June 13, 2012
At the end of May I read on a Dutch Facebook-page that it is possible to adopt an American war grave. I immediately was very interested to do this so I contacted the responsible of the American Cemetery at Henri-Chapelle. The grave of Clemit Lipe is my very first adoption grave.
Before the war
Clemit Lipe was born on January 24, 1924 in St. Louis, Missouri in the United States. He had two brothers; Leo and Richard, and one sister; Cleo. Clemit also had a half-brother, Darwin Brock, he was the result of a love affair his mother had before she married Elzo Lipe. Darwin was raised by the mother and sister of Edna Jane Brock, Clemits mother.
St. Louis, Missouri
His mother, Edna Jane Brock, died on October 18, 1926. His father Elzo Lipe died on March 20, 1935. This means Clemit was an orphan since he was 11 years young.
Clemit and his family on mothers side had a difficult period, especially because his mother already had a child with another man.
Clemit Lipe attended 1 year of high school and worked in a textile factory.
He was single without dependents.
In the army
Clemit Lipe entered service from Jeffferson Barracks, Missouri on March 3, 1943 as a Private.
The Jefferson Barracks were founded in 1826 and is the oldest American military base west of the Mississippi that is still being used by the Army and the Air National Guard.
During WWII the camp received many American troops that were billeted, later it was the training location of the First Army Air Corps.
Jefferson Barracks location
At the moment I'm still researching his time in the army.
Midafternoon of March 9, the 309th regiment had closed in its assembly area east of Unkel. Then they talk about the area and the objective, Bruchhausen in the vicinity of hill 424. But F company had run into an artillery barrage. It was coming from a hill directly to its front, the company's immediate objective.
Tanks and tank destroyers supporting the company turned back. The men managed to get to the woods where they reorganized. Then they began advancing towards hill 305 in the face of machine gun and burp gun fire. Half way up mortars, artillery and machine gun fire opend up from the flanks.
Three men attempting to maintain liasion between the platoons became casualties. One of them could have been Clemit Lipe, unfortunately we can't be sure of that.
"First platoon, first platoon, Fox company, first platoon, hold your fire," shouted a voice in perfect English. The men were wise to this trick and ignored the advice.
The enemy appeared to be withdrawing. Suddenly he wheeled about and his tanks maneuvered to the flanks. German soldiers leaped off the tanks and sprayed the men with automatic fire. Company F appeared to be surrounded. The mortarmen dropped their mortars and grabbed M1's. Men from company A tried to break through the left flank to come to their aid. Company E fought its way through the right flank and made contact with the beleaguered men.
The companies were running low on ammunition. Many of the men had eaten only one unit of C rations in the last 2 days. The men were ordered to withdraw to Bruchhausen. After reorganization they returned under cover of darkness to take up defensive positions.
Clemit Lipe died on this day. He is buried at the Henri-Chapelle American cemetery in Hombourg, Belgium, where they laid him to rest on March 15, 1945.
The family was contacted several times asking them if the body of Clemit must be transferred overseas back to the USA or if he should be interred on an American cemetery in Europe. No reaction came so his body remained in Belgium.
Henri-Chapelle American cemetery and memorial, Hombourg, Belgium
Darwin Brock, Clemits half-brother, was only about 5 kilometres away from him the moment Clemit died. Darwin was in the US Army Air Corps that moment.
309th Infantry Regiment, 78th Infantry Division
309th Infantry Regiment
78th Infantry Division
Technician Fourth Class
The 78th Infantry Division was first activated on August 23, 1917 at Camp Dix in New Jersey. The division existed of four infantry regiments: the 309th, 310th, 311th and 312th and three artillery regiments: the 307th, 308th and 309th.
It was until only May 1918 before the division was transferred to France to fight in the First World War. The 78th fought in three major campaigns: the Meuse Argonne offensive, the St. Mihiel offensive and the Lorraine offensive. Two soldiers of the division were awarded the Medal of Honor during these campaigns. It was demobilised in June 1919.
The division was reactivated during World War II on August 15, 1942 at Camp Buttner, North Carolina. It was designated as a replacement pool division. It remained like that until March 1, 1943 when the division was restored to field duty and to its training regimen.
After two years as a training division, the 78th embarked for the European Theatre from New York on 14 October 1944, whereupon they sailed for England. They arrived on 26 October 1944, and after further training crossed to France on 22 November 1944. On November 27 they were moved to Tongeren in Belgium and on the 7th they were transferred to Rotgen in Germany.
The 309th Infantry Regiment relieved the 1st Division in the region of Entenpfuhl between December 1 and 12. On December 13 they attacked the villages of Simmerath, Witzerath and Bickerath and were fighting for Kesternich. On December 18 Gerd von Rundstedt launched a counter attack in the region of Monschau.
The 78th Division held the area it had taken from the Siegfried line despite many violent German attacks throughout the winter. The Division attacked Kesternich on January 30, 1945 and took it February 2. On February 8 they took Schmidt and one day later they took the vital Schwmmanauel Dam.
During the coming weeks they crossed the Ruhr and the division joined the offensive of the First and Ninth Armies toward the Rhine on February 28. On March 8 the 310th Regiment crossed the Rhine over the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen, the first troops to cross in the wake of the 9th Armored Division.
That unit, attached to the 9th Armored and acting as motorized unit had driven across Germany capturing Euskirchen, Rheinbach and Bad Neuenahr. The 78th Division expanded the bridgehead, taking Honnef and cutting part of the Autobahn on March 16.
From April 2 until May 8 the division was active in the reduction of the Ruhr Pocket and at VE-day it was stationed near Marburg. It remained on occupation duty in Germany until it was deactivated on May 22, 1946.
The division took part in three major campaigns; Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central-Europe, and this during 125 days. Only one soldier received the Medal of Honor (John Edward Kelley of the 311th Infantry Regiment). In total 1.427 soldiers were killed in action, 6.103 got wounded, 231 were missing and 385 were taken prisoner of war.
In April 2013 I first had contact with Nick J. His ex stepfather was Clemits brother, Richard. Apparently Richard never spoke of Clemit. This was just a small trail, but at least it was something.
I wrote more letters to possible relatives in 2013, but unfortunately I didn't get any reply.
In 2015 Andi provided me another address of a possible relative. I wrote a letter to Petty Vern, and he appears to be the cousin of Clemit Lipe. He first made contact through his nephew Jerry Couch, then he wrote me a letter. In this letter he added a picture of Clemits mother and an article about the dead of Darwin Brock, Clemits half-brother, who was in the region of the location where Clemit died at that moment. Darwin survived the war and made it to Colonel in the army.
I got some more information from Jerry Couch and Petty Vern. I want to thank them both for this.
Technician Fourth Class, U.S. Army
Service # 37605610
309th Infantry Regiment, 78th Infantry Division, F Company
Entered service from: Jefferson Barracks, Missouri on March 3, 1943
Born: January 24, 1924 in Missouri
Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri
Died: March 9, 1945
Status: killed in action (KIA)
Buried: Plot H, row 5, grave 66, Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery, Hombourg, Belgium
Awards: Purple Heart
Father: Elzo Lipe (1894-1935)
Mother: Edna Jane Brock (?-1926)
Brothers: Leo (1921-1986), Richard (?-?)
Sister: Cleo (?-?)
- http://www.wwiimemorial.com NARA
- http://www.wwiimemorial.com overseas American cemeteries
- Andi Hunting
- Jerry Couch
- Petty Vern
- Die Hard, history of the 309th Infantry Regiment
Any information you can provide me about this soldier, can be mailed to me (nicklieten @ hotmail.com). Thank you!