Local Boys Freed From Nazis

Nutley Families Receive News Of Liberated POWs

SSgt. Albert Meyer in Prison Camp Since August 1943 Arrives Home

(May 25, 1945) -- Families of prisoners of war in Germany this week have been receiving the good news that their sons have been liberated, are well and will return home soon.

Among those who have been heard from either directly or through the American Red Cross, are SSgt. Albert Meyer of Wayne Place who arrived home Tuesday evening; SSgt. Albert Ralston of 90 Whitford Avenue; T/5 Stephen Paul Ondik of Florence Street; Lt. Robert Felsberg of Oak Street; Lt. Bernard E. Daniels Jr. of Lakeside Drive; Lt. Thomas J. Cox, formerly of Wharton Avenue, now of Arlington; SSgt. John W. Ryan, now of Chapel Hill, N.C.; and SSgt. Bob Leonard of Belleville, formerly of Elm Place.

Shot down August 17, 1943, over Southern Germany, SSgt. Meyer was taken to an interrogation camp where he met Lt. Gilbert Carlson of this town, a prisoner of war who has since been liberated. He was then sent to Stalag VII, where he met SSgt. William Mattoon of Grant Avenue.

Two months later, when a group of British prisoners arrived, he made his escape, only to be picked up a short time later. After his escape a British prisoner covered up for Sgt. Meyer by assuming his name and when he was recaptured and sent to Stalag 11 A he took the British soldier's name.

During his year and eleven months in that camp, he frequently wrote his mother, Mrs. A. A. Meyer, and sister, Mrs. Ernest Broadbent and his wife, the former June Haffeman of Riveredge under his new name which caused much speculation for many months.

Later he was moved from Stalag II to Stalag 357 near Bremen, from which he was liberated by the British April 16. He arrived in Nutley Tuesday evening.

While at Stalag II A the prisoners were housed in stables used in the last war, fifty men being housed in each stable, Sgt. Meyer said. "We slept on wooden beds," he continued, "and were given one third of a blanket. In cold weather the Germans would march us outside and make us stand there for hours and they would hit you with rifle butts  if you did not understand German. We learned the language quickly enough after that treatment.

"If it hadn't been for the Red Cross boxes some of us would not be getting home. Toward the end we didn't get any food at all but rotten spuds, turnips and boiled grass. We did not receive any Red Cross packages at the last because the Germans claimed their was no transportation to bring them in.

"We were very bitter when we heard how the German prisoners in America were being treated, especially when we saw one group of American prisoners who had made the 52-day death march across Germany, and were worn out and beaten when they arrived at the prison camp.

SSgt. Meyer joined the regular Army five and one-half years ago. He's a member of the 8th American Air Force, and served as an armorer gunner of a B-17 Fortress. He served in the submarine patrol in Puerto Rico and Panama from 1940 to the end of 1942. He wears the Atlantic Theatre ribbon, European Theatre ribbon with two battle honors, the Pre-Pearl Harbor ribbon, the Air Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, and the Marksman and Machine Gun Medals.

He has lived in Nutley since he was one year old, and was graduated from Nutley High School. Married May 9, 1943, and leaving for overseas the next day, Sgt. Meyer hopes after his 60-day leave is completed and he reports to Atlantic City for reassignment that he will remain in this country for awhile before being sent to the Pacific. His one aim in life is, he said, to settle down and lead a normal life.

T/S Ondik "Had It Rough"

"I've had it plenty rough since I left the Stalag with a few buddies a few days ago," wrote T/5 Ondik on May 7 to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Paul Ondik. "We were finally picked up by a G.I. truck," he continued, "and brought to this airport in Heideschaimer, this side of the Elbe. I am awaiting shipment by plane to the port of Le Havre and from there to the states by ship. I'm anticipating seeing you all shortly. Sit tight with plenty of beer on tap because I'll be coming in with wings on."

Ondik, who will celebrate his 29th birthday July 5, was a prisoner at Stalag III B for two years and three months. He served with a tank division before his capture and has been in service four years. He is a graduate of Nutley High School.

