August 24 – Happy Birthday Robert Crouch

crouch photo2Even though he was 32 years old, married, had three children and World War II was nearing its end, one-time Amsterdam bus driver Robert Crouch was certain he was about to get drafted. So in September of 1944 he enlisted in the US Army and one month later was sent to Fort Knox in Kentucky for his. basic training. In March of 1945 he came home to Amsterdam on a six day furlough and then was shipped out to Europe, where he would see action in Holland and Belgium. No one could blame his wife Esther for being apprehensive about her husband’s entry into the war. Her brother William Hassenfuss, a US Army mechanic serving in Pearl Harbor had been the first Amsterdam resident killed in the war when the Japanese attacked his air base on December 7, 1941.

That’s why she must have been overjoyed to hear the news that the War in Europe was officially over on May 8, 1945. She probably felt a huge sense of relief knowing her husband would no longer have to be in harms way. She felt even better when she received a letter from him dated June 16, 1945 reporting that he was in great spirits and guarding German Prisoners of War. Can you imagine her shock and disbelief when a few days later another letter arrived at the Crouch home at 10 Charles Street informing Esther that Robert had been killed on June 17, 1945 by an exploding booby trap put in place by the German prisoners he had been guarding. Thus the sister of the first Amsterdam soldier to make the supreme sacrifice during WWII also became the wife of the last Amsterdam resident to be killed by the Germans during WWII.

Crouch was born in Broadalbin on August 24, 1912 and had moved to Amsterdam after marrying Esther in November of 1936. He got a job as a driver for the Vollmer Bus Line and later went to work at GE in Schenectady. His tragic death left his five-year-old daughter Barbara, four-year old son William and one-year old baby boy fatherless. Barbara Crouch remained in Amsterdam with her children and passed away in July of 1972 at the age of 57. All three of her children survived her and all three of them were living in Michigan at the time of her death.

 

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