Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Normandy Part 1: Establishing Bill Clark’s Presence in the Invasion

The work of the 82nd Airborne combat riggers in World War II had always been demanding. They were responsible for parachute maintenance and packing, as well as manufacture of specialized equipment packs for heavy weapons, radios, ammunition, etc. At the time prior to the Normandy invasion, the number of practice jumps had increased translating into more work for the riggers. Their numbers swelled to keep pace with the growing demand. 

From the beginning in North Africa, the riggers were on a rotation schedule when it came to combat jumps. At that time there were 65 riggers in the 505th PIR and 75 in the 504th PIR. Forty men and officers from the 505 were selected for the Sicily jump and 31 for Salerno. The same numbers were selected from the 504, for these jumps, respectively. For the Normandy jump, 20 riggers and one officer per regiment (505, 507, and 508) were chosen. Source: Author Unknown, “82nd Airborne Division: 82nd Parachute Maintenance Company” Section 1 Unit History, pp. 4 –5 . Date unknown

In his case, Bill had already made history by being selected for inclusion in the first US regimental sized combat jump into Sicily and had volunteered to jump into Salerno with the 504. Due to the numbers of riggers in the 505, not all of them could be selected for all four combat jumps. For each jump some would have to be left behind. On the face of it, Bill’s chances of being selected for a third jump (which could include a glider landing) would appear slim. However, close examination of surviving evidence conclusively proves that Bill took part in the Normandy invasion. This evidence includes: his Honorable Discharge; surviving photographs; period documents; his brother’s (Henry Clark Jr.) eye witness account written directly after the Normandy campaign; and postwar testimony.

In light of this evidence the answers to some intriguing questions remain shrouded in mystery. 

  1. Was Bill selected to jump as a 505 PIR combat rigger?
  2. Which unit was he assigned to for the Normandy invasion?
  3. What was his mission in Normandy?
  4. Did he arrive in Normandy via parachute or glider and on what date?

Attempting to answer these questions will be the focus of the next post. For this entry let’s analyze the evidence pertaining to Bill’s presence in the Normandy Invasion.

The Evidence Part 1:

Examination of Bill’s Honorable Discharge and Corresponding Army Regulations

On Bill’s Honorable Discharge it states that he was awarded “6 bronze stars”, which included one for Normandy. One bronze star was awarded for each of the six campaigns in which Bill participated: Sicily; Naples-Foggia; Normandy; Rhineland; Ardennes; and Central Europe. These are not Bronze Star Medals which were awarded for valor in combat. They are Bronze Service Stars; each one indicating that Bill was physically present in the zone of combat during the time frame for each respective campaign.

According to Army Regulation No. 600-40 War Department 31 March 1944 paragraph 73 b. Service stars, (See Note 1 below) the criteria for wearing a bronze service star in WWII was:

“(3) Bronze service stars are worn on the service ribbon of campaign medals for the current war to indicate credit for battle participation, a star for each battle or campaign for which credit is awarded. Silver service stars are authorized in lieu of bronze service stars in the ration of one to five, and will be placed to the right of bronze service stars.”


Note 1: Excerpt of Army Regulations No. 600-40 War Department 31 March 1944 paragraph 73 b.

These regulations are clear enough. Bronze Service Stars were worn on a soldier’s service ribbon in WWII to indicate credit for each battle or campaign the soldier participated in.

Moreover, Army Regulation 600–8–22 (relevant portion presented below) covers award of Bronze Service Stars in World War II:

5–13. European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
a. The European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal was established by Executive Order 9265, announced in
War Department Bulletin 56, 1942, as amended by Executive Order 9706, 15 March 1947. It is awarded for service
within the European-African-Middle Eastern Theater between 7 December 1941 and 8 November 1945 under any of
the conditions as prescribed in paragraph 5–13.
b. The boundaries of European-African-Middle Eastern Theater are as follows:
(1) The eastern boundary is coincident with the western boundary of the Asiatic-Pacific Theater (see para 5–13).
(2) The western boundary is coincident with the eastern boundary of the American Theater (see para 5–14).
One bronze service star is authorized for each campaign under the following conditions:
(1) Assigned or attached to, and present for duty with, a unit during the period in which it participated in combat.
(2) Under orders in the combat zone and in addition meets any of the following requirements:
(a) Awarded a combat decoration.
(b) Furnished a certificate by a commanding general of a corps or higher unit or independent force that he actually participated in combat.
(c) Served at a normal post of duty (as contrasted to occupying the status of an inspector, observer, or visitor).
(d) Aboard a vessel other than in a passenger status and furnished a certificate by the home port commander of the
vessel that he served in the combat zone.
(3) Was an evadee or escapee in the combat zone or recovered from a prisoner-of-war status in the combat zone
during the time limitations of the campaign. Prisoners of war will not be accorded credit for the time spent in
confinement or while otherwise in restraint under enemy control.
d. The arrowhead is authorized for wear on this medal to denote participation in a combat parachute jump,
helicopter assault landing, combat glider landing, or amphibious assault landing, while assigned or attached as a
member of an organized force carrying out an assigned tactical mission. (The arrowhead is described in para 6–9.)”

