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Robert Eugene Gillins

Letter (download) from Mrs. Ada Gillins (Robert’s Mother) to Cora Reed.

After three years imprisonment in the Makassar Prison of War camp on the Celebes Islands, Robert Eugene Gillins succumbed to beriberi and edema on February 28, 1945, four months before V-J (Victory Over Japan) day. Robert was 23 years, 7 months and 17 days old.

Seaman First Class, Robert Gillins served on the destroyer USS Pope, DD225. This fighting ship operated in the Pacific and was sunk in its last action at the Battle of the Java Sea in 1942.

A message received from the Commander in Chief was  to “Defend the Isle of Java to the Last.” The crew knew that engagement with the enemy was eminent and that fighting would get much tougher.

The Death of the USS Pope-DD225

From the Villa Grove News
Mr. and Mrs. George Gillins received a radio message Friday of last week from their son, Robert Eugene, stating that he is a Japanese war prisoner but is well. The message was broadcast from Japanese broadcasting station in Tokyo and came as the first news the parents have received directly from their son since he was reported “missing in action” 14 months ago. It was a happy Easter gift to Mr. and Mrs. Gillins. Robert sent his greeting to all his friends and said, “Tell them I am well.

(Editors Note:  Robert Gillins died 8 weeks after being liberated from a Jap prison camp. When liberated he weighed 81 pounds. So much for the Geneva Convention.) The author of this site believes this statement to be incorrect and believes Robert died in prison camp shortly before being liberated. 

Letter from A. J. Fisher, Lt. (SC), U. S. Navy
Article from Villa Grove Newspaper dated November 1, 1945
Download of Letters from the government
Letter Prep by Lt. Coyne

In Memory
Purple Heart
Villa Grove News Obituary
Letter from H. B. Atkinson

Some information above provided by Nephew, Howard Gillins. Research and documents also provided by Chuck Knox of Villa Grove, Illinois.