April 7, 1924 (Norwalk, CT) – October 14, 1998 (Norwalk, CT); 74 years old
Married to Joan Beardsley on April 19, 1952 in Norwalk, CT
Local address: 23 River Street, Norwalk
Serial number 31336854
Unit: Chemical Warfare Service
Held in German POW camp Stalag 4B Muhlberg Sachsen 51-13.
Photo and story contributed by David Russo, son of Private Nicholas M. Russo, via e-mail February 22, 2022.
From David Russo: “I would like to give you a short history of my father in the Army. His father took him to the South Norwalk train station to be in the Army. He was finally sent to England where he was preparing for the Normandy landings, He once told me the night before the landings they had a fantastic meal but it felt like “the last supper”. He hit the beaches at Normandy. While on the beach he saw a man drop here then there from enemy fire. He was assigned to the 4.2 inch motor while in the chemical ordinance unit. Chemical ordinance basically means using white phosphorus. One time he said he felt sorry for the people receiving this chemical because what it did to the human body. Later on he was sent to Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge. While manning a 30 caliber machine gun on the second floor of a building, he heard the Germans coming in on the first floor. The Germans would fire a burst of machine fire just to let them know they were there. The first thing my father did was remove the chemical warfare insignia from his uniform and hide them. The Germans would know he would be the one using white phosphorus and they hated it. The Germans who took him were SS from the Herman Goring Division. He remembered the name on the German’s arm band. … While he was in prison he was only given one potato a day to eat. He said a German doctor treated him for an injury . The doctor only had white crepe paper to use, no bandages available. When he was liberated he only weigh 96 pounds”. END
Transcription of a letter sent by the War Department, Adjutant General’s Office, Washington DC, on January 20, 1945, addressed to Mr. Anthony M. Russo, 23 River Street, Norwalk, Connecticut.
Dear Mr. Russo,
This letter is to confirm my recent telegram in which you were regretfully informed that your son, Private Nicholas M. Russo, 31,336,854, has been reported missing in action in Belgium since 28 December 1944.
I know that added distress is caused by failure to receive more information or details. Therefore, I wish to assure you that at any time additional information is received, it will be transmitted to you with out delay, and, if in the meantime no additional information is received, I will again communicate with you at the expiration of the three months.
The term “missing in action” is used to indicate that the whereabouts or status of an individual is not immediately known. It is not intended to convey the impression that the case is closed. I wish to emphasize that every effort is exerted continuously to clear up the status of our personnel. Under war conditions this is a difficult task as you must readily realize. Experience has shown that many persons reported missing in action are subsequently reported as prisoners of war, but as this information is furnished by countries with which we are at war, the War Department is helpless to expedite such reports.
The personal effects of an individual missing overseas are held by his unit for a period of time and are then sent to the Effects Quartermaster, Kansas City, Missouri, for disposition as designated by the soldier.
Permit me to extend to you my heartfelt sympathy during this period of uncertainty.
Sincerely yours, J.A. Ulio, Major General, The Adjutant General
From The Norwalk Hour May 24, 1945
Private Nicholas M. Russo, who has notified his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Russo of 23 River Street that he has been freed from a German prisoner of war camp and is awaiting transportation to this country. Private Nicholas had been reported as missing since December 28, 1944.
Buried at Saint John’s Cemetery, Richards Avenue, Norwalk CT; unknown plot number.