henrydick1945_g300

This photo accompanied the following Newburgh News article. The caption reads:

Mrs. George [Lydia] Kane of 192 Washington St. is happily reunited with her two soldier sons, Henry (left) and Richard, who were recently liberated after having been held prisoners in Germany since December, 1942. Photo by [Ralph] Aiello.

1945_newburghnews_r150

Two Newburgh Brothers Home from Nazi Prison

By Norma Johnson
Newburgh News [Newburgh, New York; circa June 1945]

Pvts. Henry Kane and Richard Kane have truly been brothers—brothers in boyhood, playing tag, teasing, and playing cops and robbers; brothers in war, playing a harder game of trudging through mud, being captured, going hungry together, and hoping together—and now they are brothers at home again.

Sons of Mr. and Mrs. George Kane, 192 Washington St., [Newburgh, New York] both boys enlisted in October 24, 1940, and have been unseparated right up until now. They returned home last Saturday after spending two years and five months as prisoners of war. Having one son come home after being a prisoner of war means happiness for any mother, so you can imagine the happiness of Mrs. Kane when she saw two of her sons come home together.


Seized in African Campaign

Henry and Dick were taken prisoners by the Italians in North Africa on December 23, 1942. Henry was captured first, and three hours later he found his brother right beside him, a fellow prisoner. Together the boys started a long, hard wait until freedom.

For 16 months the boys remained at an Italian prison camp, and then they were taken to Germany. It was a step from bad to worse. Henry remembered the long months with no mail. “We hardly ever had any mail. I had 12 letters the whole time I was interned, and Dick had only four. We were luck[y] to get those—we never received a letter from Mom and Dad.”

Like all other returned prisoners of war, Dick and Henry praise the Red Cross. “We wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for our friends in the Red Cross,” said Henry. And Dick agreed heartily, “The food we were given was awful, and we looked forward to the weekly package we knew we’d get from the Red Cross.”

While in Germany, Dick and Henry spent a good deal of their time working in the forests. But when they were at the camp, they had a chance to see the reaction of some of the German people toward Hitler and what he stood for. Henry found many of the Germans to be strongly against Hitler. “Civilians told us they thought Hitler was no good. I believe about 75 percent of the people were against him.”

The boys recalled an experience they wouldn’t like to repeat. They were taken to Munich to work for the Germans for three weeks, where they slept in railroad cars. The Germans ridiculed them and spit on them during the day, and at night they ducked bombs from Americans doing a good job of destroying Munich. Both boys agreed it was a harrowing experience to have their friends drop bombs on them, but it was a welcome sight too, because it meant the destruction of Germany.

On January 18 of this year, the Germans started the men on the march across Germany trying to escape the Russians. But Dick didn’t remember any Germans softened by the realization of defeat. “They were still arrogant. They didn’t think they would be beaten. They sure were wrong.”

Then liberation came by the Seventh Armored Division. Happiness on the part of Americans was almost unbelievable. Those at home cannot realize the full joy in the liberation of prisoners, but Dick and Henry will never forget the tears, laughter, and cries of the American boys on the lucky day they were once again free.

Dick and Henry and happy now—and have reason to be. They have 99 points and are just waiting to be told they can put civilian clothes on once again. Meanwhile they have 70 days at home, and then perhaps they will hear the good news.

The Kane family is a proud and happy family, and the have reason to be. There are three more boys in service, and Dick and Henry certainly have done their share. It was a happy family gathered together in the living room of the Kane home, with little brother the happiest, sitting on Henry’s knee and giving worshipping looks to one of his hero brothers.