News Republican Boone, Iowa,
JAN 2 51944
WAR PRISONER GAMP REVIEWED
Lt. Col. Ralph Patterson, C. O. At
Camp Wheeleif In Georgia,
Was Monday Speaker
Lt. Col. Ralph E. Patterson, USA, commanding officer of the prisoner of war'camp at Camp Wheeler, Ga., Boone officer and former member of the old 185th Field Artillery outfit here, spoke before the Rotary club at the Hoist hotel Monday evening and painted a word picture of the prison camp he commands and of the job he and his officers are trying to do in "converting" his Italian charges into men who will come to.appreciate a democracy and what it means to the world.
Colonel Patterson's talk was one of the best of its kind ever to be made before the local club, and during it he lifted a little corner of the veil of secrecy which has surrounded prisoner of war camps and talked, sometimes "off the record" and to old friends. By far the most important thing he did !say was, something which can be repeated.
"The most important job we have, by far," the colonel said, "is to prove to them that even though they may be prisoners of war now, they have the Four Freedoms much more now than they ever did in their own country. | "We are showing them every day that we have the best form of government in the world. We know, even now, that a great many of them are going back and tell the I world how much better off people ; are in American under a democ- ' racy.
"How do we know they will? I already have a stack of letters— you might call them applications —for citizenship. Many have offered to join our army and go back overseas and fight—so. that they might have the right and privilege to return here and become citizens of the United States.
"They are openly and deeply disappointed when I tell them such a thing is impossible. But we are doing everything possible so that we can .help create a better and more' lasting peace than we ever had before by proving now that democracy does give every man a better opportunity."
Colonel Pat Person also stressed another factor in* the treatment of prisoners —• revealing, meanwhile, that his all are Italians and that "we number the in the thousands" —saying:
j "We treat these prisoners just as | well as we know how. We remem-jber that we have our own men i prisoners of Germany. We know ihow ruthless Germany can be once she starts. She can and would retaliate with far worse than anything we ever would have the nerve to do."
With Much Care
So, the colonel revealed, every rule of the Geneva convention is carried out with meticulous care, except where the governments have changed them by pact. The Italian prisoners receive the same amount of food, the same clothing issue as American soldiers. They are paid 80 cents a day when and if they go out of camp to work? If they do not work, they are allowed $3.00 monthly in canteen coupons for cigarettes and tooacco.
Hotly, Colonel Patterson denied the insinuations of a r cent radio commentator that prisoners of war were permitted to go out when they pleased. At least, he denied it for his Camp Wheeler. He was specific—and emphatic—in saying that no prisoner ever went out without a guard; that there was no beer, no wine, no whiskey and no women in the camp, nor does any of his enlisted men drink with the prisoners.
The colonel revealed that his Italian prisoners didn't want
much butter o\ meat as the American soldiers\ get, buj: they did want more anil more macaroni, bread and olrye or other oils. So, they got their maca-I roni — what seemed %o be car-j loads of it — and everybody's ! happy.
Their health is excellent, the colonel said. Since the first prisoners arrived last April, not one has died from sickness. \ Four have been killed by lightning. He added that "as far as I can see, they'll all go back home if this thing doesn't last too long." *
The Italians, he revealed^, are good workers, and that "they'll work their heads off if they can work with machinery so they can watch the wheels go 'round." By Hullihan The colonel was introduced by L. D. Hullihan, chairman of the meeting. Howard G. Rice, president of the club, presidec| and thanked the colonel at thef conclusion of the talk. Jim Crallup led the Rotarians in singing.
Robert H. Barber, membef of the club, spoke briefly in belialf of the 4th War Loan drive which went into high gear tocfey with "Invasion Day" when gf county-wide effort was put forth to sell the complete $1,212,000 quota in the one day during which virtually 11 business came to a standstill.
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