Entering the Service

Sicily through Normandy

Holland and the Battle of the Bulge

Final Months of the War

Spending Christmas at War

Training and Deployment

North Africa to Italy

United Kingdom

Normandy

Normandy to England

Holland

Battle of the Bulge

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Clinton E. Riddle was born in Loudon County, Tennessee in February 1921. He was the only child in his family and grew up on a remote farm a few miles outside of Sweetwater, Tennessee. With no siblings or neighbors to play with, he devoted his time to reading. Riddle's father never took him out on the farm to work, so he stayed at the house with his mother, who taught him to knit, crochet, cook, and sew while he grew up. Riddle graduated high school in 1941 and went to work at a department store after he took an occupation class in department store management his senior year. While the global war continued to escalate despite the neutrality of the United States, Riddle worked in a department store until around Thanksgiving of 1941. He then enrolled in Anderson Aircraft School in Nashville, Tennessee, but realized that he eventually would be drafted to serve in the armed forces. The initial contract he signed to attend Anderson Aircraft School stated that men would not be drafted out of the school, but after a week he learned that men would be drafted from the institution, so he returned home to await his inevitable draft notice. Riddle was drafted into the US Army on 10 December 1942 and went to basic training at Camp Wheeler, Georgia. After basic training, Riddle applied for clerk school in order to get an office job and stay out of combat. He did well in clerk school since he had experience in typing and shorthand from high school, he also applied to officer training school, but he was shipped out before he could be accepted. He was sent as a clerk to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where the 82nd Airborne Division was stationed, and quickly learned that the division needed more combat troops and less orderly soldiers, which made it clear to Riddle that he would not have an office job. Riddle was frustrated with the army for not allowing him to go to officer school and for sending him to a division that needed combat troops, so he made a resolution that he would no longer seek promotions or responsibility, but rather would simply strive to become the best soldier he could be. He was initially assigned as to the MPs [Annotator's Note: Military Police], but he was two inches short of the required height, so he was sent to Company B, 325th Glider Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, the unit he remained with throughout the war. Riddle joined the 82nd Airborne Division just before it was deployed overseas and moved to Camp Edwards in Massachusetts with the division where the men reviewed contours and sand tables to familiarize themselves with the terrain in North Africa. Riddle and his comrades loaded up on a troopship in late April of 1943 and sailed in a large convoy to Casablanca, French Morocco. The regiment went ashore in Casablanca on 10 May 1943.

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After arriving in Casablanca in May of 1943, Clinton Riddle and the men of the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment set up a camp of pup tents in a wheat field in the intense Moroccan heat. The heat was so overwhelming that Riddle and his unit began to train at night and sleep during the day, but sleeping in a pup tent during daylight was nearly impossible. At one point while Riddle served KP [Annotator's Note: Kitchen Police] duty, the mess station ran out of soap, so Riddle cleaned the company's pots and pans with sand and nearly half of Company B came down with dysentery as a result. The 325th Glider Infantry Regiment spent most of its time in French Morocco parading for ranking generals, then flew by glider to Karawan, Tunisia. The men lived in pup tents once again and were served British rations while making preparation for the invasion of Sicily. Prior to the invasion, however, the US Navy accidentally shot down a group of 24 C47 Skytrain aircraft so the company did not have enough planes to tow the gliders into Sicily. Riddle and his unit then began training on the beaches for amphibious invasions, but the army eventually amassed enough planes to fly the regiment into Sicily. Initially, however, the regiment accidentally landed in Gela, Sicily amid an intense battle there, so the planes immediately took off once again and landed at the original destination of Palermo. From Sicily, the regiment took part in the invasion of Italy, but landed by sea in landing craft instead of by glider. In Italy, Riddle and his unit fought through the mountains near Naples and after the mountains were clear, he helped set up a new city government in Naples to provide food, water, and supplies to the Italian people. From Italy, the regiment moved out through the Straits of Gibraltar under cover of darkness en route to Ireland. The regiment arrived in Ireland on 1 December 1943 where they stayed and trained until 1 February 1944. From Ireland the regiment moved to Leicester, England and began preparations for the invasion of Normandy. The men stayed in a large tent city with six men to a tent and began training, running field problems, and taking hikes in preparation for the invasion. The 325th Glider Infantry Regiment landed in Normandy in gliders on D plus one, 7 June 1944. Riddle made the flight into France in the same glider as B Company's executive officer Wayne Pierce [Annotator's Note: Captain Pierce went on to command Company C, 325th Glider Infantry Regiment]. Half way over the English Channel, the plane that towed Pierce and Riddle's glider lost power and the glider nearly crashed into the waves. The plane regained power and the journey continued unhindered until German ack ack [Annotator's Note: antiaircraft artillery] fire filled the sky and shot down the glider next to Riddle's. They descended on Normandy into an area filled with defensive anti glider posts [Annotator's Note: known by the Americans as Rommel's Asparagus], and the pilot picked out a small open area where the glider landed with a hard impact. Riddle was a radioman at the time, but the impact of the glider landing broke the antenna off of his radio. Riddle's group landed near an apple orchard under heavy German artillery fire and the group was strafed at its original position by two German 109 fighter planes [Annotator's Note: Messerschmitt Bf 109]. Company B moved out that day and marched through the town of Sainte Mere Eglise, where Riddle saw his first dead German in an alley. Riddle temporarily got lost from his company and spent his first night in France in a gulley near a briar patch before he rejoined Company B the next day. Company B moved up along the Merderet River and eventually crossed it. The Germans had flooded the Merderet River and had bombed out some of the bridge crossings over the river. When Company B crossed the Merderet, the men had to lay down a two foot by eight foot plank to cover the gap in a partially destroyed bridge. The regiment ultimately fought for 33 consecutive days in Normandy without relief before the regiment was shipped back to England. Company B went into Normandy with 155 men, but only 38 returned to England unscathed. The company received a number of replacement troops in England to bolster its ranks and the number of men in the company increased to 195 ahead of the invasion of Holland.

