MAKING HISTORY PERSONAL:PFC Stanley Clark
The grave of PFC Stanley Victor Clark was adopted by Nowy van Hedel. Nowy conducted extensive research on his Soldier and has taken great care of his grave.
MAKING HISTORY PERSONAL:
PFC Stanley Clark
NAME: Stanley Victor Clark
SERVICE NUMBER # 31320589
RANK: Private First Class
REGIMENT: 101st Airborne Division, 401st Infantry Regiment
WAR: World War II
★ Purple Heart
★ Combat Infantryman Badge
★ American Campaign Medal
★ World War II Victory Medal
CASUALTY DATE: 9 October 1944
BURIAL: Plot G Row 2 Grave 15, Netherlands American Cemetery, Margraten, Netherlands
This is PFC Stanley Clark’s story:
Lewiston, Maine, 1924: Stanley Victor Clark was born – one of the eleven children in the Clark family. He had six brothers and four sisters. Stanley joined the military on 16 March 1943. He started in the 8th Armored Division, but soon he volunteered for the 101 Airborne Division, anew division that would enter the battle zones with parachutes and gliders. This was never done before in history. Stanley became a member of the 401st Glider Infantry Regiment in the 101 Airborne Division. During their training at Camp Claiborne and Fort Bragg, they trained with the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment, and here they became familiar with gliders. Gliders and parachutes were never used by the US military before to deploy personnel. LT Colonel Joseph H Harper told Brigadier General Pratt he didn’t know anything about gliders. The General replied: “Nobody else does either!”.
After training the unit moved to New York. On September 15, 1943, the 401st embarked on the British Strathnaver. This ship developed engine trouble and had to drop out of the convoy, putting in repairs at St. John’s Harbor Newfoundland. The 401st would stay here for a whole month. There was not much to do. The Strathnaver carried one of the first contingents of WACS (Women’s Army Corps) to go overseas. 180 were on board along with 5000 men. Perhaps never before in history of naval operations were so few admired by so many, and consequently, the women’s deck had to be protected by guards. At last the Strathnaver was declared unfit to continue the voyage and the John S. Ericson brought the men to Liverpool on October 18, 1943.
From Liverpool the men began their move to the war area. Riding on a blacked-out train, the glider men could, for the first time, hear bombs exploding in the distance. They reached their destination at dawn. It was a town by the name of Reading, located in southern England, in Berkshire, only 35 miles from London. Brock Barracks was their new home. From now on till their move into France, the unit would train non-stop. The 401st received the highest rating of the entire division. In the months of March and April it became obvious that there weren’t enough gliders available for the Division. The question of shipping space was vital and they received an assignment as a seaborne element.
June 6, 1944 D-Day. Although their training was to glide into the battle zone, the 401St would landed on Utah Beach with LCI(L) number 3 (Landing Craft Infantry Large).Packed aboard LCI’s the unit departed late in the afternoon of June 5. The magnitude of the event affected everyone. As far as the eye could see was the invasion fleet. The battalion would land after the 4th Infantry division just south at Uncle Red sector Utah Beach. From here on the unit double timed to the assembly area and soon saw their first action. Their task was to secure the bridges around Carentan and link up with the other beachheads. The 401st managed to be the first American troops across the Douve river in the Caretan area.
The Glidermen proceeded further and a small group fought their way through German lines in Auville-sur-le-Vey. It was a intense fire but the group kept fighting and rushed forward. They overrun the Germans and at 1400hrs the first know contact between troops of the 2 beachheads occurred in front of a store where a unit from the 29th division kept German prisoners. Days later the unit would link up with the 506th PIR (Parachute Infantry Regiment). The 401st linked up with 506th and together they went to liberate Carentan. On their way to the town they witnessed the landings of gliders around them. After hours of intense fighting they managed to clear the city and opened the causeway for more units to link up with them. Hedgerows and concrete walls made it difficult to proceed. Behind every bush, wall or ditch there could be Germans.
