Above: American soldier Willman King superimposed against a page of his address list.
Like Clifford Houben, Charles Simmons, and many other POWs, Willman King kept a list of men he met while a prisoner.
Like Clifford Houben, Willman recorded his addresses on traced dog tags.
Because there are no notations in this list and because Willman was recaptured after escape from Camp 59 and sent to Germany, we can’t be sure which names and addresses were gathered in Camp 59 and which were collected later.
All the same, it’s good to have this document for future cross reference. Thanks to Willman’s son Joseph King for sharing this list.
R. B. Lipps
410 Ninth St. [street address is unclear]
6252 South Spalding
During WW II citizens in their homes across the U.S. listened to shortwave radio broadcasts for information about Allied POWs.
The broadcasts came from behind enemy lines. Faithful listeners recorded what they heard and attempted to relay information about the soldiers to their families.
The following two notes regarding a September 1944 broadcast were sent to Willman King’s father, Emery King.
A September 1944 broadcast would have come over three months after Willman was recaptured by Axis forces on June 1, 1944. (He had escaped from Camp 59 on September 1943 and evaded the enemy for 8 1/2 months).
Sept. 11th, 1944.
Mr. Emery King,
Detroit Lakes, Minn.
Heard over Short Wave that Pvt. William King -37093828, is a prisoner of Germany. Part of his message to you was:- “I am well. Love – Bill.” Thought you may not have heard the broad-cast. We listen every night, as my son. St Sgt. Richard M. Osbourne, is missing in action over France since Aug. 13th and we hope to hear good news of him soon.
Mrs. E. W. Osbourne
7 W. 31st St.,
Note: The U.S. National Archives lists Staff Sergeant Richard M. Osbourne of Georgia, Army Air Corps (heavy bomber), was “returned to military control, liberated or repatriated” from Stalag 17B in Austria—Mrs. Osborne was to have her good news in time.
Emery and Clara Pearl King and their two sons, Willman and Guilford. Clara Pearl died of a heart attack not long after this photo was taken. She passed away in November 1936 at the age of 38.
Emery King with sons Willman and Guilford, circa 1940–41.
Willman King, late fall 1945. The photo was taken in front of the farm home where he worked before WW II.
“The man with my dad and string of fish is Carl Eidensheink,” says Joe King. “He was a farmer my dad worked for as a hired man.” Circa 1938–39.
I received an email from Joseph M. King in January of this year. Joe wrote:
“I am sending information that I believe will add one more man to your list of Camp 59 survivors. He is my father, Willman I. King (Pvt. 37093828). He was born in 1919 and he died in 1980.
“Sometime in the late 1970’s, when I was home for a short visit, I did a mini-interview with Dad one evening at the dinning table. I was only about 30 years old, so I had very limited life experience to ask the in-depth questions I would ask today. But at least I got a small sketch of the chain of events from dad’s enlistment in the Army to his capture in North Africa. I say enlist because that is what his friend Johnnie Eidensheink told me Dad did.
Click on the image above for access to a file that can be enlarged for better viewing.
Willman King—prisoner of war
Monday, April 2, 1979
[The Becker County Record serves Becker County and Detroit Lakes, Minnesota.]
By Larry Windom
In 1942, one of the persons to take part in the initial landing in Africa was Willman King.
He landed in North Africa and helped capture the city of Oran, Algeria, a couple of days later.
King spent about three weeks in Oran and one of his duties while there was to watch some prisoners. They were political prisoners, he recalls, like German counselors and attaches.
Just the other day, King reflected back to the fall of 1942 while sitting at his kitchen table in his home 8 miles east of Detroit Lakes. Recalling watching the prisoners, he stated, “At that time, I never thought that I would be taken prisoner, too. One thing we never considered was being taken prisoner. I think that was true of the others, too. It just never occurred to us.”
But King was taken prisoner shortly afterwards. In fact, he spent most of his army career as a prisoner of war.