Robert W. Struve (1944/06/09)

The Pajaro Valley slough that bore his name had little in common with the channel waters he was attempting to cross.

Robert Warren Struve was born in Monterey County, California, on June 5, 1920, to Mr. and Mrs. Hans Struve, a family significant in the wetland development of California's Pajaro Valley. Robert and his three sisters attended local Watsonville schools. In 1935 Bob entered Watsonville High School, where he participated on the archery team and in Future Farmers of America, before graduating in 1939.

In October 1942, Struve joined the US Navy and was sent to the US Naval Training Center in San Diego, California, for boot camp. Upon completion he received orders to Solomon, Washington, for training as a navy quartermaster. Among the duties of navy quartermasters was the maintenance and navigation of barges. Struve provided barge-landing support at Palermo, Naples and Anzio during the Italian campaign.

On June 9, 1944, while twenty miles off the coast of Normandy preparing to assist in his LST's second trip to assist in the landing, Robert's ship was torpedoed. In a letter to the Struve family Robert's captain, Lt. Commander Alvin H. Tutt, described events at Normandy that took the life of their son.

“After participating in the initial invasion of France, our ship was beginning its second trip when it was torpedoed by enemy "E" boats, causing great explosions and fires, thereby resulting in its quick loss. Robert was at his battle station performing his duties, with the highest degree of loyalty when the explosion occurred which completely demolished that part of the ship. Since he nor any of the men near there were ever seen again, it must be presumed that he was lost at that time.”

The remains of Quartermaster First Class Robert Warren Struve were reportedly buried in Brookwood Cemetery in Surrey, England.

This followup information is provided by Reverend Rory A. Wilson, son of James Samuel Wilson:
"Robert...was blown free from his gun station and survived. With the hits LST 314 took it wasn't all that long before orders to abandon ship were called out. Robert had already been helping some men over the side. He then turned his focus on others possibly still below deck. My father, Motorman James Samuel Wilson, was one of those men.
[My father] had been knocked unconscious and trapped by a locker that had been blown off the bulkhead. He was awakened by Robert yelling 'Is there anyone down here?' Upon hearing him call, my father cried out weakly and Robert heard him. After moving the locker off my father's pinned leg he helped him to the topside. Robert told Dad he had already helped four other wounded personnel over the side. Dad would be his fifth.
After getting topside Robert found a Mae West vest to put on Dad. He was helping him over the side when Dad asked if he was coming with him. Robert said no, he was going back down because there may be others that need his help.
Regrettably, it wasn't long after that when the LST 314 went under. Robert didn't make it out in time. This man died a real American hero and I promised my Dad I would do my best to get the news to his family and his story out." [Added 9/2019]

(CBR; SCSn August 12, 1944 5:4, WRP August 11, 1944, March 1, 1945 1:1; Photo-WHS)


Creator: Nelson, Robert L.
Source: Remembering our own: the Santa Cruz County military roll of honor 1861-2010. Santa Cruz, CA: The Museum of Art & History, c2010.
Date: Undated
Type: OBIT
Coverage: 1940s
Rights: Reproduced by permission of Robert L. Nelson and The Museum of Art and History.
Identifier: RO-STRUVE

Citation

Nelson, Robert L. “Robert W. Struve (1944/06/09).” Remembering our own: the Santa Cruz County military roll of honor 1861-2010. Santa Cruz, CA: The Museum of Art & History, c2010. SCPL Local History. https://history.santacruzpl.org/omeka/items/show/4457. Accessed 22 Nov. 2019.