Lyle Herman Sheldon

1916 - 2015


Their Story

Lyle Herman Sheldon was born on October 21, 1916, to Elias and Hattie Sheldon. He was born in Lost Nation, Iowa, and grew up there. He attended Lost Nation High School and graduated in 1934. Lyle started working as a farmhand in 1935 and worked until 1941.[1]

On May 6, 1941, Lyle was drafted into the Army. First, he was sent to Camp Clayborne in Louisiana for training. This is where he was attached to the 168th Infantry, 34th Division. Afterwards he was sent to Ireland for thirteen days for extra training. Following Ireland, he was sent to Scotland and then North Africa in November of 1942.[2]

On February 17, 1943, Lyle was taken as a prisoner of war. He was captured during the Battle of Faid Pass by Rommel’s Afrika Korps. He was first sent to a camp in Italy. The prisoners were treated poorly. They fed them a biscuit and a cup of tea for breakfast, macaroni and cheese and tomato for dinner, and a cup of boiled cabbage for supper. One time, Lyle found a rag in his soup and another time he found a large worm in his tomato. The prisoners would use their helmet liners as bowls and carve spoons out of wood. The soldiers were hungry and were relieved when British Red Cross packages arrived with food for them. Hygiene was also an issue at these camps. Lice and fleas were common and Lyle said they were never given a comb or toothbrush.

After his time in Italy, he was sent to Germany to work on a farm. A few of his friends tried to escape, but did not make it. Lyle considered himself  “one of the lucky ones.” He was eventually released on April 14, 1945.[3]

After the war, he married Norma on March 17, 1951. They had three daughters together, Janine, Gayle, and Annette. He worked for Caterpillar for seventeen years until he retired. He enjoyed reading, watching Western classic movies, and listening to music. He enjoyed polka, country, or big band music. He would go to polka festivals and see Danny O’Donnell in concert every time.[4]


[1] Nagel, Ken. “Lyle Herman Sheldon.” Find a Grave. May 5, 2015.

[2] Nagel, Ken. “Lyle Herman Sheldon.” Find a Grave. May 5, 2015.

[3] Elliot, Stephen. “Arsenal salutes sacrifice, survival 96-year-old Iowa native honored at POW/MIA memorial.” The Rock Island Argus. September 22, 2012.

[4] Nagel, Ken. “Lyle Herman Sheldon.” Find a Grave. May 5, 2015.