by Martin Johnston
For collectors of militaria, it’s not uncommon to purchase an item that is inscribed with the name of the person to whom it was issued. Helmets and holsters are frequently found with the names of military personnel to whom they were once assigned. Until the rise of the internet, it was been almost impossible to locate any information relating to the identity of these individuals.
I recently came across a German Reisepass (passport) that I had purchased years ago from a vendor at a local gun show. I rediscovered it while sorting out items that had been stored away and forgotten. My interest renewed, I Googled the name I found in the document: “Werner Roell.” It is an understatement To say I was surprised when I “got a hit.”
It turned out that “Herr Roell (8 February 1914 – 10 May 2008) was a highly decorated Major in the Luftwaffe during WWII. He was also was the recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross that was “awarded to recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.”
In the search I also found an oral history interview with Herr Roell that had been recorded several years before he passed away in 2008.
How Herr Roell’s Reisepass ended up in the United States, though, is the question Google didn’t answer!