Robert Layton Short (1924 – 7/2/1944) was the son of Gardner E. Short and Flossie C. Carmean of Milton. In 1940, at the age of 16, he was already at work at the Draper Canning Factory in town. Inducted in February of 1943, he was sent to England in 1944 prior to D-Day, the Invasion of Normandy.
It is known that Private Short was serving with the 26th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division. This unit had already seen plenty of action during the war, participating in an amphibious assault on North Africa, fighting at the Kasserine Pass, staging another amphibious assault at Gela, Sicily, and finally landing at Omaha Beach on D-Day. It is not known to me whether Private Short participated in the North African or Sicilian amphibious assaults, but it does not seem likely; nor do I know whether his unit came ashore on D-Day in the first or second wave, or landed after the beachhead had been secured. What is known is that he was KIA near St. Lo, Normandy, while serving in an anti-tank unit. At this point in the Normandy campaign, in the bocage (hedgerow) country around St. Lo, fighting was slow and murderously difficult; it would remain so until Operation Cobra enabled Allied forces to break out of the Normandy Peninsula. Another Milton soldier on the Honor Roll, Private William Marvel, was KIA during Operation Cobra.
Like all too many of his fellow soldiers from Milton, Private Short was barely 20 years old at the time of his death. He was awarded a Purple Heart posthumously, and interred in the American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer. This cemetery, established two days after the D-Day landings and the first to be established in France by the U.S. Army during WWII, contains the graves of 9,387 of our military dead. It was featured prominently at the beginning and the end of the movie Saving Private Ryan.
A photograph of Private Robert Layton Short’s headstone appears below
Wilmington News Journal