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Bradley says he just ran away from prison camp

LEADINGTON – “I was just born and they sent me over,” explained a very young-looking Edward D. Bradley of Farmington.

Bradley spent six months in a German POW camp during World War II before he escaped.

“I don’t know if you would say I escaped,” he explained. “I just ran away.

“We were working and two Russian fighter planes swept down over us. It scared those Germans so bad they took off and I just took off in the opposite direction.

“I didn’t know where I was or where I was going. I just walked into the country until I found a farm house with a barn. I stayed there for a few days and a couple of little boys about 10 or 11 years old brought me some food,” Bradley said.

“One day I found a truck that had the keys in it and I just drove away.”

The former POW said he ended up in Prague, Czechslovia.

“When I arrived, there were some SS troops there and they shot my truck up. So, of course, I got out and just ran across the street.

“Some university professors found me and took me home with them. I had fleas and lice, so they got me a bath and some food.”

Bradley said they eventually got in touch with the American authorities who housed him in a hotel until he could be flown to France.

“It was Camp Lucky Strike and what I remember most was they wouldn’t let me eat at the mess hall. I only weighed about 86 pounds and they kept telling me if I ate, it would make me sick. I guess because I wasn’t used to eating too much.”

Bradley said he was finally put on a boat and shipped back to the states.

He was with the 106th, attached to the 2nd Division at the Battle of the Bulge when he was captured.

“We were just cannon fodder,” he explained, then stopped. “You know what cannon fodder is don’t you? Well, when they even ran out of cannon fodder, they sent us up to be some more cannon fodder.”

The men had run out of food and Bradley said it was cold and snowy and the planes couldn’t get to them to bring in supplies. “We were just out of everything,” he said.

Eventually he was wounded during an artillery barrage.

“I was just lying there and two German soldiers came at me with fixed bayonets. I thought they were going to kill me, but they put me in a cart and took me to a hospital.”

Bradley explained that the POWs didn’t get too much to eat but other than that, if they did what they were told to do, the Germans weren’t too hard on them.

“We got one loaf of bread for 10 men and if you got out of line, they would whop you,” he said.

Bradley was one of four former POWs who was honored Saturday at the Leadington VFW Post 5741 POW/MIA service.

Also present were Ralph Heine and D.J. Hughes, both Army POWs from World War II and Jack Stegall, an Army POW from the Korean War.

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