Van Klinken, Robert, “Bob”, born 31-10-1919 in Kitsap County, Washington, USA, the oldest of three children, De Groningse, North Netherlands, grandfather of Bob Van Klinken emigrated to the United States around 1900. Grandson Bob was born in 1919 in the mining town of Loomis in Washington State, near the Canadian border. When America became involved in the war, he volunteered with the army. He became a parachutist. He only jumped twice. Received infantry training at Camp Toccoa, Georgia and parachute qualification at Fort Benning, Georgia. On 05-09-1943, Frye and 5,000 other paratroopers from the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment under command of Lieutenant General Robert Frederick Sink , boarded the RMS Samaria for a ten-day voyage across the Atlantic to Liverpool, England. Upon their arrival, the 506th traveled to their new home located in and around the small town of Aldbourne, England. Shortly after their arrival, the 101st Airborne Division began a rigorous training regimen in preparation for the invasion of France and liberation of Europe. On June 6th 1944 parachuted into Normandy with the 101 Airborne Division , under commander Maxwell Taylor, where he was wounded in action several days later.
He recovered in England and rejoined 506 Easy Company (see Major Dick Winters) to parachute into Holland for Operation Market Garden on 17th September 1944. Market Garden was a bold plan of British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery. It was carried out by 41,628 man in English, US and Polish air force troops and three divisions grounded. Three days later in heavy fighting in Nuenen near my hometown Eindhoven, he was killed in action.
Around 1887 his grandfather emigrated from the Dutch province of Groningen to the US, and even though he is the third generation of hard working Dutch immigrants who eventually ended up in Washington State, he still spoke the dialect of the country his grandfather left more than 50 years earlier. He worked as an auto mechanic when he was drafted for the selective service less than three weeks before the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor. And even though his physical examination report states his left eye was almost blind, he ended up in Co E, 506 PIR and won the highest scores in the company’s physical competition. He survived the Normandy campaign to jump again on Dutch soil, the land of his forebears.
Death and burial ground of Van Klinken Robert, “Bob”.
When his battalion liberated Eindhoven, a small group of Germans was hiding on the third floor of the tall Philips factory. One can understand the surprise of the Dutch civilians who heared an American paratrooper say with a Groninger accent, “Wacht mor eevns. Wie hoaln heur der wel oet”, meaning; “Hold on. We’ll go get them out”. This must have been Robert Van Klinken, as it is unlikely another paratrooper in the 2nd Battalion spoke the accent of Groningen. Two days later, September 20th, he would be killed when Co E was send east of Eindhoven to Nuenen over the Willem Hikspoor bridge
to check out the German threat. Robert was killed by a machine gun bullet when he ran forward with a bazooka to stop the German tanks of the 107th Panzer Brigade under command of Major Freiherr Günther von Maltzahn, attacking Eindhoven from the east. The Easy Company lost 22 men in the battle for Eindhoven and they are buried on the American cemetery of Margraten. Robert Van Klinken in Section C. Freiherr von Maltzahn died of Hodgkin’s lymphoma on 24–06-1953 in Düsseldorf at the age of 42. At the place where Airborne Paratrooper Robert van Klinken died, the municipal monument now stands as a memento of all those killed. I am happy and sad at the same time, “Garian Bingamann (37) whispers clearly moved. On Friday afternoon the American from Twisp, Washington USA visited the spot on the corner of Parkstraat-Europalaan, where in September 1944 her great-uncle was fatally hit by the liberation of Nuenen German machine gun fire. Garian Bingamann’s grandmother was Bob van Klinken’s only sister. “Uncle Bob’s photo was always on her bedside table. Grandma couldn’t talk about her brother’s loss, but the grief was always palpable,” she recalls. “Grandma hoped that people in the Netherlands would realize that her brother gave his life for them.
On the Beaver Creek Cemetery Twisp, in Okanogan County, Washington, VS, there is a cenotaph honoring Robert Van Klinken