Recent Acquisition: POW Scrapbook

The Library/Archives recently acquired a scrapbook relating to a Nebraskan’s military service during World War II and his capture and imprisonment in a German POW camp.  Quentin M. Coyle, a native of Valley, Nebraska, served as a Liberator bomber pilot during the war.  On April 24, 1944, Coyle’s plane was shot down over Germany and he was forced to parachute to safety.

Quentin M. Coyle in uniform. (NSHS RG5694.AM)

Quentin M. Coyle. (NSHS RG5694.AM)

After landing in the Black Forest region near Schappach, Germany, Coyle was captured and held in the local jail until he could be transferred to Stalag Luft III at Sagan (approximately 80 miles southeast of Berlin).  Coyle was held at Sagan until January 27, 1945, when Russian troops threatened the area and the Germans were forced to move their prisoners to Nuremberg.  Two months later he was moved to Moosburg.  It was there on April 29 (Coyle’s birthday) that General Patton’s Third Army liberated the prisoners.

The scrapbook contains the telegram to Quentin’s father, George Coyle,  from the War Department informing him that his son was currently “missing in action.”  Also included are various newspaper clippings about Quentin’s imprisonment.  However, the most interesting items contained in the scrapbook have to be the letters and postcards sent home by Quentin Coyle during his time as a prisoner of war.

Telegram from the War Department (NSHS RG5694.AM)

Telegram from the War Department. (NSHS RG5694.AM)

POW postcard, May 12, 1944. (NSHS RG5694.AM)

POW postcard, May 12, 1944. (NSHS RG5694.AM)

POW postcard, May 12, 1944, reverse. (NSHS RG5694.AM)

POW postcard, May 12, 1944, reverse. (NSHS RG5694.AM)

Quentin’s letters home describe life in the POW camp.  He talks about other Nebraskans that are in the camp and describes some of the daily activities the prisoners engage in to alleviate boredom.  He describes their garden plot, movies they’re allowed to see, and various athletic competitions.  He often asks his family to send additional warm clothing, candy and other food stuffs, and cigarettes (for trading).
POW letter, Dec. 20, 1944 (NSHS RG5694.AM)

POW letter, Dec. 20, 1944 (NSHS RG5694.AM)

This is just one of many collections that document a Nebraskan’s service and sacrifice during World War II.  To find out more about what other resources are available, check out our website.

Tom Mooney, Curator of Manuscripts

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6 Responses to Recent Acquisition: POW Scrapbook

  1. Melissa Marsh says:

    This is amazing! Thanks so much for sharing. Will have to stop by the archives some time and see it!

  2. Sheryl Schmeckpeper says:

    I agree with Marsha. This is amazing. What an interesting look at life as a POW. Do you have other POW stories in your archives?

  3. Mona Tipton says:

    Dear Mr. Mooney,
    I donated the Quintin Coyle scrapbook. He was my aunt’s brother and I found it while cleaning out her effects after her death. I just want to thank you so much for the wonderful job you have done with it. I am thrilled to see this documented and appreciated. I made the right decision entrusting it to your collection.
    Thank you so much.
    Mona Tipton

    • Tom Mooney says:

      Thank you for your gracious donation. I’m glad we were able to give this scrapbook a good home. It’s a wonderful addition to our collections, and I’m sure it will be appreciated by researchers for years to come.

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