Staff Sergeant Clarence E. Weible (1919–1945)

Clarence E. Weible in front of the 306th Infantry Regiment headquarters (Courtesy of Sandra Weible Beakes)
ResidencesCivilian Occupation
Born in Pennsylvania, later moved to Maryland and finally DelawareFarmhand, horse trainer
BranchService Number
U.S. Army33199125
TheaterUnit
PacificCompany “L,” 306th Infantry Regiment, 77th Infantry Division
AwardsCampaigns/Battles
Bronze Star with oak leaf cluster, Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman BadgeGuam, Leyte, Okinawa
Clarence E. Weible (left) with his brother Frederick J. Weible in an undated photograph (Courtesy of Sandra Weible Beakes)

Early Life & Family

Clarence Ellsworth Weible (pronounced “why-bull”) was born in southeastern Pennsylvania on March 13, 1919.  He was the son of Frederick George Weible (a tinsmith for the Pennsylvania Railroad, 1880–1956) and Anna Mary Weible (née Williams, 1879–1925).  He had six older siblings (three half-brothers, one half-sister, a sister, and a brother).  The family was recorded on the census on January 8, 1920 living at 23 James Street in Fernwood Precinct, Upper Darby Township, Pennsylvania.

Clarence Weible and his sister Ethel circa November 1942 (Courtesy of Sandra Weible Beakes)

A June 29, 1949 article in The Gazette and Daily (York, Pennsylvania) described Weible as “A native Philadelphian, and a former resident of Stewartstown, [Pennsylvania,] he was the son of Frederick George Weible, an instructor at Admiral Farragut Naval Academy, Pine Beach, N. J. and the late Anna Mary Weible.”

At some point, Weible moved to Cecil County, Maryland, where he graduated from Elkton High School.  When he registered for the draft on October 16, 1940, he was living in Elkton and working for Van Reynolds, a farmer.  Weible was described as standing six feet tall and weighing 155 lbs., with black hair and blue eyes.  A July 3, 1945 article in Journal-Every Evening stated that Weible was a “former trainer for the race horses of James V. Stewart of near Elkton” before joining the military.  His enlistment data card stated he was a farmhand. 

Weible moved to Newark sometime during the next 18 months.  According to the Individual Military Service Record filled out by his wife for the State of Delaware Public Archives Commission, Weible’s last address before joining the military was 13 Continental Avenue in Newark.  Similarly, he was recorded as a resident of New Castle County, Delaware when he was inducted into the U.S. Army.


Clarence Weible at a stateside installation circa November 1942 (Courtesy of Sandra Weible Beakes)

Military Training & Marriage

Clarence and and his wife Hazel at their wedding on August 16, 1942 (Courtesy of Sandra Weible Beakes)

Private Weible joined the U.S. Army in Baltimore, Maryland on April 3, 1942.  According to his wife’s statement, Weible began his training at Camp Jackson, South Carolina.  Weible married Hazel M. Dickerson (a native of Newark, 1922–2005) in Columbia, South Carolina on August 16, 1942; a family photograph suggests the wedding took place at Camp Jackson.   According to his wife’s statement, Weible went on maneuvers in the Arizona desert and was stationed at Indiantown Gap Military Reservation in Pennsylvania prior to shipping out from San Francisco to Hawaii.  His only known unit was Company “L,” 306th Infantry Regiment, 77th Infantry Division (the “Statue of Liberty Division”), although the exact date he joined it is unclear.  The dates of his promotions are unclear, though he was a sergeant by December 1944.

The details recorded in Hazel Weible’s statement are consistent with his unit’s general movements.  The 77th Infantry Division was activated at Camp Jackson on March 25, 1942 and went on maneuvers in Louisiana in January 1943.  Beginning in March 1943, the unit continued training at Camp Hyder, Arizona and Camp Young, California.  Each of the division’s three regiments (305th, 306th, and 307th Infantry Regiments) spent the fall of 1943 training in the eastern United States, sometimes in separate locations, with Weible’s 306th Infantry Regiment going to the West Virginia Maneuver Area, Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, and Camp Pickett, Virginia.  The 77th Infantry Division headed back west in March 1944, staging at Camp Stoneman, California before shipping out from San Francisco on March 24.

