Mitchell County

S/Sgt. Elmer J. Mormann

Black Hawk County



One Killed, Five Missing in Action in European theater of operations

War casualty lists mounted Friday in Waterloo with reports that five soldiers were missing in action and another had been killed in the European theater. The news sent the toll to 12 in two days, six having been reported missing Thursday.

Friday’s reported casualties were:
Pfc. Harold E. Waltemeyer, 20.
Staff Sgt. Clinton H. McKinney, 20.
Pfc. Robert E. Sackett, 32.
Sgt. T. Wayne Black, 24.
Sgt. Elmer J. Mormann, 26.
Pfc. Clyde L. Stitt, 22.

Sgt. Mormann and Private Stitt were reported as missing since Dec. 21, the other three since Dec. 16.

Sergeant Mormann, formerly of 410 Randall street, was reported missing in action since Dec. 21 in Germany, according to word received by his wife, who with a son is residing in Denver, Ia., at the home of her mother, Mrs. Emma Foelske.

Sergeant Mormann, who left for overseas duty in November, 1944, was stationed in England, France and Belgium, before moving on to Germany.

He was employed by the Kraft Cheese Co. here before entering service in March, 1943, and received his basic training at Ft. Jackson, S. C., and Camp Atterbury, Ind.

His last letter, dated Dec. 13, was written in Belgium. He was last home on furlough in August, 1944.

He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Andrew J. Mormann of Stacyville, Iowa.

Source: Waterloo Daily Courier, January 12, 1945 (photo included)

Sgt. Elmer J. Mormann is Liberated from Prison Camp by Americans

Gordon Gammacks’ column in the Des Moines Register carried the following item Tuesday:

Sgt. Elmer J. Mormann of Denver, Iowa, is free today after a ghostly experience since his capture in December at the start of the battle of the bulge.

He asked me to help get word to his wife and son that he is free.

He was with the 106th Division when captured and was liberated near the town of Sessen by the 113th Cavalry, an Iowa outfit.

Sgt. Mormann is well known here, having worked in local stores at one time several years ago, and in later years was a truck driver for a wholesale grocery concern, making this territory.

Source: Elma New Era, April 19, 1945

Stacyville Man With 2,000 Beaten, Starved

Stacyville—Mr. and Mrs. Andy Mormann received word that their son, Elmer J. Mormann, who had been missing since December was free from many tortures during his 4 months as prisoner.

Two thousand who surrendered were stripped of their warm winter clothes which were worn by their captors. They were in box cars 6 days in bitter cold without any nourishing food and very little water.  When prisoners fell out of line due to dysentery, they were clubbed back into position.  Many died by the wayside or were frozen.  Out of 2,000 who started on the march, only 500 lived through it.

On Valentine day they heard the Russians were coming. Then started another march west in charge of the troops who were more brutal than the former captors.  When we reached Seesen, a journey of 300 miles, we heard the Americans were coming. It was at this time, Sgt. Mormann fell out of line, unnoticed and found his way to a barn where 3 British were hiding waiting a chance to regain their division.

Slave laborers the next day told us the Americans were in the next town fighting. Then he knew he was free.  Red Cross boxes saved their lives.  Sgt. Mormann’s wife and son live in Denver, Iowa.

Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette, April 26, 1945

Former Local Grocery Clerk Now Back In States; Will Be Home On 60-Day Furlough

Waterloo Courier:  “Back in the States and heading for Iowa.”—Those were the glad words Staff Sgt. Elmer J. Mormann, formerly of Waterloo, said to his wife, Clara, Sunday in a telephone conversation from a hospital in New Jersey where he is being treated after escape from the Germans who captured him on Dec. 21.

Taken prisoner while serving with the 106th division, Sergeant Mormann told his wife who with her son, Harold, lives with her mother, Mrs. Emma Foelske, in Denver, Ia., that he has been flown to the United States and would leave New Jersey Monday or Tuesday for Iowa, and eventually a 60-day furlough.

He stated that he is confined to his bed as when he attempts to stand his feet become swollen as a result of trench foot.

Although now gaining weight, he said that he lost 54 pounds while a prisoner of the Germans.  His weight when he went overseas was 159 and had dropped to 115 pounds when he finally returned to American troops on April 9.

