York Town Square

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Dealing with POW camp, loss of life among York County’s WW II sacrifices

A nice-sized audience at the Red Lion Historical Society persevered through my presentation on York’s County’s role in World War II.
Three members of the audience came to my rescue after I called on them to tell some impromptu stories. All three told of the county’s contributions toward the Allied war efforts.
First, I picked on Betty Baldwin to tell about Camp Stewartstown, a prisoner of war camp in that southeastern York County town, that housed about 2,000 German prisoners in the summers of 1944 and 1945. …

Betty and her sister, Margaret Shaub, give frequent presentations on the camp. Townspeople received their visitors with a mixture of pity for those German boys away from home with the realization that our young men were fighting boys just like those visitors.
Then I asked Red Lion’s Mayor Bob Frutiger to tell a bit about his father and mother, Tom and Anne Frutiger. Tom survived the Bataan Death March and more than two years in POW camps in the Philippines before succumbing to friendly fire as he was being shipped to Japan in late 1944 or early 1945. Anne ably took care of the home front, hearing only occasionally from her imprisoned husband while caring for her two young boys. Tom Frutiger was one of 27 Red Lion residents to die in the war.
Then Flo Snyder Neff concluded the program by reading some of her poetry published in York Corporation’s “Shop News,” a company publication sent to men and women in uniform throughout the world. She was an accounting clerk at York Corporation at that time.
I included several of Flo’s poems in “In the thick of the fight‿ so it was an honor to hear its author read her work 63 years later.
Camp Stewartstown, Tom and Anne Frutiger’s sacrifices and the work of a young clerk — all were examples of how York County came together during those difficult days.
An excerpt from Flo Snyder Neff’s poetry:
“When this is over/
I want to see/
Dresses on women/
At the knee./
Instead of slacks/
And grimy hands/
High-heeled shoes/
And wedding bands.‿
She concluded this poem, published in 1943, with:
“Won’t it be grand/ When our boys come home.‿