Weible’s regiment arrived in Hawaii on April 1, 1944 and spent three months on Oahu preparing for amphibious and jungle operations.  Three months later, they shipped out for the Mariana Islands.


The Battle of Guam

Weible almost certainly entered combat for the first time on Guam.  A U.S. territory, Guam had been under Japanese occupation since December 10, 1941.  The 77th Infantry Division was assigned to land on the southern portion of the island along with the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade.  The 306th Infantry Regiment landed on White Beach 2 on the third day of the invasion, July 23, 1944, taking up positions guarding the beachhead. 

The 77th Infantry Division’s other two regiments, the 305th and 307th, did more fighting during the early part of the battle, but the 306th moved to assist them on August 1 and participated in several actions.  According to, Ours to Hold It High: The History of the 77th Infantry Division in World War II, 3rd Battalion repulsed an attack by Japanese tanks on the night of August 7–8, 1944, then mopped up scattered Japanese infantry on the way to Lulog.  Large scale fighting on Guam ended on August 10, 1944.

Clarence Weible with a jeep, date and location unknown (Courtesy of Sandra Weible Beakes)

The Battle of Leyte

The 77th Infantry Division shipped out of Guam on November 3, 1944, bound for New Caledonia to refit.  While in transit, on November 15, the division was diverted to participate in operations on Leyte in the Philippine Islands, where Allied forces had been in combat since late October.  After a brief stop at Manus in the Admiralties, the 77th Infantry Division began landing on Leyte on November 23, 1944.  The 306th Infantry Regiment landed on the east coast of central Leyte in the vicinity of Dulag.

Temporarily attached to the 11th Airborne Division, elements of the 306th Infantry Regiment (including Weible’s 3rd Battalion) fought the terrain as much as the enemy.  The authors of Ours to Hold It High wrote:

Because of the almost impassable condition of the few existing roads, supply was extremely difficult […] Native bearers were rounded up to hand-carry supplies across the 2,000 yards of rice paddies to the 3d Battalion. Tractors were borrowed from a Marine artillery organization to drag in supplied on sleds.

By early December 1944, Sergeant Weible was a light machine gun squad leader in Company “L,” 306th Infantry Regiment.  Since Company “L” was a rifle company, he must have been a member of the weapons platoon light machine gun section.  According to the table of organization, at full strength the light machine gun section consisted of 12 men:

  • Section leader (staff sergeant)
  • Messenger
  • Two five-man squads, each with squad leader (sergeant), gunner, assistant gunner, and two ammunition bearers

Both squads were equipped with a Browning M1919 .30 machine gun.

Weible earned the Bronze Star Medal with “V” device (signifying that it was awarded for an act of valor) in combat on Leyte.  The citation was quoted at length in a July 20, 1950 article in The Gazette and Daily:

For heroic achievement in connection with military operations against the enemy near [Burauen], Leyte, Philippine Islands, on December, 1944. [sic] Company L, 306th Infantry Regiment, moving through a cocoanut grove with little cover, came under very heavy machine gun [and] rifle fire from well dug-in concealed positions.  Sergeant Weible, light machine gun squad leader, finding that many of the men of his squad and his section leader had been wounded, assumed command and reorganized the machine gun section.  He then went into the area covered by enemy fire and retrieved a machine gun which had been dropped by a wounded man.  After this, he caused effective fire to be placed on that Japanese position.  His disregard for personal safety, his leadership and his willingness to face enemy fire were an inspiration to all men of his unit.

Weible earned an oak leaf cluster in lieu of a second award of Bronze Star Medal during a subsequent action (either later on Leyte or during the Battle of Okinawa), but the location and circumstances are unclear aside from it involving “ground combat against the armed enemy during the Western Pacific campaign”. 

According to Ours to Hold It High, on December 26, 1944, after about a month of tough fighting:

Every man in the Division had a turkey dinner.  It had been decided that for several reasons it would be better to eat Christmas Dinner on the same day the folks at home were enjoying theirs. Leyte was one day ahead of the United States on the calendar; and besides, the 25th had been a busy day.

The division was in combat on Leyte until February 5, 1945. 


Combat on Tokashiki & Ie Shima

Weible was promoted to staff sergeant on an unknown date.  It is also unknown if he remained with the platoon as the light machine gun section leader or switched to another duty.

