Frank Stanley Novitski was born on 17 December 1911, in LaSalle, Illinois, to Stanley and Cecelia Szwajkowski Nowicki. His parents had married about 12 years before his birth in Iwno, Wielkopolskie, Poland. After the birth of their first child in Poland, they left their homeland to travel to the United States. After arriving, they settled in LaSalle and had nine more children including Frank who was their youngest.
Frank’s father Stanley initially supported his family by working as a coal miner. Before Frank was born, has family was already living in a home his parents had purchased on the east side of LaSalle at 1525 Fourth street. By 1920 when Frank was eight years old, his father Stanley was working as a teamster. That year Frank and his seven siblings were still living with their parents Stanley and Cecelia Nowicki. The four older children were adults and working at Westclox—the local clock factory. The younger children such as Frank were most likely attending St. Hyacinth Parochial School.
Frank and his older siblings did not attend high school. Perhaps like so many other young people during the depression they left school to work and financially help their family. By 1940 Frank was working as a laborer for the Rock Island Railroad. On 16 October 1940, he registered for the draft. At age 28, he was 5 feet 7 inches tall. He weighed 150 pounds and had gray eyes and brown hair.
On 17 July 1942, Frank enlisted in the U.S. Army in Peoria, Illinois. He was eventually assigned to Company H in the 378th Infantry Regiment of the 95th Division. Company H was in the 2nd Infantry Battalion and considered a Heavy Weapons Company. The division landed off Omaha Beach in France in September 1944. In November of that year the division participated in the removal of resistors from the city of Metz in France. The city was reported to be secured on 22 November 1944 earning the division the title “the Iron Men of Metz.” Perhaps it was during that operation that SGT Frank Novitski was wounded in battle in France after getting hit in the arm with shell fragments. He passed away on 26 November 1944. In Germany about a week later Frank’s nephew Lawrence Wayne Watson, who was the son of his sister Mary and her husband William Watson, was also killed in battle on 2 December 1944.
Frank was buried in France in a temporary grave. His body was returned to his family in 1949 and buried in a permanent grave in St. Hyacinth Cemetery in LaSalle. SGT Frank Novitski received the American Campaign Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, and the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal.
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:
1900 U.S. Census, Stanley Nowicki, Ancestry.
1910 U.S. Census, Stany Nozicki, Ancestry.
1920 U.S. Census, Stoney Nowicki, Ancestry.
1940 U.S. Census, Stanie Novtski, Ancestry.
U.S., Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925-1970, Frank S. Novitski, Ancestry.
Poznan Marriage Project, Nowicki and Szwajkowski.
U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947, Frank Stanley Novitski, Ancestry.
U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946, Frank S. Novitski, Ancestry.
95th Infantry Division, “Its composition.”
95th Infantry Division, “Its History.”