Category Archives: Ralph Hoag

William A. Hall—Home Again

William Hall is pictured here, second from the right, with service buddies. The photo was probably taken after his return from overseas (as he seems to be wearing corporal’s stripes). It have been taken at Ft. Benning, Georgia.

The following report on ex-POW William Hall’s camp experience is from a Canandaigua-area (New York) newspaper—probably The Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, New York) as it is referred to in the article, circa August 1944.

Canandaiguan Visits Home After Nazi
Prison Escape

Canandaigua [New York]—“If it hadn’t been for the Red Cross food parcels none of us would have lived.”

Thus Pfc. William Hall sums up his nine months’ experience in Axis prison camps in almost the same words used by First Sgt. Earl W. Huddleston, Montgomery, W. Va., in the dramatic story of his escape from Camp 59, Italy, in the July and August issues of Cosmopolitan.

But while the West Virginian, apparently with the approval of public relations officers of the War Department details his capture, imprisonment and fight for freedom, the 28-year-old Canandaiguan, back home after two sensational escapes, had little to tell yesterday of his experiences.

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William A. Hall Returned to Safety

William Albert Hall

American Private First Class William A. Hall was reported returned to safety after capture, imprisonment, and escape in the following Canandaigua-area (New York) newspaper article circa late-June 1944.

This and other articles and photos concerning William Hall were provided by his daughter Nancy Elizabeth Suyak (Hall) of Jack, Alabama.

Canandaiguan Escapes Second Time from Axis Captors, Rejoins Unit

One of the first Canandaiguans to be taken prisoner of war, who escaped from the Italians and was recaptured by the Germans, is again at liberty and has rejoined his unit in the European Theater of Operations, according to word received by his father, John W. Hall, of this city.

He is Pfc. William H. Hall [sic—William’s middle name is Albert], a member of Co. A 18th Infantry, who enlisted in the Army in December, 1940, and went overseas in August, 1942. He saw service in England, Scotland, and North Africa, where he is believed to have been captured by the Germans in the Allied drive on Tunisia in December, 1942.

Gets Letter Today

Since Saturday, three messages have been received by Mr. Hall, one in his son’s handwriting, which arrived today and two telegrams, one from Pvt. Hall and the other from the War Department.

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New York Boys “Victims of War”

This news clipping is from a Canandaigua-area (New York) newspaper, circa late December 1942 or January 1943.

Ralph Hoag Prisoner of the Italians;
William Hall, Missing in Action

Two Canandaigua boys today are reported victims of war, one a prisoner, the other missing in action.

Ralph Hoag, Jr., son of Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Hoag, in a telegram received by Mr. Hoag, manager of Loblaw’s, was said to be a prisoner of war of the Italian government, but his whereabouts was not given and there were no details of when he was captured.

William Hall, 25, son of John Hall, South Main street, was also reported by telegram as being missing in action Dec. 24, but no details were received.

Hall, 25, who enlisted in the army about two years ago, had been serving in North Africa, according to letters received from him. He was in the same company with Hoag.

Hoag wrote his parents recently, giving an interesting account of his experiences in North Africa, together with details of his training and living conditions.

Another county resident, Capt. Martin J. Lawler, Jr., son of Mr. and Mrs. Martin J. Lawler, 24 Lyceum street, Geneva, was also reported to have been taken prisoner by the Italians. According to word received he was being detained “somewhere in Italy”. He was captured Nov. 29 by the Germans in Tunisia, according to the communication.

The photo of Ralph Hoag (left) was taken when he was interned at Stalag IVB, after escape from Camp 59 and recapture by the Germans. William Hall (right).

War Claims Compensation


Monetary compensation was offered to ex-POWs of World War II through the War Claims Act of 1948 passed by the United States Congress.

Ralph Hoag was compensated for the 28 month period he was held prisoner.

This letter from the War Claims Commission, dated December 8, 1952 (or possibly 1953), offers a detailed account of his compensation.

The award covers the period from December 24, 1942 to May 3, 1945—from his capture in North Africa to reunion with the Allied forces. However, Ralph was not paid for the nine days between his escape from Camp 59 and recapture by the Germans.

Also, Ralph explained to me that he got “no pay for wandering around Germany from April 23 to May 5 [while] trying to get across the Elbe River.” The Russians had liberated the prisoners of Stalag 3-A on April 22.

In other words, compensation was for the actual number of days Ralph Hoag was held prisoner.

Ralph Hoag—Escaped, then Recaptured


This 1943 Stalag 4B photo of Ralph Hoag was originally attached to his prison record. The prisoners took their own records from the office at Luckewalde after the Russians liberated the camp.

Many of the accounts on this site are of men who escaped from Camp 59 and made their way south to the Allied forces, or who were protected by the Italian farm families, the “contadini.”

Ralph Hoag, on the other hand, was free after the Camp 59 breakout for only nine days before being recaptured by German paratroopers.

He said of the escape:

“After the 59 breakout, eight of us were together—way too many to expect an Italian family to care for. We didn’t keep moving, but stayed in the woods and went to a farm for occasional food. I’m sure they reported our whereabouts to the Germans, because the Germans came right to us.

“We were returned to 59 along with most all of the others—half of which were British Tommies. I guess we were there two days. When it was time to move out there were two or three missing at roll call. The Germans threatened to shoot every tenth man until they were found.

“Finally, we were jammed into boxcars with crates of loot and bags of macaroni—so much so we couldn’t all lay down at once. That was a long 8–9 day trip. I think they let us out of the boxcars twice. We went through the Bremer Pass, into Germany—to Stalag IV-B.

“The German paratroopers respected the three for attempting to escape. They were hiding in the camp. The Germans knew no one had gotten out. They were treated fine and sent on to Germany, where they rejoined us a few days later.”

In addition to Camp 98 Sicily and Camp 59 Italy, Ralph was interned at:

Stalag 4B, Muhlberg Sachsen

Stalag 2B, Hammerstein, West Prussia

Stalag 3B, Furstenberg on the Oder, Brandenburg

Stalag 3A, Luckenwalde, Brandenburg

Read Ralph Hoag’s account of his POW experience at the site under “Bios/Memorials.”