Planning for Okinawa, the next operation, began even while the 77th Infantry Division was still fighting on Leyte; there was only a brief period allocated to rest, obtain replacement soldiers and equipment, and train before shipping out again in late March 1945.

The Kerama Islands had “suicide boat” bases similar to this one on nearby Okinawa (Official U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal A. Sarno, National Archives)

The 77th Infantry Division was ordered to capture a group of islands known as the Kerama Retto in preparation for invasion of nearby Okinawa.  The force began landing on March 26, 1945 (six days before the main invasion of Okinawa), encountering only light opposition.  1st and 2nd Battalions of the 306th Infantry Regiment landed on Tokashiki on March 27, 1945, with Staff Sergeant Weible’s 3rd Battalion following the following day.  There was little resistance from Japanese soldiers, but 306th Infantry witnessed the horrific sight of mass suicides by Japanese civilians.  The Kerama operation provided the Americans with a jumping off point for Okinawa and eliminated several Japanese “suicide boat” bases.  These speedboats were essentially the nautical equivalent of the infamous kamikazes.  2nd and 3rd Battalions left the island on March 29, 1945.

The 77th Infantry Division remained in reserve for two weeks after the Kerama operation.  On April 2, 1945, their transports were attacked by a group of Japanese suicide aircraft.  Staff Sergeant Weible was likely aboard the U.S.S. La Grange (APA-124) at the time, since another member of his battalion, Private 1st Class Max Drucker (Company “M,” 306th Infantry Regiment) was acclaimed for manning one of the ship’s 20 mm antiaircraft gun and shooting down one of the attackers.  The division suffered over 100 casualties in the attack. 

Ie Shima seen in an April 15, 1945 aerial photograph (Collection of Admiral H.W. Hill via Naval History and Heritage Command)

The 77th Infantry Division remained offshore until ordered to capture Ie Shima (Iejima), a small island northwest of Okinawa.  The 306th Infantry Regiment was earmarked for the beach designated Green T-1 on W-Day: April 16, 1945.  The landing that morning went smoothly, and the division methodically reduced Japanese pillboxes and caves and fought off small groups of infiltrators overnight.  One of the casualties was the famed journalist Ernie Pyle, killed by machine gun fire on April 18 while accompanying the 305th Infantry Regiment.  The climax of the battle for Ie Shima was April 21, 1945, with remnants of the Japanese garrison launching attack after attack throughout the day.  The men of the 306th Infantry Regiment performed mopping up operations until they left the island on April 26.

The authors of Ours to Hold It High wrote:

If morale is measured in terms of the willingness of troops to fight, with or without arms, and despite a hopeless situation, an inch by inch, cave by cave fight to the death, then the morale of the Japanese on Ie Shima was excellent. They defended well, utilizing what they had to the limited. That they lost Ie Shima can be attributed to a combination of factors: surprise, the Americans’ great advantage in weapons and equipment, the well coordinated sea-air-ground attack, the flexibility and mobility of American tactics, and the superior fighting ability of the American Infantry.


An April 13, 1945 photo of a beachhead on Okinawa (U.S. Coast Guard photo, National Archives)

Combat on Okinawa

After the end of the fighting on Ie Shima, Staff Sergeant Weible wrote a V-mail to his sister-in-law, Edna Weible on April 28, 1945:

I received your V-mail and was glad to hear from you. The mail situation has been pretty bad. I have received thirty seven letters in two mail call’s [sic] and this is the first chance I’ve had to write. They gave us some V-mail and several hour’s to write in.

I guess you have read in the paper’s that we are fighting again and where.  I received four letters from your hubby some four month’s old too. I wrote him a V-mail and will write a letter as soon as I can. It will take me a long while to get caught up and Lord know’s how many I didn’t receive.

I am fine so far and hope I can continue to stay that way. Take good care of yourself and be good. I was wondering when you were going to write.  Give my regards to Everybody.

Love, Brother Clarence

The 77th Infantry Division had been in combat during much of the preceding six months.  Still, with a grueling battle still in progress on the main island of Okinawa, staff began planning for a move there even while the division was still in combat on Ie Shima. 

The division was ordered to the area of the Maeda Escarpment, described in Ours to Hold It High as “a long, high, rocky ridge running west through the 27th Division and Marine sectors to the sea.  It dominated the terrain to the north for miles, and from its concrete, steel and rock observation posts, the enemy” could observe all activity in the surrounding area.

