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 Texas : Features : WWII :
WWII Chronicles
Texas Historic Landmark

ITALIAN POW CAMP CHAPEL

World War II Prisoner of War Camp

3 1/2 Miles S of Hereford, Deaf Smith County
Near
Umbarger, Randal County

Photos courtesy Barclay Gibson
Italian POW Chapel, Hereford, Deaf Smith County Tx
The recently restored POW Camp Chapel, designed and built by the prisoners, themselves. Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, August 2009
Photographer's Note:

Getting There

The Chapel is located about 3-1/2 miles south of Hereford almost exactly on the Deaf Smith/Castro County Lines. From FM 1055 west on Deaf Smith CR 1 one mile and south on CR H about 500 yards. The Chapel is plainly visible from CR 1 in the winter but in late summer would be concealed by tall corn stalks. The Chapel and Water Tower are maybe 1/2 mile apart. The county roads in this area are dirt/gravel so maybe it would be best not to be there during rainy season, if there is one. - Barclay Gibson, December 2008

P.O.W. Camp Chapel Restored
Thanks to an article on the restoration of the Hereford POW Chapel featured in the Lubbock Avalanche ("Avalanche" in West Texas?!- That's the name) Journal, I went back to see it. The Chapel is now beautiful as it sits in the middle of a lush corn field as opposed the the forlorn look it had just last December. There were two abandoned dogs, more like big puppies, guarding the Chapel.

The Chapel has been beautifully restored. New Plexiglas panels and paint inside and out. The colorful gravel-epoxy flags are nicely redone. Thankfully the brass plaques have been removed, probably to the safety of the Castro County Museum. Here's the link to the Avalanche article:
Ex-Italian POWs return to Hereford for chapel ceremony
- Barclay Gibson, August 2009
Approaching Deaf Smith County Tx POW Camp Chapel
Approaching the POW Camp Chapel
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, December 2008
 Deaf Smith County Tx POW Camp Chapel
The restored POW Chapel in the midst of cornfield
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, August 2009
Hereford Tx Restored POW Chapel in midst of cornfield
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, August 2009
POW Camp Chapel, Hereford, Deaf Smith County, Texas
The Restored POW Camp Chapel
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, August 2009
Italian Flag, POW Camp Chapel, Hereford, Deaf Smith County, Texas
Italian flag
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, August 2009
US Flag, POW Camp Chapel, Hereford, Deaf Smith County, Texas
American flag
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, August 2009
Restored POW Camp Chapel, Hereford, Deaf Smith County, Texas
Looking in, through the replaced glass
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, August 2009
POW Camp Chapel historical marker, Hereford Texas
POW Camp Chapel historical marker
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, December 2008
Historical Marker Text

P.O.W. Camp Chapel

This Chapel is one of the few physical reminders of the days this site served as an Italian Prisoner of War Camp during World War II. The prisoners, several of them fine artisans and craftsmen, designed and built the chapel, crafting the concrete building to resemble marble. Completed in 1945, the chapel stands as a memorial to the five Italians who died while interned at the camp. A restoration project, begun in 1987, was completed in 1989.
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1992
Italian POW Camp Memorial Headstone, Hereford Texas
Memorial Headstone
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, December 2008
POW Camp water tower Hereford Texas
The base of the camp water tower
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, December 2008
POW Camp water tower pump, Hereford Texas
interior view showing pump support
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, December 2008
POW Camp Chapel plaque, Hereford Texas
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, December 2008
POW Camp Chapel plaque, Hereford Texas
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, December 2008
POW Camp Chapel plaque, Hereford Texas
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, December 2008
St Mary's church
in nearby town of Umbarger, Texas, Randal County
Umbarger Tx WWII Prisoners And Priests
Photo of WWII Italian POWs and priests in Umbarger displayed in the church. Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, December 2008
Photographer's Note:
A lady at the St Mary's church in Umbarger was so kind to show me around the church and explain the work done by the Italian Prisoners. In the large painting behind the altar was an angel. The artist, from his memory of his wife, painted her face on the angel. Years later after the war the artist brought his family back and she was able to see her face on the angel. - Barclay Gibson, January 25, 2009

Visit Umbarger nearby in Randal County
Umbarger Tx, St. Mary's Church Altar
St. Mary's Church altar in Umbarger
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, December 2008
First published March 3, 2009

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