York County World War II vet during a shelling: ‘Don’t let one come on my head now, God’
Spring Garden Township resident Thomas W. Clarke, seen here in his military days, has written his World War II memoir ‘George S. Patton’s Typical Soldier.’ Background posts: York County sacrificed on homefront and war front and All WWII posts from the start and 20 questions and answers to prove your York County WWII smarts.
“Then we got into the rain of shells and had to hit the ground,” Thomas W. Clarke wrote in his recently released memoir.
“They would land on the right, then the left, or in front of us. What a helpless feeling it was, just to lie there and take it! It was then that I realized what an insignificant and unimportant bit of this universe that I was. What did it matter to the world, whether or not the next shell landed on my head and blew me to hell? But I lay there, pressing myself into the ground and praying that it wouldn’t.”
Wally Clarke wrote many things about his time in European combat in World War II… .
But this was among the most personal parts of his 145-page, hardcover memoir “George S. Patton’s Typical Soldier.”
Clarke has made a contribution in putting forth his memories in this form. It gives a soldier’s view of George Patton, popular with those under his command. And overworked oral historians are trying to get to the fast-disappearing military men and women who fueled “Greatest Generation.” His work reveals more than any oral history could record.
How did Clarke fare in this barrage?
Here are some excerpts of the rest of the story:
“The shells let up for a while, and we moved up a few more feet, only to have them come in again, heavier than before. This time, the shells landed on the right, closer than before. Then it happened! My leg went numb. There was no sensation of pain, but I knew I was hit!. Whether it was just a scratch, or my whole leg was gone, I didn’t know, but I didn’t dare lift up my head to find out, for the shells were landing all around me.
“Even when the shells did stop, I was afraid to look, for I was always afraid of losing a leg. But I did look – and it was there – so much so, in fact, that for a moment I thought perhaps just a flying clod or dirt had hit me; but no, there was a small hole in my legging. Next, was it broken? I saw up and put pressure on it. It didn’t hurt, so, I gingerly tried to stand. Hell, it was okay; I could even walk. But just then, another barrage came in and I had to hit the ground. “Don’t let one come on my head now, God. I’ve had enough.”
“And he didn’t.”
How to purchase this work
The 145-page hardcover book, published by American Historical Publishing of Lancaster, sells for $25. Those wishing to be placed on a waiting list for the second printing can contact Clarke at 717-848-2315. After the second printing is sold, the book will be available online for $40.
For more details on Clarke’s work, click here.