SSgt. Ralston Heard From

Mr. and Mrs. Albert D. Ralston this week received a form card from their son, SSgt. Ralston, a prisoner-of-war for 10 months, telling them that he was in British-American hands, was safe and well and would write as soon as possible.

Previously, the last word they had received was in March and when the letter was written, SSgt. Ralston was at Stalag Luft IV in Germany on the Baltic Sea.

Sgt. Ralston enlisted in November 1942 and went overseas in January 1944.  In May 1944 his plane was shot down and he and his companions walked 150 miles back to their base. After a rest he returned to duty and his plane was shot down over Austria at which time he was captured.

Twenty-two years old, Sgt. Ralston is a graduate of Nutley High School and before enlisting was employed as a draftsman at Wright Aeronautical in Paterson. Before his last mission as Engineer and gunner on a B-24 he had been awarded the Air Medal and one Oak Leaf Cluster.

Felsberg At Stalag Luft I

Lt. Felsberg was a prisoner at Stalag Luft I at Barth, Germany, and while there, his mother, Mrs. Charles Stahl, received one or two letters each month. The last was written Dec. 2 and was received on April 3.

She has not heard from her son since his liberation but was informed by a Newark newspaper that her son was among 56 liberated prisoners of war who are "well and will return soon." A list of liberated prisoners had been forwarded to the paper by an American Red Cross Field Director.

Lt. Felsberg was shot down Feb. 8, 1944, over Germany.

Lt. Daniels Overseas 20 Months

Lt. Bernard E. Daniels, Jr., an AAF pilot overseas 20 months, was a prisoner of war at Stalag Luft I for ten months. His wife, Mrs. Gladys Garraty Daniels, of Lakeside Drive has been informed by the American Red Cross field service that her husband has been liberated  and will be home soon. Mrs. Daniels has not heard from her husband in six months.

His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Bernard E. Daniels, recently moved from Elm Place to Cedar Grove.

Lt. Cox Cables Wife

Lt. Cox, who for many years lived on Wharton Avenue, sent a cable to his wife, Mrs. Thelma Cox, who is living in Elizabeth, telling her he is well and fit and hopes to see her soon. His mother, Mrs. J. M. Cox, now lives in Arlington.

First Pilot on a B-24, Lt. Cox spent 15 months at Stalag Luft I at Barth, Germany. His last letter home, written Dec. 20, was received Feb. 4.

Mrs. Cox also learned this week from the War Dept. that a police dog, the pet of another son, Sgt. John M. of the AAF, on duty in the Pacific, was being returned to civilian life after serving two years with the Coast Guard in the South Pacific.

SSgt. Ryan At Home

SSgt. John W. Ryan, son of Dr. and Mrs. Carson Ryan of Chapel Hill, N.C., formerly of Nutley, is now at home with his wife and six-months-old daughter. He was liberated April 21 from Stalag Luft III.

SSgt. Ryan was on his seventh mission when his plane was shot down over France last July. He was first reported missing, then in September, the government notified his wife that he was a prisoner of war in Germany.

In February his unit was marched for 52 days and en route he sold his watch for three loaves of bread. He lost 20 pounds during his imprisonment but has gained it back since he was liberated.

Sgt. Ryan reached Camp Kilmer last Tuesday and went from there to Fort Benning, then on to his home, where he will spend a 60-day furlough. He is a grandson of Mrs. Will Ryan of Church Street, and nephew of Mrs. David Hallidy, Miss Elsie Ryan, Walter G. H. and Chester H. Ryan of Maiden-On-Hudson, N.Y., and R.B. Ryan of Wyckoff.

Mr. and Mrs. John P. Leonhard, formerly of Elm Place, now of Elmwood Avenue, Belleville, this week received a cable from SSgt. Leonhard, a gunner and engineer on a Liberator Bomber, saying he is safe and well.


From The Nutley Sun

This original clipping, and others, provided by Linda Peaver, whose father Robert Lyle Peaver saved clippings about his friends' war efforts. His best friend was Nutley flyer T/Sgt. Thomas Maxham who lived next door and both entered service together.

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