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WW II Brings German Prisoners to Ladyglen Farm - Part 3

Posted 10/25/2021

Ursuline hospitality rings true, even with prisoners of war.

Besides the actual work of the farm, the men did anything they were directed to do. Whatever skills they had were well employed. The names of some I remember – John, Willy, Gerhard, Edward, Jakob.  Their ages – sixteen to forty.  The boy was terribly homesick and stayed close to me. The boy talked often of his family, especially his mother, who, he said, always reminded him to pray – to stay close to God and God would take care of him.  “And you see, he said, God did take care of me.  He sent me to you and I thank you and Him.”

Two of the men were master carpenters and one was a bricklayer. They did all the harvesting, haymaking, grass cutting, and hoeing.  They made sauerkraut, pickled the sweetcorn and cabbage and prepared it for the cannery. They built chicken coops and repaired the cattle barn.  They dug the basement for the cottage along the river front, the terrain of which was so rocky it had to be dynamited. The four walls of the cottage made with cement blocks had to be treated to prevent moisture from damaging them. They constructed storage bins for fruit and vegetables, laid a cement floor and pipe lines.

It was interesting and gratifying to see how they gradually became part of the Ladyglen family. Before it was time to leave each day, they were permitted to swim in the river, which they greatly appreciated after a hot days’ work.

Several days before the men were to leave, two officers came to observe their work and receive our report.  Well, needless to say, we had nothing but praise for the projects the men had accomplished. The officers were surprised. But why would they be? We treated them with kindness and received excellent service in return. The officers, very pleased with the inspection, complimented us on the handling of the men. Later, when at dinner with Father Freimoth, they remarked on the whole situation: the courtesy shown the prisoners and the respect the latter had for the nuns.

The prisoners were sorry to leave as they didn’t know what was in store for them. We had a farewell dinner with them – with knife, fork and spoon.  Then they departed, singing and crying, and so were we.

 

The material quoted here is taken from A Tree in the Valley by Sr. Lelia Mahoney.