Note 2: Excerpt from Army Regulation 600–8–22 concerning Award of Bronze Service Stars to the EAME Campaign Medal Retrieved from http://www.apd.army.mil/pdffiles/r600_8_22.pdf

Paragraph 5-13 c. (highlighted in bold above) essentially states that a Bronze Service Star is authorized when a soldier was assigned to a unit and present for duty with that unit at the time the unit participated in combat; he was under orders in the combat zone; and he was either awarded a combat decoration; or had a certificate from a commanding general that he participated in combat; or he served at a normal post of duty.

Corresponding to the six Bronze Service Stars, Bill’s Honorable Discharge also states under “Section 32. Battles and Campaigns” that he was awarded them under “GO 33 40 WD 45” which means General Orders 33 and 40 of the War Department in 1945.

I looked up these General Orders which have recently been placed on the Internet at the Maneuver Center of Excellence Libraries; a consortium of military libraries including the: Donovan Research Library; and  US Armor Research Library. The orders are found under the “Historical General Orders/Special Orders Collection”.


The direct link to these General Orders is:


If you open this PDF in your browser be mindful that depending on your Internet speed it can take a long time to load. It’s best to right click and save it instead of clicking on the link and letting it load in your browser.

This document contains nearly all of the War Department General Orders of 1945 from GO 1 through GO 124. For the purposes of our analysis of Bill’s participation in the Normandy invasion only GO 33 WD 45 is relevant at this stage. In later posts GO 40 and others will be presented as evidence of his presence elsewhere in the European Theater of Operations (ETO).


 Top Section Identifying General Order 33 War Department 1945 (AKA GO 33 WD45).

Source: “Maneuver Center of Excellence Libraries Donovan Research Library US Armor Research Library Historical General Orders/Special Orders Collection: General Orders 1945 copy 2” Retrieved from http://www.benning.army.mil/library/content/Virtual/General%20Orders/GeneralOrders/DAGO1945.pdf


Page 3 of General Order 33 War Department 1945 (AKA GO 33 WD45)

Source: “Maneuver Center of Excellence Libraries Donovan Research Library US Armor Research Library Historical General Orders/Special Orders Collection: General Orders 1945 copy 2” Retrieved from http://www.benning.army.mil/library/content/Virtual/General%20Orders/GeneralOrders/DAGO1945.pdf

Note: Paragraph 8 on page 3 above clearly states:


a. Combat zone – European Theater of Operations exclusive of the land areas of the United Kingdom and Iceland.

b. Time limitation – 6 June 1944 to 24 July 1944.”

Briefly, (because it will be explained in the next post), Bill was technically assigned to Service Company 505th PIR.  However, when performing his duties as a parachute rigger, he was in practice assigned special duty in the Provisional 82nd Parachute Maintenance Company (PMC). If he was chosen to jump into combat in a Bronze Star campaign (such as Sicily, Naples-Foggia, or Normandy), he would typically be relieved from special duty in the 82nd PMC (Provisional) and reassigned to the Service Company 505th PIR. Just prior to the jump, he would then be placed in a combat company belonging to the 505th PIR. 

GO 33 WD 45 states that the combat zone for Normandy excluded the land areas of the UK and Iceland. The base of the 82nd PMC (Provisional) at the time of the Normandy invasion was at Cottesmore airfield, near Oakham in England. Those 82nd riggers not selected to jump or glide into Normandy could not have earned the Bronze Service Star for that campaign because they were physically present in England during the time limitation of 6 June 1944 to 24 July 1944. It follows that since Bill earned a Bronze Service Star for Normandy he must have been in the combat zone for that campaign and not in England.

