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(erielack) POW trains

Quite logically European Theater WWII POWs were moved to the US in returning US troop ships, which would otherwise have been empty.

Also quite logically they disembarked their POW cargos at the various ports of debarkation that were set up to handle mass movements of men. Certain classes of POWs recieved more stringent security that others. This included U-Boat crews, Waffen-SS units, and others with typically high esprite d'corps. As a general rule officers were seperated from enlisted troops from the moment of capture to break up unit chain of command.

While I cannot speak specifically to the Erie, POW trains were generally older standard coaches, usually with the windows blacked out and bars attached to cover the portion of the window that would open. When windows were open shades were to be down. These rules were enforced by the MP guard contingents on each train.

Every attempt was made to prevent the prisoners from knowing the location of the camp they were interned in to complicate the navigation process in the event of escape. While a POW might discern the port he entered the US at routing and delays were intended to confuse the curious.
Additionally arrivals at camps were often scheduled at night to minimize local area familiarization during the transfer process from train to camp.

Camps were as isolated as possible, for instance the POW camp at Pine Grove Furnace, PA, 10 miles from my house. Trains were routed on the Reading to Harrisburg and then via the Lurgan (Cumberland Valley) sub to Carlisle Jct.  Here they went south on the Reading Gettysburg branch a short way and then on to the Pine Grove Furnance branch to the end of the line. From The Furnace they were trucked in closed vehicles the short distance up to the camp in the woods, on the Southern slope of the South Mountain, which are now part of the Michaux State Forest. Boondocks.

European POW canmps were not confined to the East coast. Some were even in the Southwest.

Rusty Recordon

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