Niland brothers

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Preston T. Niland's grave marker at the American Cemetery near Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France.
Robert J. Niland lies next to his brother Preston in the American Cemetery.

The Niland brothers were four American brothers of Irish descent from Tonawanda, New York, serving in the military during World War II. Of the four, two survived the war, but for a time it was believed that only one, Frederick "Fritz" Niland, had survived. After the reported deaths of his three brothers, Fritz was sent back to the United States to complete his service and only later learned that his brother Edward, missing and presumed dead, was actually captive in a Japanese POW camp in Burma. Steven Spielberg's 1998 film Saving Private Ryan is loosely based on the brothers' story.[1]

The brothers[edit]

  • Technical Sergeant Edward Niland (December 22, 1912 – February 1984),[2] U.S. Army Air Forces. Imprisoned in a Japanese POW camp in Burma, captured on May 16, 1944; liberated on May 4, 1945.[2][4] Edward had parachuted from his B-25 Mitchell[5] and wandered the jungles of Burma before being captured. He was held as a prisoner for a year before being liberated in May 1945. Edward lived in Tonawanda until his death in 1984 at the age of 72.[2] In "D-Day June 6 1944", Ambrose incorrectly states that Edward died in Burma.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Mark Bando (2001). 101st Airborne: The Screaming Eagles at Normandy. Zenith Imprint. p. 153-155. ISBN 1610606914. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "The Niland Boys". Canisius College. July 2006. Archived from the original on 2012-03-10. Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  3. ^ "Francis L. Sampson (1912-1996)". Find a Grave. Retrieved 2008-08-09. 
  4. ^ "Tonawanda Flier Freed from Japs" (PDF). Buffalo Courier Express. 1945-05-05. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-09-26. Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  5. ^ "400 Prisoners in Crossfire Aided by Native: Tonawanda Lad Freed by British in Burma" (PDF). Buffalo Courier Express. 1945-05-08. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-09-22. Retrieved 2009-08-09.