In sum, according to the official documentation it is evident that Bill fought in the Normandy campaign and by doing so was awarded a Bronze Service Star for it. Further evidence of this can be found by examining the photographs of Bill which survived the war, his brother Henry’s eye witness account, and the respective postwar testimonies of both men.

 The Evidence Part 2:

Analysis of Photographs Pertaining to Bill’s Presence in the Invasion of Normandy

Bill Post May 11 1945

Photo 1: Bill Clark in Uniform taken sometime after May 11, 1945. Source: Author’s Collection

Note: This photograph was taken before Bill’s discharge on 15 November 1945, but after he was assigned permanent duty with the 82nd PMC on March 1, 1945 (when it was re-designated from a “provisional” company to a regular company). His Service Ribbon with Arrowhead, Silver Service Star, and Bronze Star appear on his left breast underneath his Jump Wings. A portion of the Presidential Unit Citation is visible on his right breast.

You can click on Photo 1 for a very high resolution view. By so doing, careful study is needed to reveal the pertinent details. A casual or cursory examination will prove inconclusive. Close scrutiny reveals that Bill is wearing his European African Middle Eastern (EAME) campaign ribbon on his left breast, below his jump wings. A Bronze Arrowhead is pinned on the left of the ribbon, with a Silver Service Star (in lieu of five Bronze Service Stars) on the middle, and a Bronze Service Star on the right. Distinct shadows are present underneath each of these three accoutrements. It’s clear that the service star in the middle is a Silver Service Star because it is lighter in color than the Bronze Arrowhead on the left and the Bronze Service Star on the right. The Bronze Arrowhead itself is thinner and taller than either the Silver or Bronze Service Stars. The Silver Service Star represents 5 Bronze Service stars for Sicily, Naples-Foggia, Normandy, Rhineland, and Ardennes. The Bronze Service star is for the Central Europe campaign.

An enlargement of this is ribbon is shown below in Photo 2. For comparison a color photo with the same arrangement of the three accoutrements is shown in Photo 3. Notice how the Silver Service Star in Photo 3 almost disappears even in a high resolution color photo of the same size as that of Photo 2.

CloseupMedals RibbonPhoto 2: EAME Ribbon showing the Arrowhead, Silver Service Star, and Bronze Service Star. Source: Author’s Collection

Note the three distinct shadows underneath each accoutrement indicating their respective presence on the ribbon.

EAMERibbon - Copy2

Photo 3: EAME Ribbon with (left to right) Bronze Arrowhead, Silver Service Star, and Bronze Star Source: Author’s Collection

The last Bronze Star campaign in which the 82nd Airborne Division fought was Central Europe from March 22, 1945 – May 11, 1945. Photo 1 must have been taken after that date, but before his discharge on 15 November 1945 because there is no Honorable Lapel Button or sewn lozenge version of it on his right breast.

As of November 1944, the Honorable Lapel Button (AKA the “ruptured duck”) was issued to veterans upon discharge to indicate that they were honorably discharged. Bill’s Honorable Discharge also records issue of the “Lapel Button” under Section 55 of that document. Sometimes a lozenge version of the Lapel Button was sewn onto the right breast above the pocket.

“According to Circular No. 454 dated 29 Nov 1944, the War Department adopted an honorable discharge emblem for wear on the uniform of all military personnel who are discharged or separated from the service under honorable conditions. The emblem will be worn as a badge of honor indicative of honest and faithful service while a member of the Armed Forces during World War II and will be issued in addition to the button. At the time of honorable discharge or separation from the service, the emblem will be permanently affixed on the right breast of all the outer clothing centered immediately above the pocket with the long axis of the lozenge horizontal.” Source: Honorable Service Lapel Button and Honorable Discharge Emblem, The institute of Heraldry. received from http://www.tioh.hqda.pentagon.mil/UniformedServices/Hon_Service_Discharge.aspx

The uniform Bill wore when he was discharged had a cloth sewn lozenge on the right breast, as is shown in Photos 4 and 5 below. Therefore, Photo 1 must have been taken on a date prior to his discharge.


Photo 4: Bill’s jacket as of his discharge on November 15, 1945 with cloth sewn lozenge of the Lapel Button on the right breast Source: Author’s Collection

Ruptured_Duck_Bill_Discharge_Uniform Photo 5 Close-up of the Lapel Button Source: Author’s Collection

Corroborating Testimony by Bill’s Brother Henry Clark Jr.