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During the invasion of Normandy, Clinton Riddle and most of the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment landed in British Horsa gliders which were made out of plywood. The Horsa gliders, however, had a flawed landing gear system and the impact upon landing often sent the landing gear up through the body of the glider, which injured the legs of the men sitting inside. After Normandy, the Americans opted for an American made glider, the CG 4A, which was made with a canvas exterior stretched over the internal tubing of the glider. Prior to the invasion of Holland, a number of replacement pilots trained in the United States but did not make it to Europe in time for the beginning of the planned invasion. A few men in the regiment were selected and given special training to serve as copilots for the invasion and Riddle was selected. He served as the copilot of his glider during the invasion of Holland. The flight to Holland was generally untroubled until the aircraft armada made landfall, at which point the Germans opened up with heavy ack ack [Annotator's Note: antiaircraft artillery] fire. Riddle's glider made it through and descended into an open area for landing. Instead of putting the glider down in a meadow, however, Riddle's pilot opted to land in a freshly plowed field. The glider's landing gear dug deeply into the turned earth and tilted the glider abruptly up on its nose and slammed Riddle into the controls, which injured his side and his shoulder. Riddle received treatment for his injuries after the battle and was written up for, and awarded a purple heart, but the medal was never recorded on his discharge papers. Riddle and his comrades landed on 23 September 1944 and fought in Holland until Thanksgiving of that year. After the battle ended, Riddle figured that he was certainly in one of the roughest and toughest outfits in the entire US military, but also relied heavily on his Christian faith during battle. The Americans waited for some time to be relieved by Canadian forces after the battle, and once the Canadians arrived, Riddle and his comrades went to an old cavalry camp at Sauzon, France, where they remained until being called into action again during the Battle of the Bulge. Prior to the German breakthrough that began the Battle of the Bulge, Riddle had been in Paris on pass and had just returned the evening that his unit received its orders. Riddle spent that entire night assembling his gear and equipment and he moved out the next morning, 7 December 1944 [Annotator's Note: 17 December], on crowded trailers for Bastogne, Belgium. The regiment was the first to arrive in Bastogne, ahead of elements from the 101st Airborne, who famously became trapped there and defended the town. Riddle and his unit moved through Bastogne and went on to take up defensive positions around the town of Werbomont, Belgium. As the men arrived in Werbomont, sleet and snow began to fall, but the men had no protection from the elements aside from digging foxholes into the frozen ground. It continued to snow in the area for consecutive days and the snow eventually piled up knee deep in Riddle's area as the weather conditions turned to a blizzard. The men found a little barn nearby and made a human chain to reach the barn in the blizzard and the whole of Company B spent a night in that barn. Riddle and his comrades were pulled back off the line after a time for some rest and recovery. The men were put up in an old factory with shattered windows, but a compassionate Belgian woman took Riddle into her home and allowed him to stay for a night and even made him a hot breakfast, for which Riddle was extremely grateful. Riddle and his unit remained there for some 16 days before orders came that sent the regiment to assault the Siegfried Line, the main defensive line on the German border.

