Current Edition

current edition

Few Problems with POWs

In past “Postcards,” we’ve related the history of a World War II prisoner of war (POW) camp near Ryan Park, which housed Italian, German and Austrian captives. Here’s more of that saga. 

Neal Ward, a Saratoga native, writes in 1999:

“Gordy Nordin and I were on a fishing trip to South Brush Creek with his parents, my sister Ruth Brock and her husband Avon. All of a sudden, several jeeps with armed soldiers were racing up and down the roads. We were told that several prisoners had escaped. They came back later and told us they had been captured.

“I was told that some kind of rebellion or riot took place at the Ryan Park POW Camp. If I remember right it was some kind of refusal to work. This may or may not be correct. The situation apparently ended when the Commanding Officer had all of the POWs forced out into the cold night to stand at attention for several hours.

“There was also a story about a soldier shooting a deer with his Ml Carbine. I would guess he got a real dressing down for this action, possibly court martial and transferred. There would have been a real close accounting of ammunition under those conditions, and he was seen shooting the animal, so who knows what happened to him. I never had reason to doubt the person who told the story. Things were kept quiet during the war years.

“Some years after the war while I was working at the Saratoga National Fish Hatchery, a visitor asked if I knew anything about the old POW Camp at Ryan Park, and I told him I knew some but not too much. He told me that he was a former Army Officer whose job it was to check German Prisoners of War and identify SS Personnel. He had been sent to
the Camp at Ryan Park, and they checked all of the German soldier’s armpits for three small dots tattooed in a triangle. I believe he said they identified two SS soldiers and removed them from the camp.

“I am sure there are many other stories that I was told that I just can’t remember.

“I now recall the words of a wise old Indian who stated,‘Memory is like a reflection in the water – when the wind blows.’ 

“For what value this might have to anyone interested in this space in time, I leave it to you.”

– Neal A. Ward