Robert William Chaudoin
423rd Regiment, Company D
106th Infantry Division
A memorial Mass will be at 10 a.m., Tuesday, at the St. Mathias Catholic
Visitation is from 4 to 8 p.m. tonight at the Ralph J. Wittich-Riley-Freers
Funeral Home. A rosary will be recited by the family at 8 p.m.
Memorials may be made to St. Mathias Church.
Mr. Chaudoin was born on Nov. 30, 1917, in
He was a U. S. Army veteran of World War II.
His membership included - St. Mathias Church, Knights of Columbus, Elks
Lodge No. 304, Moose Lodge No. 388, Veterans of Foreign Wars, American
Legion, and Prisoners of War, Quad City Chapter.
He retired in 1982, following 30 years of employment at Alcoa.
Survivors include his wife, Kathleen; three daughters, Mrs. Garry (Judy
A.) Lee of
He was preceded in death by his parents, three brothers, three sisters
and one grandson."
I also saw on your
website that you have a area for articles, diaries etc. I am also
including an article I wrote of my fathers’ experience during the war.
If you want to include that on your site, that would be great.
Please feel free to edit it if you do decide to use it.
Sgt. Robert W. Chaudoin, serial number 37111472,
entered service on January 3rd, 1942 at the age of 24. Prior to
this time he had served in the Civilian Conservation Corp about 1937
through 1939. He was sent to
Before Bob left for oversees he visited home one
more time and stopped to see the Pastor of St. Mathias, Father Hannon.
The priest asked him if he had ever gotten baptized and Bob said "No".
The priest immediately called in his assistant and told him to take Bob
over to the church and get him baptized and confirmed before he left for
Chaudoin and his company landed at
After the two weeks of bivouacking, they were
transferred on the Red Ball Express to the front lines in
Sgt. Chaudoin had slit a hole into the lining of
his flak jacket and dropped in his high school graduation ring and two
silver dollars that he had carried with him into battle. The
Germans never found these items. He also had approximately nine
dollars in French currency, which the Germans took. They gave him
a receipt for the money which he turned in after the liberation and was
refunded its equivalent in American dollars. That was all the
money he had until he reached
The captives were marched to
At Gerolstein which was 30 miles east of the German
border the captives were loaded onto train cars called '40 and 8's (cars
were large enough to hold 40 horses and 8 men). About 60 men were
piled into each train cars. They were forced to sleep almost on
top of each other. They were pretty much wall to wall with POW's.
It was December 21st or 22nd, 1944. The train took them into
Sgt. Chaudoin arrived at POW camp Stalag 9B (Bad
They were finally given some more food. Not
everyone had mess kits so Sgt. Chaudoin shared his helmet with another
soldier and they ate out of it. They couldn't eat all that was
given to them because their stomachs had already begun to shrink.
Food consisted of watery soup sometimes made of grass, ersatz bread,
cheese and a coffee substitute. They weren't given any shaving
equipment, so Chaudoin borrowed a scissors and used cold water to trim
his beard. After about a month he was transferred to Stalag 9A
near Ziegenhain, German.
At Ziegenhain he was given black crusty bread and
potato soup to eat. Chaudoin found a piece of metal and tried to
hone it into a knife to cut the bread and therefore be able to save it
for later, otherwise it just crumbled into nothing. But in trying
this, his hand slipped slicing the fingers on his left hand. There
was no medic or dispensary at Ziegenhain so the German guards took him
into the nearby town where there was a tailor who proceeded to stitch
him up. Years later he still bore the scar on his fingers.
Sgt. Chaudoin refused to work for the Germans in
the fields and therefore he didn't receive a lot of rations like other
prisoners who chose to work on the nearby farms. The prisoners who
worked got their Red Cross packages and lots of food. These POW's
seemed to have all they wanted to eat including candy and lots of
cigarettes which they traded for other privileges. Chaudoin
weighed in at 210 pounds when he entered the service. He lost over
60 pounds during his three months imprisonment.
The camp at Ziegenhain was surrounded by rows of
barbed fence. The barracks were long with high ceilings.
About eighty men were assigned to each barrack which had rows of double
bunks to accommodate the prisoners. Sgt. Chaudoin shared a bunk
with another prisoner in order to keep warm as they were issued very
thin blankets. It was so cold that most of the prisoners suffered
from frostbite. There were separated buildings for latrines but no
bathing facilities. Prisoners were given one blanket but no change
of clothing at all. While in
The Germans were getting beat up on the Russian
front and they knew it was just a matter of time before the Allies
pushed further into
The Germans knew that the Allies were approaching,
so they decided to move the prisoners to another camp. The ranking
American prisoner, a colonel of the 101st airborne, quietly told the
other POW's to "drop like flies and to tell the Germans they were too
weak to be moved". Some of the POW's jumped into the latrine
trenches to escape being put on transports. The elderly guards
knew it was useless to try and force the prisoners to evacuate the camp.
They threw down their rifles and gave up to the advancing Americans.
Sgt. Chaudoin was very weak but was able to walk to the evacuation truck
that was to take them to freedom. He was liberated on March 26th,
After liberation by the American 1st, he was taken
to a place called Camp Lucky Strike and offered a big meal of chicken,
potatoes and gravy and all kinds of food, but he was unable to eat much
of it because his stomach had shrunk so much. The POW's were then
After returning to the states, Chaudoin was issued
a sixty day rehabilitation furlough which he spent with family. At
the end of the furlough, he returned to
For the most part Sgt. Chaudoin felt he was treated
in a fairly decent and fair manner by the Germans. But he also
spoke little about his experiences until a few years before his death.
Whenever asked he would just get a vacant look on his face and stare off
into space. He joined a local group of American Prisoners of War
For his service during World War II, Chaudoin
received the following medals and ribbons:
30 caliber water cooled machine gun
American Campaign Medal
Bronze Star for meritorious service
World War II Medal
Prisoner of War Medal
Page last revised
James D. West