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Before the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division moved out to make an assault on the formidable Siegfried Line along the German border, the commanding officer of Clinton Riddle's Company B came down with illness and was sent back to a hospital. The company came under the command of a new captain from the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, but he had never experienced combat before. The new captain specifically sent for Riddle and asked Riddle to help him better lead the men of Company B. Riddle then helped give out supplies and ammunition in preparation for an assault on positions along the Siegfried Line the next morning. Only a few hours after Riddle had dug in for the night, the captain sent for him and took him on patrol to inspect the enemy positions and bunkers along the line. The captain and Riddle went on a two man patrol although normal patrols of any kind generally consisted of six or more men. The next morning, 1st Battalion, 325th Glider Infantry Regiment made an assault on the enemy fortifications. Company A attacked first, but quickly became pinned down, so Company B entered the fray. Company B also became quickly pinned down and Company C entered the assault. The men advanced little by little under intense enemy fire and finally clawed their way up to a road into the enemy line. Since Riddle served as a runner for the company commander, the captain ordered Riddle to follow him across the road, but the captain did not make it half way before a bullet caught him in the head and Riddle retreated back to cover. When the engagement finally ceased, there were only 45 men from Company B left unscathed. After the battle, American engineers came through and dismantled some of the bunkers in case the Germans reoccupied them, but Riddle got to spend a night inside of one of the enemy bunkers before his unit moved out, the first time he spent a night indoors since the regiment moved out of the rear in Belgium. As the 82nd Airborne Division swept across Germany, elements of the division liberated the Concentration Camp [Annotator's Note: located near Ludwigslust, Germany, was a subcamp of the Concentration Camp in Hamburg]. The camp had no gas chambers or crematoria, but masses of the camps inmates died of starvation after being left in the camp with little to no food by the Germans. The Americans found some 200 bodies thrown in a mass burial pit in the camp and the 82nd Airborne Division decreed that the local Germans of the area had to visit the camp and separate each of the 200 victims into his or her own separate grave. Riddle met Russian soldiers for the first time in Ludwigslust, but he and his comrades were soon shipped back to Sissonne, France. The war in Europe ended on 8 May 1945 and Riddle had accumulated enough points to be sent home. He was transferred to the 194th Glider Infantry Regiment, 17th Airborne Division to be shipped home and was discharged at Camp Atterbury, Indiana on 19 September 1945. Riddle took a bus back to Sweetwater, Tennessee and arrived home to no big receptions or parades, but was greeted by a lady friend of his at the bus stop. In all, Riddle served in six different battle zones and participated in 4 invasions for a total of 422 days under enemy fire. Riddle was overseas for a total of 30 months and away from home for three Christmases.

