Hamilton County

Cpl. Merlin D. Algoe




James Ben Algoe, of near Duncombe, learned this week that his son, Cpl. Merlin D. Algoe, 26, had been listed among those American prisoners lost when a Japanese freighter was sunk Sept. 7, 1944. Algoe was one of the 750 Japanese-held Americans being transferred from prison camps in the Philippines to Japan.

A letter from Adjutant General J. A Ulio said in part:
"The information available to the war department is that the vessel sailed from Davao, Mindanao, Aug. 20, 1944, with 750 prisoners of war aboard. The vessel was sunk by torpedoes on Sept. 7, 1944, off the western shores of Mindanao. The indications are that relatively few of the prisoners had opportunity to leave the sinking ship and of those who did many were killed by enemy gun fire. A small number managed to reach shore and a close watch for others was kept for several days. The Japanese government reports all of the prisoners as lost, indicating that no survivors are in the hands of that government. There is no information as to what happened to the individual prisoners but known circumstances lead to the regrettable conclusion that all of the unaccounted for prisoners lost their lives at the time of the sinking.”

Cpl. Algoe had been a prisoner of war in the Philippines since the fall of Bataan and Corregidor. Entering the service in December, 1939, he had gone overseas in June 1941, after receiving training at Hamilton field, Cal., Scott field, Ill, Lowry field, Denver, Colo., and McChord field, Wash., as gunner on a B26 bomber in the air corps. He was stationed at Clark field in the Philippines.

Source: Daily Freeman Journal, February 28, 1945

NOTES: Merlin D. Algoe was born in 1918 to James Benjamin and Susan ‘Susie’ Goehring Algoe. Cpl. Algoe’s death occurred Sept. 7, 1944. He was first listed as missing, later as killed in action. Cpl. Algoe was the U.S. Army Air Forces, 28th Bomber Squadron, 19th Bomber Group, Heavy. He is memorialized at the Tablets of the Missing, Manilla American Cemetery, Fort Bonifacio, Manila, Philippines. He also has a cenotaph “In Memory Of” stone in Graceland Cemetery, Webster City, IA.

He was awarded the Purple Heart, American Campaign, World War II Victory Medal, and POW Medal.

Daily Freeman Journal, Webster City, IA
World War II Memorial