Hamilton County


Pfc. Arthur T. Wensel

Jasper County


Relatives of three Webster City servicemen received news over the weekend that they were war casualties with Ens. Gerald A. Cleckner being reported drowned Jan. 9, 1945, and Capt. O. C. Buxton and Pfc. Arthur Wensel being listed as missing in action in Luxembourg shortly before Christmas. 

Missing Dec. 23.
Mr. and Mrs. M. W. Wensel heard Sunday that their son, Arthur, was missing since Dec. 23.  Private Wensel’s wife, the former Madella Miller of this city, telephoned from Newton that she had received a War Department message concerning her husband.

The Webster City soldier, who went into the army January 3, 1944,  from Newton was managing a shoe store in that city at that time. He was attached to a machine gun squad with an infantry unit and had been overseas since June.

Source: Daily Freeman Journal, Monday, January 15, 1945

Mr. and Mrs. M. M. Wensel of this city have received a clipping from the Newton Daily News, Newton, Iowa, telling about their son, Pfc. Arthur T. Wensel, who was reported missing in action since Dec. 23, in Luxembourg.  The Freeman-Journal carried the report Monday that the former Webster City soldier was missing but the Newton story supplies a few more details.

Private Wensel, who entered service Jan. 3, 1944, was attached to the 109th infantry regiment with Hodges’ First army and had been in combat duty since arriving in France. In his last letter, written Dec. 3, and received by his wife at Newton, Iowa, Dec. 23, he said he had enjoyed his third rest period from combat duty in a camp in Luxembourg.  On Nov. 29, he had written of being back on the line and living in an underground house. He had recently been promoted from an ammunition carrier to a first gunner.

Prior to entering the service, Wensel was  proprietor of a shoe store in Newton. He received his basic training at Fort McClellan, Ala., and was stationed at Camp Shelby, Miss., for about six weeks and at Fort George Mead before his embarkation late in July.  After 10 days in England, he was assigned to duty in France and was with the first division of American troops to enter liberated Paris.

Source: Daily Freeman Journal, January 18, 1945


Mr. and Mrs. M. M. Wensel of this city have received a postcard from their son, Pfc. Art Wensel, who wrote that at that time—Jan. 25—he was a German prisoner and was feeling well.

This was the first word his parents had heard from him since Dec. 1, shortly after which he was taken prisoner in the nazis’ Ardennes breakthrough.

His wife, the former Madella Miller of this city, now living at Newton, also has received a card, dated Jan. 10.

In the message to his parents, Wensel urged them to get in touch with the Red Cross for details on sending parcels to the camp.

Source: Daily Freeman Journal, Webster City, IA - April 16, 1945

At Newton

Pfc. Arthur Wensel, son of Mr. and Mrs. M. M. Wensel of this city, is expected to visit here shortly after being liberated from a German prison camp. The soldier has returned to Newton to visit his wife and family on a 60-day furlough. He was captured during the nazis’ Ardennes breakthrough last December and was freed during the final allied advances.

Source: Webster City Freeman, Webster City, IA - May 24, 1945


An interesting account of his experiences while in a German prison camp for five months is given by Pfc. Arthur T. Wensel in the Newton News. Son of Mr. and Mrs. M. M. Wensel of this city, Wensel went into the army from Newton, where he was manager of a shoe store.

Following are excerpts from the article published Monday in the News:

“A machine gunner with the 28th Division of the First army, he was captured by the Germans last Dec. 18 at about 11:30 in the morning, and spent from that time until Jan. 8 moving to a Stalag camp to be registered as a prisoner of war. When asked how he and his 1,800 fellow prisoners were treated, Pfc. Wensel said that he was not physically harmed, except that he did not get fed. He said the prisoners lived on apples, except for once in a while when some of the front line men (Germans) would slip them something else.

Working Most of Time

“During his imprisonment, Pfc. Wensel said that he spent most of his time working. In one town he worked in a bakery, and from there they were moved, starting on Christmas eve, to another town where the 1,800 were crammed into a two-story warehouse, with no blankets. He said that his overcoat had even been taken from him.

“They were later moved to a large shed, where they were fed one loaf of bread, for 10 men and two ounces of cheese per day. Upon leaving this town, they were loaded into box cars, 50 to a car and were on the road five days and five nights.

