Ludwig Novlan was born on 25 September 1923, in Peru, Illinois. His parents were Martin and Frances Mochnik Novlan, each of whom had immigrated to the United States from Austria in the early 1900s. Ludwig’s parents married in LaSalle county in Illinois on 10 April 1910. He was their sixth child with the following four sons and one daughter born prior to his arrival: Charles, Anton, Amelia, William, and Martin. Four years after having Ludwig, Martin and Frances had another daughter who was stillborn.
As a child Ludwig lived in a home on Garfield avenue in LaSalle which had been purchased by his parents. His father worked as a blacksmith for the coal mine. When his two older brothers reached their late teens, they began working in local factories. About 1932 Ludwig’s older brother Charles married Victoria Wachowiak. After losing their newborn daughter Mary in 1936, Charles and Victoria moved to Donora, Pennsylvania, where Charles worked for the local zinc company.
In response to the escalation of war in Europe, the United States instituted a draft in 1940. Ludwig’s three older brothers, Charles, Anton, and William, all registered on 16 October 1940. Anton entered the Army the next month. Their brother Martin registered the next year in July 1941, but most likely did not serve due to a crippled hand. During this time, Ludwig was still attending LaSalle-Peru Township High School where he participated in track. Through 1940 and 1941, he won several races such as the 880 Yard Run.
Ludwig registered for the draft on 30 June 1942. At the time he was 18 years old and stood 5 feet 7 inches tall. He weighed 148 pounds and had blue eyes and blond hair. He also had a scar on his right cheek. He enlisted in the U.S. Army soon after the new year on 30 January 1943, in Peoria. His brother William enlisted later that year in September in the Navy.
In 1945 2nd LT Ludwig Novlan was stationed in Barksdale Field, Louisiana. On 4 July 1945, he and 10 other crew members were flying a B-29 near Sligo, Louisiana, when the engine failed, and the bomber crashed in the bayou 14 miles south of Shreveport. According to a news article published at the time, “the crash occurred shortly after the plane took off on a routine flight from Barksdale Field. It fell in Red Chute bayou on the plantation of A.C. Skannal.” Three of the crew were killed instantly as they were trapped in the tail section of the plane. The other crew members were thrown into the water. Some who witnessed the plane go down rushed to the crash and administered aid when they found several men seriously wounded. Second LT Ludwig Novlan along with two others—LT Donald R. Schultz and LT William D. Sullivan—were fatally injured; they died the same day of the crash.
2nd LT Ludwig Novlan was returned to his family and buried in Oakwood Cemetery in LaSalle, Illinois. He received the American Campaign Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal, and the WW2 Victory Medal.
Ludwig’s older brother Anton was also injured during the war while serving in Germany in 1944. However, while he survived, he lost his arm. He was discharged in March 1945 just a few months before Ludwig’s death. Their brother William was discharged from the Navy on 9 October 1945.
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:
- 1910 U.S. Census, Martin Novljan, Ancestry.
- 1920 U.S. Census, Martin Novlan, Ancestry.
- 1930 U.S. Census, Martin Novalain, Ancestry.
- 1940 U.S. Census, Martin Novlan, Ancestry.
- 1940 U.S. Census, Charles Novlan, Ancestry.
- Marriage, Novjan to Mochnik, 1910, FamilySearch.
- Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths, 1916-1947, Mary Novlan, FamilySearch.
- Illinois Deaths and Burials, 1749-1999, Female Novlan, FamilySearch.
- Illinois, County Naturalization Records, 1800-1998, Martin Novljan, FamilySearch.
- U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947, Charles Novlan, Ancestry.
- U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947, Anton Novlan, Ancestry.
- U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947, William Novlan, Ancestry.
- U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947, Martin Novlan, Ancestry.
- U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947, Ludwig Novlan, Ancestry.
- U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946, Anton Novlan, Ancestry.
- U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946, Ludwig Novlan, Ancestry.
- U.S., World War II Hospital Admission Card Files, 1942-1954, Anton Novlan, Ancestry.
- U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010, Anton Novlan, Ancestry.
- “Track Summaries,” The Times, 13 May 1940, p. 6, Newspapers.com.
- “440 Yard Duel”, Freeport Journal-Standard, 16 April 1941, p. 14, Newspapers.com.
- District Track and Field Meet on RAB Cinders, Freeport Journal-Standard, 8 May 1941, p. 17, Newspapers.com.
- “B-29 Crashed and Burns, 3 Crewmen Die,” The Times, 5 July 1945, p. 1, Newspapers.com.
- “Crash of B-29 Deadly to Six in Louisiana,” The Bradenton Herald, 6 July 1945, p. 3, Newspapers.com.
- Death Notice for Ludwig Novlan, Enakopravnost, 19 July 1945, p. 1, Newspapers.com.
- U.S., Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925-1970, William Novlan, Ancestry.