October 29, 2022 | Last updated Oct 17, 2023

Recent Acquisition: POW Scrapbook

The Library/Archives recently acquired a scrapbook relating to a Nebraskan’s military service during World War II and his capture and imprisonment in a German POW camp.  Quentin M. Coyle, a native of Valley, Nebraska, served as a Liberator bomber pilot during the war.  On April 24, 1944, Coyle’s plane was shot down over Germany and he was forced to parachute to safety.

Quentin M. Coyle (left). (NSHS RG5694.AM)

After landing in the Black Forest region near Schappach, Germany, Coyle was captured and held in the local jail until he could be transferred to Stalag Luft III at Sagan (approximately 80 miles southeast of Berlin).  Coyle was held at Sagan until January 27, 1945, when Russian troops threatened the area and the Germans were forced to move their prisoners to Nuremberg.  Two months later he was moved to Moosburg.  It was there on April 29 (Coyle’s birthday) that General Patton’s Third Army liberated the prisoners.

The scrapbook contains the telegram to Quentin’s father, George Coyle,  from the War Department informing him that his son was currently “missing in action.”  Also included are various newspaper clippings about Quentin’s imprisonment.  However, the most interesting items contained in the scrapbook have to be the letters and postcards sent home by Quentin Coyle during his time as a prisoner of war.

Telegram from the War Department. (NSHS RG5694.AM)

POW postcard, May 12, 1944. (NSHS RG5694.AM)

POW postcard, May 12, 1944, reverse. (NSHS RG5694.AM)

Quentin’s letters home describe life in the POW camp.  He talks about other Nebraskans that are in the camp and describes some of the daily activities the prisoners engage in to alleviate boredom.  He describes their garden plot, movies they’re allowed to see, and various athletic competitions.  He often asks his family to send additional warm clothing, candy and other food stuffs, and cigarettes (for trading).

POW letter, Dec. 20, 1944 (NSHS RG5694.AM (Left))

This is just one of many collections that document a Nebraskan’s service and sacrifice during World War II.  To find out more about what other resources are available, check out our website.

-Tom Mooney, Curator of Manuscripts

Become a Member!

Our members make history happen.

Join Now

You May Also Enjoy

Why John G. Neihardt was named Nebraska Poet Laureate in 1921

Why John G. Neihardt was named Nebraska Poet Laureate in 1921

Emigrants along the Trails at Chimney Rock

Emigrants along the Trails at Chimney Rock

Marker Monday: Easter Blizzard of 1873

Marker Monday: Easter Blizzard of 1873

About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
Explore Nebraska
Discover the real places and people of our past at these History Nebraska sites.

Upcoming Events

View our new and upcoming events to see how you can get involved.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.

History Nebraska Education

Learn more about the educational programs provided at our museums, sites, and online.

History Nebraska Programs

Learn more about the programs associated with History Nebraska.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans.

Listen to our Podcast

Listen to the articles and authors published in the Nebraska History Magazine with our new Nebraska History Podcast!

Nebraska Collections

History Nebraska's mission is to collect, preserve, and open our shared history to all Nebraskans.

Our YouTube Video Collection

Get a closer look at Nebraska's history through your own eyes, with our extensive video collections.

Additional Research Resources

History Nebraska Research and Reference Services help connect you to the material we collect and preserve.

Support History Nebraska
Make a cash donation to help us acquire, preserve, and interpret Nebraska’s history. Gifts to History Nebraska help leave a legacy and may help your taxes, too! Support the work of History Nebraska by donating to the History Nebraska Foundation today.

Volunteers are the heroes of History Nebraska. So much history, so little time! Your work helps us share access to Nebraska’s stories at our museums and sites, the reference room, and online.