Memorial Sergeant Robert S. Haws - A lonesome Hero

Locatie: Kruisweg, Elkenrade  50°49'59.9"N 5°54'23.5"E

American soldier Sergeant Robert S. Haws who died here on the Dikkebuiksweg during the liberation of Wijlre on or around September 14, 1944."

Mid September 1944, the southern part of the province of Limburg was the American soldiers.
These soldiers belonged to the 30th Infantry Division, consisting of the 117th, 119th and 120th Infantry Regiment.
The 117th was globally active from Maastricht to Geulhem , the 119th operated from Valkenburg to Gulpen and on the east flank the 120th Regiment was operating.
The vicinity of Schin op Geul and Wylre was liberated by the 3rd Bat. of the 119th regiment  assisted by 3rd Bat. the 117th Regiment, operating from Oud Valkenburg and Strucht.
During the fights in this aerea soldiers of both Bats. were killed. One of them was Robert Sidney Haws.

Robert was born in Philomont Loudoun County, Virginia in the northeastern of the United States as the son of Isaac Haws from Milwaukee Wisconsent and Daisy Pierce from Philomont. Daisy was only 16 years when Robert was born.
According to data from the census of 1930, Robert lived at that time with his mother and his 1 year younger sister with his grandparents. Later he lived with his aunt and uncle Frank and Mary Pierce, also in Philomont.
He enlisted on June 2, 1941 in Richmond and entered service at Camp Wheeler in Georgia.

His further military training he received at Fort Jackson, SC and Camp Atterburg Ind. On January 4, 1944, he embarked for England.
Meanwhile he had married Myrtie Lee Argo probably from Mecca in Georgia.
On July 14 he landed in France and came through France and Belgium into the Netherlands, where he was killed on September 14 liberating the village of Wylre..

What happened to Robert during these days in September in Wylre?
Robert was Sergeant  in 119th Inf. Reg. K Comp.
119th at that time had its CP at Ingber.
On Wednesday, September 13 the first American soldiers approached the hamlet of Beertsenhoven  where the first battles took place at 17.10. This was the last action of that day.

That night 2 reconnaissance patrols went toward Fromberg Strucht Schoonbron and Wylre and they were active all night.
The Germans had barricaded roads with trees and had destroyed the bridge over the river Geul.
They had retreated behind the embankment of the railroad (Schin op Geul-Kerkrade)on the other side of the village.

On September 14 at approximately 10:00 some soldiers manage to cross the river and get into the village.
As they marched in the direction of Schin op Geul , they suddenly became under heavy fire by German heavy machine guns from the Fromberg aerea.
They retreated to the last houses of the village, where they learned that in the village for at least 150 German soldiers were present.
During the day they cleared several enemy positions.

The mystery of the missing.

Robert died on or about September14 on a courner of a road leading to a hill called Dikkebuik
just across the railroad, near the lime kilns, in the field at Wylre.
He died from the effects of a shot in the head in a man to man fight. The body of the german soldier lies a few yards away from his, he was burried in the field, together with 6 other germans.
He must have been in the first frontline.

Strangely enough, his death was unnoticed and unreported.
Was he acting alone, probably not.
Was he backing his retreating buddies?
Why was his death not reported by fellow soldiers?
In any case, his body lying on the road was not removed so villagers brought him to the local carpenter, who made a coffin for him and after a simple ceremony on september 18 he was burried at the local cemetery. Church services were arranged for his soul rest and he was honored by the whole local community.A little wooden cross with his name marked his grave. How was it possible that all this happened, without notion of the army officials. Robert was declaired as Missing in Action as we can read in the Loudoun News, a local newspaper in his homeland, this was also official reported to his mother and widow. It took until May 1945, that it became known by the Army that Robert was buried at the local cemetery Wylre. His family received a telegram, stating that Robert was killed in action in Holland, according an article in the Bleu Ridge Herald of May 31, 1945 Robert was reburried on the Margraten Cemetery Plot SS Row 8 Crave 200 on october 22 1945

The mystery of mistaken identity.


On April 9 1945, Mrs Myrtie Haws received a package containing Roberts personal belongings.
Catholic medals, a chain, dog tag, a comb, a dictionary and a letter.
On june 22 1945 the Army Effects Office forwarded a check for $ 35.90 to the widow, as property belonging to Robert, her husband.
But on August 14, she received another letter, she had to return the money, it belonged to a St.Sgt  Robert S. Haws from  Prove in Utah who had been wounded somewhere in Italy..

The mystery of disappearance.

On December April 1947 a letter was send to the widow with a request for disposition of remains , it was not answered, so the American Red Cross was asked to detect her. But in August 1948 they gave up their attempts, she had remarried and left for Washington, but letters to her last known address were not-deliverable. So the father, Ike Haws became NOK, but he could not be found either, he left for Milwaukee Wisconsin, after laborious research it proved he had deceased.
Nex chapter, his mother Daisy was NOK now, but she also left Philomont, remarried and moved to Berryville Va or Airmont Va
Letters adressed to here adresses remained non-deliverable too.
Meanwhile it was in May 1949.
On May 16 1949 it was administratively decided by the army, that  Roberts remains would be reinterred at Margraten Cemetery.
At last Robert found his last rest on July 15 1949 at Plot D Row 16 Grave 3.

It seems Robert had nobody left to care.
This is not true, Robert lives in the hearts of the older inhabitants of the village Wylre in South Limburg, and it is the duty of the present and future generations to remember and honor Roberts ultimate sacrific. We owe our freedom to guys like Robert. They were the base to our freedom. Robert you will always be remembered as our hero, thank you.