Tribute to Uncle Walter – WWII POW

Frequently on Memorial Day Dad would tearfully share his brother’s story. Dad was in the Air Force and stationed in the US; however, his brother was in the Army in the European Theater.

Uncle Walter was captured by the German’s during the January 1945 WWII Battle of the Bulge. He was thrown into Stalag IX-B, also known as Bad Orb, POW camp where he stayed for several months.

Somehow Uncle Walter was able to keep his cigarettes, which while they lasted, he was able to trade for food.

One cigarette = One potato…shared with other prisoners.

Held behind enemy lines in the worst conditions, Uncle Walter faced certain death…disease, starvation and cruelties.

Prisoners of Bad Orb were not provided soap or towels. There was only one water tap…cold water…for each 160 person barrack. There was just a hole in the ground for a toilet. By the end of the war the camp held over 4,700 American POWs, far more than it was equipped to handle.

There were no beds. Prisoners slept in shifts as there was not enough room on the floor for all of them at one time.

Remembering this family history I searched online the U.S. National Archives Stalag IX-B Prisoner of War records. There was his name…seeing his name in black and white was overwhelming. Although I had heard this story many times while Dad was alive, it just seemed more real today…more than just a family folklore.

Uncle Walter drove my maid of honor and me to our wedding. It was because of the April 2nd 1945 U.S. Liberation of the POWs at Bad Orb he was able to chauffeur us.

Dad said tanks crashed through the fences to free the prisoners.

I can’t even begin to imagine what was going through his mind when he was freed.

As I typed this post at this point in this entry I opened my Bible App to search for a Scripture…and God surely provided. The Scripture Verse for the day popped up…

“But I will sing of Your mighty strength and power; yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy and loving-kindness in the morning; for You have been to me a defense (a fortress and a high tower) and a refuge in the day of my distress.” Psalm 59:16 AMP

YES!! Oh, YES!! God is in the details.

Knowing Uncle Walter I am assured he knew God was his refuge in his days of distress. I am certain he sang of God’s mercies the day his status changed to LIBERATED.

Today as we celebrate Memorial Day I thank all the men and women who have served and are serving in our Armed Forces. It is because of your sacrifice I can worship my Lord without fear, write this without reprisal, and speak my mind.

Dear Reader, did you know that Memorial Day originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the fallen Union soldiers of the Civil War? Tomorrow I will share Dad’s story of his great-grandfather, a Civil War POW.

Dear Readers, have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend.

Blessings, Susan

2 thoughts on “Tribute to Uncle Walter – WWII POW

  1. james k. sell

    I had a great uncle Walter that served in the he to served at the battle of the bulge and was taken p .o. w heard stories from my father about him and even seen letter he wrote to my great grand parents. the story made me think of him ty so much


    1. James, I am so glad you enjoyed the story about my Uncle Walter. I have such fond memories of him. He was the one that drove me to my wedding almost 40 years ago!! When I saw his name listed on the POW camp’s names of prisoners it was overwhelming…it made it so real and hard to believe the man I knew as Uncle had to endure such pain and suffering. Blessings, Susan


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