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Clinton Riddle spent three Christmases away from home due to his service in the Second World War. He spent his first Christmas away from home at Camp Wheeler, Georgia in 1942. He spent his second Christmas away from home in Ireland in 1943, but he had a pleasant Christmas that year with one of his best friends and foxhole partner from Chicago. The pair sang Christmas carols with some local Irish girls and were treated to cookies by some generous Irish civilians, which made for a merry Christmas. His third Christmas away from home was spent in Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge in 1944. A few days before Christmas, as the harsh winter weather continued to disrupt the battle, General George S. Patton went to a small chapel and prayed, using his signature brash language, for a break in the weather so that his forces may attack. The Almighty seemed to answer his prayer as the day before Christmas, Riddle found himself aboard a tank as American forces pushed deep into enemy territory and recaptured the village of Regne, Belgium, which effectively rescued some 4000 American troops trapped behind enemy lines in the area. After Company B [Annotators Note: Riddle was a member of Company B, 1st Battalion, 325th Glider Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airbrone Division] secured Regne, the company pulled out of the town at midnight on Christmas Day and began the march back to American lines. For this particular mission, Riddle was assigned as a machine gunner and had to carry his machine gun on the march back to the American lines. The British General Bernard Montgomery [Annotator's Note: commander of the Allied 21st Army Group] decided to flatten out his lines at that time, so Riddle and his unit were not the only ones pulling back into gaps in the Allied lines. Artillery pieces and vehicles were also being pulled back through enemy territory and so Riddle caught a ride back on a passing American vehicle. He dismounted the vehicle back at a main road near where B Company's position was, but he was alone at the time and set out alone in enemy territory in search of his unit. Riddle eventually discovered a grain storage building off the road and he slept there until daylight on Christmas Day, at which time he got up and cooked himself a K ration breakfast. As he ate, however, he began to hear firing from down the road a ways and he decided to head that direction when he finished eating. Down the road, he found his own Company B in a defensive line and Riddle spent the rest of Christmas day in combat. There was a house in the company's defensive position and Riddle decided to set his machine gun up inside of it, but when he kicked open the basement door, he discovered a family inside praying at an alter. He left the family alone and went to the next room to set up his machine gun. Riddle continued fighting in that area of Belgium until his unit was pulled back to Sissonne, France at the conclusion of the Battle of the Bulge. The Battle of the Bulge was the second battle of the war in which Riddle had been alone in enemy territory, separated from his company. He had gotten lost in Italy as well. In Italy, Riddle worked as a runner at the headquarters of 1st Battalion, 325th Glider Infantry Regiment and had to deliver the new password to Company B every night. One night, Riddle set out from battalion headquarters to deliver the password to Company B, but the company had moved positions that day and Riddle did not know where the company's new location was. He wandered around in no man's land that night in search of Company B when he heard a German patrol approaching. Riddle hid in a gulley until the Germans passed, then proceeded to take a nap in the gully until early the next morning. Then he stumbled into Company B's position. He learned that two men from Company B had gone out to search for him the night before, and his comrades were relieved to have him back without any trouble. [Annotator's Note: Riddle and the interviewer spend the rest of the segment in conversation about Riddle's experience as a pastor after the war.]

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Clinton Riddle initially wanted to join the US Navy after he graduated from high school but being the only child in his family, his mother talked him out of it. After he decided not to join the navy, Riddle did not harbor any further desire to go into the US military, but he was drafted despite his status as the only child and even passed the US Army physical while he was sick with the flu. He first reported to Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia for induction and processing and was then sent to Camp Wheeler near Macon, Georgia for basic training. Camp Wheeler was home to several different companies when Riddle arrived, including a company of African American soldiers. Riddle was initially assigned to an artillery unit, but he quickly applied for clerk school. He enjoyed clerk school very much and graduated with 18 other soldiers. Riddle trained at Camp Wheeler for a total of 13 weeks. He spent six weeks in clerk school and six in normal basic training, which included hikes and weapons training. He qualified with an 03 Springfield bolt action rifle [Annotator's Note: M1903 .30 caliber Springfield rifle], but he did not qualify with the powerful BAR [Annotator's Note: Browning Automatic Rifle] and inconsistently sprayed targets when firing the weapon. During the last week at camp, the men took a review during which they had to take a 20 mile hike with a full field pack on their backs. Riddle's training outfit consisted of both men from the country and those from the big city and some of the city boys were not quite as well acquainted with aspects of the soldier lifestyle. Riddle and his friend from Chicago did well in combat situations to hunt for gardens and farms to scavenge fresh vegetables and eggs to mix with ration food and improve their diets. After training was complete at Camp Wheeler, Riddle and his unit took a train directly to Fort Bragg in North Carolina. At Fort Bragg, Riddle began the kind of field training specifically designed for their combat operations overseas. When Clinton left Fort Bragg, he had absolutely no glider training at all and did not actually fly in a glider until the men of the regiment were taken on a 15 minute glider ride in North Africa to qualify as glider infantrymen. Riddle's deployment to North Africa was his first time outside of the United States and a constant longing for home followed him when he first deployed. The regiment sailed to Casablanca aboard the , a prewar pleasure liner turned troop ship, and the ship was packed to nearly twice its designed capacity. For half the voyage, Riddle and his comrades slept out on the deck while the other half of the men on the ship slept in cots below decks, and then during the other half of the journey, Riddle and his comrades slept in the cots below decks. Riddle enjoyed spending time up on the bow of the ship as he observed the massive convoy in which the crossed the Atlantic. As the seas grew rougher toward the end of the journey, seasickness became worse and worse, so much so that Riddle ultimately stopped eating in the dining room altogether to avoid the vomit and sickness and instead ate candy the rest of the journey. The convoy sailed down the East Coast of the United States before crossing the Atlantic, and the convoy was harassed by German U boats for most of the journey. The sailors aboard the dropped depth charges or ash cans on occasion and the sailors credited themselves with sinking two U boats by the end of the voyage.