The 401st would stay in England till September. Here they would rest and prepare for the next visit at the mainland of fortress Europe; Holland. Operation Market Garden. The unit now would fly into the Northern part of Eindhoven. on D+1 ?????? they landed exactly on their LZ (landing Zone). The air was full with Airplanes, B24 B17,C-47’s, CG-4A’s and British Lancaster’s. The American bombers would drop supplies instead of bombs. All the ground forces needed a lot, like ammunition, medical equipment and food. C47’s would be used as tow planes. They could have paratroopers or supplies in it. Behind it there would be the CG-A4 glider filled with infantry, jeeps, cannons or other equipment like a weather station, repair shop or complete medical units.
75% of the gliders would make a successful landing without damage and 85% of all the troops stayed unharmed. The gliders were made out of plywood and would be easily damaged or destroyed by German small arms fire or anti-aircraft “flak” guns. A 75mm Howitzer would be ready in 15 minutes after their landing. Again the 401st would fight side by side with the 506th PIR. Sometimes the battalion would relieve the 506th from the front. Together after days, the unit was send up north to the island between the Rhine and the Waal River. They ended up in the area of Opheusden..
At 0430 in the morning of October 6th, an enemy force approached the company. Toward dawn enemy artillery and mortar fire increased and another German battalion supported by four tanks advanced down the tracks. Again, men of the 401 opened on them with everything they had, but the tanks with their heavy close-in fire made a difference. A large portion of this new group managed to break through and continue east.
Heavy German artillery fire continued but there was no new attack until 1330, when a small force again advanced against the left flank of Company B and a larger group moved across the open space between B and A. They found the open space a death trap. Combined artillery, mortar and small-arms fire, working according to plans made the night before, wiped them out.
Before dawn on October 9 intense artillery and mortar barrages, laid along the entire front, preceded an attack by several strong enemy patrols. These were ably repelled, but the Germans were only beginning. Harassing fire continued throughout the day and before noon General Taylor was visiting the 327 command post where he studied the situation. Then, at about 1700 hours, the heaviest artillery barrage ever experienced by the 327 and 401 came down on the regiment. Consisting of both medium and light artillery it lasted a full 45 minutes. Many soldiers thought, at the time, that no human being could live through such intense fire. British Artillery officers, supporting the regiment, said that all during the war the only other German Artillery preparation in their experience which compared with this occurred in Africa at El ‘Alamein.
The artillery was lifted and the Germans attacked with an entire division, supported by tanks on both the northern flank and the center of the line. But the Americans, who remained safely under cover in their holes during the artillery barrage, now came out to meet the advancing enemy with a ferocity that defies description. Small arms were fired so rapidly that they became red hot and the varnish burned off the stocks of M-1 rifles. Sergeant Brown, 401st , fired his machine gun until it got so hot that when he tried to stop the gun kept firing until the belt was emptied. At some points the Germans advanced to within six yards of the front line and were driven back only by the strength of bayonet clashes. Americans picked up grenades thrown by the enemy, and tossed them back. Not an inch of ground was lost. In this fierce battle PFC Clark lost his life. He was just 19 years old.
He was laid to rest in Molenhoek at the temporary cemetery by the 611th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company. In the summer of 1948
he would be transferred to the cemetery at Margraten. In 1990’s some of his family members visited the grave and since 2007 the grave is adopted. It took 7 years to get in contact with the family. In this time Nowy spent many hours on research to find out what the company did. When he visited the grave for the first time he had no clue what PFC Clark did. He made a promise to PFC Clark to try to get in contact with his family and let them know someone is there to take care of his grave. Nowy started to learn more about the 101st Airborne, the 401st and the complete history of this unit. Minutes became hours, days became months and eight years later he found many answers. Some answers we will never know but one thing is for sure; PFC Stanley V. Clark will never be forgotten.
Final resting place
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