Muscatine County

Bruce E. Watson

 

Navy Issues First “Casualty” Lists

The Navy’s first official casualty list, issued on the 5th, contained the names of Arthur Anthony Bersch and David Alonzo Leedy.

This was the first of a series of “official reports” which came to next of kin during the month.

Word came to Mr. and Mrs. Bruce S. Watson, 114 Park avenue on the 9th that their son, Bruce E. Watson, 26, was missing in action.

Messages of DEATH, Word of Valiant Soldiers, Sailors “Missing in Action,” Brought Sadness to Families Here

“The Navy deeply regrets……”
Messages addressed to a number of Muscatine county parents or next of kin of men in the service of their country, carrying this sad phrase or one similar to it from army or marine corps officials, have brought sorrow to a number of homes in this area in the slightly more than 12 months since Dec. 7, 1941, when the Japanese struck at Pearl Harbor and Manila.

Muscatine county me gave their lives for their country in that initial attack, which plunged the nation into a globe girdling war.

In Thick of Fight.
Muscatine county men have figured in most of the history making engagements which have been recorded since that date. Some have escaped, unharmed, but in other cases, engagements with the enemy have been followed by official notices of men either killed in action, missing in action, or taken prisoner and gold stars have replaced those of blue on service flags in the community.

In May, Bruce E. Watson, seaman first class, who had been in service in the Philippines area, was reported missing in action, the navy informed his parents. The possibility was noted that he might ave been taken prisoner in the navy department notification.

Source: Muscatine Journal News-Tribune, Dec. 30, 1942 (photo included)

Young Men Are Held In Enemy Prison Camps

Source: Muscatine Journal & News-Tribune, December 30, 1943 (photos of POWs are published in this issue)

Prisoner Ranks Expand As War Grows Intense In France and Germany

Hopes for an eventual happy reunion at the conclusion of hostilities with father, brother, son or husband, initially reported as “missing in action” has been spurred in a number of homes in Muscatine and nearby communities in southeastern Iowa and western Illinois by later information, advising that the missing service man was listed as a prisoner of war.

Anxious hours of hopeful waiting after official information listing men as “missing in action” has been followed in repeated instances by such data during the past year, as it was in former years of World War No. 2, as the number of men who have become members of the “Barbed Wire Legion”—prisoners of war—has increased.

Then, for families and for the members of the Barbed Wire Legion, as well, has followed a second interval of waiting—until through the channels of the International Red Cross, letters and communications have been re-established.

This, in turn, is followed by further waiting—waiting for that day when peace will return and the guns of war are silenced—when long days of confinement in distant camps and restriction of privileges will come to an end and families and friends may be reunited.

As the period of America’s participation in the war has lengthened, so has the number of men listed from this community as prisoners of war.

For some, stationed in the Pacific theater of action, three years have passed in prison camps. For others, captured in other fields of action, one year in a prisoner of war camp is stretching to a second. Others, participating in more recent actions, have spent lesser periods in prison camps.

From some of these men, relatives have received fairly regular, although restricted letters, advising of their treatment, the receipt of certain items of clothing, food and for recreational purposes through the Red Cross. From others only scratches of information have been received.

From official sources and from members of their families, brief sketches of the following men reported as prisoners, have been obtained:

BRUCE E. WATSON—The son of Mr. and Mrs. Bruce S. Watson, 114 Park avenue, Seaman Bruce E. Watson, was reported first as being missing in action and then as a prisoner of war of the Japanese in the Philippines on March 11, 1943.

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