American Ex-Prisoners of War
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Biography
Blackmer, Paul
Paul Blackmer Paul Blackmer
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Biography
This is a biography of Paul D. Blackmer, submitted by his widow, Alice M Blackmer, ablackme@twcny.rr.com.

Paul Blackmer was born August 4, 1924 in the town of Pierre Pont, county of St. Lawrence, New York State.

He died December 14, 1992, at his residence.

Paul was a country boy schooled through ten grades. He was the second of four children. His parents separated when he was serving in Italy. At that time Paul chose to send an allotment to his mother in the amount of $50.00 a month to help his mother provide for his two younger siblings still at home.

Paul left school (Knox Memorial, Russell, New York) to work in a cheese factory in West Pierre Pont, N.Y. for a while. He was later employed at Alcoa in Massena, N.Y. He enlisted from that job. He could have been deferred but chose to enlist and serve his country.

His military days in the Army started April 23, 1943 at Camp Upton, Long Island. He then went to Camp Wheeler, Georgia for basic infantry training. In September 1943 he had a seven day furlough and visited his parents. On September 15th he reported to Fort Mead, Maryland and was immediately shipped overseas as a replacement as squad leader in infantry company.

Paul was affiliated with the K Co. 36th Division 143rd Infantry in the European Theater of Operation. They landed in North Africa, from there to Italy, France where he was captured by the German Army.

The information I have about the battles or campaigns Paul was in were as follows, Naples, Foggia Rome, Arno, and Southern France. He was captured near Mont Le Mar, France on August 28, 1944 by the Nazis with two other men. During the battle with his captures he ran out of machine gun clips. The Germans shot him in the shoulder, the left arm, and the left side of his back.

Paul was imprisoned at Dijon, France, Stalag XIIA Limburg, Germany, and Stalag IIIC near Kuerstrin, Germany. At Stalag XIIA he and other prisoners were forced to dig corpses out of bomb rubble. He was moved by box car from XIIA to IIIC. The inadequate diet during his incarceration caused Paul to lose 50 pounds.

Paul was liberated by the Russians. He was foot marched to Czarnikaw, Poland, trained to Odessa, Russia by box car, a British ship took him to Naples, Italy (Camp Lucky Strike) where he was returned to American Control. Paul was returned to the United States by boat April 20, 1945, which docked at Boston, Massachusetts.

Paul came back home to Canton N.Y. by train to spend some time with his family. Paul's very good friend (Ray Bell also of the K CO. and of Massena, N.Y. ) called on Paul's mother to be with her when Paul came in the door. Several times he mentioned that his mother aged thirty years in the three years that she waited for him to come back from the war and that thinking of getting home to see his mother kept him going as the months of captivity dragged on. After a brief furlough Paul was sent to Lake Placid, N.Y. for recuperation (food, etiquette and recreation). From Lake Placid N.Y., Paul was stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia where he was provost sergeant assigned to prisoners on work detail.

After his discharge jobs were not prevalent. He drew unemployment, helped his uncle build a barn and just worked at odd jobs for a while.

He married me, Alice Mae Matthews, September 12, 1946. We had 46 years together, had one child, a son Edward Paul Blackmer. He and his wife Margaret gave us three granddaughters.

Paul kept in touch with some of his buddies from K Co. Their names were Wm. (Bill) Trimpe of Cincinnati, Ohio; George (Yump) Gindlesperger of Berlin, Pennsylvania; Ray Bell of Massena, New York; Robert Mallory of Buckner, Illinois; and Jim Maddox of Thornton, Texas. He also kept in contact with POW bunk buddies. Their names were Wallace Hawkins of Hattiesburg, Mississippi; Leo Scharenburg of Cedar Point, Kansas; Albert Domzella of Tucson, Arizona; and Al Heinl, Dorseyville, Pa.

Paul was a charter member of the Northern New York Chapter of AXPOW, was vice commander and was delegate for the State Department of AXPOW. He had membership in VFW, DAV, American Legion, AXPOW, Midwest Chapter 36th Div Assoc., 36th Div. Assoc. and AARP.

There is an article titled "The Fighting Machine" by Bill Trimpe all about Paul for all to read. It can be found at http://www.kwaanah.com/36division/ps/ps948956.htm (Ed: this link doesn't work; an extract exists at ww2today.com/29-august-1944-us-reconnaissance-patrol-holds-off-panzer-troops - active as of 7/18/17.)

Ed. post script: Paul Blackmer is also mentioned in a story about his POW bunk mate Leo Scharenburg in the Peabody (Kansas) Gazette-Bulletin (Nov. 10, 2011). It recounts Scharenburg's slightly different recollection of an extraordinary journey the pair made following liberation by the Russians, a two-month trek, made mainly at night and on foot, that took them from the camp, just east of Berlin, over 1,000 miles to Odessa on the Black Sea. Even done in a straight line, the author notes, it would cover the entire length of Poland and part of the Ukraine.See story.

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