning, Lt. Col. Robert W. Reed, Omaha public relations officer for the Seventh Area Command informed the Chronicle a war prisoner camp would be established at Fairview Farm here operated by Adams Brothers.
     The prisoners will be used in the emergency farm work existing at Fairview Farm consisting of haying and small grain harvesting.
     The Italian prisoners are coming from Camp Clark, Mo. And the advanced detachment may have arrived by the time this has been published. Reed said in his telephone call Tuesday the detachment might arrive that day.
     The Prisoners will have their own camp under the direct supervision of the United States Army. They will have their own sleeping quarters and mess. They will not be allowed to roam about at will and will be under close guard by soldiers at all times. Reed expressed the thought there would be about 12 soldiers acting as guards for the 100 Italian prisoners.

60-Day Contract

     According to Reed, Adams Brothers have signed a 60-day contract with the War Department for the use of the prisoners at Fairview Farm. The small pay made to war prisoners by the government will be paid by Adams Brothers to the government. Cost of feeding the prisoners will also be paid by the local farm operators to the government. The prisoners will be the government's responsibility and liability.
     The camp being established at the local farm is one of several such camps being established this week in Iowa. Most of the other camps will be for corn detasseling.

Exclusive to Chronicle

     Lt. Col. Reed made it clear in his telephone conversation with The Chronicle editor that this story was for local publication only and was not to be sent to other papers. Under present censorship regulations The Chronicle would not have been able to publish this story without War Department authorization.

Italian War Prisoners Busy Here

Settle Down to Work on Fairview Farm and Are Busy Harvesting
July 1943

     Although they have been here over a week, the Italian prisoners of war, doing emergency farm work at Fairview Farm are still a favorite topic of conversation.
     For the first few days the Italians worked about like they fought - they just weren't very eager about it. But this week found all difficulties ironed out and the prisoners were taking to the work in a satisfactory manner.
     Lt. Henry Kroeger is company commander with Lt. Kuhlman and Lt. Schwarzkopg (sic) assisting. Capt. Pischieri is the medical officer of the unit for both the soldiers of the detachment and the prisoners. There are about 25 guards.

Average Day

     The prisoners are up at 6 a.m. and to the field at 7 until noon. They have a hour at noon and back to work until 6 p.m., for a 10-hour work day.
     Lights go out at 10 p.m. except for lights in the compound, which are on all night. Armed guards are on duty 24 hours and guards accompany every work detail. The guards wear their steel helmets in the field and are armed with rifles.
Save for the wire fence enclosing the compound, the prison camp looks exactly like the army camp just across the road, regular Army tents, field kitchen, cots, etc.
     They like to eat. Their food is prepared by their own cooks and served Army style and under Army mess allotments. Lt. Kroeger reported their favorite dish is spaghetti and they like their food highly seasoned with pepper and garlic. During the week their cook holds back on spaghetti or macaroni and on Sunday the men have one big meal.
     The prisoners have their own canteen from which they can purchase tobacco, candy, pop, etc. They receive and send mail through Red Cross channels.
     The prisoners are extremely camera-shy as they demonstrated when Chronicle representatives visited the camp last week. Only pictures from outside the compound were allowed and when focusing the camera, three prisoners were in camera range. One promptly hid behind a light pole, one went into a tent and another turned his back and started walking away.
     Kroeger said the prisoners were well versed in terms of the Geneva conference of 1929 governing the treatment of all prisoners of war and any violations were promptly called to the attention of the guards. One of the rules of the conference is that prisoners are not a subject of exhibition.
     Under these provisions Kroeger wished The Chronicle to tell the people of this vicinity that the general public would not be admitted near the camp.

Church Services

     As nearly all the prisoners are Catholics arrangements were made for Sunday church services at the camp. Rev. Fr. A. G. Schaefer, pastor of St. Martin's church, read the first mass Sunday afternoon. Mass will be said in the outdoor setting every Sunday afternoon by Fr. Schaefer.

Italian War Prisoners Go To Missouri

100 War Prisoners Who Worked on Fairview Farm Leave Thursday

     The Italian war prisoners, who arrived here July 19 for farm work on Fairview farm, left by special coaches on the regular passenger train Thursday evening.
     The prisoners were being sent to Camp Clark, Mo., the camp from which they came.
     While at the Fairview farm the 100 prisoners were engaged in harvesting the 1943 crop and in shelling corn.
Through special arrangements with the government, the war prisoners were contracted for by the farm owners to relieve the serious farm help shortage needed to harvest the crops.

40 Per Cent Efficient

     In an interview with C.C. Clifton of the Des Moines Register, R.B. Adams stated the prisoners were about 40 per cent efficient as compared to regular farm hands.
     Most of the prisoners at Fairview farm had been prisoners about three years at the time of their arrival here, being captured in the early African battles by the British.


OTHER LINKS: | Fairview Farm Photo Gallery  | Mennonite WWI COs at Fairview  (photos) 4.5MB .pdf  |  Adams Ranch |  Memories of the Adams Ranch |


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