Birdsall, Robert B. (Unknown - 1945)

War Department Declares

T/Sgt. Robert Birdsall as "Officially" Killed in Action Meets Death in Sinking of Jap Freighter Carrying Prisoners From Phillippines Now Listed as Dead

Douglas Budget - March 29, 1945

Mr. and Mrs. J.R. Birdsall of Douglas Monday received word from the war department, that their son T/Sgt. Robert B. Birdsall, who had been on the "missing" list since September 7, 1944, had been officially declared killed in action.

Sgt. Birdsall had been held a prisoner on Mindanao island in the Phillippines since May 11, 1942. He had been listed as missing since the ship went down off that island last September.

With the "official" notice of his death came also the posthumous award of the purple heart singed by the secretary of war; a scrol citing his service to his country signed by President Roosevelt; a citation of honor signed by Gen. H.H. Arnold of the army air force and messages of sympathy and praise from the adjutant general and others.

Mr. and Mrs. Birdsall last week received another letter from T/Sgt. Don Gillin, a "buddy" of Robert's in which he said he and Bob left the states October 27, 1941, as privates first class. The two were together all the time-in the war and in the prison camp. They were on duty on the DelMonte, 1941, until April of the following year when they were moved to another post on the island. They were forced to surrender to the Jap on May 11, 1942.

"We stayed at a Jap prison camp in Maylabalay for four months," Gillin said, "when we were moved to Davao. We were at this latter camp until we were put on this Jap freighter."

It is known that the ship was carrying 750 prisoners when torpedoed and only a few have been known to have escaped.

Bob Birdsall was 21 when he enlisted in the army at Sheridan on April 21, 1941. He is not so well known in Douglas, as he was born, raised and attended school in Gillette. However, he was a charter member of the Moose Lodge of Douglas. Following his graduation from the Gillette high school he worked in the county agent's office in Gillette.

Besides his parents he is survived by two sisters, Mrs. Leo Barnes of Vancouver, Wash., and Carol Louise of the family home here, and his grandparents, F.J. Miller of Galesburg, Ill., and Mrs. Catherine Miller of Douglas.

The accompanying picture was taken a few months after his enlistment.

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