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Let's Remember Benton Harbor...
On  15 April 1944  the  475 MPEG  returned  to the familiar surroundings of Fort Custer, Michigan.   Six days later it was taken  by trucks  to the  Van Buren County fairgrounds  at  Hartford,  Michigan........
 ..............Duty: Transform the Grandstand into a POW Side Camp.......
....While awaiting the arrival of the first POW  work  details,  the  company  was divided  into  clean-up  crews to  prepare the interiors of the rooms  under,  in,  and around the grandstand for use as housing, ablutions,  offices,  and  mess halls for the troops and the POWs.     It  found  many of   these   festooned   with  crepe  paper streamers   and   littered   with  discarded paper cups  and  other   debris,  leftovers from  the last fair  celebrated   here.    All  of   this  was removed  in  the  course  of   preparing   the rooms  for  military  use. 

The Hartford Grand Stand is behind
Pvt. John F. Belshaw, Finnegan, and the truck
....In due time the camp received its first shipment of  POWs.  Their first  job  was  to  build a secure fence to create a stockade to enclose the POW side camp.  As soon as stockade security was assured a complement of POWs from Fort Custer  arrived to begin  working in various agriculture-related jobs. Soon  work  details  were  sent  out  to  work  in the fields,  orchards,  and  vineyards of Southwestern Michigan.    This should  have proved educational for those guards whose hometowns were large cities. I  learned  how to plant celery  and  how  to protect  the young plants from possible frosts.  Besides the outdoor work, 
POWs were  contracted  to  work  for the House of  David in  their  refrigerated  and frozen   food   storage   warehouses  in St. Joseph, Michigan. (Personal note: Being stationed  at  Ft.Custer   and   Hartford allowed  me  to  visit  Kalamazoo many times.    My file of letters to my wife-to- be has nothing in that date range.  Why not?   Every  opportunity  for  an  over- night   pass   found   me  hitchhiking  to Kalamazoo.    I  was  such  a  fixture on U.S. 12  that  I  had  regular rides from truck drivers  who  delivered me on her doorstep.  I also had a number of  rides
 from  a  particular  state  trooper  who  acquaintance  I had  made  while chasing a POW detail which was cutting weeds near the highway.)
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.........Meanwhile, the troops of the 475 found the natives to be friendly.  Some of the 18- and 19-year-olds found this to be especially true of the high school girls and recent graduates.   According to our CO, the ladies of Hartford almost depleted the stockade  of  guards on  Mothersí Day in competition with one another to have a GI grace their dining room.  This was often to replace the son for whom  a blue star was hung in a front window.  Much of this was chronicled in the Hartford Day Spring...
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 Pvt. Ray Roberts,  Pvt. John Ullian
Eleanor Tuttle, Pvt. Jack Belshaw
at Hartford, Michigan 1944
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..........In  addition  to  their  interaction  with  the  friendly  folks of Hartford the men of the 475 found the cities  of  Benton Harbor and  St.Joseph  to be good liberty  towns  within  convenient  distance  for overnight  passes.    These  were  celebrated  in  a  song that was sung to the tune of  ďLetís Remember Pearl Harbor.Ē
Letís remember Benton Harbor
Letís remember Benton Harbor
As we go to meet the foe.
Letís remember Benton Harbor
And its neighboring Saint Joe.
From the Lion Bar to the Pine Pub
And the Saint Vincent Hotel
Letís remember Benton Harbor
And the rest can go to hell.
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.....On May 22, 1944, the 475 MPEG Co. returned by truck to Fort Custer, Michigan
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Following are headlines, articles, and columns from the Hartford Day Spring.



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 Pvts. Kronberg and Kirschner's Column
Local Paper's Column
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