Robert S. Bartloszewski was born on March 15, 1921, in LaSalle, Illinois. His parents were John G. and Helen Lisewski Bartloszewski. Robert’s father, John, was a cashier at the State Bank—a local financial institution located in downtown LaSalle. Both of his parents were born in Illinois—the children of Polish immigrants who left their homeland in the 1870s. However, Robert was never able to meet his paternal grandparents as they both died before he was born. And he most likely did not see his maternal grandparents much because they moved to Chicago before he was born as did many of his aunts and uncles on his mother’s side.
Robert was also an only child for the first few years of his life because his older brother, Jackie, had died at age five a year before Robert was born. When Robert was about three, his parents had a daughter who they named Helen. By the time Robert was 9, his parents had moved the family to a home in north LaSalle. As a teenager, Robert attended LaSalle-Peru High School where he played in the band all four years. He graduated in 1940 as Robert Bartley—a surname his family used interchangeably with Bartloszewski. After high school, Robert studied for at least one year at the LaSalle-Peru-Oglesby Junior College.
The week Robert turned 21 was an eventful one. He celebrated his birthday on Sunday, registered for the draft on Thursday, March 19, 1942, and on Saturday, March 21, 1942, Robert enlisted in the U.S. Army in Chicago. He had grown into a tall man standing six feet and weighing 170 pounds with blue eyes and blonde hair.
As a member of the U.S. Army Air Forces, Robert was assigned to the 527 Bomb Squad, 379 Bomb Group, possibly after it was activated on November 26, 1942, at Gowen Field, Idaho. The 527th was one of four bombardment squadrons making up the 379th. At some point Robert was promoted to a 2nd Lieutenant.
On December 2, 1942, the 379 Bomb Group moved from Idaho to Wendover Field, Utah. They remained there training until February 3, 1943, and then moved to Sioux city AAF, Iowa. Five days after arriving in Sioux city, Robert was in a plane crash that left seven dead and three, including himself, injured. The large bomber they were in had gone down around 9 p.m. and burst into flames near some farm buildings soon after taking off on a routine training flight. Robert survived by being “thrown free of the wreckage.”
Two months later, on April 9, 1943, while Robert was recuperating from his injuries from the plane crash, his group began preparations to move overseas. Some made their way east to New York where they sailed aboard the Aquitania arriving at Clyde on May 18, 1943. The aircraft took another route flying to Maine and making the journey overseas on April 15, 1943. Eventually both groups arrived in Kimbolton, England at AAF Station 11.
Meanwhile Robert remained stateside having taken a non-combat position as bombardier squadron leader. However, Robert considered this a temporary assignment. When he visited with his parents in April for Easter, he let them know he was going overseas and would request to return to combat duty. On May 28, 1943, he wrote his parents to let them know he safely arrived in England.
On July 30, 1943, Robert was flying a B-17 on an operational mission with a 10-man crew out of Kimbolton, England, on a course for Kassel, Germany. Robert was serving as the navigator. On their return to England the plane crashed at Framlingham, England. All men on board were killed in action. He was buried in St. Hyacinth Cemetery in LaSalle, Illinois. Robert would have received the following medals: Army Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, Europe/African/Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory.
This story is part of the Stories Behind the Stars project (see www.storiesbehindthestars.org). This is a national effort of volunteers to write the stories of all 421,000+ of the US WWII fallen saved on Together We Served and Fold3. Can you help write these stories? These stories will be accessible via smartphone app at any war memorial or cemetery.
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SBTS Historian: Pam Broviak
You can also access this story at the following sites:
- Illinois, County Marriages, 1810–1940, John G. Bartloszewski to Helen Lisewski, FamilySearch.
- “Seven Reported Killed as Army Bomber Plunges,” The Bureau County Republican, Feb. 09, 1942, p. 1. (Note: date on the paper was incorrectly labeled 1942 when it should have been 1943.)
- “Crash Victim Has Relatives Here,” The Bureau County Republican, Feb. 11, 1942, p. 1. (Note: date on the paper was incorrectly labeled 1942 when it should have been 1943.)
- “LaSalle Flyer Killed in Action Bombing Europe,” Chicago Tribune, Aug. 8, 1943, p. 18.
- “LaSalle Man, Son of Banker, Dies in Action,” The Times, Streator, Ill., Aug. 6, 1943, p. 2.
- LaSalle County Genealogy Guild, Death Certificate Database
- Illinois, U.S., Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947, John V. Bartlozewski, Ancestry.
- U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995, LaSalle, 1938, Robert Bartloszewski, Ancestry
- U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995, LaSalle, 1940, Robert Bartloszewski, Ancestry
- U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995, LaSalle, 1942, Robert Bartloszewski, Ancestry
- LaSalle-Peru Township High School Yearbook, 1940, p. 40, Ancestry.
- 1900 U.S. Census, Val Bartloszewski, Ancestry.
- 1900 U.S. Census, Anton Lisewski, Ancestry.
- 1910 U.S. Census, Victoria Bartloszewski, Ancestry.
- 1910 U.S. Census, Anton Lisewski, Ancestry.
- 1920 U.S. Census, John G. Bartley, Ancestry.
- 1920 U.S. Census, Anton Lisewski, Ancestry.
- 1930 U.S. Census, John G. Bartoszewski, Ancestry.
- 1940 U.S. Census, John Bartloszewski, FamilySearch.
- U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946, Robert S. Bartley, Ancestry.
- U.S., Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925-1970, Ancestry.
- U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947, Robert S. Bartley, Serial Number 1751, Order number T10432, Ancestry.
- Missing Air Crew Reports (MACRs), 42-3212, Fold3.
- 379th Bomb Group Archives, History, website