Category Archives: Matthew Brazil

Matt Brazil Recuperating


The U.S. National Archives database of WW II POWs lists Matt Brazil as having been a prisoner, but the record doesn’t include a camp name.

A couple of things mentioned in Laura Rawson’s article, “The Story of Sergeant Matt Brazil….,” and the Fog Horn article seem to reinforce that he was in Camp 59:

The article above mentions two British doctors. The two British doctors in Camp 59 were J. H. Derek Millar and Adrian Duff, both Scottish. The article also mentions a dentist—who was named Hogson, according to Giuseppe Millozzi.

Matt mentions getting mail regularly, which was not true in all camps.

Camp 59, though not in Ancona, is near to it. Matt’s estimate of their being around 1,300 prisoners (about 1,100 British and 200 Americans) in camp is close. The number in Camp 59 at the time of the escape is generally estimated at 2,000. Giuseppe Millozzi refers to Italian military authority records in giving the count of prisoners in March 1943—close to the time Matt would have arrived there—as 1,445 British and 464 Americans.

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Freedom for Matt Brazil


The Story of Sergeant Matt Brazil, Shot Down at Naples,
A Prisoner, Then Freedom

December 1943
By Laura Rawson

Sergeant Matthew Brazil, son of Mrs. Jennie Brazil of Santa Cruz, an aerial gunner who shot down [by] an enemy plane after it had disabled the Liberator on which he was a gunner over Naples December 11 of last year, and who escaped from an Italian prison camp less than three months ago, is bringing a happy ending to 1943 after all, for last Sunday he married Doris Greenquist of San Jose, to whom he became engaged before going overseas.

He will receive the purple heart and the air medal for his heroic efforts. His troubles are not entirely over yet, for he will undergo an operation to correct adhesions in the tendons of his injured leg soon. Sgt. Brazil is assigned to Hamilton Field when his 30-day furlough is over. He does not expect to be sent back to the European theatre but says, “I wouldn’t mind taking a look at the Japs.”

He says the most exciting moment was when he landed a short time ago on American soil in Newport News, Virginia. “I felt like getting down and kissing the ground,” Sgt. Brazil declared.

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Family Parcels


This two-page memo from the U.S. War Department contains instructions for families on how to prepare packages to be sent to prisoners of war and civilian internees overseas.

The memo is from Matt Brazil and Bonnie Jacobsen (née Brazil), whose father, Staff Sgt. Matthew P. Brazil, was a POW at Camp 59. Matthew’s family undoubtedly used these guidelines in putting together parcels for him.

The parcels are the American equivalent of what British prisoner Robert Dickinson, in his camp journal, “Servigliano Calling,” called “next of kin” personal parcels.

Here is a transcription of the War Department memo:

Services of Supply
Office of the Provost Marshal General

March 11, 1943

The Provost Marshal General directs me to inclose a label which may be used within the date stamped thereon for the purpose of sending a prisoner of war or civilian internee parcel. Should you desire to use the label, it is suggested that the following mailing package instructions be strictly followed.

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Red Cross Parcels


This list of contents for American Red Cross “Standard Package No. 8” was provided by Matt Brazil and Bonnie Jacobsen (née Brazil).

I am pleased to share it.

The Red Cross document above reads:

Form 1631-P
Feb. 1942

American Red Cross


Evaporated Milk, irradiated – 1 – 14 1/2 oz. can
Lunch Biscuit (hard-tack) – 1 – 8 oz. package
Cheese – 1 – 8 oz. package
Instant Cocoa – 1 – 8 oz. tin
Sardines – 1 – 15 oz. tin
Oleomargarine (Vitamin A) – 1 – 1 lb. tin
Corned Beef – 1 – 12 oz. tin
Sweet Chocolate – 2 – 5 1/2 oz. bars
Sugar, Granulated – 1 – 2 oz. package
Powdered orange concentrate (Vitamin C) – 1 – 7 oz. package
Soup (dehydrated) – 1 – 5 oz. package
Prunes – 1 – 16 oz. package
Instant Coffee – 1 – 4 oz. tin
Cigarettes – 2 – 20’s
Smoking Tobacco – 1 – 2 1/4 oz. package

The WW2 US Medical Research Centre website has some interesting details on Red Cross food and medical parcels and first aid kits, including photographs of contents.

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.”

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Axis Camps in Europe


This map of Axis POW camps in Europe was published by the American National Red Cross during World War II.

A map index is divided into: prisoner of war camps, civilian internee camps, and hospitals.

The map was provided by Matthew James Brazil and Bonnie Jacobsen (née Brazil), whose father, Matthew Philip Brazil, was an American prisoner at Camp 59 after being shot down in on December 11, 1942 over Naples, during one of the first Allied raids against the Italian mainland.

Note that the dot marking Camp 59 is circled and “Matt” is written to the left of the camp name.

In his note to me, Matt said of the map, “I understand Matt’s mother obtained it during his incarceration. Matt probably wrote on the map after he returned to the U.S. in late 1943.”

Matt believes, based on stories, newspaper accounts, and letters, that his father escaped by before the mass breakout from Camp 59 in September 1943.

Some of those documents will be forthcoming in posts to this site.