Combat, Occupation Duty and Criminal Investigations
Postwar Life and Recollections
Herb McClure was born in March 1924 in Neodesha, Kansas, the only male and oldest of five siblings. His father had an auto repair shop, and was able to maintain his business through the Great Depression. McClure worked on his grandparent's dairy farm during high school, and was in the milk house when the announcement came over the radio that Pearl Harbor had been attacked. He found it hard to believe, but said people "kind of knew it was coming." McClure was drafted when he came of age, and went into the Army on 26 August 1944. He and a friend who joined at the same time were sent to Camp Roberts in California for basic training which was cut short, 12 instead of 17 weeks, with post-training leave denied due to the urgent need for replacements in Europe after the invasion of Normandy. McClure was flown to New York and sailed on the USS Wakefield (AP-21) in a zig-zag [Annotator's Note: a naval anti-submarine maneuver] pattern to Liverpool, England. From there he took a troop train to South Hampton, England, then a landing craft to LeHavre, France. Then by train, truck and on foot he was quickly moved to the front lines.
When he reached the front, Herb McClure was placed in a 60mm mortar squad. The ground was frozen so the soldiers couldn't dig foxholes; they had to sleep huddled up or in a bombed out building, and there was always a concern for their safety. McClure was on the front lines continuously from the end of December 1944 until the war's end. At that time he was hospitalized in Paris for jaundice for about a month, then sent back to Windischeschenbach, Germany, to train for the invasion of Japan. The soldiers knew that fighting in Japan would be worse than it had been in Europe. Luckily, before McClure could be shipped out, the Japanese surrendered. McClure was sent to Garmish, Germany as a military investigator. In the mornings he worked as a courier to Munich and in the afternoons he looked into civilian criminal affairs. The entertainers Dixie Dunbar and the Radio City Rockettes were also staying in Garmish, and another one of McClure's duties was to move their costumes and props to wherever they were performing. After nine months in Garmish, McClure had enough points for discharge, but before returning stateside, he did a week's guard duty on suicide watch at the federal penitentiary at Landsberg, Germany where war criminals were awaiting trial and execution.
Herb McClure took a Liberty Ship from LeHavre, France to New York then went to Fort Leavenworth where he was discharged on 4 July [Annotator's Note: 4 July 1946]. Returning to his life before the war, McClure recalls that he bought a Model A Ford for 15 dollars when he was 14 years old and in the ninth grade. He drove it to school, taking along a neighbor girl and her brother. The girl waited for McClure to return from the war, and the two have been married for over 70 years. After the war, McClure worked in construction and in furniture craft in Tulsa, Oklahoma, eventually owning a business in that field from which he retired after 67 years. He doesn't feel that many people know the sacrifices his generation made during the war, but he has a grandson who does. That descendant has compiled McClure's Army record, and will inherit his collection.
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