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The Normandy American Heroes Blog

World War Two, Normandy and More

American Hero: Paratrooper Robert Nobles Overcame Life in a Stalag

Posted by Rodolphe Passera on May 24, 2018 9:30:00 AM

 

Robert "Bob" Nobles is from Ithaca NY, he was 21 years old when he decided to join the U.S. Army and become a paratrooper, after the attack of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese.

He left his girlfriend Bette, to join a training center at Camp Blanding in Clay County, Florida and was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division, 508th PIR, Company C.

 

Bob and Bette

He left Fort Blanding to head to the famous training camp at Fort Benning in Georgia, where a lot of paratroopers where sent. He did his first jump there— and many more after that— until he finally received his paratrooper wings.

 

 

This Fort Benning postcard was sold in one of the several PX of the camp

 

Bob finally moved to another training center, Camp Mackall in North Carolina, where he continued his intense paratrooper training.

 

 

 

Bob & Bette at Camp Mackall

 

Bob and Bette were married on April 25th, 1943 in York, South Carolina. Before he left his country for Europe, Bob was sent to Camp Shanks, New York.

 

The 508th regiment arrived first in Northern Ireland, then moved near the town of Nottingham, England. The 82nd Airborne "All American", 508th PIR "Red Devils" were dropped in Normandy on the night of June 6th 1944. Their objectives were to capture the town of Sainte-Mère-Église, secure crossings at the Merderet River near La Fière Amfreville and Chef-du-Pont, and establish a defensive line north from Neuville-au-Plain to Beuzeville-au-Plain.

 

Bob jumped in the dark; he landed in a field and got lost— he was 10 miles from his original drop zone. He finally met up with other paratroopers; they tried to find their way asking French people but it was difficult to communicate with the language barrier.

 

 

Men of the 82nd Airborne, tried to find informations from the French resistance fighters.

Bob and his group of paratroopers spent 6 days trying to find the roads, fighting against the Germans in the hedgerows in the difficult Normandy Bocage. Bob and his group were taken prisoner by the Germans near the Merderet River. They were confined in a farm.

 

After being captured and considered prisoner of war (POW) Bob was sent to the town of Alençon, south of Normandy by truck and had to work in a hospital where German soldiers were treated. Then he was sent to Paris to take a train to Germany with his comrades. They first arrived in a prisoner’s camp in Germany, known as a "stalag," where other allied soldiers were confined.

 

They were finally sent to a coal mine in Czechoslovakia, where they worked with Czech civilian prisoners. It was a very difficult and dangerous work. They suffered a lot from malnutrition, lack of hygiene, and healthcare.

 

During their captivities, Bob and his comrades had some news about the war front, but the German soldiers never talked about the defeat. When they saw Allies plane flying around the camp, Bob felt that it would be the time to try to escape. He and another soldier escaped to a farm where the farmer took care of them. At the end of April, the German left the area and the camp next door was liberated by the American soldiers.

 

Bob and his comrade met their American fellows and were sent to an Army hospital where they learned that the German surrendered on May 7th, 1945. He returned to the USA, continued his life with Bette and worked as a postman in Ithaca NY.

Bob is now 95 years old and he still leaves in Ithaca.

 

 

This picture was taken in 2015 for a local newspaper article

(Source : https://www.ithacajournal.com/story/news/local/2015/06/21/twin-tiers-honor-flight/29072917/)

 

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