Hamilton County


Cpl. Merlyn Edwin Kallem




Germany, May 19, 1945.

Dear Aunt Ruth and Family:

I suppose that this was the last week of school and you are all set for a busy summer. It will still be a wartime summer but I hope some of the restrictions, rationing and shortages, will be relieved so it can once more be the “good old summertime”

I would like to see you all again this summer but the possibility of it being a stopover trip places a damper on one’s desires. The longer we are here, the more progress will have been made in that other theater. In spite of wanting it all over with, we have no craving to get in on anymore than is necessary.

Meanwhile we are living a life of ease. We live in a huge house, the dwelling of a gentleman farmer, who must have been a Nazi and taken off. According to the help and equipment there must be a large tract of land to it. Even the servant force is still here and they clean the entire building each day! That leaves us with even less to do. We pull a 24-hour guard about every third day; have had a few short periods of drill or hikes; and have, of course, a few of the routine details. We are comparatively free to walk about the town until the 9 p.m. curfew, which affects us as well as the civilians. The fraternization policy, that you have probably read about, restrains us from speaking to, dealing with, or entering the houses of civilians. As for me, I have no desire to have anything to do with them, those who do, can take their chances with a stiff penalty if they’re caught. They appear to be friendly, but we have spent enough time forcing that upon them.

Now that censorship restrictions have been eased, you might have some questions that you might like to have me answer. I know that you have been able to follow us in a general way through newspapers, etc. We are in a village by the name of Borues; the key to its location would be Magdeburg, but I’m not sure of the direction of distance. Magdeburg was the end of our campaign which took us near Hamelin, Hanover and Brunswick. Due to the desperation of the Luftwaffe we encountered them as we would have all along if they hadn’t been practically eliminated before “D” Day. With the exception of New Year’s day we experienced our first daylight attacks and the first strafing in a column. Imagine, if you can, a number of parallel roads, perhaps in a strip 10 miles wide or so, all lined with tanks, trucks, loaded with men and towing guns, jeeps and various other vehicles. At intervals of less than 100 yards and often at a standstill they make a good target for a strafing plane. Weakened enemy air power made columns like this and in turn sweeping drives through France and more recently, possible.

It was our bad luck to be in the streets of a village during the strafing but we set the gun down and fired at what we could. The concussion made the windows fall out but it was the first property damage those people suffered; they were lucky. We were more in the midst of it later and in a low level attack had a plane lose its wing directly in front of us and crash about 30 yards from us. Our battery received credit for something like 12 or 14 planes in that last lap. It let us lead the battalion.

New Year’s day we were unintentionally alerted for the attack when some German planes launched robot bombs just in front of our lines. They were out of range but when more planes came in low they were in utter confusion when we opened fire. They just circled around and didn’t know which way to go. We saw three go down; the (our) battalion got credit for about nine.

Things like what I have written were daily occurrences in the early stages of the war (North Africa, Italy, etc.), and we were fortunate that it wasn’t that way now. We more or less, enjoyed it because we have waited so long to do our part. Also we were busy at our job and didn’t think of being scared. I can’t say that for many other times when we were helpless to do anything about protecting ourselves.

Our experiences are not worthy of mention compared to those that many have had and we are thankful for it. We had an easy lot of it. Our section never suffered loss of life, wounds or even injury by accident. That wasn’t true in all of the other sections, however. We enjoyed the protecting care in answer to your prayers and ours.

This is the longest letter that you’ve gotten from me, but I’ve slighted you all a long time. Next time it will probably be the old story of lacking something to write. Thanks for your consistent writing, even though I didn’t write.

With love,
Merlyn Kallem

Source: Ellsworth News, Ellsworth, IA - June 13, 1945

Merlyn Edwin Kallem was born June 28, 1920 to Edwin J. and Mae J. Twait Kallem. He died Aug. 29, 2007 and is buried in the Eldora City Cemetery, Eldora, IA.

Cpl. Kallem served with the U.S. Army in World War II for 38 months, 20 of those in the European theater, including Normandy.

His Funeral Home Program:


Merlyn Edwin Kallem was born on Monday; June 28, 1920, in Ellsworth; Hamilton County, Iowa. Merlyn was the son of Edwin and Mae (Twait) Kallem. He was baptized and confirmed in Trinity Lutheran Church of Ellsworth and graduated from Ellsworth High School in 1937. He was a World War II veteran serving 38 months with the United States Army, 20 of those in the European theater, including Normandy. He moved to Hardin County in 1941. On Saturday; June 14, 1969 he was united in marriage to Doris Lewis. They farmed west of Eldora until 1976 when the family moved to Eldora where Merlyn worked for the Iowa State Training School for Boys retiring in 1982. He served on the board of Directors of Pine Lake Housing and volunteered for the Meals on Wheels program for over 16 years receiving the Governor's Award. As a member of Saint Paul Lutheran Church he served as usher, served on the finance committee, and was a member of the Education Building construction committee. Merlyn Edwin Kallem, age 87, of Eldora, Iowa passed away from natural causes on Wednesday; August 29, 2007 at the Eldora Nursing and Rehab Center. Those left to mourn his passing are: His wife: Doris. Children: Eric & his wife: Crystal of Dallas Center; Dallas County, Iowa. Peggy & her husband: David Nelson of Garden City; Hardin County, Iowa and Gloria Lewis of Nevada; Story County, Iowa. A sister: LuAnn Clark of Eldora, Iowa. His grandchildren: Lara Kallem, Trevor and Cody Nelson. Also several nieces, nephews and a host of friends. Preceding him in death was his parents. May they rest in peace. Visitation is from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. on Friday at the funeral home. Funeral services will begin at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday; September 1, 2007 at Saint Paul Lutheran Church in Eldora, Iowa with Pastor David Splett officiating. Burial will follow in the Eldora City Cemetery. ENGELKES~ABELS FUNERAL HOME is caring for the family and the arrangements.

Source: ancestry.com