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Once the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment arrived at Casablanca, Morocco and set up camp, Clinton Riddle and his comrades spent most of their time on duty parading for generals. The regiment paraded for 12 different prominent generals and the men also took glider rides for the first time to gain some experience as glider infantrymen. The regiment then flew by glider to Karawan, Tunisia and set up camp on a patch of land surrounded by cactus plants. The flight from Morocco to Tunisia was the longest ride that the men took in gliders and the flight took them right over the formidable Atlas Mountains. One of the gliders crashed during the flight as the gliders flew through a tricky gap in the mountains. During the flight a storm forced the gliders to land in a mountainous region to wait out the rest of the poor weather. Riddle had never flown in an airplane before he flew in a glider in North Africa and had never had a desire to fly while he was growing up. The regiment initially began to prepare for the seaborne invasion of Sicily and trained in amphibious invasions despite its designation as an airborne regiment. Ultimately, however, the regiment was flown into Sicily by plane and then dug in and served in reserve for the paratrooper units that preceded them in the invasion. Riddle and his comrades were not in Sicily very long before they moved out and participated in the invasion of Italy. Riddle served as a messenger in Italy and had to run messages from the battalion headquarters out to Company B's position on the front lines and often crossed mountainous terrain under fire in order to deliver his messages. Riddle's training had taught him how to use various weapons and guns and that training proved useful in Italy when Riddle once used 12 different weapons in a single day of fighting. In one instance, Company B came across a German outpost on Saint Angelo Mountain in Southern Italy and surprised the German soldiers stationed there who were eating at the time. The Americans killed a few of the Germans and forced the rest to flee down the mountain where many were intercepted and captured by British forces that traveled a road at the base of the mountain. As Company B descended the mountain, Riddle and his friend got invited to lunch at an Italian man's house. After Riddle and his comrade accepted the invitation and ate, they were chewed out for their conduct, which was just one of many instances where Riddle found himself in trouble for eating unregulated food while in Italy. During that day on Saint Angelo Mountain, the commanding officer of Company B, Captain Richard Gibson, and another officer, Lieutenant Herbert Dew, were both shot. Riddle served as Gibson's messenger and thought very highly of the captain, who sustained several wounds but fought through and survived the war [Annotator's Note: Captain Gibson was eventually promoted to Major and took command of 2nd Battalion, 325th Glider Infantry Regiment]. Riddle saw two Company B commanders killed during the war. One of them was killed during an assault on the Siegfried Line in Germany, and Lieutenant Dew, who later took command of Company B, was killed by artillery fire.

