Doing Day Labor
on Local Farms
(Honey Grove Signal-Citizen, Sept. 3, 1943)
Clad only in shorts and shoes, German prisoners are at work on two Honey Grove farms. The men wear a shirt to the field and upon arrival off it comes. They all go bareheaded.
The men are housed at night at the fair grounds in Bonham. Those using labor must transport them to and from headquarters. They are paid $1.50 per day for eight hours work; 80 cents goes to the prisoner and the remainder to the government for his upkeep. The men seem happy, are well muscled and range in years from 20 to 27, and weigh from 180 to 250 pounds. Each of them has blonde hair, and only two of the group working for Mr. Stroud can speak a small portion of broken English.
In 1943 a prisoner of war camp holding German prisoners was established in Bonham. The POWs were available to local farmers as agricultural labor. The POWs were housed at the fair grounds in Bonham. Several individuals have told us that they remember the POWs marching into town on Sundays to attend the movie theatre.
We have located 2 newspaper articles that provide details on the Prisoner of War program. Please contact us if you have additional information so that we can add it to this page.
See also this article on the Bonham POW Camp by Tim Davis.
Prisoners Of War
Will Be Available
As Farm Laborers
55 Be Sent To
County As First Help
Prisoner of war labor will be available in Fannin County farmers to help in the harvest of crops this fall, it was announced today by J. E. Christian, manager of the Bonham office of the United States Employment Service.
The prisoners, 55 as a starter, will be bivouacked in the huge exhibits building at the fair grounds where sleeping quarters for the prisoners and the U.S. Army guards will be installed. Kitchen and mess hall and toilet facilities also will be installed in the building to accommodate the prisoners and guards.
Mayor Raleigh Abernathy said that this work should be completed by Friday, Aug. 20, thus making it possible for the prisoners to be moved into the building within the next 10 days or two weeks.
The city council reached an agreement with the Farm Labor Board Wednesday regarding the use of the building for the housing of the prisoners while they are in the county for farm labor use.
Farmers wishing to secure use of the prisoners to aid in harvesting fall crops should contact Mr. Christian at USES office on West 4th street as the placing of the labor will be handled through that office.
Under the agreement farmers will pay the prisoners three-fourths of the prevailing daily wage in the area where they are working but a minimum wage of $1.50 has been set by the government to cover actual expenses of handling the prisoners as required by international law.
Farmers will have to come after and return the prisoners to the bivouac area each day. While in the field, the prisoners will be accompanied by regular U.S. Army guards.
Arrangements for bringing the prisoner labor into Fannin county to aid in the harvesting of fall crops were completed Thursday in Dallas by Col. Palmer, commanding officer of the Stringtown, Ok., prison camp and Mr. Christian who conferred with regional employment officials.
Prisoners sent to Fannin county to aid in farm work will come from Stringtown, Oklahoma, camp.
To Fannin Farmers
Honey Grove Signal-Citizen, August 20, 1943
German prisoners are to help Fannin county farmers harvest their corn and cotton. Arrangements have been made for 50 of them, together with 15 guards, to be housed at the fair grounds at Bonham. The prisoners will come from the Stringtown, Okla., camp.
Farmers desiring to use the prisoners should apply at the United States Employment office on West 4th street in Bonham. J. E. Christian, manager, states that there has been a strong demand for the prisoner labor. Farmers pay the government, through the USES office, three-fourths the prevailing wages with a minimum of $1.50 per day. The government pays each prisoner a monthly allotment whether they work or not, but an added amount, approximately 80 cents per day, when working. Prisoners and guards have their own meals, so all the farmers have to provide is transportation both ways and water while on the job.