Polk County


Capt. Frank Shaw Jr.





Two souvenirs of war were brought back by Capt. Frank Shaw, jr., who is home on leave from Schick General hospital, Clinton, Ia.  One is the helmet which he wore through every action and the other is a plaster cast which holds his right arm.  A shell fragment ripped through his shoulder and arm.  (Caption located under the photo)


Capt. Frank Shaw, jr., of the 3rd Infantry Division, has seen a lot of warfare since November of 1942—the North African and Sicilian campaigns, and those of southern Italy and the Anzio beachhead. To him, the greatest show of all is an amphibious landing.

“The tracer bullets seem to coast along on strings, very slowly,” the Des Moines officer said.

Of great interest to Captain Shaw is the counter fire between naval guns at sea and the coastal batteries during contested landings such as those on Sicily.

“Our cruisers cut back and forth, firing from the port, then the starboard and the batteries on shore tried to follow their maneuvers,” he explained.

While all this was going on Captain Shaw was not a spectator in an arm chair.  He was a fighting man in an LCI (landing craft, inventory.)

The 29-year-old officer is visiting his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Shaw of 5504 Shriver ave.  It is not difficult to identify him as a man returned from war; not with all his “plaster work.”

This “plaster work” encases his right arm, which is held at shoulder level by means of various supports.

He will not mind its being said that the portion of his body looks like a section of asbestos-covered furnace piping.  Or that the position of his arm makes it appear he perpetually is holding an imaginary dancing partner.

He won’t mind because he is a good guy.

Captain Shaw has been wearing his plaster work only since he left the Anzio beachhead three months ago.  He caught a shell fragment in his shoulder.

His outfit had in mind the taking of the town of Cisterna de Lotoria when it happened.  He was sitting next to his foxhole near a creek bed.  You couldn’t move, because there was no cover.  But Shaw did not commit the error of physical movement.

It was an “air burst,” a shell whose fuse is adjusted so the explosion occurs in the air, not after the shell strikes the ground.  A fragment pierced his shoulder and continued through his arm.

The Captain is a patient at Schick General hospital at Clinton, Ia.  He’s on leave from there.  While here, he is speaking a few words for blood plasma, which he has seen save lives on the battlefield.

Shaw is not a souvenir hunter.  He said he thought something of picking up a few things, but just never got around to it.

He has only one souvenir.  That’s the helmet he wore all through those engagements. “A helmet plays a pretty important part in out lives,” he said.

Once as he walked up a steep hill at night his helmet struck a tree branch, was knocked off and rolled down the hill.  He couldn’t find it in the darkness and had to spend the night without it.

The next morning at dawn he started down the hill in search of the helmet.  He found it about 500 yards down the valley.

Source: The Des Moines Register, May 11, 1944 (photo included)