Prisoners of War

Cliff Austin

Cliff Austin was born in 1925 and grew up in his parents' home town of Vergennes, Vermont. He was the youngest of four boys, all of whom saw duty in the Second World War. He joined the service on March 13, 1943 and was a member of the 106th Infantry Division, Battery C, 589 Field Artillery Battalion.

He was captured on December 17, 1944 and imprisoned at the Arbeits Kommando # 1315 in Oberullesdorf occupied Poland, near Zittau, Germany. The German army withdrew from his camp on May 7, 1945 and he returned to American jurisdiction on May 12. He was 19 and held the rank of Private First Class when he was captured.

Cliff Austin returned to the United States in June of 1945 and was formally discharged on December 7. Returning to civilian life he began work at Simmonds Precision Products as an electronic assembler and remained at Simmonds for forty and a half years, retiring as Manager of Personnel and Community Relations. Cliff and his wife Patricia have two sons and two daughters and live in Vergennes. He is 79.

Cliff Austin, ca. 1944

Cliff Austin, ca. 1944

Cliff Austin

Cliff Austin

Cliff Austin, 2004

Cliff Austin, 2004

Harrison Burney

Harrison Burney, 1942

Harrison Burney, 1942

Harrison Burney was born in Proctor, Vermont, in 1920 and grew up in the Rutland area. He joined the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1936 and, with his parents' consent, the National Guard in 1937. In June of 1940 he enlisted in the regular army, joining the 1st Squadron, Troop B of the 3rd Horse Cavalry Regiment at Fort Ethan Allen in Colchester, Vermont.

He was one of five brothers, all of whom served in the armed forces during World War II. Harrison shipped to Europe in September of 1944 and was captured on December 21st. Over the course of his imprisonment he was moved from camp to camp in Germany, and was liberated on April 23, 1945 from a propaganda camp on the Black Sea. He was 24 and held the rank of Sergeant at the time of his capture. Read his personal account in Harrison Burnley's memoir From The Bowels of Hell, World War II, 1944 - 1945 (PDF).

Harrison Burney, 200

Harrison Burney, 200

In 1956 Harrison Burney rejoined the National Guard's 172nd Armored Regiment as a tank section Sergeant, retiring from the Guard when he was 60. Over the course of his working lifetime he was a coal miner, truck driver, and farmer; he retired from the General Electric plant in Rutland. Harrison has one son and two daughters. One daughter is deceased. He and his wife Charlotte live in Hampton, New York. Harrison is 84.

Harrison Burney (front row center), 1944

Harrison Burney (front row center), 1944

William Busier

Bill Busier, 1942

Bill Busier, 1942

William Busier was born in Shelburne in 1918. He joined the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1934 and the National Guard on December 20, 1940. He was a member of the 43rd Division, 172nd Infantry Medical Detachment and served in the South Pacific. He was on board the USS Coolidge when it sank in Espiritu Santo and received a Soldier's Medal for heroism at sea.

Bill Busier, 2004

Bill Busier, 2004

He was later reassigned to the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia and shipped to Europe in August 1944 with the 106th Infantry Division, 423rd Infantry K Company as a Rifle Platoon Sergeant. He was captured on December 19 and imprisoned at Stalag IXA in Ziegenhine, Germany, until his liberation on April 6, 1945. He was 26 at the time of capture and held the rank of Tech Sergeant.

William Busier returned from Europe on April 24, 1945 and was discharged from the army on July 16. On returning to civilian life he worked first for Sealtest Ice Cream and later for an air conditioning and refrigeration company. He then established his own business, Vermont Heating and Refrigeration. William and his wife Marjorie live in Essex Junction and have one daughter. He is 86.

"I got my book, my squad-my platoon book. I still have that. And I was looking up, you know, all the names in there and I got the whole list of the rifle numbers that they were signed up for, and in that, of course, I had a space and I was writing that down. Addresses of fellows there. And, also, recipes that different ones would know about or come up with. And, really, our whole thing was food, was really food." -- Bill Busier interview 10/24/2003

Robert Norton

Robert Norton, 1942

Robert Norton, 1942

Robert Norton was born in 1924 and was raised in Birmingham, Michigan, near Detroit. His parents were originally from Vergennes, Vermont, where the Norton family had lived for many years. He joined the Army Enlisted Reserve Corps on November 18, 1942, while a student at Carlton College, and was transferred to active duty on March 13, 1943.

Robert Norton, 2004

Robert Norton, 2004

Robert served as a member of the 9th Armored Division, 52nd Armored Infantry Battalion. He was captured on December 20, 1944, during the first days of the Battle of the Bulge and was imprisoned at the Arbeits Kommando at Zschopau, Saxony, Germany, until his liberation on May 7, 1945. He was 20 and held the rank of Private at the time of his capture.

Robert Norton, 1942

Robert Norton, 1942

Robert Norton returned to the United States in June of 1945 and was honorably discharged from the army on December 10 as a Corporal. After completing his education he taught history at Aurora College in Illinois. He moved to Vermont in 1962, teaching French at the Shoreham and Shelburne schools and serving as principal at the Robinson Elementary School in Starksboro. He is 80.