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After combat on Saint Angelo Mountain near Naples, Italy had ceased, Clinton Riddle and Company B, 1st Battalion, 325th Glider Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division moved into Naples itself. As the Americans advanced, elements of the German army began to withdraw while other elements continued to orchestrate pockets of resistance. The mountainous terrain of southern Italy made combat difficult, but American aerial bombing did severe damage to enemy positions in the area. Riddle tasted his first meal of spaghetti while in Naples and, due to the bombing and destruction, the Americans had to set up food and water lines for the Italian civilians and guard the lines to maintain order among the hungry people. Combat was not intense in the city of Naples, but was more severe in the mountainous areas around it. The aerial bombings at night were devastating, however, and Riddle spent many nights taking cover from bombing in the city. Italian civilians were generally friendly and welcoming to American troops and Riddle even picked up some Italian phrases while stationed in Naples. Riddle remained in the Naples area from 1 October 1943 through Thanksgiving of that year before the regiment was pulled out and shipped off to the United Kingdom. The men were not told where they were going when the regiment left Italy and there were a few guesses as to where their destination would be. After a journey through the Mediterranean Sea, the Straits of Gibraltar, and some rough seas in the North Atlantic, the regiment arrived in Ireland. Riddle found Ireland to be very beautiful and remained there from 1 December 1943 through 1 February 1944. While in Ireland, the regiment intended to train for the invasion of Europe, but the short winter days and inclement winter weather largely restricted the opportunity for training. Riddle and his men did not know specifically that the invasion would take place in Normandy, but they had some inclination about the area of the invasion long before the formal plan was introduced to the men. From Ireland, the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment moved to Leicester, England. In Leicester, the regiment continued normal training and the men took up day to day duties around the camp. They went to the firing range, took hikes, and stood guard duty,  and performed other duties. Despite its designation as a glider infantry regiment, Riddle never did any glider specific training while in England and cannot remember so much as a single glider ride while in England before the invasion. As the invasion grew closer and the calendar turned to June, Riddle became responsible for all of the equipment and gear that needed to be loaded into each American glider. In preparation for the invasion, the men had to gather their ammunition and make final checks on their weapons at the firing range, but the men also continued routine duty on guard and in the kitchen. During the build up to the invasion, Riddle and his comrades had frequently gone into town after training in order to meet up with some of the local English girls there. In turn, the English town girls began to visit the army camp. As the invasion grew nearer, Riddle's commanding officer ordered the men to get rid of the girls so the men began to take nicknames to deny knowing any of the men whom the English girls sought at camp.

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Clinton Riddle and his comrades in Company B were wrestled from their sleep in the early predawn hours for breakfast on the day set for their landing in Normandy [Annotator's Note: Riddle and the rest of Company B, 1st Battalion, 325th Glider Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division landed in Normandy on 7 June 1944, D plus one]. The gliders took off in the dim light of dawn and Riddle’s British Horsa glider had to circle the airfield until the regiment's entire train of gliders and their tow planes took off. The flight took over two hours. The gliders touched down in France around 0700 hours in the morning. Riddle got a seat right behind the cockpit of the glider for the flight over to France and had a great view of the vast armada of Allied ships that packed the English Channel below. Riddle also saw groups of American fighter planes overhead as the fleet of planes and gliders crossed the English Channel. During the crossing, the plane towing Riddle's glider lost power in its engines temporarily which disrupted the flight. The copilot of Riddle's glider almost prematurely released the tow line between the plane and the glider during the trouble, but the pilot convinced him otherwise. The men in Riddle's glider began to jettison canisters of water, anti tank mines, and other equipment out the rear door of the glider in order to stabilize the glider's flight. After the glider's tow plane repositioned and fixed its mechanical issues it continued to tow Riddle's glider in over Normandy. As soon as the glider's pilot saw a suitable landing zone, however, he disconnected the tow cable and brought the glider down to earth as fast as possible. The glider came in too fast and too low and ended up cutting through a tree on the approach to the landing zone. It ultimately landed with a hard impact which broke off most of the left wing. The glider's wings were filled with ping pong balls so that the glider would float in case it crashed in the English Channel. One glider from Company A crashed pretty severely, but Riddle did not see it until the men vacated the crash site which left Riddle none the wiser as to the casualties or severity of the crash. After Riddle took a picture of the wrecked Company A glider, he moved up a roadway cautiously, looking for snipers. The company marched a significant distance to an assembly area. When Riddle's glider landed and the men disembarked unopposed by German forces, Riddle's immediate thought was that German troops could be located anywhere around them behind the massive hedgerows of the French countryside. Company B moved through the town of Sainte Mere Eglise where the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division had taken up positions, but the section of town through which Riddle and his comrades moved was not terribly damaged at the time. Riddle saw his first dead German soldier in the town and that was the first German he saw in France. From Sainte Mere Eglise, Company B moved over close to the Merderet River and participated in a battle there in which the glider infantrymen came to the rescue of a group of paratroopers near the river. The men moved single file across the flooded area near the river and were taken under fire from the Germans a few times. The unit followed a paratrooper over a shallow crossing through the flooded fields and the river in order to assault the German forces battling the paratroopers. Riddle’s 1st Battalion, 325th Glider Infantry Regiment attacked toward a church [Annotator's Note: in the village of Cauquigny], but Company B split off from Company C during the attack and became pinned down. Riddle was involved in the same battle in which DeGlopper [Annotator's Note: Private, First Class Charles N. DeGlopper served in Company C, 1st Battalion, 325th Glider Infantry Regiment] won the Medal of Honor for his actions during the battle, actions for which he gave his life.

