Sioux County

S/Sgt. Lester Van Gorkum



Neal Van Gorkum of Maurice received the sad news Monday that his son, Sgt. Lester Van Gorkum, a gunner on a bomber is missing in action over Germany. Lester had almost completed 20 bombing missions, and was to have a furlough on completing these missions.

Source: Sioux Center News, April 27, 1944 (photo included)


S/Sgt. Lester Van Gorkum, son of Mr. Neal Van Gorkum of Maurice, has been reported missing since April. Three weeks ago, Mr. Van Gorkum received a message through the Red Cross that he is a prisoner in Germany. Lester was a gunner on a bomber and was thought to have landed over Denmark when taken prisoner.

Source: Sioux Center News, June 29, 1944 (photo included)

War Prisoner’s Letter Enroute Six Months

Lester Van Gorkum, German war prisoner since April 29th, 1944, gets very little mail if the letters received from him are any indication of the length of time required for their passage. His brother in Des Moines received a letter from Lester on Jan. 2, 1945, which had been written on July 4th, 1944. At that time he had received no mail at all since he was taken prisoner. He had then been in the prison hospital several weeks following the amputation of his right hand. He had six blood transfusions, and expected to remain in the hospital several weeks longer. The doctor who cared for him was an Englishman, who had been a prisoner for four years.

Source: Sioux Center News, January 11, 1945

Honorable Discharges:

The following me have received honorable discharges from the Armed Forces: S/Sgt. Lester Van Gorkum of Maurice, July 27;

S/Sgt. Van Gorkum, who saw action in the European theater, is now seeking ways to return to Ireland, where it is rumored a colleen waits for him. (O.C. Capital)

Maurice Times:
Lester Van Gorkum arrived home last Friday from Temple, Texas, where he has been receiving medical aid for the amputated hand which he suffered in the service of his country. He has received his honorable discharge.

Source: Sioux Center News, August 16, 1945

Lester Van Gorkum left Thursday for a days visit with his brother, John and family at Des Moines enroute to New York City, from where he will sail for Ireland, where he will be married to an Irish colleen he met while in the armed services.

Source: Alton Democrat, October 4, 1945

Word was received here that Lester Van Gorkum flew to Ireland after waiting for sometime for his passage way. He landed in southern Ireland and is now waiting for special permission to go to northern Ireland.

Source: Sioux Center News, December 27, 1945


Lester Van Gorkum of Maurice, discharged veteran who lost his hand while in the service, returned to Ireland in December to wed his Irish fiancée, Miss Olive Todd of Belfast, Ireland. Probably one of the few G.I.’s who made the return trip overseas voluntarily so soon after the war, he will return to the States in the spring with his bride.

Source: Sioux Center News, February 14, 1946

Maurice Times:
Lester Van Gorkum came home last weekend from Ireland.

Source: Sioux Center News, May 9, 1946

Maurice Times:
Lester Van Gorkum received word last week of a daughter born to him and his wife. Mrs. Van Gorkum resides in Ireland.

Source: Sioux Center News, October 24, 1946

Maurice Times:
Lester Van Gorkum left Thursday for New York where he will his wife and baby, who are arriving January 21 from Ireland.

Source: Sioux Center News, January 23, 1947

Maurice Times:
Mr. and Mrs. Lester Van Gorkum and daughter, Patricia Ann, arrived in Maurice on Wednesday, Jan. 29. Mrs. Van Gorkum, the former Olive Todd of North Ireland, traveled with three month old Patricia Ann to New York, where Mr. Van Gorkum met them.

Source: Sioux Center News, Thursday, February 13, 1947

Maurice Times:
Lester Van Gorkum returned from New York where he brought his wife and daughter who sailed last Monday for a few months visit in Ireland.

Source: Sioux Center News, October 9, 1947

Lester Wilson VanGorkum was born Sept. 21, 1915 to Cornelius and Gesiena Warntjes VanGorkom. He died May 28, 1979 and is buried in Memphis Cemetery, Memphis, MO.