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German Pow Camp Was Located In Homewood

—by: Thomas M. West, Jr.

German POWs

Although it was one of the largest, Camp Aliceville was not the only prisoner of war camp in Alabama during WWII.
(Aliceville Museum).

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s a child during the years following World War II, every time our family drove past an especially ugly white concrete building on a hill on the north side of Lakeshore Drive in Homewood, I was told "that’s where the German prisoners were kept."

Beginning in the summer of 1943, more than 15,000 German soldiers, mostly captured from Erwin Rommel’s Afrika Korps, were sent to Alabama to the POW camps at Aliceville, Opelika, Camp Rucker and Fort McClellan and dozens of "side camps" including the one in Homewood.

Jim Bennett, author of our Historic Birmingham and Jefferson County history interviewed your writer and also Harrison (Hack) Lloyd who also remembered the Homewood camp. Hack, too young for the war, along with his mother and sister would bake cookies to take to the German prisoners.

Lloyd related that these acts of kindness quickly ended when his older brother, a B-24 bomber pilot, was killed after being shot down over Germany.

Bennett’s research showed that the building was formerly known as "County Prison Camp No. 5", the most modern of nine such facilities in Jefferson County before it was shut down right before World War II in 1940. The German POWs, Hack Lloyd related, worked as orderlies, cooks and janitors at the TB Sanatorium that remains today as Lakeshore Hospital.

After the war, W. H. Merritt bought the prison camp property and converted the main building into a residence and the surrounding land became the Lakeshore Stables and Riding Academy. Later, the buildings were demolished and an office building now rests on the site.


Recent History Center Acquisitions

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ometimes historical events happen recently. On February 2, 2012, the City of Birmingham held a groundbreaking ceremony for the Birmingham Barons’ new ballpark on the Southside. A ticket to the ceremony was donated by Keith DePew.

Each month the Birmingham History Center receives ten to fifteen artifact donations. We try to accept items that have a Birmingham or Jefferson County connection. In addition we adhere to the following code of ethics:

  • collections in its custody support our mission and public trust responsibilities.
  • collections in our custody are lawfully held, protected, secure, unencumbered, cared for, and preserved.
  • collections in our custody are accounted for and documented.
  • access to the collections and related information is permitted and regulated.
  • acquisition, disposal, and loan activities are conducted in a manner that respects the protection and preservation of natural and cultural resources and discourages illicit trade in such materials.
  • acquisition, disposal, and loan activities conform to its mission and public trust responsibilities.
  • collections-related activities promote the public good rather than individual financial gain.
  • competing claims of ownership that may be asserted in connection with objects in its custody should be handled openly, seriously, responsively and with respect for the dignity of all parties involved.

To donate artifacts related to the history of the Birmingham region, please call 205-202-4146 or bring items to the History Center at 1731 First Avenue North, Birmingham, AL.


Rick Woodward Bobblehed

Bobble-head Doll
This bobble-head doll was given out to fans at the Rickwood Field Classic on June 22, 2006. It honors Rick Woodward, the longtime owner of the Birmingham Barons. Rickwood Field is the oldest surviving professional baseball park in the United States. It was built in 1910. This doll was donated by James Lowry.


1944 Phillips High Baseball Team

This photo of the 1944 Phillips High School county baseball champions was donated by Dr. Bayard Tynes (pictured far right second row). Coach Jim Walker’s team had some excellent ballplayers, including Alan Worthington (second row, third from right) who pitched in the major leagues for the Minnesota Twins and other teams. Jimmy Bragan (second row, left) played in the Dodgers’ farm system and became President of the Southern League.


World War II on the Home Front: How the Sweet 16 Rolls‑Royce Went to War

—by: Tom Badham

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ust about every American young girl would like a car for her sixteenth birthday. Little June got a birthday present that went a bit beyond the basic sixteen-year-old’s wish. Her father, a very well connected St. Louis lawyer, gifted her with a new 1937 Rolls-Royce, complete with chauffeur! The automobile title was in her name! I guess her father could afford to be crazy like a fox.

Not only was the chauffeur-chaperone always on board, but the new four-door convertible "Touring Car" Rolls would stand out just a tad wherever she went in Missouri when she was home from the Stuart Hall private girls’ school in Virginia. Everyone knew whose car that was and that Louis D. Culley was her daddy. Maybe the eyes of Texas weren’t upon her, but Missouri’s sure were.

June, though, was an intelligent girl who showed creative initiative by entering into a little private agreement with the chauffeur which involved an occasional pint bottle traded for his discretion. He’d of course keep an eye on her, but Daddy didn’t get a second by second report if any boy made so bold as to kiss her or something. A girl has to have a little social privacy. She could live with that. Life was good. Then Mr. Hitler got involved.

In the spring of 1939 Great Britain and France knew they soon would be at war with Germany. Prior to the fighting, which began in September of 1939, two British Army officers appeared at June’s parents' front door. Would June please sell her Rolls to them for "King and country?" The British Army needed armored cars, lots of them, for fighting in the African desert. That Rolls chassis was so strong and massive it would do quite nicely for remodeling into an armored car.

How did they find June? Rolls-Royce kept very good records of their few customers. When a person who could afford a custom built Rolls needed a part, information or advice, Rolls "artificers" had all the information at their fingertips in case they needed to travel to the automobiles. Katmandu, Kansas or Kensington were all the same to the company. They knew where their autos were and who owned them whether they were maharajas or Missouri school girls. The Rolls-Royce Motor Company had a factory assembly and repair facility in New York. If an American customer just bought the engine,

chassis and running gear from the factory, they suggested New York’s Brewster Carriage Company to build a custom body to Rolls standards.

1937 Rolls Royse

A car that went to war, June Culley’s 1937 Rolls-Royce.

The handsome dashing officers with British accents, which make American girls' knees tremble, pled their case with June. Her dad was out of town and shortly thereafter the chauffeur was out of a job. She sold the car to them for $500. She does remember that her father wasn’t too happy about that. But as she told me, "I took that money, got on a train to New York City, found a boy (one C. Horton Emory by name) and married him. By the time the U.S. got in the war we were happily married and living on Dexter Avenue in Crestline where I still live to this day."

So, maybe it wasn’t such a bad trade after all.


Smile, We are on TV

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hanks to a $10,000 grant from Hatton Smith and Royal Cup Coffee the history of the area, featuring former JCHA President Tom West, can be seen on Charter public access channel 10, MBTV.

Mountain Brook Television, which formerly featured mostly sports shows, has grown more inclusive. The history segment is being coordinated by Susan Doidge from the Mt. Brook Chamber of Commerce and produced by Scott Mauldin of Vulcan Media. The first history segment featured the Old Mill and the Robert Jemison marker on Mountain Brook Parkway. The second was about the about the oldest house in Shades Valley and the Irondale Furnace marker on Montevallo Road.

Both markers were erected by the Jefferson County Historical Association. MBTV’s format features business and community information about Mountain Brook. While there are no published air times, the history segments are a part of what is titled "MBTV News" and can be viewed on Channel 10, if you are a Mt. Brook cable subscriber, Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 7:30 a.m. and Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 12:30 pm and again at 5:30 p.m, or on Channel 99 on ATT Uverse.

Future history segments are being planned. Tune Tom in.

Melrose Ice Cream Store

Shades Valley Sun, 1955



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