During the World War II era, Turner Field Air Base was a branch prisoner of war camp housing about 500 German POWs who worked on the field, in agriculture and in other non-war related business.
According to Lamar Clifton (see Sponsors page), one of the Committee Members of Albany area businessmen putting together the information for this Web Site, an occasional truck load of five or six of these prisoners came into Albany where they were assigned jobs in lumber yards, on the farm, or cleaning the community. At other jobs, at Turner Field and other places, they were probably fed the noon time meal via sack lunch. But some of those sent to work in town had their lunch time meal at the boarding house run by Lamar’s mother, Sallie Hopkins Clifton.
A driver, and a guard sitting in the back of the truck with them would accompany the German POWs in town. According to the memories of this 12 year old American boy, these POWs were recognized as the enemy but were treated reasonably by those they met in the community.
The Germans in Albany were noted for their willingness to work. Because of our war effort, there was a definite shortage of labor of able-bodied men. These prisoners were assigned jobs, such as working at the Layson Lumber Company, located then at the now corner of Broad and Slappey and managed by Albanian, Morgan Murphy’s Dad. There they stacked lumber and worked in the saw and planer mills. Morgan remembers how those ‘good looking athletic’ young men liked to work in the sun without shirts in order to become sun tanned.
The Germans in Albany were probably members of Rommel’s elite Africa Corps. They were hard workers, offering no problems to their American captors. The head officer of the detail assigned to Layson Lumber Company held the rank of Major.
They all spent time with those young people with whom they came in contact. One gave his medals to Morgan’s brother, Melvn, a local dentist. Several kept in touch with the Murphys upon their return to Germany.
But other than encounters like these, the average citizen of Albany considered the German POWs pretty invisible as they stayed in guarded facilities at Turner Field.
We have requested the list of German POWs in America from the Department of Defense Archives. The German government tells us that once they have this list they may be able to help us identify those still available who were in Albany, Georgia at Turner Field who may be able to tell us their story of Turner Field. Anyone having first hand memories of this era and these people are asked to visit our Contact Page.