Plymouth County

Sgt. Melvin "Barney" Bollin



Mr. and Mrs. R. E. Bollin, whose paratrooper son, Barney Bollin, is a prisoner of war in Germany, have succeeded in contacting Don Boam, a member of the company to which Barney belonged, and he sent them a little information as to how Barney happened to be captured. Apparently, Barney was left in charge of a radio while other units went ahead. The Germans flanked the lone radioman and captured him. His “buddy” writes that he hears all of the paratrooper who were captured that day are still together and well treated. The Bollins’ also learned that their other son, Sgt. Gayland Bollin, and Hilbert Ludwigs, both of LeMars, are now in India.

Source: LeMars Globe-Post, January 1, 1944

Sgt. Barney Bollin Is Among American Prisoners Liberated

Mr. and Mrs. R. E. Bollin have received two letters from their son, Barney, the last written in December and delivered here Feb. 1. He is a German prisoner.  He has not been moved but clearly liberated by now.  According to reports received some boys from Sibley and Muscatine were known to have been in the same camp with him and now have been released and next of kin have been notified.  Barney was with the 82nd airborne division paratroopers was captured in
Sicily, July 10, 1943. 
Below is a copy of his letter written Dec. 25:

Dear Mom and Dad and everyone,
Yes it’s been another Christmas in Germany. I couldn’t believe it, if I wasn’t here. I know you’ve thought about us here and we’ve done the same. Too much! But we had a pretty good Christmas after all. The Red Cross made it pretty nice for us. You must give to them for without them, I think we would never make it. Some day you will know the truth of things here.

Hope you are all well and had a good Christmas. I know you did. Mom, I’m at the same farm I’ve always been at. It’s been an over a year already. I haven’t moved. As yet I have not received your Christmas parcel of September, but it will come later. Got two letters from you last Thursday you wrote in April. Sort of old. I’ve gotten October mail from you, however. Hope Gale is still OK. Incidentally, I’m all right but make no promises. I guess you’re having a heavy snow storm now. The last letter I got from Vi was written June 30.

Hope you have sent some Cools, cigars, and Rum & Maple pipe tobacco. Send any kind of food. No clothes or soap. I can’t eat them. Time is sure going by. Tell people to write, Mom. Love, Barney

Source: LeMars Globe-Post, Monday, February 19, 1945


Was Captured In Paratroop Invasion of Sicily

Sgt. Melvin Bollin arrived home this week after a long stay in German prison camps, from which he was not released until after surrender. Barney was one of the paratroopers who landed in Sicily when the invasion opened from Africa and was with one of the groups who were taken because they were unable to establish contact with their own forces.

From then on he was in one prison camp after another at one time marching 1,000 kilometers from one camp to another with no other food than about a half pound of boiled potatoes each day and occasional chunk of black bread.

Most of the time while in prison in Germany he worked on farms as an overseer of other United States prisoners. This work he says was not too hard but they were paid 30 cents a day but had little need for money because they could buy nothing with it.

In prison camp their food was supplied largely by the Red Cross whose weekly packages came through quite regularly and saved a food situation which grew steadily worse as German transportation became disorganized. The Red Cross also furnished them regular U.S. Army uniforms.

Barney was injured in the face and hand by shrapnel and was run down by his long experience in prison camp but is now well and in fine condition. After a 30-day leave he will return to Schick hospital, Clinton, for a re-check and reassignment.

Source: LeMars Semi-Weekly Sentinel, July 13, 1945

NEWS of the Boys in the Service.

Cpl. Melvin Bollin, who has been in Schick hospital at Clinton, Iowa, most of the time since his return from overseas, is in LeMars on a 45-day furlough after which he will report to Fort Sam Houston in Texas.  “Barney” is a paratrooper and was captured in the invasion of Sicily and held a prisoner until the war ended. Since his return, he has spent most of his time in the hospital from which he was released last week.

Source: LeMars Semi-Weekly Sentinel, October 23, 1945

Bollin Brothers Return From Army Service To Settle in LeMars

Staff Sergeant Gayland Bollin arrived in the United States Wednesday aboard the USS Gen. Callen at Seattle, Washington.  He will be discharged from his military duties at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, this week.  He has served two years and seven months with the 899th Ordnance H.A.M. Co., in Assam, India.  He entered the service on July 23, 1942.  He will resume his work with his former associates at the LeMars Oil Company.

“Barney” Bollin, his brother, whom he has not seen in four years, will arrive in LeMars this weekend.  Corporal Bollin was discharged from military service at Ft. Sam Houston, Texas, January 20, and will soon take up his former duties with Claussen’s Plymouth Cleaners.  Gayland and Barney are sons of Mr. and Mrs. R. E. Bollin of LeMars.

Source: The Semi-Weekly Sentinel, Tuesday, February 5, 1946