Fort Hood, Texas
...The Great Place
POWs Escape North Camp Hood; Apprehended in West Camp Hood
Editor’s note: This article describing the escape in 1943 appeared in the Temple Daily Telegram June 11, 1963.
One of the biggest manhunts in the history of Bell County was underway just 20 years ago today, and many residents of the area kept all doors locked and barred for nearly a week.
Five German prisoners of war escaped from North Camp Hood and the prison break brought law enforcement officers from all parts of the state into the coutnry.
The escapees had been members of Rommel’s Africa Corps. They were among the first prisoners of war to be brought to the United States.
They had been held at Camp Chaffee and later transferred to Camp Hood after the opeing of North Camp Hood.
Bell County residents didn’t know what to expect when word of the prison break became public. Many armed themselves.
The tension held for five days until all of the escapees were returned to the prison camp.
The escape of the POWs also brought a sudden change in army regulations regarding the release of information about escaped prisoners of war.
The prisoners had cut throught the side of their quarters, climbed under a recreation tent and then under the POW compound fence to make their escape into the wooded areas of North Camp Hood.
A bed check of prisoners revealed that five men were missing. Civilian law enforcement officers were called in to aid military police and Federal Burea of Investigation officers in the manhunt.
Newsmen picked up their first information of the break from local law enforcement officers but the Army could not release any information.
During the fever of the manhunt Army regulations were changed to allow information to be released to the press if civilian law enforcement officers were brought into the picture.
Two of the escapee’s freedom was shortlived as Sheriff John bignham and Deputy Ralph Jeffers drove up on the POWs about 12 hours after the break as they walked along a dirty road between Brookhaven and Sparta.
The two prisoners carried a supply of food that they had saved from their rations and a pencil drawn map of Texas and Mexico with South America sketched in.
The search went on for five days.
The men from Cedar Park Community west of Austin called the Travis County sheriff’s office and notified authorities that they believed they had captured the escaped POWs.
P.E Hannett and P. Fabbioun had taken no chances when they caught the two men, along Highway 290, and had tied them up and stripped them of most of their clothing.
It was two escapees and Central Texans once more breathed a little easier knowing the enemies of the United States were not running loose in Bell County.
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