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The fighting around the La Fiere bridge and the village of Cauquigny was intense and Clinton Riddle and his comrades were under heavy enemy fire. Despite the hail of bullets and shells, Riddle never saw the German soldiers himself during the battle. When Company B forded the Merderet River, the men used a railroad embankment in the area for cover from German troops. During the battle, Company C, 325th Glider Infantry Regiment took a beating from the Germans, but Riddle never found himself even within sight of the Germans. Riddle and his company were in battle for three days and nights and stayed in the area for about one week. During the approach to the battle, Company B bypassed the German held town of Amfreville but did not receive any fire from the Germans there. Instead, Riddle and Company B came under some mistaken artillery fire from an American unit since Company B was in such an advanced position. During the fighting in Normandy, Riddle served as a runner for his Company B commander, the 1st Battalion commander, the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment commander, and even served as a runner for General Gavin [Annotator's Note: then Brigadier General James M. Gavin served as an assistant commander of the 82nd Airborne Division]. Company B sustained heavy casualties in Normandy and only 38 men of the company's original 155 men returned to England unscathed after the battle. Since Riddle served as a radioman, he often ran messages during intense battles and was sometimes absent from the company during intense sequences of combat. However, Riddle feels that he was exposed to as much fire as any man in the company since he was constantly out of his foxhole to run messages, supplies, and ammunition to the men on the front lines. Riddle carried the heavy field 300 radio [Annotators Note: Motorola SCR300] on his back as well as two bandoliers of ammunition, his pack, rifle, and other equipment with him all through Normandy. Riddle often shared responsibility for carrying the radio with a friend of his from Chicago, but once his companion was wounded in Normandy, the responsibility fell solely to the slender Riddle. Riddle served as a messenger at times and as a radioman at others so he never had to carry the radio while he ran massages. Riddle was very glad to see the men of the US 90th Division push through his company's position in Normandy, but he later had to reinforce that division when their attack bogged down. Shortly after the men of the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment rescued a group of encircled paratroopers in Normandy the glider infantrymen were given paratrooper jump boots. In England before the invasion, paratroopers often took offense to glider infantrymen wearing paratrooper jump boots. After Normandy, however, the paratroopers warmed up a bit to the glider infantrymen and Riddle and his comrades were issued jump boots. Once the regiment returned to England after Normandy, Riddle got his first shower in a while and got to attend his first church service in some time, which provided him some great spiritual relief.

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After the 82nd Airborne Division finished combat operations in Normandy, Clinton Riddle and the men of the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment returned to England where the regiment was given replacement recruits to bolster the regiment's ranks. Some Normandy veterans bragged to the new recruits about their service in the battle and inflated the glory of their actions when the men were not training. The Normandy veterans generally acted as combat experts for the new recruits and generally treated the new men as rookies until they had proved themselves on the battlefield. Some of the new recruits grew into good soldiers, but Riddle saw many men killed because he did not remember his training or use his common sense. When Riddle and his comrades returned to England from Normandy, the presence of so many new recruits signaled to the veterans that the regiment would return to combat in the near future. The training in preparation for the airborne invasion of Holland was generally similar to the training before Normandy. The men ran field problems to practice different combat situations and continued physical training to improve fitness. Riddle had received glider training for double hitch gliders, where two gliders are hitched to one tow plane, but the distance from England to Holland was too great to double hitch the gliders to a single plane. The main difference between the British Horsa glider that Riddle flew into Normandy and the American glider that he flew into Holland was the troop capacity. The British glider held 35 men plus equipment, while its American counterpart only held 13 men plus equipment. Riddle served as the copilot for his glider on the drop into Holland and sat with the pilot in the cockpit. Many of the men got airsickness on the flight to Holland and many vomited into their helmets and onto the floor of the glider, but Riddle did not feel any sickness or fear until the fleet of American aircraft came under heavy ack ack [Annotator's Note: antiaircraft artillery] fire once the gliders made landfall over Holland. The landing in Holland was much smoother and easier than the landing in Normandy. The antiaircraft fire had dissipated around the glider's landing site in Holland, but the landing in Normandy occurred under heavy enemy fire and Riddle was injured during the glider's landing impact there. The terrain in Holland was covered by windmills and traversed by canals, and the Dutch civilians welcomed the American troops with cheers and food. In combat situations, however, the civilians quickly disappeared. During intense combat on the Plains of Mook in Holland, most of Company B's officers were killed and Riddle was selected to help carry the dead and wounded out on stretchers. One morning, Company B advanced across a wide plain under the cover of morning fog. Half way across the plain, however, the fog lifted and revealed the Americans to a group of German soldiers, mostly young boys and old men, who opened up on the Americans from the woods on the far side of the meadow and mowed them down. Riddle dove behind a low wall which bordered a nearby canal to escape the hail of enemy fire, but the company sustained heavy casualties. When Riddle began evacuating the wounded from the field, German shells began to fall on the Americans once again and Riddle expected to get hit with almost every falling shell.

