Camp Cook Essay

814 Words4 Pages
When the four of us arrived at Camp Cooke in January 1945, we spent the first night in the camp jailhouse. Around ten o’clock the next morning, everything was quiet. We began banging on the doors and barred windows, trying to attract attention. The guards had completely forgotten about us. After apologizing to us, they led us to the U.S. officers’ mess hall where we were served a wonderful breakfast. Afterwards, we were each assigned to four different barracks within the camp. Inside the compound there was a POW staff that kept things rolling. We had a camp spokesman, translators, barbers, tailors, shoemakers, cooks, bakers, kitchen helpers, clerks for the orderly rooms of each company, and more. All of these positions were carried as…show more content…
The very few negative exceptions were handled by the POWs themselves. Much to my satisfaction I was transferred from the tent camp in central California to Camp Cooke sometime in January or February 1945. The POW compound at Camp Cooke was composed of the same type of barracks that the Americans used on the main post and included all the facilities one might expect to find in a regular army camp. Within the compound each company had its own living quarters, washrooms, toilets, kitchen, and mess hall. The dormitories usually held between thirty and forty people. Each person stored his personal belongings in a small cabinet alongside his bed and in a large duffel bag stowed underneath. Every prisoner also had access to the canteen, the theater, the recreation field, and the library with its large selection of books, many written in German. An elderly POW handled housekeeping duties within our barrack. In return, we each gave him a small amount of our camp money. Despite the close living conditions in our barrack, there were no significant altercations among us POWs. There were, however, cliques that sometimes formed based on a mutual interests or hometown regions. In my barrack the Rhinelanders organized their own fraternity. They always sat together in the mess hall and wherever possible acted as a group. Anyone who got too close to them knew by expression or gesture that outsiders were not welcome. We also had a few
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