Christmas in Captivity


This V-mail Christmas card, dated November 22, 1941, was sent by Matthew Brazil to his sweetheart (and later wife) Doris Greenquist of San Jose, California.

On December 11, Matt’s plane was shot down near Naples while on a bombing run, and he was captured.

The following San Jose area newspaper articles, document the details of his disappearance and capture, and his mother’s first communications about him.

One of the articles mentions a Christmas card sent by Matt to his mother on the same day time he sent the V-mail card to his girlfriend.


Of hundreds of Xmas cards sent servicemen by CofC [presumable chain of command, the military organization from the individual soldier to President Roosevelt] only one has come back. Addressed to PFC Matthew P. Brazil of a bomber squadron in England or Africa, the cards was returned…ominously rubber stamped: “Missing in Action.” To make sure of it, these two endorsements were written on the envelope: “Missing in Action—Herbert B. Law, 2nd Lt. A. C.” & “Missing in Action—Robert R. Sewell, Capt. A. C.”


Matthew P. Brazil Missing in Action

Mrs. Jennie Brazil of 108 Myrtle street, received word Thursday from Washington that her son, Sgt. Matthew P. Brazil, of the air corps, is missing in action.

The telegram read:

“The secretary of war desires me to express his deep regret that your son, Sergeant Matthew P. Brazil, Air Corps, has been reported missing in action in North Africa since Dec. 11. Additional information will be sent you when received.”

Mrs. Brazil received a Christmas card from her son Wednesday, dated November 22. He entered service about a year ago, and left for training in New Jersey last June. He was born in San Joaquin valley, but received his education in Santa Cruz schools. He was a printer in San Jose when he entered service and has one sister, Mrs. William Smith, in Los Angeles.


Sgt. M. Brazil Is Prisoner Of War In Italy

Sgt. Matthew P. Brazil of 108 Myrtle street, reported to have been missing in action, is now a prisoner of war in Italy, according to word received here by Mrs. Jennie Brazil, his mother.

Mrs. Brazil recently received a message from Chaplain M. J. Broussard of the 98th Bombers, telling her that the plane in which Matthew Brazil was flying was seeing to land in the ocean near Italy, and that they had received a radio communique from Italy, confirming the fact that the crew had been interned as prisoners of war.

“I am sure they are doing well,” the chaplain wrote, “as the Italians are known to be very considerate of the prisoners.”

Chaplain Broussard advised Mrs. Brazil to contact the National Red Cross in order to reach her son. He said that in due time she should hear from him although it would be some time before the slow mail service would pass the letter.

The war department will continue to pay Sgt. Brazil his salary and allotment through the duration, the chaplain stated.

Brazil was born in the San Joaquin valley but received his education in Santa Cruz schools. He was working as a printer in San Jose when he entered the service about a year ago. He left for training in New Jersey in June.


San Jose Youth, Reported Missing, Captive In Italy

Sergeant Matthew Brazil, who lived at 322 Delmas until his enlistment in the army air force in October, 1941, and who was reported missing in action last December, is a prisoner of war in Italy, according to word received by Miss Doris Greenquist, 325 Gifford. He had been in active service as an aerial gunner in North Africa since August, 1942.


Mrs. Jennie Brazil Receives Letter From Her Son

October 18th was a red letter day for Mrs. Jennie Brazil of 108 Myrtle street, for it brought a letter from her son, Sgt. Matthew Brazil from Italy, where he has been a prisoner of war since Pearl Harbor. He was picked up at sea and was taken to an Italian hospital where he has been treated for injuries.

She received a message through the Red Cross and another through the Vatican, but this was the first one written by her son, and it was mailed May 4 under U. S. censorship. He writes, “Say hello to all my friends for me. Wish I could get a letter from you and some from them, for I do not get any mail.” Mrs. Brazil was delighted to see his own hand writing.



Mrs. Jennie Brazil, 108 Myrtle street, has received a direct and personal message from her son, Sergeant Matthew Brazil, who is in an Italian prison camp, that he has been released from the hospital at Salerno, and now weighs even more than he did before his injury.

Mrs. Brazil received word in December that the plane in which her son was an aerial gunner was seen to land in the ocean near Italy and official notification came a short time later that he was an Italian prisoner of war.

The only other news Mrs. Brazil has had of Matthew was an Easter card sent by the Vatican via Holy Cross school here. The message received this week was delivered through the International Red Cross.

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