Ezra “Jodi” Simmons
Photos from Ethel Simmons Hennesy collection.
Ezra “Jodi” SIMMONS, 2nd son of Lucius Theodore SIMMONS and Annie (Knight) SIMMONS , was born 8 Feb 1913 at Washington Parish, LA.
Ezra served in WWII. He was in the 509th Parachute Infantry Batallion, which was the first American Unit to parachute into combat in Nov. 42. On Feb 29 19– he was taken prisoner and was a POW at the infamous Stalag 2B, where treatment was worse than at any other camp in Germany.
EVACUATION & LIBERATION: On 28 January 1945, POW received German instructions to be ready to evacuate camp at 0800 hours the following morning. Upon receipt of these instructions, the MOC set up a plan of organization based on 25-man groups and 200 man companies with NCOs in charge. On the day of the evacuation, however, POW were moved out of camp in such a manner that the original plan was (of) little assistance. German guards ordered POW to fall out of the barracks. When 1200 men had assembled on the road, the remaining 500 were allowed to stay in the barracks. A disorganized column of 1200 marched out into the cold and snow. The guards were considerate, and Red Cross food was available. After the first day, the column was broken down into three groups of 400 men each, with NCOs in charge of each group.
For the next three months, the column was on the move, marching an average of 22 kilometers a day 6 days a week. German rations were neither regular nor adequate. At almost every stop Sgt McMahan bartered coffee, cigarettes or chocolate for potatoes which he issued to the men. Bread the most important item, was not issued regularly. When it was needed most it was never available. The soup was, as a rule, typical, watery German soup, but several times POW got a good, thick dried-pea soup. Through the activity of some of the key NCO’s, Red Cross food was obtained from POW camps passed; by the column on the march. Without it, it is doubtful that the majority of men could have finished the march. The ability of the men to steal helped a lot. The weather was atrocious. It always seemed to be either bitter cold or raining or snowing. Quarters were usually unheated barns and stables. Sometimes they slept unsheltered on the ground; and sometimes they were fortunate enough to find a heated barn.
Except for one period when Red Cross food was exhausted and guards became surly, morale of the men remained at a high level. Practically all the men shaved at every opportunity and kept their appearance as neat as possible under the circumstances.
From time to time weak POW would drop out of the column and wait to be picked up by other columns which were on the move. Thus at Dahlen on 6 & 7 March, the column dwindled to some 900 American POW. On 19 March at Tramm, 800 men were sent to work on Kommandos, leaving only 133 POW who were joined a week later by the Large Kommando Company from Lauenberg. On 13 April the column was strafed by 4 Spitfires near Dannenberg. Ten POW were killed. The rest of the column proceeded to Marlag 10C, Westertimke, where they met the men they had left behind at Stalag IIB who had left on 18 February, reached Stalag 10B after an easy 3 day trip, and then moved adjacent Marlag 10C on 16 April. Westertimke was liberated by the British on 28 April 1945.
More on Stalag 2B can be found at the following links:
Ezra received a Purple Heart.
He did not discuss his time as a POW, at least not with his family, and suffered for years with PTSD. He married a nurse, Juanita CRAIN, and settled down to fishing and alligator trapping in the bayou.
Juanita and Ezra had one child, Charles William Simmons, born 1946 Dec 20, who tragically died in Oct of 1965 in a work related accident.
Ezra is described as the fun uncle by nephews (sons of Jean Kearns) who visited him.
Ezra’s military enlistment:
Name: Ezra W Simmons
Birth Year: 1913
Race: White, citizen (White)
Enlistment Date: 27 Jan 1942
Enlistment State: Florida
Enlistment City: Fort Lauderdale
Branch: Branch Immaterial – Warrant Officers, USA
Branch Code: Branch Immaterial – Warrant Officers, USA
Grade Code: Private
Term of Enlistment: Enlistment for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law
Component: Selectees (Enlisted Men)
Source: Civil Life
Education: Grammar school
Civil Occupation: Job Pressman (Printing press operator, job press. ) or Casting Machine Operator
Marital Status: Married
Ezra’s POW citation:
Provided by David R. BERRY at the Genforum WWII Genealogy Forum, 23 Feb 2004.
SERIAL NUMBER 34230126
NAME SIMMONS EZRA W
GRADE PFC Private First Class
SERVICE CODE ARMY
ARM OR SERVICE INF Infantry
DATE REPORT: DAY 29
DATE REPORT: MONTH 02
DATE REPORT: YEAR 4 1944
RACIAL GROUP CODE WHITE
STATE OF RESIDENCE Undefined Code
TYPE OF ORGANIZATION Parachute Infantry
PARENT UNIT NUMBER 0509
PARENT UNIT TYPE Battalion/Training Battalion Combat/Special Troops
AREA 98 North African Theatre: Italy
LATEST REPORT DATE: DAY 11
LATEST REPORT DATE: MONTH 07
LATEST REPORT DATE: YEAR 1945
SOURCE OF REPORT 1 Individual has been reported through sources considered official. View
STATUS 8 Returned to Military Control, Liberated or Repatriated View
DETAINING POWER 1 GERMANY
CAMP Stalag 2B Hammerstein (99 work camps in vicinity of Koslin & Stolp) West Prussia 53-17
David Berry notes: “Note that he was a member of the 509th PARACHUTE INFANTRY BATTALION about which I think you will be able to find a bit more history. This was the first American unit to parachute into combat (NOV42).”
* * * * * *
Name: Ezra W Simmons
Residence State: 44
Report Date: 29 Feb 1944
Latest Report Date: 11 Jul 1945
Grade: Private First Class
Grade Notes: Second Lieutenant or Nurse or Dietitian or Physical therapy aide or Private First Class or Ensign or Second Class, Seaman
Service Branch: Army
Arm or Service: Infantry
Arm or Service Code: Infantry
Organization Type: Parachute Infantry
Parent Unit Type: Battalion/Training Battalion Combat/Special Troops
Area Served: North African Theatre: Italy
Detaining Country: Germany
Status: Returned to Military Control, Liberated or Repatriated
Report Source: Individual has been reported through sources considered official.
The below photos of Ezra and his wife would have been taken at the time of a Hennesy reunion held in the 1970s.