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During the Battle of the Bulge, glider infantryman Clinton Riddle rode into battle on a tank during the American assault on the town of Regne, Belgium. As the tanks neared the village, the tanks began to fire their main guns while Riddle and some of his comrades still sat atop the turret. The recoil from the main gun fire nearly knocked Riddle and his comrades off, so the glider infantrymen quickly scrambled off the tank and continued into the village on foot. The Germans had two artillery pieces positioned near the village and the American tanks knocked one out before the crew of the other gun fled the battle. In combat, Riddle preferred to be out in an open field fighting as opposed to the close quarters of a village. In a village, the amount of buildings and alleys provided ample cover for the enemy to conceal himself, sometimes in windows, doorways, or on rooftops, but in the open, there was not the same amount of obstacles to provide concealment. Riddle only ran into one outfit of German SS troops and that encounter occurred in Holland. After the war, Riddle found that he got along quite well with some of the older German soldiers, but not so much with the young, fanatical ones. During the Battle of the Bulge, Riddle and his comrades came under intense and deadly German artillery fire while stationed in the Ardennes Forest. The artillery shells often burst in the trees which sent splinters of wood and shrapnel down on the Americans hunkered in foxholes. The freezing temperatures also made the conditions miserable for the Americans. One night, as Riddle dug in, an American tank pulled into a position near him and the motor had been running all day. Riddle crawled underneath the tank and slept in the warmth radiating from the motor, which was a welcome relief from the Belgian winter. The damp winter conditions were very harsh on the men's feet and hands during the battle as it was difficult to keep boots warm and dry while dug into foxholes. Despite wearing two pairs of heavy wool socks during the battle, Riddle still cannot feel the bottoms of his feet and his hands repeatedly crack open and bleed in cold weather. Riddle had icicles frozen in his eyebrows and nostrils during the battle and is still affected by the frostbite today. After the war, Riddle had to have a piece of shrapnel removed from his back, which was lodged there during the Battle of the Bulge. He still has a small piece of shrapnel in his hand from the battle. During the assault on the German held town of Regne, Belgium, Riddle was pulled out of messenger and radioman duty at the battalion headquarters and was made a machine gunner in his company. Front line machine gunners were often killed or wounded in combat, but Riddle made it out of the battle with his life. He was thrown in a hastily formed machine gun platoon to add to the company's firepower during the assault. Before the Battle of the Bulge, Riddle served as a messenger for General Gavin in Normandy [Annotator's Note: Lieutenant General James M. Gavin took command of the 82nd Airborne Division in August 1944 after serving as the division’s assistant commander] and got to know the general pretty well. In Riddle's memory however, the first commander of Company B, Captain Richard Gibson, was the best combat leader that Riddle ever fought under. During the Battle of the Bulge, Riddle often resorted to eating snow when water provisions ran out and had to constantly purify any natural water he collected in his canteen with purifying pills to kill the bugs and bacteria in the water. While in the rear in the village of Pepinster, Belgium during the battle, Riddle was fond of taking sleigh rides with the village girls while his unit was in town for a rest from battle. Combat in Belgium was pretty similar to that in Normandy and Holland but under different weather conditions. Riddle fought alongside Canadian and even Polish troops during the battle and often admired his fellow Allied soldiers.

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