Niland, Fredrick William “Fritz”.

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Niland, Fredrick W. "Fritz"
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Niland, Fredrick William. “Fritz”, born 23-04-1920, in Tonawanda, the son of Mike “The Bull”, C Michael Niland and his wife Augusta Niland. His fathrer Mike served with the Rough Riders in the Spanish-American War. The most famous of all the units fighting in Cuba, the “Rough Riders” was the name given to the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry under the leadership of Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt. Roosevelt the later President, resigned his position as Assistant Secretary of the Navy in May 1898 to join the volunteer cavalry. Teddy Roosevelt died 06-01-1919 (age  60) in Oyster Bay, Nassau County, New York, USA.

The two middle brothers, Preston and Robert, had enlisted in the military before the start of the war. After America declared war on Germany, the eldest brother Edward and the youngest brother Frederick, known as Fritz to his friends, volunteered to join the army in 1942. Due to the tragedy of the Sullivan brothers aboard the USS Juneau earlier that year, the brothers were split up and sent to different units around the military.

Fritz was a Sergeant in the H Company of the 101st Airborne’s 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment , and was one of those that made the drop into Normandy on June 6, 1944. He landed southwest of Carentan in Raffoville, and he was eventually able to make it back to his unit on his own. Niland’s three brothers served in other units,  Technical Sergeant Robert “Bob” Niland   with the 82nd Airborne Division,  505th Parachute Infantry Regiment .   Robert was killed in action on June 6-1944 in Normandy. He volunteered to stay behind with two other men and hold off a German advance while his company retreated from Neuville au Plain.. He was killed while manning his machine gun; the other two men survived. Company D, Lieutenant Preston Niland  with the 4th Infantry Division , 22nd Infantry Regiment, was killed in action on June 7, 1944 in Normandy, near Utah Beach, and Technical Sergeant Edward Niland as a pilot in the Army Air Force. Edward had been reported missing over Burma in the Pacific Theatre on 16-05-1944. His B-25 had been shot down and he was reported as MIA and presumed killed.  Robert was killed on D-Day at Neuville-au-Plain. Preston was killed on June 7th in the vicinity of Utah Beach. Unlike the fictional Ryan, however, there was no need to send out a rescue mission to find Sergeant Niland. Fortunately for the Niland family, Edward Niland    had not been killed. Edward had parachuted from his B-25 Mitchell  and wandered the jungles of Burma before being captured. He was held as a prisoner for a year before being liberated in May 1945, before being rescued by British forces. Of the four, two survived the war, but for a time it was believed that only one, Frederick “Fritz” Niland, had survived. Frederick was sent back to the United States to complete his service and only later learned that his brother Edward, missing and presumed dead, was actually captive in a Japanese POW camp in Burma. Steven Spielberg’s film Saving Private Ryan is loosely based on the brothers’ story.  Sergeant Frederick “Fritz” Niland born 1920, Company H, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. Fritz was close friends with Warren H. “Skip” Muck

Sgtwarrenskipmuck   and Donald_Malarkey_Easy_506PIR  Donald Malarkey, from Company E, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, (“Easy Company”),   , 101st Airborne Division  who were both with Darrell “Shifty” Powers,

 Clifford Carwood Lipton  and Forrest Guth Major Richard “Dick” Winters featured prominently in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers. Fritz fought with the 501st through the first few days of the Normandy campaign. The only photo from Fritz, here at the left, somewhere in Normandië  Several days following D-Day, Fritz had gone to the 82nd Airborne Division to see his brother, Bob. Once he arrived at division, he was informed that Bob had been killed on D-Day. He served as an MP in New York until the completion of the war. Fritz was awarded a Bronze Star for his service. This story is evidenced in Stephen Ambrose’s book, Band of Brothers, as well as from biographical data on Father Francis Leon Sampson   “Flying Padre” and Irid “Ike” Eitreim 

Clarissa Marie Niland, 15-02-1910 – 25-01-1996), was the oldest of the six Niland siblings, and as typical during the time, played a strong role in raising her younger siblings. The loss of her brothers was devastating to her and greatly affected her. She became a nurse at the local DeGraff Memorial Hospital and was well-liked by all who met her. While she never married or had children of her own, she was affectionately known as “Aunt Clarie” by many, and shared stories of her brothers and family until her passing in 1996. Margaret Niland (1916–1986). Margaret married Stuart McRae and had one son, Ronald Michael, and one daughter, Margot Jeannine.

Death and burial ground of Niland, Fredrick William “Fritz”.

Fritz Niland died 01-12-1983, in San Francisco at the age of 63. Frederick “Fritz” is buried on the Fort Ricardson National Cemetery, Anchorage Borough, Alaska USA.

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