The Co. F Morning Report for 16 July 1944 listed Pvt Chestnut as
"missing in action as of 6 June 44".
This War Department report, released for publication
on September 23, 1944, confirmed what
the family probably already knew through a State Department telegram
Liberated Prisoners of War Germany
In reality, William was not missing, he had been taken prisoner on
He was ultimately liberated from Stalag 4F 10 months later
The Columbus Enquirer, Columbus, GA
Tells Lions of Nazi Prison
"If you've never seen a German blow his top, let me tell you
he can really do it." Rudolph Chestnut, 22-year-old Phenix City
paratrooper who is now home on an 81-day recuperation furlough after
spending 10 months in a German work camp, told Phenix city Lions Tuesday
For no apparent reason, Nazi guards would stride furiously among
prisoners forced to work in an antiquated cotton mill in Pobershaw,
located in central Germany, and rant at length, he said.
"There were three distinct classes in the mill --- the slaves, the
guards and the 'big shots'. Each had his firmly established
position and could neither go up or down.
"I've found that to be true with most Germans --- the ones I've
come in contact with, at least," he noted.
Captured when jumping over Normandy on D-Day, "Rudy" was the first
Phenix City boy to be interned in a German prison camp and is the first
Phenix City prisoner to return home.
"In spite of everything, we didn't consider our work so bad," he
reminisced, "because it was a heck of a lot better to keep our minds
occupied than to do nothing, as many men in other camps were forced to
"Everyone was reasonably contented until one day we opened a bale
of cotton and discovered a Selma, Ala. label. Knowing that the
cotton we worked with came from America made us happy --- it was so good
to see anything American.
"Another day we found an empty Luck Strike package in one of the
bales. We tacked it to the bulletin board of our billet, fell in
line and gazed at it, one by one each day, until someone stole it."
Their outstanding sources of cheer and encouragement, the young
paratrooper recounted, were Red Cross food parcels, which were devoured
visually before being devoured actually, and the American Air Corps
During the latter part of July when American forces were bombing
towns only three kilometers from though camps, every prisoner packed his
only belongings and waited jubilantly for liberation.
WILLIAM R. CHESTNUT
Liberated by Russians
"One day every German left the camp early in the morning and we
knew something was up. Later we saw a little puff of smoke coming
down the road and as it grew nearer we saw it was a lone Russian soldier
riding a motorcycle.
"He paused long enough to tell is that his unit would soon release
us, and away in another cloud of smoke he went."
Sgt Chestnut's description of liberating Russian forces completely
delighted the Lions.
"No two uniforms were alike, they were dirty and unshaven and they
rode in a varied assortment of transportation --- American jeeps,
Russian trucks, saddle horses and even wooden buggies --- but they
really looked beautiful to us,' he concluded.
Upon completion of his furlough, Rudy will be assigned to Miami's
rest camp for two weeks before being reassigned to Fort Benning, he
A graduate of Central High School, he was introduced by Lion W. O.
Langley, principal of the school, as "one of my boys."
Mr. Langley was appointed by President Leland Jones to represent
the Lions at the Inter-Civic Council to be held Thursday night, after
having explained the mechanism of that organization