Robert H. Lathrop was born in the District of Columbia in 1925 and attended Rye Country Day School. His father Joseph was born in New York and was vice-president of a business research company. His mother Cathereine was born in Maryland and his sister name was Joanne. The family of four all lived at 66 Milton Blind Brook Apartments Road.
Robert enlisted in the US Army on October 10, 1943 and became a Private First Class - 87th Infantry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division. He was 17 years old.
The division, was commanded by Major General George Price Hays and sailed for Italy. The 85th and 87th Infantry left Hampton Roads, Virginia on 4 January 1945 aboard the SS West Point and arrived on 13 January 1945. By 6 January, its support units were preparing to head to the front lines. It was attached to Major General Willis D. Crittenberger's IV Corps, part of the American Fifth Army, under Lieutenant General Lucian Truscott.
By 20 January, all three of the 10th's regiments were on or near the front line between the Serchio Valley and Mt. Belvedere. Col. Raymond C. Barlow commanded the 85th Regiment, Col. Clarence M. Tomlinson the 86th, and Col. David M. Fowler the 87th.
On April 14, 1945, the final phase of the war in Italy began. With the 85th and 87th leading, the 10th Mountain Division attacked toward the Po Valley spearheading the Fifth Army drive., attacking Torre Iussi and Rocca Roffeno to the north of Mount Della Spe. The fighting was fierce with the loss of 553 mountain infantryman killed, wounded, or missing in the first day.
On 17 April, it broke through the German defenses, which allowed it to advance into the Po Valley area. Early on April 20th, the seventh day of the attack, the first units of the 85th Infantry Regiment broke out into Po Valley. Five days of attack had cost 1,283 casualties. With the Germans mountain line broken, the next objective was to cross the Po River. On the morning of April 23rd, the 10th was the first division to reach the Po River. The first battalion of the 87th Mountain Infantry, the original mountain infantry unit, made the crossing under fire in 50 light canvas assault boats.
Robert H. Lathrop died on April 17, 1945 during the Po Valley spring offensive. Reported in the HISTORY of the 87th MOUNTAIN INFANTRY pg.91 as follows:
"The two machine gun squad leaders, Sgt. FRANCIS J. BLAIS and Sgt. HENRY C. CHASE, had their machine guns right behind the scout. From there they engaged targets of opportunity and built up tremendous bases of fire as the squads flanked forward. At times they had to be held back lest they pass the scouts. Sgt. BLAIS was alone with his machine gun at the end of the action. Pfc. ROBERT H. LATHROP was killed while bringing up ammunition for BLAIS’ gun, and BLAIS started to get a litter for LATHROP as he died. More than 25 of the enemy were killed and 150 prisoners were taken."
Robert H. Lathrop was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart.
General Orders: Headquarters, 10th Mountain Division, General Orders No. 83 1945 "for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy while serving with the 10th Mountain Division."
Robert is buried at the Florence American Cemetery and Memorial, Florence, Città Metropolitana di Firenze, Toscana, Italy
Plot H Row 2 Grave 7
★ World War II Victory Medal★ Silver Star★ Purple Heart★ Combat Infantryman Badge★ Marksmanship Badge★ American Campaign Medal
★ Army Presidential Unit Citation ★ Army Good Conduct Medal★ European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign