I received an email recently from Adam Rolloff. He sent me photographs of a Bronze Star Medal awarded to William Kornrumph, as well as the American serviceman’s separation papers.
He wrote, “I enjoyed reviewing your site while researching William J. Kornrumph. The attached discharge papers should answer your questions about his escape and recapture.
“Unfortunately his military service file was destroyed in a fire at the records center in 1973 and I’ve been unable to find any additional information on his military service.”
I asked Adam is he is related to William Kornrumph.
“I’m not related to Kornrumph,” he answered. “I collect U.S. military medals and I’ve had his Bronze Star Medal in my collection for about 25 years. Unfortunately I’ve been unable to locate the citation with the specifics of what he did to earn the award. Based on the brief information in his discharge papers, he must have had some amazing stories about his service.
“Feel free to post details from the paperwork and how I contacted you. The discharge papers came from Kornrumph’s VA claim file. I was able to get a copy under the Freedom of Information Act.”
I have a particular interest in William Kornrumph because I know that my father, Sgt. Armie Hill, knew him in P.G. 59. Bill was assigned to my father’s section of the camp—Hut 4–Section 11—and his name and address are recorded in my dad’s address book:
33-40 150 Place
Flushing, Long Island
Bill Kornrumph’s separation record states he entered service on October 30, 1940, at the age of 18.
His military occupational assignments were:
Basic training–infantry (private) – one month
Machine gunner (private first class) – 25 months
Prisoner of war (Germany and Italy) – 25 months
The “summary of military occupations” reads:
MACHINE GUNNER: Fired heavy .30 Cal [caliber] Machine Gun in ground combat against the enemy. Acted part time as squad leader. Was wounded and captured on 27 January 1943 by the Germans at Medgis-al-bab, Tunesia. Was interned in Italy until 14 Sept 1943 at which time escaped to hills and remained there until recaptured 31 December 1943. Escaped from Germany 15 February 1945 and joined Russians 26 February 1945. Fought with Russians for two days, then left to rejoin American Army.
[The U.S. National Archives World War II POW database indicates Bill Kornrumph was returned to military control, liberated, or repatriated from Stalag 2B Hammerstein.]
Bill is described on his discharge paper as a blue-eyed blond, five feet–11 1/2 inches tall, and weighing 155 pounds. His civilian occupation was truck driver. He was single and had no dependents.
He was born in Woodside, New York (in the borough of Queens, New York City).
He departed from the U.S. for England on August 2, 1942 and arrived back in the States on May 15, 1945.
He served in Company H, 18th Infantry, and was shot in the left arm during action in Tunisia on January 27, 1943.
He was a private at the time of his separation on November 7, 1945. The highest military grade he achieved during service was corporal.
Decorations and citations listed for him were the American Defense Service Medal, the European–African–Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, the Purple Heart, and the Combat Infantryman Badge. The Bronze Star, not referred to on his discharge paper, presumably was awarded later.
Read also, “Men of Hut 4–Section 11.”