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John Clark « North Carolina's WWII ExperienceNorth Carolina's WWII Experience

John Clark

Hometown: Spring Hope, NC
Branch of Service:
Army, 4th Infantry Div, 29th Field Artillery
Location of Service:
Europe

The following chapter is from John Clark’s memoir, Crossed Cannons recounting hiding in an old mill from the Germans as a infantryman with the 29th Field Artillery of the 4th Division:

“Missing in Action Near St. Lo”

Another day, McGrady and I were looking for an observation post when we came upon a stream with an old mill. I told McGrady, jokingly, that I didn’t want to get caught with him again, so I’d go on over to the mill where I would climb up and see what I could see. I told him to stay there and observe. I left him the 610 radio and I took the walkie-talkie.

I was headed to the fourth floor of the mill when McGrady called and told me he could hear vehicles. I could see German trucks in the distance by that time, so I rushed down and used old bags to cover any tracks I had made in the flour. I also closed the trap door which I’d left open. Then I crawled up a ladder to the top of a wooden flour bin where I stayed for three days.

I had one D-chocolate bar and some water in my canteen. I tried not to drink much water, for I didn’t want to urinate much, and when I did, I spread it around as much as possible so it would not run down where they could see it.

There were about 25 or 30 Germans there, I figured a whole platoon. They checked out the mill; I was glad I had covered my tracks. I was almost afraid to move, and I was afraid to sleep for fear I would snore. I was on the third floor and they stayed on the first floor or outside, but I didn’t want to take any chances that they would hear me.

They left about dark on the third day so I waded across the stream and headed back to the infantry’s headquarters. I called McGrady on the walkie-talkie, telling him to see I wasn’t shot as enemy.

The infantry captain was surprised to see me. I found they had already turned me in as missiing in action, and my parents had already been sent a telegram to this effect. I had to write Mom and Dad right away telling them that the report was false. I didn’t want them to worry.

Jones was tickled to see me. He was glad that he wouldn’t have to work with the new replacement who had already arrived to take over my job. Jones said he couldn’t believe my dumb luck that I hadn’t been caught. I couldn’t either. This was another of the many time that the Lord looked after me.