The story of his escape from the Germans, as told Monday in an official release from army headquarters in the European theater of war, follows:

Among the thousands of slave laborers and allied prisoners of war being daily picked up by the Ninth Army under all sorts of fantastic circumstances, an American captive of the Battle of the Bulge, was cleared through the personnel of the 350th Infantry regiment of the 83rd Infantry division, the Thunderbolt Division.

Staff Sergeant Elmer J. Mormann, E Company squad leader of the 423rd infantry regiment of the 106th division came out of a roadside ditch west of the town of Servsen less than a 100 miles from Berlin.  Members of the 113th Cavalry attached to the 83rd Thunderbolt infantry division warily held Mormann and three United Kingdom soldiers at bay, until the could produce satisfactory evidence of their identity.

The four bedragulent men all wearing “Tommy” uniforms wept for joy and were quickly shuttled back to the First Battalion headquarters of the 900th infantry.  There they were fed and bedded down for the night to await evacuation.  But neither Mormann nor his three fellow prisoners could eat or sleep.

The bring shining morning and GI flapjacks finally brought Mormann around to the point where he could tell the awful story of his ordeal.  The sergeant began by trying to excuse his appearance:  “The British soldiers were kind enough to give me a uniform which they had uncovered somewhere, for when I first came into their prison camp I had none; the Germans had seen fit to take mine, as well as many others of our boys. I haven’t been able to shave for days and I don’t feel too well.

“About two-thirds of my outfit was captured on Dec. 18, 1944, when the first elements of the Rundstedt push overran our position near St. Vith in Belgium.  We had just come into line for our first action. Consequently, we were rapidly disorganized.  The situation became rapidly impossible and the commanding officer surrendered himself and his troops as the only human thing to do.”

Mormann then told a harrowing story of a two day march to Multhausen, of six miserable days in a box car, where more suffered from dysentery and freezing and of a grueling march across Germany to a camp near Breslau.  With the opening of the Russian eastern offensive in February, there was another long march to the west from Sitesia, during which the Volhestrurners proved more cruel than the regular German troops.

“After a brief stop,” Mormann continued, “the column was turned around and headed for the vicinity of Berlin. That did it as far as I was concerned. I dropped out of the column, feigning sickness. That sickness was not too far from the truth.  Our starvation rations had broken men down quite a bit. I couldn’t sit or lie down without my hip bones hurting me, they felt like there were pushing through my skin.

“I don’t know why I wasn’t noticed, but when darkeness fell I was well on my way westward to try to find the American lines. I hid in a barn in the hills where I met the three English boys, who had the same idea. It was early the next day that some slave laborers informed us the American were fighting in the next town. We made our way through the woods, avoiding German rear guard action. Almost unbelieving, I spotted a motorized column kicking up dust in a valley below us.

“We practically tore up the woods getting down there, but hit the ditch when they opened fire. We thought it was on us for the moment. But we saw the tracers flashing out ahead of us.  After a couple of vehicles  went by, we cautiously showed ourselves with our hands raised.  It was upon their recognition that I broke down. Unless you’ve been a prisoner of the Germans, you will never quite understand how a man can feel about being FREE.

“While I was held prisoner, the Red Cross was our only outside solace. They provided boxes of food from time to time. A cigarette butt or a square of chocolate had purchasing power beyond reason. I noticed that I and the rest of the men had a terrific craving for sweets of any kind.

“Our dreams and daytime thoughts were almost entirely on food alone.  Women, the universal topic of soldiers, became less and less discussed, and even our immediate families sifted into a sort of unreal past. We were allowed to write so sparingly and so few lines that the idea was abandoned by most of us.

“Clara, she is my wife, and Harold, my boy, who is six years old, will sure be happy to know that I’m alive and so will my folks.”

Source: Elma New Era, May 3, 1945

Staff Sgt. Elmer J. Mormann, who escaped from his German captors, reached American troops and eventually reached the United States, is now at the Schick General Hospital, Clinton, Ia.  Sergeant Mormann’s wife, Clara, who has been making her home with her mother in Denver, Ia., will leave Sunday for Clinton for a few days’ visit.

Source: Waterloo Daily Courier, May 5, 1945

Elmer John Mormann was born June 4, 1918 to Andrew J. and Caroline Mormann. He died Jan. 23, 1993 and is buried in Keota Cemetery, Keota, IA.