From April 25 – August 6, 1944 Bill’s brother, Henry Clark Jr. was stationed in England at Heston Airdrome on the outskirts of London, near or on modern day Heathrow Airport. He had arrived in England via ship on Easter Sunday April 10, 1944 as a private in the Army Air Force’s 47th Liaison Squadron. Henry served with the 47th Liaison as a mechanic stationed in England, France, and Germany, so he was relatively nearby Bill’s unit locations in 1944 and 1945. Over those years the brothers took advantage of several furloughs and passes to meet one another on recreational leave. During these meetings, Bill told Henry much of his battle experiences. Source: Clark, H., “The War I Never Fought” 2001

Initially Henry entered the service voluntarily as an Army Air force flight cadet and was training to be a fighter pilot while based Arizona and Texas. But he suffered terrible allergies to the plants that grew in the desert southwest. His affliction was sustained for long periods of time forcing him out of flight school. He subsequently accepted an assignment as an Army Air Force  mechanic responsible for maintaining ground vehicles. Source: Clark, H., “The War I Never Fought” 2001


Photo 6: Henry Clark Jr. Circa 1943 Squadron # 1-43G Luke Field Phoenix, Arizona Source: Author’s Collection

While stationed in England, Henry wrote several letters home. In two of these dated April 27 and April 29, 1944 he said he had not contacted Bill yet and that in his estimation they were stationed about 80 miles apart. According to two other letters, one dated July 23, 1944 and the other August 28, 1944, Henry mentioned that Bill made two visits to him at his base. Each time, Bill rode in a jeep to Heston Aerodrome.

The first time they met outside of the US during the war was after the Normandy campaign when the 82nd Airborne Division returned from the battle of Cherbourg. The campaign itself lasted from June 6, 1944 – July 24, 1944, although the 82nd Airborne Division was sent back to UTAH Beach on July 11, 1944 where it soon left Normandy for England. Source: Anzuoni, R., “I’m the 82nd Airborne Division!” 2005, P. 134

After his return from Normandy, Bill had received a six day furlough and spent the whole time with Henry. The second visit was far shorter as Bill only had a 24 hour pass.

In his letter of 23 July, 1944 Henry writes of Bill’s visit:

“…Bill dropped in to see me since I last wrote. He had a six day furlough so he spent five days down here with me…He has done a lot of fighting in the “E.T.O.” and has three stars in his ribbon…” Source: Clark, H., Letter home dated July 23rd, 1944, P. 2.

As of the date of Henry’s letter the 505 PIR had only been in three campaigns which could have earned Bronze Service Stars. These were Sicily, Naples-Foggia, and Normandy.

Henry also recounted the visit in his book entitled “The War I Never Fought: WWII Memoirs of a ‘Rear Rank Rudy’”:

“My buddy and I were sitting on a bench watching a 2nd Lt. spray paint a vehicle, when a jeep drove up from the orderly room and out stepped my brother just back from Normandy. They were kept there to help capture Cherbourg. They were then sent back to England for regrouping, so my brother Bill got a six-day furlough. This was a big load off of my mind since I had not heard anything from him. After our initial greetings he asked us guys why we did not do the painting instead of the Lieutenant. The only answer we could think of was, he likes to paint. It soon became apparent to us that discipline here was quite different from that in the parachute infantry. Next he went with us to evening chow and there he saw a Major dishing out chow. This about blew his mind. He still talks about that. That evening we went out to the North Star pub which was about two blocks from our billet since we were all short of money due to our close proximity to these pubs, he picked up the tab. The motor pool guys enjoyed my brother’s visit, he told us a lot about how it was on the front line and many of his experiences across the channel. Their regimental objective was to capture St. Mere-Eglise which they captured about daylight and finally later in the day, they got it back for good. After his furlough he went back to Leistershire.” Source: Clark, H., “The War I Never Fought” 2001, P. 78

According to this, Bill told of how it was on the front line across the channel (meaning in Normandy). Henry states that their regimental objective was capture of St. Mere-Eglise, thereby implying that Bill was with the 505th PIR during the capture of the town on D-Day.