The authors of Ours to Hold It High continued:

The 306th Infantry Regiment, which occupied the center and left of the Division zone, had replaced the 383rd Infantry [Regiment] of the 96th Division on April 30th. The line ran along the small ridge to the east of the escarpment, crossed Highway 5, where it turned south around the foot of the right leg of the horseshoe of ridges to its front, and spread in an arc to the left across the open valley, onto the left, ridge, thence back to the outskirts of Korchi.

One problem was that “from a terrain standpoint the Division actually had thrust a salient well out to the front of the of the XXIC Corps line. This was necessary for defense, but it exposed the troops to fire from both flanks.”

On April 30, 1945, soon after returning to the front lines on Okinawa, Staff Sergeant Weible was struck in the abdomen by artillery shell fragments and killed.  Although the following account focused on the days that followed, the authors of Ours to Hold It High provide an idea of the situation that he and his regiment faced:

Japanese artillery fire at this time, the first days of May, was particularly intense and accurate. Every night the enemy would concentrate from 2,000 to 3,000 rounds on the front lines and the regimental CP [command post] areas just to the rear in the valley which ran east from behind the escarpment.

According to Ours to Hold It High, 3rd Battalion, 306th Infantry Regiment (including Company “L”) earned a unit citation “For preventing the enemy from recapturing an important position and paving the way for the ultimate destruction of the famed Shuri defensive position on Okinawa, Ryukyus Islands 29 April to 6 May 1945”.


77th Infantry Division cemetery on Okinawa (Courtesy of Sandra Weible Beakes)
Clarence Weible’s temporary grave on Okinawa (Courtesy of Sandra Weible Beakes)

Honors

Staff Sergeant Weible was initially buried in the 77th Infantry Division’s cemetery.  After the war, around June 1949, his body was returned to the United States and buried at Montrose Cemetery in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania.  Other members of his family including his parents also rest there.

During a 1950 ceremony at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, Major General Robert B. McClure presented Staff Sergeant Weible’s family with his medals, including the Bronze Star Medal with oak leaf cluster.  Accepting on his brother’s behalf was Frederick J. Weible (1916–2002), himself a veteran of the 88th Infantry Division and the 15th Air Force in the Mediterranean Theater.

Frederick Weible (accompanied by his wife Edna) receiving Clarence’s Bronze Star Medal from Major General Robert B. McClure (U.S. Army photo courtesy of Sandra Weible Beakes)

Staff Sergeant Weible’s decorations were as follows: Bronze Star Medal with “V” device and one oak leaf cluster, Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic–Pacific Campaign Medal with Arrowhead device (most likely earned on Okinawa, either for Tokashiki or Ie Shima) and four bronze service stars, World War II Victory Medal, Expert Infantryman Badge, Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert qualification badge with carbine and rifle bars, Marksman qualification badge with machine gun bar, and Philippine Liberation ribbon with two bronze service stars.

Clarence Weible awards presented posthumously to his family (U.S. Army photo courtesy of Sandra Weible Beakes)

Notes

Place of Birth

Weible’s draft card stated he was born in Fernwood, in Delaware County, Pennsylvania.  His widow stated that he was born in Philadelphia. The family was living in Fernwood in the months after his birth, but in the absence of his birth certificate it is impossible to know for certain that he wasn’t born in a hospital in Philadelphia.  Under Pennsylvania law, his birth certificate will not become a public document until March 19, 2024.

Brother’s Middle Name

For some reason, Weible’s father Frederick George Weible’s headstone gives his name as Frederick J. Weible (like his son’s).  While there are some variations in his name in other sources, all known sources (i.e. draft card, census records) give the elder Frederick’s middle name as G. or George, not J.

Census Records

To the best of my knowledge, Clarence E. Weible was only recorded on the 1920 census.  The census taker erroneously applied the last name of Weible’s half-sister Anna Helen Weldie (who was married but still living with the rest of the family) to the youngest five Weible children.

Individual Military Service Record Discrepancies

Family-supplied information does have its limitations and frequently includes errors.  The Individual Military Service Record filled out by Weible’s wife Hazel contains especially suspect information, so I have been reluctant to use the information it provides unless supported by other sources.  One particularly curious discrepancy is that his wife stated Weible joined the military in January 1941 in Elkton, Maryland.  Even odder, she listed his service number as 12934169.  That contradicts his known service number 33199125, which shows an induction date of April 3, 1942 (something also supported by newspapers accounts). 

