CLARENCE ERNEST JORDET
Branch: U. S. Army
Status: Killed in action
Date of Service: WWII
Home Town: Gonvick
1. WWII book containing a passage about Pvt. Jordet’s death at Normandy 2. Clarence Jordet’s headstone in Normandy American Cemetery, France.
Clarence Ernest Jordet was born May 3, 1915 in Mayville, North Dakota to parents Oscar Ole and Mary Hannah Olson Jordet. Mary was an immigrant from Norway who came over to the U.S. in 1892 and met and married Dakota Territory native Oscar, who was of Norwegian heritage as well. Oscar rented a farm in Viking Township of Traill County, North Dakota for many years and their four children were born here: Edwin (1911), Clarence (1915), Mae (1917), and Chester (1921). The children were baptized and confirmed at Aurdal Lutheran Church in Portland, North Dakota.
In 1939, Oscar moved the family to Eden Township, rural Gully, Minnesota. Clarence registered for the draft on October 16, 1940 in Eden Township. His address was Gonvick and he described himself as self-employed. He was 5’10 ½” tall, with blue eyes and blond hair, a good-natured farm boy who had never been far from home.
Clarence was inducted into the Army in July of 1942. His first military station was at Fort Knox, Kentucky, where he was assigned to the 58th Armored Field Artillery Battalion. The Battalion was an organic unit of the 5th Armored Division, which means it was a permanent part of the Division and provided a specialty service for them. After training at Fort Knox, orders came down to prepare to move to Camp A. P. Hill, Virginia, where they remained for nearly a month. Here Clarence’s unit received 18 brand-new Carriage 105 mm howitzer M-7s and orders for Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, an embarkation point for overseas.
Many were seasick on their voyage aboard the Santa Rosa, and no one had a clue as to where they were headed until the beautiful city of Casablanca was spotted on November 17th. After a three-month uneventful stay at Casablanca, the Battalion began movement to the front aboard trains and by truck convoy. They moved into their first combat position on the morning of March 20th, 1943 at Madene El Feds, Tunisia and fired their first combat rounds on an enemy observation post atop a hill crest. From Tunisia the Battalion chased Rommel until late in the night of May 9, 1943, when a cease-fire was ordered because the Germans had surrendered. The war in North Africa was over, but the invasion of Sicily was just beginning.
The Italian campaign was characterized by constant movement. From town to town, the opposition consisted mainly of Italians who offered light resistance as they frequently surrendered after two or three rounds from the Battalion’s guns.
On August 4th the Battalion had its first man killed by enemy action when the Battalion was shelled by the Germans as it was struggling to get into position up the rugged, rocky trail near San Stefano.
Near Brolo, Sicily, a battalion of German infantry and anti-tank guns was waiting for them and their relative good luck ran out. The total count of losses for the Battalion were 9 killed, 14 captured and 25 wounded. This was the Battalion’s last action in Sicily, and they remained in bivouac near Trabia in an olive grove until November, when the unit was transported to Glasgow for entrainment to England.
There the Battalion was billeted at Adderbury House, near Oxford, England, and the welcoming English invited them into their homes for a Christmas full of real Christmas spirit. War loomed on the horizon, however, and the Battalion was moved in March to Braunton for training at the Assault Training Center. The invasion of Normandy was taking shape.
The Battalion was loaded aboard the invasion ships on June 1st and in the early hours of June 5th sailed out into the Channel headed for the coast of France. The following passage was taken from “Highways of Hot Steel: The 58th Armored Field Artillery Battalion in World War II” edited by Fran Baker (Delphi Books ©2014).
“Omaha Beach will become, unquestionably, another glorious page in American history. But on the morning of 6 June 1944, it was a cold, wet, shell-splattered hell, and it will be forever etched as such in the memory of the men of the 58th who participated in that landing. The beach and defenses beyond the beach had been thoroughly bombed and shelled by both warships and guns on the landing craft. But as the small landing craft grounded and their ramps went down, a murderous crossfire from well-emplaced machine gun nests cut them down. Mortars and artillery fire crashed along the water’s edge, and men died in the water and they died on the shore. And all that long day, Death walked the beach at Vierville-sur-Mer.”
The book specifically mentions the death of Private Clarence Jordet. “Machine gun fire cut down the Battalion Commander, Lt. Colonel McQuade, and 1st Sgt. Hopkins as they struggled toward shore through waist-deep water. Lt. Russo was killed on the beach after assisting a badly wounded T/Sgt. Mason to shore. Lt. Grane was grievously wounded in the face, and two members of his party, Private Joslin and Private Jordet, were killed. Only one man out of this party walked off the beach.”
Clarence was buried not far from where he fell, in the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial at Colleville-sur-Mer. Memorial services for family, friends and the community were held at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church with the Rev. J. O. Javaag officiating. The Legionnaires took part and presented a color guard to bestow the military honors that Clarence Jordet deserved. He was 29 years old.