“On Jan. 7, they arrived at Stalag 4B and were registered and on Jan. 26, he and 99 fellow prisoners were taken to another town to be farmed out. He was assigned to a 10-man carpenter detail, which was ordered to repair ceilings of the Youth schools, where Hitlerism was taught to the young boys of Germany. Their barracks was in a lumber yard, about 15 miles from the schools. The ten walked this distance each day, and one evening upon returning to the yard, they found the it had been burned, every building, except their barracks, to the ground.

“As the war became more and more in favor of the allies, the men were starting to be evacuated. On April 13, the 66 men left out of the original 100 were started on the march. Pfc. Wensel said that he and a buddy marched with the group the first day, and that night hid in a haystack. Since the line was not counted, they were safe, but he said if they had been found they would have been shot. After the line left the next morning, he and his buddy were hidden by a Polish family; and the following day met an American spearhead. They were flown to a camp in France where they were cleaned up and given medical care. Upon being weighed, Pfc. Wensel said he had lost 51 pounds, from 180 to 129. Much of this was due to the lack of food, but he also suffered yellow jaundice the last two weeks as a prisoner. He landed in New York on May 15.

Praised Red Cross

Pfc. Wensel praised the American Red Cross, and said that without them, many more men would have died, They received their first box on March 17, and he said they didn’t even go to bed that night—“it was just like Christmas.” After that, they received two boxes per week for four men.

“He said while working at the Youth schools, he was put in solitary twice for stealing potatoes. At every chance he and the others would raid the kitchens, which were run by Russian slave women. However, he added that he had it pretty easy in solitary, because he had a pretty good supply of cigarets from the Red Cross boxes, and in Germany cigarets and coffee would buy anything.

“Pfc. Wensel has three campaign stars on his ribbons, one for France, one for Belgium and Luxembourg and one for Germany. The 28th Division was the first group to march into Paris after liberation, and is given credit for liberating the capital city, he said. He was awarded the combat infantryman’s badge in Belgium last October."

Source: Daily Freeman Journal, Webster City, IA - June 7, 1945


Arthur Theodore Wensel was born May 29, 1912, to Milton M. and Edna Kenneche Wensel. He died Jan. 10, 1973, and is buried in Graceland Cemetery, Webster City, IA.

Pfc. Wensel was listed as missing in action in Luxembourg shortly before Christmas 1944. He was take prisoner by the Germans in the Ardennes breakthrough.

Obituary Notices:

Daily Freeman Journal, Webster City, IA - Jan. 12, 1973

Arthur Wensel, 60, a former Webster City resident, died suddenly Wednesday night at San Pedro, Calif. where he had been making his home and had been manager of a shoe store.

Funeral services will be held Saturday at San Pedro. Services will also be held in Webster City at a later date.

Mr. Wensel is survived by his wife, the former Madella Miller of this city; one son, John Douglas Wensel, of Sullivan, Mo., and two daughters, Mrs. Deanna Beasley, Springfield, Mo., and Mrs. Connie Jo Grais of Ankeny, Iowa; and nine grandchildren.

Mr. Wensel was a son-in-law of Mr. and Mrs. Glenn Miller of Webster City.


Daily Freeman Journal, Webster City, IA - Jan. 25, 1973

Memorial services for Arthur T. Wensel, 60, former Webster City resident, will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Foster Funeral home with the Rev. Byron Surface officiating and with burial in Graceland cemetery.

A flag-folding ceremony will be held at graveside, being conducted by the American Legion.

Mr. Wensel died Jan. 10 at San Pedro, Calif., where prior funeral services were held.

Arthur Theodore Wensel, son of Milton and Edna Keunecke Wensel, was born May 29, 1912, at State Center, Iowa. He was reared and educated in Webster City, being graduated from Lincoln high school in 1930. He attended Webster City Junior college.

He was united in marriage Feb. 20, 1931 to Madella Miller, and the couple made their home in Webster City. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army, serving in Europe and spending several months in a German prisoner of war camp.

For the past 16 years, the family had resided in California.

He is survived by his wife; one son, John Wensel of Sullivan, Mo., two daughters, Mrs. Connie Jo Graif of Ankeny, Iowa, and Mrs. Deanna Beasley of Springfield, Mo.; nine grandchildren; and two sisters, Mrs. Loren (Gertrude) Emmert of St. Petersburg, Fla., and Mrs. Phil (Faye) Greens of West Los Angeles, Calif.

He was preceded in death by one grandchild and his parents.

He was associated with the Congregational church. He was a member of the American Legion.


NOTE: His tombstone in Graceland Cemetery, Webster City, Iowa shows he was awarded a Purple Heart.

Daily Freeman Journal, Webster City, IA