Prisoners of War in New Mexico Agriculture
Abstract of Interview
Robert E. Randall, Sr.
TAPE NUMBER: RG2001-026
OF BIRTH: April 25, 1924,
OF INTERVIEW: February 10, 2001
OF INTERVIEW: Consultant’s home
in Las Cruces, New Mexico
OF INTERVIEW: NMF&RHM___x__OTHER_____
OF TAPES: One
ABSTRACTED: February 23, 2001
OF RECORDING (SPECIFY): Good
AND CONTENT NOTE: Description of
events leading to assignment as guard at prisoner of war camps in Lordsburg
and Hatch, New Mexico, during World War II. Describes differences between
Italian POWs who were “king’s men” and “black shirts.” Description
of duties, prisoners, and relationships between guards and prisoners.
RANGE: March 1943 – July 1944
ABSTRACT (IMPORTANT TOPICS IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE):
ONE, SIDE A:
E. (Bob) Randall entered the army on March 25, 1943. He went to limited service
school at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin, and had Military Police Escort Guard (MPEG)
training at Fort Custer, Michigan. He was sent in October of 1943 to Lordsburg,
New Mexico, to guard Italian prisoners of war.
Randall describes the physical layout of the square-mile camp and describes his
duties as a guard in one of the towers that were placed about each quarter-mile.
describes the tarpaper hutments for prisoners and guards, the arrangements for
the Italians to cook for both themselves and guards, and the communication
between the camp staff and the prisoners. Orders were directed to the Italian
officers who transmitted them to the non-commissioned officers who passed them
to the enlisted men.
Italians, Mr. Randall says, were either king’s men and loyal to the monarchy
or were black shirts and loyal to Mussolini. The two factions did not get along.
said there were about 500 guards and 10,000 prisoners in Lordsburg when he was
there. Randall stated none of the prisoners was taken out to do farm or ranch
work during that time.
Randall related that a lieutenant would take guards out to the desert for
training on their day off His captain was Captain Williams.
early November, 1943, about 150 prisoners and 30 guards were sent to a new
sub-camp in Hatch, New Mexico, where the prisoners worked on area farms. After
one escape attempt, all the soldiers and prisoners were sent back to Lordsburg.
ONE, SIDE B
Lordsburg the army separated the king’s men and the black shirts, then sent
the king’s men and their guards back to Hatch and to various other sub-camps
in the Mesilla Valley. Mr. Randall said there were no discipline problems with
the king’s men. He said they worked at the Franzoy farm, the Mundy farm, and
Black’s dairy. He described good relations and mutual respect between himself
and the prisoners but said some of the guards had a harsher attitude toward the
consultant talks of playing checkers with the prisoners. He took them to a talc
rock near Rincon to get pieces of rock so they could make figurines, and said
they also made a concrete monument with their insignia on it. He took them to a
Catholic church in Rodey and to the movies in Hatch.
Randall was reclassified for general service and trained as a corpsman. He was
assigned to William Beaumont Hospital in El Paso. While he was there Italy
surrendered and former Italian prisoners of war were housed at Fort Bliss in El
Paso. He said he met some of the Italians he used to guard and described their
cordiality to him.
Mr. Randall believes that after the armistice with the Italians, German prisoners of war were located in Hatch in 1944.
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