During an interview in November of 2005, Henry  said when they met during the six day furlough that Bill was “a real nervous type. All keyed up from some of his activities”.  He then went on to tell me about Bill’s involvement in another chapter of the Normandy Campaign – the Battle of Cherbourg. Source: Interview with Henry Clark Jr. November 4, 2005

The 82nd Airborne had lost a lot of men in the Normandy campaign. They had in fact lost a staggering 48% of their strength in glidermen and 55% of parachutists. Source: Nordyke, P., “All American All the Way: The Combat History of the 82nd Airborne Division in World War II” 2005, p. 405

Seeing how good they were in achieving their objectives, they were ordered to stay in Normandy only being relieved after capturing the port of Cherbourg.

Henry said that one story Bill used to tell involved the capturing the port. Bill told him that at one point during the battle he was manning a machine gun, using it to lay down fire upon German defensive positions. He fired so many rounds that gun overheated, and subsequently the barrel melted. Another gun was brought up and he continued firing with it. When the battle was over he looked up and saw that he was underneath a road sign. To his amusement, the sign read “Cherbourg” with an arrow pointing in the direction of his fire. Source: Interview with Henry Clark Jr. November 4, 2005

Bill’s Testimony of His Presence in Normandy during the Invasion

According an interview with his lawyer recorded in January of 2000, Bill stated that made the jump into Normandy. This corroborates what his brother stated in his letter home of July 23, 1944 and what Henry later wrote in his published WWII memoirs of 2001.

“The exact place where Bill…landed from this jump behind enemy lines was a place famous in history which he spelled as follows: ‘St. Mere Egilese’ (sic.)….Unfortunately, as soon as they landed at St. Mere Egilese, they found themselves surrounded on all sides and Bill said: ‘We just tried to fight our way out in all directions.’…After this before-daylight, morning-landing effort to break out of their surrounded position, the 82nd Airborne found that their only alternative was to settle into a holding position for a while….‘we couldn’t go very far fast because of the hedgerows ---- the famous hedgerows of France.’ Bill said, ‘That was really something. That was a helluva fight. Your enemy was often just 25 feet away…’”

“…[at some later time Bill was] sent to Cherbourg, France. They were told that they needed to capture this city because it was a deep water port and we needed it for bringing in reinforcements. Bill remembers that as they entered the outskirts of the city, German troops who were already captured came back through their lines. Bill indicates that they were ‘really happy to be captured and to be getting good food. The fight had gone out of them. The thing they seemed most interested in doing was telling us where in Cherbourg we could find the best cat houses’”.

“…Bill stated that after thirty of forty days in France, he and the 505th Regiment of the 82nd Airborne were pulled out and sent back to England…When Bill got back to England following his aforesaid 30 to 40 days in France with the Normandy invasion, it was July, 1944. Source: “Military Biography of William A. Clark” Herd L. Bennett, Attorney at Law, January 26, 2000.

On May 3 2005, 4:30PM I interviewed Bill while he was a resident at a nursing home for the elderly in Dayton, Ohio. Bill was in bad shape. He had suffered several strokes which resulted in a nearly complete shutdown of his speech center and elimination of many of his motor skills including his ability to write, walk, and turn over in bed. He was still compos mentis, but could not string together more than four to six words in a row. This annoyed him to no end as he was obviously able to think clearly.

During the visit I informed Bill of my intentions to write his story. I showed him pictures I’d taken from Normandy. I told him why I was doing it – to remember the sacrifices he and his fellow soldiers made for all of us, and to thank him for doing what he did. In response, various emotions flickered across his face: sadness, loss, happiness, pride.

I asked Bill if he had been to Normandy before. With a look of sorrow in his eyes, he nodded his head in affirmation. I asked if he remembered liberating and defending the town of St. Mere-Eglise. After the question was posed his face become a picture of profound grief. Then after a pause he replied "Yes, I do”.

My father, James – Jim – (Bill’s brother) was also present during the interview. At various points Jim reminded Bill of some of the funny stories about the war which he had told the family when he came home. This made Bill happy and he laughed, smiled and made jokes. He remembered, drinking Calvados – a French brandy produced in Normandy and made from local apples. After the liberation of St. Mere-Eglise, the locals opened their wine cellars and gave the Americans their Calvados. At one point, Bill haltingly exclaimed “Calvados! That’s strong stuff! It’ll do the job!”. It was very evident that he had fond memories of enjoying Calvados with the local Normans after the initial days of the invasion.

Just prior to my visit with Bill I had made a trip to Normandy with my wife in April of 2005. We hired an exceptionally talented battlefield guide – Alain Chesnel; a Frenchman and well respected Normandy battlefield historian whose father had been a member of the French Resistance in WWII. You can find out more about Alain at:


Alain took us on a very moving tour of the area including: the 505 PIR drop zone “O”; the town of St. Mere-Eglise; the bridge at La Fiere on the Merederet River; and Utah Beach. We paid our respects at the American Cemetery at Colleville before leaving.

