Sgt. Robert W. Bartz
Robert W. Bartz was the son of Albert E. Bartz
& Ida C. Hawkinson-Bartz. He was
born on March 31, 1920, in Edgerton,
Wisconsin, and was one of eight children born
to the couple. With his four brothers
and three sisters, he grew up at 220 North
Palm Street in Janesville. He worked as
Robert joined the Wisconsin national Guard on
September 30, 1940. He was a member of the
same tank company as his brother, Albert. On
November 25, 1940, Bob was called to federal
duty when his Wisconsin National Guard company
was federalized as A Company, 192nd Tank
Battalion. He trained at Fort Knox,
Kentucky, for nearly a year and then took part
in maneuvers in Louisiana. It was after
these maneuvers that he and the other members of
his company that his battalion was being sent
Robert lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Field. After fighting the Japanese for four months, he became a Prisoner of War when the Filipino and American troops were surrendered to the Japanese on April 9, 1942.
Robert was held as a POW he took part in the
death march and was held as a POW at Camp
O'Donnell. To get out of the camp, Robert
volunteered to go out on a work detail to
collect scrap metal. He was part of a
group of ten POWs who would tie the disabled
American vehicles together and drive them to San
Fernando. Four months later Robert was
sent to the Pampanga Provincial Hospital after
he came down with malaria. After
recovering from the malaria, he was "taken
by Japs" on October 12, 1942, and sent
to Cabanatuan POW Camp.
There, Robert and the other POWs worked in a coal mine. "We use to work ten days on the day shift and ten days night and the only time we got off was when we switched shifts-then we get the extra time until the alternate shift. It was a merry-go-round." The POWs rotated shifts in the mine. For ten days, they would work days and then rotated and worked ten nights. A work day for the prisoners lasted 12 to 14 hours. Recalling his time as a POW, he said, "One day was the same as another, as far as we were concerned over there. We use to work ten days on the day shift and ten nights and the only time off was when we switched shifts - then we'd get the extra time until the alternate shift."
The POWs in the camp were fed mainly rice. "Rice and more rice - only it was never enough." But, they also ate seaweed and potato tops. There were times that the POWs ate grass. Since the diet were so bad, Robert developed pellagra and beriberi.
The day that the atomic bomb was dropped on
Nagasaki, Robert recalled the camp shook since
it was 80 miles from the city.
Robert returned to Janesville after the war. He would learn that his father had died in 1943, while he was a POW. He was discharged from the army on May 26, 1947. Robert married Eleanor Goehler and would move to Richmond, Illinois, where he was superintendent of the public works department until he retired in 1975.
Robert Bartz moved to Harrington, Texas. In November 1977, he suffered a massive heart attack. He appeared to be recovering when he suddenly passed away on March 6, 1978. He was buried at Mont Meta Memorial Park, San Benito, Texas.