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Williams, Jacqueline Ethel Wood

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Childhood remembrances of World War II prisoner of war camp on Melendres Street, Las Cruces.

Interviewee Jacqueline Ethel Wood Williams, female, born in 1936
Date Range 1943 - 1946
Date & Location November 8, 2000, Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum, Las Cruces, New Mexico
Project Prisoners of War in New Mexico Agriculture
Region Southwest New Mexico
Number of Tapes 1
Transcribed November 27, 2000
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Tape 1, Side A

Mrs. Williams remembers her father taking her to the World War II prisoner of war camp on Melendres Street to watch the German prisoners do chores like mowing grass. No photographs could be taken; there were signs forbidding it. Mrs. Williams remembers everything being green at the camp: uniforms, buildings, grass, and huge weeping willows.

The consultant remembers her father being "irate" about the good care the prisoners of war received in this country while many U.S. soldiers, according to the daily news, were being mistreated in prison camps overseas. She also said her father felt the POWs held in this country were being treated better than the U.S. citizens. He felt while he was working hard, was on ration stamps, and was often in need of tires, shoes and gas, the POWs "seemed to be livin' the life of luxury."

Other Las Cruces residents also would park at the prison camp and watch the POWs while they went about their business. Mrs. Williams wondered if visits to the camp instilled a "love of World War II [history]" she has had all her life.

She said she was not sad, but glad, to see the Germans imprisoned, and believes that attitude probably reflected her father's ideas.

Mrs. Williams also saw the German prisoners working at the Tharp farm on Valley Drive. She was in about the second and third grades at the time.