When we parted ways Alain and I shook hands and he asked me to send a message to Bill and Henry. He said:

“Tell your uncles, we thank them. We are grateful to them for liberating France. It is a debt we cannot repay. We will never forget them. We will always remember.”

During my interview with Bill in the nursing home, I relayed Alain Chesnel's message of gratitude. He looked at me with an alert expression, desperate to speak, frustrated by his inability to get his words out. I asked him if he was happy to receive Alain's message of thanks. “Yes!” he gasped, with a fierce pride flashing in his blue eyes.

One word ran through my mind – “Airborne!” Even at this final stage of his life, Bill was still the embodiment of what it meant for a man to have been a World War II paratrooper.

A Note on the Battle for Cherbourg and Bill’s Weapons Training

The various accounts of  Bill’s activities in Normandy are all complementary and are consistent with the historical timeline and  assignments of the 82nd Airborne and the 505th PIR in that campaign.  One question I had concerned Bill’s MOS which according to his separation papers lacks an MOS for a machine gunner; 604 Light Machine Gunner, or 605 Heavy Machine Gunner. As a combat rigger, before the  jump Bill had extensive training in machine guns and a variety of other heavy weaponry. Documentary evidence exists which supports this fact and therefore, the story that Bill told about firing a machine in the battle for Cherbourg.

Before the invasions of Sicily and the Italian mainland at Salerno, in North Africa, Bill trained with the combat company he had been assigned to in the use of all weapons (including enemy weapons):

“A rigorous physical training program was established for all personnel in addition to intensified training in the firing of all weapons including Light Machine guns, 60mm and 81mm mortars…After slightly more than a month of desert training, the Division was in excellent physical condition, well qualified in the handling of all combat weapons and had successfully participated in the training problems requiring combined ground operations” Source:  Jost, H., “Airborne Operations in Sicily, July 1943”, Advanced infantry Officers Course 1948-49, pp. 8-10

“In North-Africa they had trained with enemy weapons, and they knew that the German machine-gun had a much higher rate of fire than the American weapons” Source: Ruggero, E., “Combat Jump”, p 291, 2005

And while in Sicily Company A commander, 505th Ed Sayer reported:

Within about thirty minutes, two companies of enemy troops were seen moving across the open ground to the front toward our position. When they were within about two hundred yards of the positions, they were fired on by all of the twenty (captured) machine guns.*

* All personnel of the 505th Parachute Combat Team had received training in the firing of enemy weapons in Africa” Source:  Sayer, Edwin M., (Personal experience of a company commander) “The operations of company “A” 505th parachute infantry (82nd Airborne) Airborne Landings in Sicily. 9-24 July 1943 (Sicilian Campaign)”. p 12


So far three things are clear:

  1. Bill’s Honorable Discharge and Photo 1 are in agreement with each other on the subject of his six Bronze Service Star awards and therefore his combat participation in the Normandy campaign according to Army Regulations No. 600-40 War Department 31 March 1944 covering the wear of Bronze and Silver Service Stars; Army Regulation 600–8–22 covering eligibility for Bronze Service Star awards for participation in a EAME combat zone; and GO 33 WD 45 defining the time period limitations and combat location boundaries of the Normandy campaign.
  2. Henry Clark’s eye witness account of Bill’s three service stars as reported in his letter dated July 23, 1944 and his published book account of Bill’s presence in Normandy further corroborate the evidence that Bill fought in Normandy with the implication that he was with the 505 liberating St. Mere-Eglise on D-Day and later in Cherbourg.
  3. Bill’s post war testimony agrees with that of his brother’s and places him in Normandy, specifically in St. Mere-Eglise on D-Day fighting in the hedgerows and later in Cherbourg before leaving with the 505th PIR.

All of this together provides irrefutable evidence that Bill was in the Normandy invasion. To get there he must have been assigned to a unit. The questions of which unit, what its mission was, and when he arrived will be covered in the next post.

Like Alain Chesnel, I owe my own thanks to Bill and Henry. Their testimonies helped to confirm Bill’s presence as a member of the 82nd airborne invasion force in Normandy. Their relationship was a close one, but that’s not very surprising since they were first brothers of blood and later brothers in arms. Sadly, they have both since passed on. Bill passed away on February 13, 2008 aged 85 and Henry more recently on August 20, 2011 aged 90. May God rest their souls and may their legacy endure.


