Robert Alexander Bates, Class of 1945

Robert Bates was a native of Park Ridge, Illinois, born on September 9, 1923 to Mr. and Mrs. W.E. Bates. In 1941, he graduated from Maine High School and entered The Citadel at the beginning of the academic year 1941-1942. During his studies in Charleston, he was a member of Cadet Company C .[1][2][3]

Robert Alexander Bates

In July 1943, after completing his sophomore year, he enlisted in the U.S. Army.  He received his training in California and Colorado before reporting for duty overseas. In Europe, he served with the Military Police (MP) Platoon, Headquarters Company, 104th Infantry Division. The “Timberwolves” of the 104th were attached to the U.S. First Army. During combat operations in Holland, Cpl. Bates volunteered to swim the Mark River to establish a bridgehead. He successfully completed his mission, but was critically wounded. He died the next morning, November 3, 1944. [4][5]

104th Infantry Division HollandBattle of the Dykes, 23 Oct – 8 Nov, 1944
click on image to enlarge

“The 104th Infantry Division landed in France on 7 September 1944. It moved into defensive positions in the vicinity of Wuestwezel, Belgium, 23 October 1944, and went over to the, offensive on the 26th, taking Zundert, gaining control of the Breda-Roosendaal Road and overrunning Vaart Canal defenses. Leur and Etten fell as the Division advanced to the Mark River, 31 October. A coordinated attack over the Mark River at Standaarduiten, 2 November 1944, established a bridgehead. Zevenbergen was captured and the Maas River reached on 5 November. While the bulk of the Division moved near Aachen, Germany, elements remained to secure Moerdijk before being relieved on 7 November.” [7]

Temporarily buried at the First Army’s cemetery at Henri-Chapelle, Belgium, Cpl. Bates’ body was repatriated after the war. He now rests in peace at Oakridge Cemetery in Hillside, Illinois. [8][9][10]


Photo courtesy of The Citadel Archives and Museum, Charleston, South Carolina.

[1] Park Ridge Advocate, November 24, 1944.
[2] 1942 Sphinx, The Annual of the South Carolina Corps of Cadets, Charleston, S.C.
[3] 1943 Sphinx, The Annual of the South Carolina Corps of Cadets, Charleston, S.C.
[4] Park Ridge Herald, June 14, 1945.
[5] National Archives (NARA), Application for Headstone.
[9] National Archives (NARA), Application for Headstone.