Historian recalls POWs in Pa.

May 04, 1999

Leroy ReedBy RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro

photo, left: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - When members of the Cumberland Valley Archeological Society meet Tuesday night, they'll hear Leroy Reed tell how an area Civilian Conservation Corps camp was converted to hold German and Japanese prisoners during World War II.

Reed, 74, himself a combat veteran of the war who served in a tank destroyer battalion in Europe, has made an avocation of learning about the Great Depression and the creation of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) as part of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal.

Reed, who retired after 32 years as a missile mechanic at Letterkenny Army Depot, said he has spent hours at the National Archives in Washington researching life in the CCC camps in the Franklin County Area.


One of the area's more famous camps was South Mountain in Pine Grove Furnace, Pa., just over the Franklin County line in Cumberland County, Pa.

POW'sThe CCC, launched in 1933, recruited young men and put them to work in the nation's forests and parks, Reed said.

"They had their hands in everything, and when the war came, the CCC boys put down their shovels and picked up rifles."

The Army converted the camp at Pine Grove Furnace to hold incoming German and Japanese prisoners of war for interrogation before they were assigned to permanent POW camps, Reed said.

"It was very secret. Local people didn't know much about it."

A few German prisoners were kept at the camp for work details. Some even worked in area canning factories during peak harvest seasons because local workers were in the military.

"They weren't allowed to fraternize with local workers, but some of them got friendly with the girls," Reed said.

Reed has collected several large paintings done by German POWs at the camp. One shows how the camp looked during the war years and another is an American patriotic scene showing the Statue of Liberty and the American flag.

"They wanted to stay on our good side," Reed said.

His lecture will be at 7 p.m. at Renfrew Museum.

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