“That Little Boy of Ours” by John J. Alexander, Jr.; B-17 Waist Gunner and POW in Stalag Luft VI; Stalag Luft IV and Stalag Luft I

(Posted: April 9, 2012)

The following poem is taken from Jay Joyce’s notebook.  There is a chapter in my book about the visit by my Mother and me to Bea Joyce’s residence in Pennsylvania.  Bea’s husband, Jay, was the radio operator on my Father’s B-17.  I was fortunate to locate Bea in my research and she thoughtfully invited me to her home so that I could peruse Jay’s memorabilia that included his POW notebook.  I knew that whatever information that Jay had would be relevant to my Father’s story. Bea gave me permission to scan the notebook pages.  There wasn’t time for the entire book but I managed to capture many of the treasured writings.  Some of them are even poems written by my Father that are also in Dad’s books.  This was an indication to me of just how close these crewmates and fellow POWs remained throughout their WWII experience.   The following  poem riveted me.  It was written by  John J. Alexander, Jr., as he went off to war not knowing  when he would see his precious boy again.  The verse  captures poignantly the emotions stirred by the memories of the tender moment that lingered with him of his last view of his baby boy.

I remember how moved I was when I read it.  I could almost picture the sleeping baby and the tearful exit that his Father was forced to make.  How surprised that I was when I came across this picture of “That Little Boy.”  I believe that he is as I pictured him.  His picture as well as the writing on the back of it are shown on this page after the poem.  You will notice that the photo shows “Stalag Luft III.”  All mail in the Camps I believe was routed through Stalag Luft III.  You will also notice Stalag Luft VI and that is the first Camp that Dad, John Alexander and Jay Joyce were held in.  How my Father ended up with it, I’m not sure.  Perhaps John wanted him to have it as a proud Dad.  He may have given it to him after liberation knowing that soon he’d be reunited with his son.  That seems the logical explanation.  So many questions like this surface and unfortunately those who would know the answers are no longer with us.




3 responses to ““That Little Boy of Ours” by John J. Alexander, Jr.; B-17 Waist Gunner and POW in Stalag Luft VI; Stalag Luft IV and Stalag Luft I”

  1. Christine says:

    My grandfather was a POW at Stalag IV, and while he was there he kept a journal that also included drawings, poems, etc. from other soldiers. He also had a section where he had other soldiers write their names and addresses. My grandfather has passed away and I am going through the journal to see if I can locate the families of the other soldiers. The first name listed is John J Alexander from Delaware. I am assuming this is the same soldier that wrote the beautiful poem above. I haven’t had a chance to go through the entire journal, but now I will have to look and see if John J Alexander included a poem as well as his name.

    Thank you for sharing this. Like you mentioned above, seeing these journals makes you realize how close these men were, and brings a very human face to the war and what these men sacrificed. It also makes me wonder if perhaps my own grandfather contributed to someone else journal with a poem or drawing.


  2. john j birkenheuer says:

    My name is John J Birkenheuer. John J Alexander from Delaware is my Grandfather
    I am actually trying to get in touch with that side of the family

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