No enlistment record for service number 12934169 is present in the National Archives enlistment record database, though about 13% of cards couldn’t be digitized.  A service number beginning in 12 would indicate a volunteer who joined the service in Delaware, New York, or New Jersey.  If his wife was correct (and I consider it unlikely), then Weible volunteered, was separated from the service and then was drafted in 1942 and assigned a new service number. 

Hazel Weible wrote that he first went into combat on Leyte on September 20, 1944 and that Staff Sergeant Weible “Received Silver Star on Saipan for heroic action in line of duty”, a claim repeated in the Delaware memorial volume.  The 77th Infantry Division’s first battle was Guam, not Leyte, and the division did not fight on Saipan at all.  Weible’s name was not on the list of divisional Silver Star recipients published in Ours to Hold It High.  It’s possible she confused the oak leaf cluster to his Bronze Star Medal with the Silver Star.

Weible’s widow remarried on November 18, 1945.

Grade

Oddly, Ours to Hold It High listed Weible as a corporal.  The official New Castle County casualty list lists him as a staff sergeant, as does his wife’s statement and a photograph of his temporary headstone.


Acknowledgments

Special thanks to Weible’s niece Sandra Weible Beakes for providing information as well as many of the photos accompanying this article. 


Bibliography

“3 From State Are Casualties On Okinawa.”  Journal-Every Evening, July 3, 1945.  Pg. 1 and 4.  https://www.newspapers.com/clip/54359305/clarence-ellsworth-weible-pg-1/, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/54359384/weible-pg-2/ 

Delaware Marriages.  Delaware Public Archives, Dover, Delaware.  https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/61368/images/TH-266-12664-17402-24

“Gets Posthumous Awards for Brother.”  The Gazette and Daily, July 20, 1950.  Pg. 22.  https://www.newspapers.com/clip/74572582/weible-bronze-star-medal/

Ours to Hold It High: The History of the 77th Infantry Division in World War II.  Infantry Journal Press, 1947.  https://archive.org/details/OursToHoldItHigh

“Sgt Clarence Ellsworth Weible.”  Find a Grave. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/54203019/clarence-ellsworth-weible

Stanton, Shelby L. World War II Order of Battle: An Encyclopedic Reference to U.S. Army Ground Forces from Battalion through Division 1939–1946.  Revised ed.  Stackpole Books, 2006.

“Table of Organization and Equipment No. 7-17: Infantry Rifle Company.”  War Department, February 26, 1944.  Military Research Service website.  http://www.militaryresearch.org/7-17%2026Feb44.pdf

United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920.  National Archives at Washington, D.C.  https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/6061/images/4385027_00456

U.S. WWII Hospital Admission Card Files, 1942-1954.  Record Group 112, Records of the Office of the Surgeon General (Army), 1775–1994.  National Archives at College Park, Maryland.  https://www.fold3.com/record/700974852/weible-clarence-e-u-s-wwii-hospital-admission-card-files-1942-1954

“War Dead Returned.”  The Gazette and Daily, June 22, 1949.  Pg. 16.  https://www.newspapers.com/clip/74590589/weible-body-returned/

Weible, Clarence E.  V-mail to Edna Weible, April 28, 1945.  Courtesy of Sandra Weible Beakes.

Weible, Hazel M.  Clarence Ellsworth Weible Individual Military Service Record, circa 1945.  Record Group 1325-003-053, Record of Delawareans Who Died in World War II.  Delaware Public Archives, Dover, Delaware. https://cdm16397.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p15323coll6/id/21301

World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. National Archives at Washington, D.C. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/6482/images/005267067_02466

WWII Draft Registration Cards for Maryland, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947.  Record Group 147, Records of the Selective Service System.  National Archives at St. Louis, Missouri.  https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2238/images/44015_05_00065-00104

World War II Army Enlistment Records. Record Group 64, Records of the National Archives and Records Administration.  National Archives at College Park, Maryland.   https://www.fold3.com/record/86887729/clarence-e-weible-wwii-army-enlistment-records


Last updated on June 5, 2021

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