Preston T. Niland
Company C 1st Battalion 22nd Infantry
4th Infantry Division
Preston T. Niland was born in
New York in 1915. He was drafted into the Army on March 31, 1941
at Buffalo, New York. His home of residence was listed as Erie County, New York and his civilian
occupation was listed as Clerks, General Office. He had completed two years of college at the
University of Buffalo and he was single with no dependents. His religion was listed as Catholic.
Second Lieutenant Niland was
killed in action in Normandy, France, during 1st Battalion's
the German coastal batteries at Crisbecq on June 7, 1944.
In 1944, four brothers from the
Niland family of Tonawanda, New York, were all serving in the
The family received a telegram stating that one of the brothers was shot down over Burma, and was missing in action,
which at the time, usually meant "presumed dead".
Within a month, the other three
brothers all took part in the D-Day invasion in Normandy. The
family received telegrams
declaring two of those three, also missing in action. The Army sent a Chaplin to find the brother not missing,
and bring him out of the front lines, to a place of safety.
This story (with a great deal of alteration) was the basis for the Hollywood movie "Saving Private Ryan".
Ultimately, two of the brothers
were found to have been Killed In Action in Normandy, and the
brother shot down
over Burma was carried as missing through the end of the war, when he was found to be alive, having been a
prisoner of war of the Japanese since being shot down.
Portraits of the four Niland brothers
In the front is Edward. Back row, left to right:
Frederick, Robert, and Preston.
Note Preston is wearing the insignia of the 4th Infantry Division
on his left shoulder sleeve.
Photo from the Sports.Yahoo.com website
The four Niland brothers.
Graphic from the Faces Beyond the Graves website
Technical Sergeant Edward Niland
(19121984),U.S. Army Air Forces. Imprisoned in a Japanese
POW camp in Burma,
captured on May 16, 1944; liberated on May 4, 1945. 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.
Preston Niland (19151944),
was a 2nd Lieutenant and Platoon Leader in Company C 1st
Battalion, 22nd Infantry, 4th Infantry Division.
He was Killed In Action during heavy fighting at the Crisbecq Battery, just north of Utah Beach, Normandy, France.
Technical Sergeant Robert
"Bob" Niland (19191944), Company D, 505th
Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division.
He 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.
"Fritz" Niland (19201983), Company H, 501st
Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division.
Fritz was close friends with Warren Muck and Donald Malarkey, from Company E, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment,
101st Airborne Division ("Easy Company"), who were both featured prominently in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers.
Fritz fought with the 501st through the first few days of the Normandy campaign. 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. Fritz was shipped back to England, and, finally, to the U.S. where he served as an MP in New York
until the completion of the war. ¹
Newspaper clipping from the Buffalo Evening News, Saturday, July 8, 1944
Preston T. Niland's decorations
Preston T. Niland was buried in
the temporary U.S. Military Cemetery,
Blosville Cemetery at Carentan, France in Block D Row 8 Grave 146 and was moved to the permanent
cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer, most likely in 1948 when the temporary cemeteries were shut down.
Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
Departement du Calvados
Plot F Row 15 Grave 12
Grave marker for Preston T. Niland
Photo by Jeff Kregel
The two Niland brothers are buried side
by side in the cemetery at
Preston is front, left, and Robert is front, right.
Photo by the Espino Family from the Flickr website
Edward Niland's son, Pete, tells the story of the Niland brothers at the following webpage:
¹ From the Wikipedia website
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