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Sgt Ernest Merton Alcorn

Photo added by Kathie AAH

Sgt Ernest Merton Alcorn

  • Birth 7 Aug 1920 Ellsinore, Carter County, Missouri, USA
  • Death 24 Nov 1997 Poplar Bluff, Butler County, Missouri, USA
  • Burial Poplar Bluff, Butler County, Missouri, USA
  • Memorial ID 86114036


Uncle Merton was the 4th of 9 children born to Scott and Delia Ann Box Alcorn who married on June 3, 1911.

His paternal grandparents were:
Lafayette Alcorn and Alice (Love) Alcorn

His maternal grandparents were:
Maston "Matthew" Wiley Box and
Margaret Elizabeth "Maggie" (Seats) Box

Uncle Merton served in the U.S. Air Force as a Radio Gunner in the 388th Bomb Group during World War II and became a prisoner of war. On a mission to Brunswick, Germany, his plane was shot down on March 23, 1944 in Germany and upon capture, he was sent to Stalag Luft One, a Nazi camp in Barth, Germany, where thousands of downed Allied fliers who had parachuted out of their planes and been captured were taken. Merton was housed in North 3, Barracks 2 (Block 302), Room 13. The prisoners called themselves "kriegies" (a shortened version of the German word for prisoner of war, "kriegesgefangener").

There he and the others endured brutal cold and starvation, and for at least one month (March, 1945) each prisoner was only given a single bowl of rutabagas each day. On April 1, 1945 (Easter Sunday) the Germans dumped tens of thousands of Red Cross food parcels into the camp. Many of the prisoners ate huge amounts of the food and were very sick.

The German guards abandoned camp on April 30, 1945, escaping the advancing Soviet army. An announcement was made over the PA system that the prisoners were free and Uncle Merton and all others were airlifted out of the area.

An article published after Uncle Merton's return to the U.S. appeared in the 7-5-1945 edition of The Current Local, Van Buren, Carter Co., MO on the front page under "Ellsinore Notes".

"Sgt. Merton Alcorn, who was a prisoner of the Germans for 13 months, arrived home here one day last week. Merton says his bomber on which he was a radio-gunner, was shot down on their 13th mission. The bomber exploded in midair and five of the crew were killed. He said he landed in the middle of the street of one of the German cities and, of course, was captured at once. He suffered a broken arm which was not given medical attention for several days after he was captured by the Germans. He related that their food consisted of a bowl of thin, unseasoned soup and two slices of black bread a day, and that the American prisoners would have suffered much worse had it not been for the packages they received through the Red Cross. Merton says he received very little of his mail while he was a prisoner."

Upon his return from Germany, Uncle Merton married Virginia Potter on August 21, 1945. After their divorce, he married Pauline Ruser on November 23, 1957, and the couple had two children, John and Rosemary. He worked as a general manager for Williamsville Stone and Porter-DeWitt Ready Mix in Poplar Bluff. He was also a partner with the Harris-Dexter Ready Mix Company in Dexter. After 40 years of service, he retired as President of Porter-DeWitt Construction Company.

A HUGE "Thank-You" to Star Kline for creating Uncle Merton's memorial originally and to Michael Stephen Jackson for sponsoring it!

Family Members


  • Maintained by: Kathie AAH
  • Originally Created by: Star Kline
  • Added: 2 Mar 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 86114036
  • Michael Stephen Jackson
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Sgt Ernest Merton Alcorn (7 Aug 1920–24 Nov 1997), Find A Grave Memorial no. 86114036, citing Memorial Gardens Cemetery, Poplar Bluff, Butler County, Missouri, USA ; Maintained by Kathie AAH (contributor 47801696) .