Wade Hall Collection of American Letters: Vilmer Voyles World War II prisoner of war diary

Abstract

The Vilmer Voyles World War II prisoner of war diary (dated 1942-1988, bulk 1942-1945; 0.23 cubic feet; 5 folders) comprises loose papers that make up a diary documenting the experiences of Voyles as a prisoner of war by the German military during World War II in Northern Africa, Italy, and Germany.

Descriptive Summary

Title
Wade Hall Collection of American Letters: Vilmer Voyles World War II prisoner of war diary
Creator
Voyles, Vilmer, 1919-2001
Extent
0.23 Cubic Feet
Subjects
Prisoners of war -- Germany
Prisoners of war -- Italy.
Prisoners of war -- Transportation.
Prisoners' writings, American.
World War, 1939-1945 -- Campaigns -- Africa, North.
World War, 1939-1945 -- Personal narratives, American.
World War, 1939-1945 -- Prisoners and prisons, German
Arrangement
Collection is arranged chronologically. The Wade Hall Collection of American Letters has been processed into discrete collections based on provenance.
Finding Aid Author
Sarah Coblentz
Preferred Citation
2009ms132.0267: [identification of item], Wade Hall Collection of American Letters: Vilmer Voyles World War II prisoner of war diary, 1942-1988, bulk 1942-1945, University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center.
Repository
University of Kentucky

Collection Overview

Biography / History
Vilmer Elmo Voyles (1919-2001) was born in Fredericksburg, Indiana to Hattie Arnold (1900-1984) and Vevey Voyles (1897-1928). Hattie and Vevey were never married; Vilmer and Hattie lived with Hattie's parents until her marriage to Casper Wilkins in 1925. Vilmer trained to be a carpenter; however, he was drafted into the US Army in October 1941. He mustered in to the Army at Fort Thomas, quickly moving to Fort Wheeler in Georgia where the Infantry Replacement Center resided. By May 1942, Voyles arrived in Belfast, Ireland, spending almost a year there training with his division, the 34th Infantry Division, 168th Infantry Regiment, in preparation to North Africa. On January 1, 1943, Voyles' regiment was sent to Algeria and by the end of the month, they were at the Tunisian front. They were involved in the Battle of Sidi Bou Zid in early February, which resulted in the capture of Voyles and fellow soldiers on February 17th by the Germans. From the 18th of February through the 28th, Voyles spent time in a Tunisian prison camp, and between February 28th and March 6th the prisoners were transported from Tunisia to a prison camp at Capua, near Naples, Italy. At the beginning of August 1943, the prisoners in the camp were transported once again, this time from Italy to German prisoner of war camp, Stalag-2B at Hammerstein. Voyles would remain in this camp until his repatriation to the United States in July 1945, and was officially discharged from the army in 1948.
American Letters collector Wade Hall (1934-2015) was a native of Union Springs, Alabama. Starting in 1962, he lived in Louisville, where he taught English and chaired the English and Humanities/Arts programs at Kentucky Southern College and Bellarmine University. He also taught at the University of Illinois and the University of Florida. He held degrees from Troy State University (B.S.), the University of Alabama (M.A.), and the University of Illinois (Ph.D.). He served for two years in the U.S. Army in the mid-fifties. Dr. Hall was the author of books, monographs, articles, plays, and reviews relating to Kentucky, Alabama, and Southern history and literature. His most recent books include A Visit with Harlan Hubbard; High Upon a Hill: A History of Bellarmine College; A Song in Native Pastures: Randy Atcher's Life in Country Music; and Waters of Life from Conecuh Ridge.
Scope and Content
The Vilmer Voyles World War II prisoner of war diary (dated 1942-1988, bulk 1942-1945; 0.23 cubic feet; 5 folders) comprises loose papers that make up a diary documenting the experiences of Voyles as a prisoner of war by the German military during World War II in Northern Africa, Italy, and Germany. The entries are written on whatever the prisoners could get their hands on - scraps of paper, cardboard, and food wrappers. Voyles details his unit's deployment to North Africa starting in the last weeks of 1942, describing the weather in North Africa, Algeria, and Tunisia; drills the unit practiced while waiting for orders, interactions with locals, and the unit's preparation and participation in the Battle of Sidi Bou Zid where many of the men, including Voyles, were captured. Voyles details their movement from a prison camp in Tunisia to one in Italy, the condition of their housing, accessibility of clothes, and their food rations. He describes watching air raids, meeting soldiers from other nations, and working as a carpenter while in Italy. As Voyles and other soldiers were transported from Italy to Germany in August 1943, he describes the weather in Europe, accessibility of blankets and warm clothing, Red Cross food rations, labor they were forced to do by the German guard, escapes and deaths of prisoners, and tensions between prisoners and guards until his release in July 1945. Frequently Voyles reflects on his life prior to serving in the army and being a prisoner, hoping that the war will end soon and he will be able to return home.
The Vilmer Voyles World War II prisoner of war diary is part of the Wade Hall Collection of American letters, which includes correspondence and diaries from all over North America covering the time period of the Civil to Korean Wars. The materials were collected by Wade Hall and document everyday men and women.

Restrictions on Access and Use

Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Access Collection is open to researchers by appointment.
Use Restrictions
The physical rights to the materials in this collection are held by the University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center.

Contents of the Collection

Vilmer Voyles diary, 1942-1943

  • Box WH-2, folder 6
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Vilmer Voyles diary, 1943

  • Box WH-2, folder 7
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Vilmer Voyles diary, 1944

  • Box WH-2, folder 8
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Vilmer Voyles diary, 1945

  • Box WH-3, folder 1
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Vilmer Voyles diary, circa 1942-1945, 1975, 1988

  • Box WH-3, folder 2
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Researchers are required to have an SCRC Researcher Account in order to request or order digital copies of materials. Research Account set-up and use instructions can be found at: http://libguides.uky.edu/SCRCaccount

If you are visiting the Breckinridge Research Room, please request materials at least 48 business hours in advance of your arrival.

For all other questions, contact us at: https://libraries.uky.edu/ContactSCRC.

Researchers are required to have an SCRC Researcher Account in order to request or order digital copies of materials. Research Account set-up and use instructions can be found at: http://libguides.uky.edu/SCRCaccount

If you are visiting the Breckinridge Research Room, please request materials at least 48 business hours in advance of your arrival.

For all other questions, contact us at: https://libraries.uky.edu/ContactSCRC.

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