Louisa County

Cpl. Phillip Downs



Number From Area Included On Missing Lists; Safety of Some Subsequently Reported.

“Missing in action.”
Official notifications from the war and navy departments, bearing this saddening information about a loved one, have come to a number of homes in this area since the Pearl Harbor attack back in the waning days of 1941.

For some relatives, this opening sentence was followed by happier information in the course of time. For others, where no further details have been received, only the hope will come, revealing the safety of a loved one.

For, in a number of cases, some of the men who were reported as missing in action were later reported to have rejoined their combat units, or rescued by comrades. Others, subsequent messages related, were being held prisoners by enemy countries and have communicated with relatives.

Others, about whom their commanders have had no additional information to relate, have, after an interval, been declared officially to have been killed in action.

And, for the parents and relatives of some, the suspense of waiting has continued month after month, as they clung to the hope that no news may be good news and that some day, soon if possible, a message may clear, reporting that the absent member is alive and well.

From official lists issued at intervals, augmented in instances by information obtained from relatives and friends, the following information relative to those from this area who have been reported missing in action was obtained.

Cpl. Phillip Downs, 26, serving with the U. S. armed forces in North Africa, was reported missing in action since the middle of February, according to a message received by his mother, Mrs. Frankie Downs, of Wapello.

Cpl. Downs spent his youth on a farm three miles west of Wapello and moved to town when his father was killed by lightning in 1920.

Source: Muscatine Journal and News-Tribune, December 30, 1943

Among those from this area who have been listed as missing in action in official dispatches to next of kin, and upon casualty lists of the armed services, are:

CPL. PHILLIP DOWNS—Mrs. Frankie Downs of Wapello was advised by the War Department that her son, Phillip Downs had been missing in action in North Africa since Feb. 27, 1943. He was a graduate of Wapello high school having lived near Wapello until 1920 when he moved into Wapello with his mother.

Source: Muscatine Journal and News-Tribune, Friday, December 29, 1944

Letters Received From Cpl. Downs After Liberation

Wapello—Mrs. Frankie Downs received two letters Tuesday from her son, Cpl. Philip Downs, prisoner of the Germans since Feb. 17, 1943, stating that he was liberated by the Russians and was well.  This letter was written May 9, and the second letter, dated Mothers day, May 13, conveyed the glad tidings that he was on the coast of France awaiting transportation home and probably would arrive before the letter. These were the first letters received since before Christmas.

Source: Muscatine Journal and News-Tribune, Wednesday, May 23, 1945

Phillip Roy Downs was born Aug. 7, 1916 to Roy and Frankie Menefee Downs. He died Nov. 12, 2002 and is buried in Wapello Cemetery, Wapello, IA.

Cpl. Downs served in World War II with the U.S. Army Anti-Tank Company, 168th Infantry and became a German POW.

Source: ancestry.com