Robert J. Niland PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 31 July 2009 16:12

Sgt Robert J Niland


Sergeant Robert J. Niland.

Born: 1919

Died: June 6, 1944

Age: 25

Cause of death: German attack

Notable because: He died during the Normandy landing. His brother Preston died the following day, and it was believed a 3rd brother died as well, giving cause for the fourth brother to return to the US under the 'surviving relative' policy.


Sergeant Robert J. Niland. 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, was killed in action on the first day of the Normandy Invasion, he was the brother of 2Lt Preston T. Niland, who was killed the next day, on June 7. After the War Department was informed of their deaths, a third brother, Frederick "Fritz" Niland, was ordered sent home. (Another brother, Edward Niland, who was a Tech Sergeant in the U.S. Army Air Forces, had been reported missing over Burma in May 1944; he survived the war in a Japanese POW camp.) This incident was one of the inspirations for the film "Saving Private Ryan." Robert was awarded the Purple Heart; he is buried at the Normandy Cemetery near Colleville-sur-Mer, next to Preston

Unlike Ryan, however, there was no need to send out a rescue mission to find Sergeant Frederick Niland, who was eventually contacted at his unit by a priest, Father Francis L. Sampson, who began the paperwork necessary to send Niland home. Niland remained with his unit for some time, but once the paperwork cleared he was forced to return to the States, where he served as an MP for the rest of the war. Fortunately for the Niland family, Edward Niland had not been killed, but had spent almost an entire year in a Japanese prisoner of war camp before being rescued by British forces.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 June 2012 10:54

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