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International Committee of the Red Cross Prisoner of War Items

This helpful guide was provided to the families of American servicemen captured and interned during World War I. (U.S. Air Force photo)

This helpful guide was provided to the families of American servicemen captured and interned during World War I. (U.S. Air Force photo)

This map was provided to families by the Red Cross. It shows the location of all German POW camps, circa May 1916. The location of the Karlsruhe intelligence station was hand noted on the map for the family of Lt. James D. Adams. (U.S. Air Force photo)

This map was provided to families by the Red Cross. It shows the location of all German POW camps, circa May 1916. The location of the Karlsruhe intelligence station was hand noted on the map for the family of Lt. James D. Adams. (U.S. Air Force photo)

This card was handed out to American POWs in Germany by the Red Cross. This simple questionnaire enabled the Red Cross to promptly inform families that their loved one had been captured and establish the material needs of the individual prisoner. (U.S. Air Force photo)

This card was handed out to American POWs in Germany by the Red Cross. This simple questionnaire enabled the Red Cross to promptly inform families that their loved one had been captured and establish the material needs of the individual prisoner. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Note: These items are currently in storage.

During World War I, the International Committee of the Red Cross was instrumental in establishing the welfare of captured military personnel. The Red Cross monitored compliance of the 1906 Geneva Convention and centralized information from prisoners of war (POW), reconnecting them via correspondence with their families back home. The Red Cross also provided food, clothing and personal items to captured servicemen and observed treatment and hygiene at POW camps. 

These items were provided to American pilot and POW Lt. James D. Adams by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

At the height of the Meuse-Argonne offensive, Adams and observer Lt. Henry Bash were attached to the American First Army Headquarters at Souilly, France. On Oct. 21, 1918, they were ordered to undertake a low-altitude survey of the front, during which their two-ship reconnaissance flight encountered six Fokker aircraft over Dun-sur-Meuse. In the ensuing fight, Bash was gravely wounded and their aircraft was downed a mile inside German lines. Adams was immediately captured and separated from his observer and spent the next six weeks as a POW in Germany, first at Karlsruhe and later at the Villingen POW camp. Adams wrote the following regarding his experiences with the Red Cross:

"During the rest of my sojourn with the enemy the Red Cross organization made our life pleasant and comfortable in every possible way, distrusting rations and clothing, kits, books, and tobacco liberally."

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