George Andrew Falk papers: 1938-2012 (bulk 1941-1945)
George Andrew Falk papers
Falk, George Andrew
1.5 linear feet
371 GB (online)
Native of Milan, Michigan who served with the 131st Field Artillery unit during World War II and spent three and a half years as a Japanese Prisoner of War forced to work on the Burma Railroad. Correspondence, clippings, photographs, military records, scrapbooks, digital materials.
2017045 Aa 2
The material is in English
Bentley Historical Library
1150 Beal Ave.Finding aid created by Elizabeth Hannigan, October 2017
Ann Arbor, MI
Home Page: http://www.bentley.umich.edu/
Access and Use
Donated by Denise E. Justis (donor no. 11471) in March 2016.
This collection is open without restriction.
To protect fragile audiovisual recordings (such as audio cassettes, film reels, and VHS tapes), the Bentley Historical Library has a policy of converting them to digital formats by a professional vendor whenever a researcher requests access. For more information, please see: http://bentley.umich.edu/research/duplication/.
Donor(s) have transferred any applicable copyright to the Regents of the University of Michigan but the collection may contain third-party materials for which copyright was not transferred. Patrons are responsible for determining the appropriate use or reuse of materials.
[item], folder, box, George Andrew Falk papers, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan.
[item], [URL] George Andrew Falk papers, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan.
The collection is arranged into two series: 1. Scrapbooks. 2. Memorial Book.
George Andrew Falk (1919-1982) was born and raised in Milan, Michigan. He graduated from Milan High School in 1938 and worked at a local manufacturing company before receiving his draft notice in January 1941. Falk enlisted in the United States Army in March 1941 and was assigned to the 131st Field Artillery unit. He was stationed in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, Fort Bliss, Texas and Hawaii before being deployed overseas following Pearl Harbor and the declaration of war with Japan.
Falk's unit was sent to Java to provide reinforcement for allied troops during the Japanese invasion of Indonesia. After the fall of the island, he was taken prisoner by the Japanese alongside a number of other U.S., British, Australian, and Dutch troops. Conditions in the Prisoner of War (POW) camps were extremely poor and Falk suffered from malnutrition, malaria, and beriberi which affected his health for the rest of his life. Falk and a number of other prisoners were transported to Burma to provide slave labor on the Burma Railroad connecting Burma and Thailand, which also known as the Death Railway. An estimated 16,000 Allied prisoners died while working on the railroad. Falk had contact with the Dutch doctor Henri Hekking, a fellow POW who became famous for improvising lifesaving medical care to prisoners working on the railroad.
Falk's family was unaware of his location or status until he was officially declared missing in action by the U.S. Military many months after he was captured. In time, Falk was permitted to send home Japanese propaganda postcards which altered his family he was still alive but did not reveal the deplorable conditions in the camps.
Falk was released when the Nike prison camp in Thailand was liberated in 1945 and spent time recovering at Walter Reed General Hospital in Washington D.C.
Falk was reunited with his family in Michigan later that year. He married Doris Barnes in 1949 and had two daughters. While Falk was reluctant to discuss his wartime experiences, he maintained connections with other survivors of the POW camps and was a member of the Lost Battalion Association, an organization dedicated to Americans who had been in Japanese POW camps. He passed away in 1982 at the age of 63.
Collection Scope and Content Note
Materials include correspondence, clippings, maps, records related to Falk's military service and photographs. The series also contains information related to the Lost Battalion Association and efforts to document the experiences of American POWs following the war.
The collection has been organized into two series. The Scrapbooks series contains 4 binders of correspondence, clippings and photographs. The Memorial Book series contains a memorial scrapbook created by Falk's family after his death to honor his life and memory. The collection includes both a print version of the book, as well as digital copies of each page of the book.
This collection is indexed under the following headings in the finding aid database and catalog of The Bentley Historical Library/University of Michigan. Researchers desiring additional information about related topics should search the catalog using these headings.
- World War, 1939-1945 -- Artillery operations, American.
- World War, 1939-1945 -- Burma.
- World War, 1939-1945 -- Personal narratives, American.
- World War, 1939-1945 -- Prisoners and prisons, Japanese.
- World War, 1939-1945 -- Veterans -- Michigan.
- Digital file formats.
- Falk, George Andrew.
- United States. Army. Field Artillery, 131st.