Carroll Daily Times Herald

Carroll, IA

10 May 1945




Iowa Chaplain Wins Argument With Pastor of Nazi Church

By Frank Miles
(Daily Times Herald War Correspondent)

In Germany -- (IDPA) -- Captain Albert Mattheis, Dubuque, a hospital chaplain who was a Lutheran minister at Lockport, Minn., before he entered the army, had an argument with a local preacher at Frankfurt-on-Man.

The Iowan, who speaks the German language, asked the German pastor if he might conduct religious services for American soldiers in his church. The German immediately launched into a defense of the nazi policy of making forced laborers here of civilian men and women Hitler's forces had seized in conquered countries.

Captain Mattheis listened a few minutes, then interrupted.

"That's a question I do not care to discuss now," he asserted. "Please give me a answer to my request."

Long silence followed in which Captain Mattheis suspected he was getting a nazi glare.

"I don't know," the German preacher said with ill-concealed anger. "I'll think it over. If I decide you may use my house of worship I'll tell you the hours when it would suit my convenience."

"I am sorry to have to tell you this," said Captain Mattheis kindly but firmly, "but American troops occupy this city and we may do here anything we rightfully believe will advance our cause against our enemies.

"Religious services are of vital importance to us. Your church would not be damaged a particle by our use of it, so you inform me when you are not using it and I'll fit my schedule accordingly."

Captain Mattheis' logic won.

The captain has three sons, Darrell, 8; Dale, 6; and Dennis, 3, who are with Mrs. Mattheis in Dubuque.

Captain Edward Grossman, an army surgeon from Orange City, who is a native of Clearfield, introduced me to Captain Mattheis and to Lieutenant James Laughrey, Missouri Valley, hospital mess officer.

Captain Grossman was one of the the group of doctors, who had attended 30 suffering Americans brought from a German prison camp.

"The conditions of those boys was pitiable,' said Captain Grossman. "Most of them were suffering from grave complications caused by malnutrition. Every one had lost 25 to 30 pounds from living on a little soup and a bit of bread daily.

"Several wounds had been treated badly. A tall, handsome youth had to lose both feet as a result of German brutality. His feet were frost bitten after he was captured in the nazi outbreak last December. Instead of moving him in an ambulance they kept him on trucks with other captives for days. Continued freezing caused gangrene and amputation was necessary to save his life. There was absolutely no excuse for the nazi medics to do what they did with him because he showed them his feet at the outset and later pleaded for warm socks."

Six of the American patients were airmen.

"The Germans were especially harsh with those boys," said Captain Grossman. "One, a slender fellow normally, had been booted around and so starved he was little more than skeleton when he came to us.

"All of the prisoners were lousy. They said the German guards only laughed at complaints about vermin in their quarters."

Capt. Grossman has a son, Edward, Jr., 8 and a daughter, Deanna, 4.

Sgt. John Smith, Akron, a former farmer, was among the corpsmen I met at the hospital. He landed in France on D-Day and ministered to wounded comrades under heavy fire. Pfc. Eldo Scott, Clear Lake, was in his outfit

Maj. Russell Wilson, Sioux City, whom I met here, joined the R.A.F. in 1938, transferred to American air forces in 1942 and was flying a C-47. Geordie III" was the name of the major's ship. He flew "Geordie II," a B-17 in Russia and the "Geordie I" in combat before that.

Lieutenant Robert Ed Schutter, Buffalo Center, a service group commander, was another Iowan with whom I became acquainted. He is a graduate of Iowa State college and has two brothers in uniform. Lieutenant (jg) Cecil H., in the navy and Arthur Schutter, an engineer in the merchant marine.

My jeep driver and I were lost one day. He didn't have a watch. Mine had stopped. Our stomachs told us it was long past noon. We failed to bring K-rations.

An ack-ack group was eating at the roadside.

"Have you got a couple of K's to spare," I asked a GI.

"Talk to the boss there," was the reply.

Lieutenant Harry Burger, Iowa City was the boss.

T/4 Walter Hockstra, Cincinnati, Ohio, informed me he was born in Doon, Iowa.

Lieutenant Burger and his outfit were moving to where better shooting at nazi planes might be found.

Ossie Solem, football coach at Syracuse university and formerly of East High School, Des Moines, Grinnell College, Drake University, and Iowa University and I met by accident over here.

Staff Sgt. Ernest Clark, Pomona , Calif, an aerial photographer, who was in a plane with Solem, is the son of Dr. and Mrs Charles E. Clark, formerly of Onawa, Iowa. He has a twin brother, Staff Sgt Charles P. Clark, who is on duty at Lowry Field, Denver Colo.

The Fifth army in North Italy has decorated Iowans: [excerpt]

Distinguished Service Cross -- Cpl. Morris P Taylor, Belmond

Silver Star -- Sgt. Roman G. Hazel, Le Mars, 2nd Lt. Marvin B. Gephart, Mason City.

Corporal Nelson, a 37-millimeter gunner, was in a battalion that after taking enemy positions was subjected to such counterattack fire it had to withdraw. The Germans threatened a breakthrough. He refused to withdraw his platoon and moved to a 30 caliber machine gun - which had been abandoned. His accurate shooting halted the advancing Jerries but drew direct heat on him. The Iowan and another soldier withstood the terrific mortar and small arms bursts to hold their positions. When the tripod of his gun was damaged, Nelson fired the weapon with the water jacket across his left arm and kept on fighting for a half hour. The citation gave him credit for probably saving his battalion.

Sergeant Hazel displayed gallantry in action when, in the face of intense fire, he and comrades cleared a path through a heavily mined field to half an enemy advance.

Lieutenant Gephart and others were caught in a house into which the enemy poured hand grenades, smoke bombs, machine gun and rifle fire. He raced upstairs and opened fire on the attackers with a heavy caliber machine gun. When it jammed, he jumped to the top of the emplacement and turned a withering fire on his foes with a light machine gun he found mounted there. His example so inspired his men they repulsed the attack.

Source: Carroll Daily Times Herald, May 10, 1945

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