Muscatine County

S/Sgt. Ralph Butler


Sgt. R. Butler, Nazi Prisoner, Sends Letter

Six months to the day from the date Staff Sgt. Ralph Butler was reported missing in action with the army air corps in a flight over Germany, his father, W. D. Butler, route 4, received his first letter from his son, written from a German prison camp.

Sgt. Butler, serving as a tail gunner in a Flying Fortress, was listed as missing since March 29 in a War Department message received by the father in April. In May the father received word from the War Department that the son was a prisoner of war.

Today, when the mailman stopped, he left a letter in which Sgt. Butler reported that he was getting “pretty good care” and expressed his thanks to the American Red Cross for “what they are doing for the boys over here.”

Sgt. Butler’s mother is in service with the Womens Army Corps at Fort Des Moines.

Source: Muscatine Journal and News-Tribune, September 29, 1944

Prisoner Ranks Expand As War Grows Intense In France and Germany

Hopes for an eventual happy reunion at the conclusion of hostilities with father, brother, son or husband, initially reported as “missing in action” has been spurred in a number of homes in Muscatine and nearby communities in southeastern Iowa and western Illinois by later information, advising that the missing service man was listed as a prisoner of war.

Anxious hours of hopeful waiting after official information listing men as “missing in action” has been followed in repeated instances by such data during the past year, as it was in former years of World War No. 2, as the number of men who have become members of the “Barbed Wire Legion”—prisoners of war—has increased.

Then, for families and for the members of the Barbed Wire Legion, as well, has followed a second interval of waiting—until through the channels of the International Red Cross, letters and communications have been re-established.

This, in turn, is followed by further waiting—waiting for that day when peace will return and the guns of war are silenced—when long days of confinement in distant camps and restriction of privileges will come to an end and families and friends may be reunited.

As the period of America’s participation in the war has lengthened, so has the number of men listed from this community as prisoners of war.

For some, stationed in the Pacific theater of action, three years have passed in prison camps. For others, captured in other fields of action, one year in a prisoner of war camp is stretching to a second. Others, participating in more recent actions, have spent lesser periods in prison camps.

From some of these men, relatives have received fairly regular, although restricted letters, advising of their treatment, the receipt of certain items of clothing, food and for recreational purposes through the Red Cross. From others only scratches of information have been received.

From official sources and from members of their families, brief sketches of the following men reported as prisoners, have been obtained:

STAFF SGT. RALPH BUTLER—William D. Butler, route No. 4, received word in May, 1944, that his son, Staff Sgt. Ralph Butler, was a prisoner of war of the German government. Sgt. Butler had been listed as missing in action over Germany since March 29, 1944. Sgt. Butler was a tail gunner on a Flying Fortress and had been overseas for more than a year when captured.

Source: Muscatine Journal and News-Tribune, Friday, December 29, 1944 (photo included)