Robert Cafarelli


By Lesley K. Cafarelli (wife of Robert Madden Cafarelli's nephew and godson)

Robert Madden Cafarelli was born in North Bergen, New Jersey, on July 5, 1923, to Nicholas John Cafarelli, Sr., an attorney who had immigrated to the United States as a child with his parents and siblings from the small town of Accettura in Basilicata, southern Italy, and Sophia Agnes (Madden) Cafarelli, granddaughter of Irish immigrants.  He was the Cafarellis’ second son, most likely named after his great grandfather, Robert Madden, who had left Ireland as a teenager following the potato famine and became a dairy farmer in the Catskills area of New York State. The Cafarelli family lived in North Bergen, Teaneck, and Point Pleasant Beach during Robert’s youth. Following his graduation from Teaneck High School, he attended Saint Peter's College from 1940-41. On April 5, 1943, he enlisted in the United States Army and became a Technician Fifth Grade with the 4th Information and Historical Unit at the 9th Army Headquarters.

On January 10, 1945, Robert Cafarelli was tragically killed near the Belgian-German border by friendly fire from U.S. troops in the Battle of the Ardennes Forest, also known as the Battle of the Bulge, the last major German counter-offensive of World War II. His body was interred at the Margarten U.S. Temporary Military Cemetery, a battlefield cemetery in the Netherlands, one of the first to be used for the interment of American soldiers who fell on German soil. The site was liberated on September 13, 1944, by troops of the U.S. 30th Infantry Division that were advancing northeast toward the Roer River in Germany, and the cemetery was established on November 10, 1944, by the U.S. Ninth Army.

Robert’s body was later interred at Saint Catherine's Cemetery in Sea Girt, New Jersey. He was survived by his parents; two brothers, Nicholas John Cafarelli, Jr., known as Jack, and George Madden Cafarelli; his sister-in-law Eleanor (Craig) Cafarelli; and two nephews, Nicholas John Cafarelli III, his godson, and David Craig Cafarelli. Robert was a recipient of the Purple Heart.

Robert’s brother Jack Cafarelli had also attended Teaneck High School where he earned his pilot’s license, at that time the youngest person at the school to do so. He attended New York University and became a test pilot during World War II. On April 2, 1945, three months after his brother’s death, he enlisted in the U.S. Army. In 1949, Jack and Eleanor Cafarelli had their third child, a girl, naming her Joan after Robert Cafarelli’s U.S. Army Jeep. A son came along two years later and was named Robert Madden Cafarelli after his uncle. His uncle’s Purple Heart and the telegram and letter sent to his mother, Sophia A. Cafarelli, are now in his possession.

High School Yearbook

  1. 1938 Yearbook, page 89
  2. 1939 Yearbook, page 107
  3. 1940 Yearbook, page 28
  4. 1940 Yearbook, page 91
  5. 1940 Yearbook, page 119

  1. Caperolli Nicholis, Sophie & Family - 1930 United States Federal Census
  2. Cafarelli Nicholis, Sophie & Family - 1940 United States Federal Census
  3. Cafarelli Robert M. - US WWII Army Enlistment Records, 1938 - 1946
  4. Cafarelli Robert M Technician Fifth Class - US Rosters of World War II Dead
  5. Cafarelli Robert Madden - US Headstone Applications for Military Veterans 1925-1963

Saint Peter's University

  1. Robert M. Cafarelli

Find A Grave Website

  1. Pvt Robert Madden Cafarelli

Documents Library (Courtesy of Dr. Lesley K. Cafarelli)

From the Personal Collection of Robert Madden Cafarelli, Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts
  1. Cafarelli Robert M Death - Western Union Envelope Front
  2. Cafarelli Robert M Death - Western Union Envelope Back
  3. Cafarelli Robert M Death - Western Union Telegram to Mother Sophia A. Cafarelli
  4. Cafarelli Robert M Death - Letter From Commanding Officer
  5. Cafarelli Robert M Death - FDR Certificate
  6. Cafarelli Robert M - Purple Heart Certificate
  7. Cafarelli Robert M - Purple Heart Box
  8. Cafarelli Robert M - Purple Heart
From the Personal Collection of Nicholas John Cafarelli III and Lesley K. Cafarelli, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  1. Nicholas John Cafarelli Sr. & Sophia Madden with Family)
  2. Cafarelli Robert M with Jeep Joanie
  3. List of Deaths from Sophie Cafarelli's Bible
  4. Memorande Page from Sophie Cafarelli's Bible
  5. Cafarelli Nicholas John Jr. (Jack) with Teaneck High School Plane
  6. Cafarelli Nicholas John Jr. (Jack) in THS Plane
  7. Cafarelli Nicholas John Jr. (Jack) in U.S. Army Uniform
  8. Cafarelli Nicholas John Sr Jr & III ca. January 1945