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Always Remember Those Who Gave All: MC WW2 Gold Stars and MIA Survivors

Robert Dove Downes

Robert Dove Downes (1914-1944)

MC Class: 1936

Years at MC: 1932-1936

Hometown: Philadelphia, PA

Life at MC: Greek major; Athenian, Athenian Midwinter play (Senior), Vesper Choir (Junior, Senior), Glee Singers (Junior, Senior), Business Manager of Glee Singers (Senior), YMCA Secretary (Senior), Treasurer of Triangle Club (Junior), Cross Country (Junior, Senior), Theta Alpha Phi (Senior)

Military Branch: US Army Air Forces

Military Unit: 28th Bomber Squadron, 19th Bomber Group (Heavy)

Rank: 2nd Lieutenant (Radio Communications Officer)

Medals Awarded: Purple Heart (posthumous), Prisoner of War Medal

Date Missing: 15 July 1942 (declared missing in action in Philippine Islands)

Prisoner of War:  June 1943 identified in Japanese Prison Camp #2 in Philippine Islands

Date of Death: 7 September 1944

Location of Death: On Japanese ship "Shin'yō Maru" in Pacific Ocean off the western shore of Mindanao, Philippine Islands

Circumstances of Death: "The information available to the War Department is that the vessel ["Shin'yō Maru"] sailed from Davao, Minanao, August 20, 1944 with 750 prisoners of war aboard. The vessel was sunk by torpedoes [from the USS Paddle (SS-263)] on September 7, 1944, off the western shores of Mindanao. The indications are that relatively few of the prisoners had opportunity to leave the sinking ship and of those who did many were killed by enemy gun fire. A small number managed to reach shore and a close watch for others was kept for several days. The Japanese Government reports all the prisoner as lost, indicating that no survivors are in the hands of that Government.  There is no information as to what happened to the individual prisoners but known circumstances lead to the regrettable conclusion that all of the unaccounted for prisoners lost their lives at the time of the sinking." (from 19 February 1945 letter sent to Mrs. J.P. Downes from US War Department--see letter below)

Burial/Memorial Information: Memorial: Tablets of the Missing, Manilla American Cemetery and Memorial, Manila, Capital District, National Capital Region, Philippines (

Additional Information: More information about the Japanese "Hell Ships" that transported prisoners of war (including the "Shin'yō Maru")can be found in the article "American POWs on Japanese Ships Take a Voyage into Hell" published by the National Archives (Prologue Magazine, Winter 2003, Vol. 35, No. 4):

Additional Images:

1936 Athenian Midwinter Play: "The Man from Home"

1936 Glee Singers

1936 Vesper Choir: Robert Dove Downes is third row, fourth from right

5 November 1942 Letter from John P. Downes (Robert Dove Downes' father) to Maryville College

21 April 1943 Letter from John P. Downes to Maryville College Alumni Association

25 November 1943 Letter from John P. Downes to Ralph Waldo Lloyd

19 February 1945 Letter from US War Department to Mrs. John P. Downes (Robert Dove Downes' mother)

19 February 1945 Letter from Ralph Waldo Lloyd to John P. Downes