Henry Bill_Heston2

Clark Brothers: William (Bill) on left & Henry Clark Jr. on right. England early August 1944

Source: Author’s Collection

© Copyright Jeffrey Clark 2013 All Rights Reserved.

Meaning of GO 33 WD 45 on a WWII Veteran’s Discharge

There are many posts made to Internet forums with a question about what “GO 33 40 WD 45”  (or some similar entry) means in field 32. BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS of a World War II Veteran’s Honorable Discharge/Report of Separation.

For instance, my Uncle’s Honorable Discharge  states in 32. BATTLES AND CAMPAIGNS  “GO 33 40 WD 45  Naples-Foggia Sicily Normandy Rhineland Ardennes Central Europe”

So what does GO 33 40 WD 45 actually mean?

Let’s break it down:

GO 33 40 is General Order 33 and General Order 40

WD 45 is War Department 1945

Putting it all together so far, it says:

General Order 33 and General Order 40 published by the War Department in 1945”.

Bronze Star Campaigns

Usually the “GO 33 40 WD 45” (or similar entry) is followed by the names of specific campaigns.

In my Uncle’s case it states:

“Naples-Foggia Sicily Normandy Rhineland Ardennes Central Europe”

These are the names of Bronze Service Star campaigns. These do not indicate that a Bronze Star for Valor was earned by the soldier. Bronze Star Medals are awarded for valor in combat. Instead they mean that the soldier was physically present in the location of combat with his unit during the Bronze Service Star campaign *. In the case of my Uncle his Honorable Discharge states that he was awarded the European African Middle Eastern (EAME) Campaign Medal with “6 bronze stars” which means he was awarded one Bronze Service Star for each campaign he was present in including: Sicily, Naples – Foggia, Normandy, Rhineland, Ardennes, and Central Europe.

* Note: The eligibility rules for award of a Bronze Service Star in WWII in relation to the EAME medal are detailed in Army Regulation 600–8–22  downloadable from http://www.apd.army.mil/pdffiles/r600_8_22.pdf 

Online Location of the General Orders of the War Department for World War II

The General Orders of the War Department for 1945 are available online from  can be downloaded from the Historical General Orders/Special Orders Collection at the Maneuver Center of Excellence Libraries which includes the Donovan Research Library, the US Armor Research Library.


The link General Orders 1945 is not the correct link.

The correct link to these General Orders is General Orders 1945 copy 2.  :


Depending on your Internet connection the PDF document can take a long time to load. It’s best to right click and save it instead of clicking on the link and letting it load in your browser.

Once you have it loaded you can read virtually all of the General Orders published by the War Department in 1945.

General Order 33 WD45 for instance specifies the geographical combat zone, and time limitation for the following Bronze Service Star Campaigns related to the European African Middle Eastern Campaign (EAME) medal:

  • Egypt-Libya
  • Air offensive Europe
  • Algeria-French Morocco
  • Tunisia
  • Sicily
  • Naples-Foggia
  • Rome-Arno
  • Normandy
  • Northern France
  • Southern France
  • Germany
  • Ardennes.

General Order 40 amends GO 33, WD 1945 by updating the conditions of the Rome-Arno, and Ardennes campaigns and adds in the Rhineland campaign.

Other General Orders contain information on designated Bronze Service Star campaigns for the rest of the Theaters of Operation in WWII, including the Asiatic-Pacific Theater.

Names of WWII Soldiers Awarded the Bronze Star, Silver Star etc. are available 

These General Orders of the War Department 1945 contain a lot of other useful information including citations with names of those who in 1945 earned the: Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Flying Cross, Silver Star Medal, Bronze Star Medal, the Legion of Merit, Air Medal, Soldier's Medal, and unit awards such as the Distinguished Unit Citation (AKA Presidential Unit Citation PUC).

This information is also available for the years 1942 – 1944 in the General Orders of the War Department 1942 – 1944 available again through Maneuver Center of Excellence Libraries at:


The direct link is General Orders 1942-1944:


Other War Department General Orders for other years can be downloaded from this site. Many of them contain individual and unit awards that were given after World War Two was over, so be sure to check them out if your interested.

© Copyright Jeffrey Clark 2013. All Rights Reserved.