Robert G. Cole

In Summer of 2006, July, I visited the American Cemetery in Margraten. I have never been there and it impressed me. It was quiet and peaceful…it was beautiful.
We walked along between the graves and after a while the crosses looked all the same to me. Until I was standing before a cross whose name was very familiar to me, the grave of LTC. Robert G. Cole. I knew that name, he is a character in my favourite war-game: Brothers in Arms. He is one of the Band of Brothers. The Screaming Eagles. That was very strange I thought….. could it really be true that my hero is buried there?

When I came home I took the game at immediately. It was really true, but I wasn`t convinced. I found the web-page of War-musea, and I send them a mail, I got a mail back with the answer that it was indeed . Robert G. Cole who is buried in Margraten. There was a little information with the mail, so I printed it and put it in my photo-album. It was very interesting but what should I do with it? I thought it was inaccessible for me.

After the Carnival I got another mail from STIWOT, with more information and even a little picture from Robert. And that led to my investigation for R.G. Cole.
I visited a lot of sites, mailed a lot of different people, got very nice and less nice reactions but finally I found everything there is to know about Robert.
There are two people who I`m very grateful for their help, Jean Vijgen and Mrs. Fietje Quaedvlieg. And without the help that I received from America it would be very difficult. Thank you Mr. Jim Hudson.

Robert was born on March 19, 1915 in Fort Sam Houston, St. Antonio, Texas. His parents were Clara Cole and Col. Clarence Cole. Robert had an elderly brother named Ellroy, and a younger sister named Mary. His mother became a young widow.
Twenty years later Robert was accepted at West Point, the Military Academy, he graduated in 1939. He came with the 15th Infantry Regiment in Washington, together with Dwight (Ike) Eisenhower. Robert wanted to be transfered to the new Parachute-team in Fort Benning. In 1941 he got his Parawings in the rank of Lieutenant. He became Commander (Lieutenant-Colonel) of the 3rd Battalion, 502nd PIR, 101st Airborne Division in 1943.

On June 12, 1940, Robert married Allie-Mae Wilson, the love of his youth. They had a son in 1943, a son who would never know his father and a father who would never see his son to grow up.

LTC. Cole was strict but also just to his men. He was modest, had courage, humour, and could curse and sympathize at the same time. To his friends he was RG, his men called him "The Chief".

September 1943, the Paratroopers were shipped to England to begin their training for D-Day. From Fort Bragg to the south of England, Chilton Foliat. Here the 502nd became there codename: Kick-Off. The helmets got a white heart on the side and third Battalion was named Blue, (Ducks).
June 6, 1944… LTC. Cole and his men were first to jump out of their B-47, named "Snooty" and landed on Utah-Beach. They missed there drop zone and were scattered. Cole managed to gathering a few troopers and they went on their way to Hill 30 and the accessroads. The Germans began to retreat from the beaches, Cole′s men eliminated 75 Germans without losses to there own men.
Five days later LTC. Cole got the order to occupy the bridge over the river Douve near Carentan. Access-road 4 to give the Allies space to get into France from Omaha, and Utah-Beach. In spite of their effort the 3rd Battalion got stuck in a killing crossfire with the Germans. The enemy had taken cover in a farmhouse. The troopers were sitting ducks. They even were bombed on the road by 2 Stuka′s. After an hour of intense mortar and shell explosions, who were killing and wounding a lot of men, Cole decided to break out. He gave order to put on bayonets. But not all of his men got this order. At 06.15 in the morning he gave the whistle-signal to attack. Personally, with a few men, he ran ahead shouting and screaming. He saw that only a few followed him, and he thought that has men a banded him. But they followed him quickly. They fought man to man , dislodged the Germans and secured the farmhouse and the bridge. It was the first bayonet-charge of WWII. There were so many wounded and dead soldiers that they called that road "Purple Heart Lane". For his fearless action, personal courage, and outstanding leadership Robert received the highest decoration within the armed forces….. the Medal of Honour.
(Private first class, Joe E. Mann, was the second who got this decoration. Robert and Joe were the only two within the 101st Airborne to receive this award.) Because of the hedges and brooks they could not dispel the Germans any further away. The 502nd was pinned down in and around the farmhouse. At the point of retreat, not wanted to leave there wounded behind, Cole asked for Artillery support. After 15 minutes they got it and their luck changed. The enemy was driven out of the area, and the bridge secured.
The 3rd Battalion was relieved by the 2nd, and went in reserve.

On Sunday September 17, 1944 at 13.38 hours the 3rd battalion left from RAF base Greenham Common, in 45 C-47′s to The Netherlands. Destination DZ Charlie. The 502nd was brought in last, together with two platoons from 326th Engineers and the para′s from 101st HQ Division and HQ Artillery Division. Their job: make contact with the 501st in the north (Nijmegen) and the 506th in the south (Eindhoven) , to hold the road from Eindhoven to Best- Boxtel open (later known as Hell′s Highway) and stay in reserve. The 101st Airborne Division made their second jump above The Netherlands, Operation Market Garden. The 1st battalion left for St. Oedenrode and made contact with the 501th. The bridge over the Dommel river was still intact. A company of the 3rd battalion had to occupy the bridge over the Wilhelmina canal, they took the bridge without any trouble. The Germans counter-attacked, chasing the para′s away and almost cutting them of from their own troops. The rest of the battalion came to help, but the German resistance was to big. They dug in near the bridge. One day later, a Monday, Cole and his men were in the forest near the place Son, under extreme fire of the Germans. Cole demanded for air support, but was afraid that the bombers will hit his own men. So he set down signal-panels and laying down the last one, looking in to the sky, he was been hit by the bullet from a German sniper. The bullet went right through his helmet and head. LTC. Robert G. Cole was already dead before he fell on the ground, 29 Years young.
His runner, John Fitzgerald, said about this day… That black day the 502nd lost more then just his Commander.

Robert Cole would never receive his Medal of Honour personally, because he knew he got it. His mother, wife and son of 18 months received the decoration in his name on October 30, 1944. As well as the Medal of Honour, Robert got also the Purple Heart and a French decoration, the Croix de Guerre with palm.

My war-game now has another meaning for me. I`ve been reading a lot of books about the 101st, 82nd, and D-Day. I find it really exciting and interesting to investigate and put all the pieces of the puzzle together.
Robert will always be my great hero, it is a pity that I will never be able to know him in person, but I think I may call him RG too. From now on when I visit the American Cemetery in Margraten, his grave and cross will have a story and a face. Bringing flowers will be an honour to me. All men and boys buried in Margraten and other Military Cemeteries earn this respect, they were all heroes. Some of them were not much older than I am today. We must NEVER forget what they have done for us, the Dutch people. So we can live in freedom.

From this day to the ending of the world,
…..we in it shall be remembered
…..we band of brothers.
King Henry V


medal of honor- medals of the world
Crois de Guerre-France Phalerestique
Purple Heart- Rusty Knights Place


gerealiseerd door
Enovative Webdesign