German POW's in Bedford

With 6 million U.S. soldiers overseas, the POWs were quickly absorbed into the needed labor force for not only government construction projects but agricultural work as well. Bobby True, a retired attorney in Bedford, Ky., grew up in Henry County and recalled his father contracting with the government to use POWs for farm work: “We moved to Henry County, in 1942, taking over a 800-acre farm on a 50/50 basis with my great uncle, Edwin Marshall. We had 30 acres of tobacco, 50 beef cattle, 10 brood sows, 200 head of sheep and about 20 milk cows we milked by hand.”

“We had German prisoners who worked on our farm. Mr. O’Nan from Defoe had a cattle truck and would bring in maybe 80 prisoners in the truck, and the farmer had to agree to sign for a minimum of 20 prisoners. They would send out the prisoners with a guard to your farm. We had them work on the farm for two years. They would do whatever you needed to be done. They cut corn on our farm; about 20 or 30 acres of corn. They would cut it, put it on the wagon and take it to our silo and load it in a cutter that loaded it in the silo.”

“They would send them out with peanut butter sandwiches to eat. The bread was really thick. Mom would make up some green beans and potatoes to eat as well and the prisoners loved that. Most of the soldiers were big, tall, blonde kids. I made a friend with one of them, his name was Hans and after the war I kept correspondence with him. He lived in Munich.”


Published 2:09 p.m. ET July 28, 2015