Private James S. McClure (1908–1944) 

James S. McClure (Courtesy of the Delaware Public Archives)
ResidencesCivilian Occupation
Scotland, Canada, New York, New Jersey, DelawareCarpenter
BranchService Number
U.S. Army42115371
EuropeanCompany “K,” 334th Infantry Regiment, 84th Infantry Division
Military Occupational SpecialtyCampaigns/Battles
745 (rifleman)Rhineland

Early Life & Family

James Stuart McClure was born in Glasgow, Scotland. He was the son of James and Jean McClure (née Irving). McClure had at least six siblings: an older brother, an older sister, three younger sisters, and a younger brother. On April 9, 1920, the McClures sailed from Liverpool aboard the S.S. Metagama, arriving 11 days later at St. John, New Brunswick, Canada. According to their immigration paperwork, the family intended to settle in Toronto, Ontario, where Jean McClure’s brother, John Irvine, lived. On June 10, 1921, the family was recorded living in Toronto on the 1921 Canadian census. The McClure family was Presbyterian according to their immigration paperwork and census records.

In early February 1922, when McClure was 14, his family apparently crossed the border illegally into the United States. He was not listed in any known American census records, but McClure stated that he lived in New York City and Delaware during the next 22 years. After leaving school, he worked as a carpenter.

When McClure registered for the draft on October 16, 1940, he was self-employed and living on New York Road in New Gretna, New Jersey. The registrar described him as standing approximately five feet, nine inches tall and weighing 140 lbs., with brown hair and blue eyes. By the following year, McClure had moved to Wilmington, Delaware. He listed his address as 1812 Washington Street when he married his wife, Lydia (1901–1998) in Winchester, Virginia, on September 20, 1941. The couple did not have children.

The McClures subsequently moved to Airport Road in New Castle, Delaware. Journal-Every Evening reported that before entering the military, “McClure had been employed by the J. A. Bader Company.”

Military Career

Although he was already 35 years old, McClure was drafted in 1944. He went on active duty in the U.S. Army on April 11, 1944, at Fort Dix, New Jersey, and attended basic training at Camp Croft, South Carolina. According to his wife’s statement to the State of Delaware Public Archives Commission, Private McClure was stationed there from April 17, 1944, through August 21, 1944. He then transferred to Company “B,” 33rd Infantry Battalion, Army Ground Forces Replacement Depot No. 1, at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland.

Prior to going overseas, Private McClure briefly returned to Canada on furlough on August 29, 1944. Upon returning to the United States at Niagara Falls, New York, that same day, McClure presented “permission of Commanding Officer to visit Canada for the purpose of legalizing his entry into the U. S.” McClure then applied for U.S. citizenship at the District Court of the United States in Baltimore, Maryland, on September 25, 1944. His petition was quickly granted.

McClure’s naturalization paperwork (National Archives via

Private McClure’s Military Occupational Specialty (M.O.S.) was 745, rifleman. According to his wife’s statement, Private McClure shipped out aboard the R.M.S. Queen Mary from the New York Port of Embarkation on October 12, 1944, arriving in Scotland six days later. He was not able to linger in his home country for long. Although his subsequent movements are unclear, by the following month he was in the 36th Replacement Battalion on the continent.

On November 14, 1944, Private McClure was one of seven riflemen who joined Company “K,” 334th Infantry Regiment, 84th Infantry Division, under the command of Captain Eldridge C. Dudley (1917–2006).  The company had arrived at Omaha Beach on November 1, 1944, and was stationed at Mechelen, Netherlands, when McClure joined. The unit would soon enter combat along the German border, well-fortified by the Westwall (Siegfried Line).

Morning report recording Private McClure’s arrival at Company “K,” 334th Infantry Regiment (National Personnel Records Center)

On November 16, 1944, Company “K” traveled to Scherenseel, Germany, by motor convoy. Upon arrival there, they marched to Frelenberg, a town just to the south of Geilenkirchen. The following day, Company “K” went into the line near Immendorf.

Battlefield conditions negated much of the Allied advantages in mobility and firepower. German pillboxes were immune to all but the heaviest American artillery. This problem was compounded by supply shortages. Artillery shells were particularly scarce at the front. Fall rain had also turned the ground very muddy, frequently making it impossible for armor to support infantry attacks. German pillboxes typically had clear fields of fire, with little cover available to attacking infantry.

The 334th Infantry launched an attack on Prummern during the morning of November 18, 1944. They were supported by British tankers from the Sherwood Ranger Yeomanry, though the armor soon bogged down in the mud. Initially, McClure’s 3rd Battalion was in reserve. 1st and 2nd Battalions reached Prummern but street fighting continued through the night, with searchlights reflected off the clouds providing some illumination. German armor, supported by aircraft, counterattacked that night, but were neutralized by the regiment’s antitank guns and mines.

Riflemen from Company “A,” 333rd Infantry Regiment, 84th Infantry Division, with a tank from the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry in Geilenkirchen, Germany, on November 19, 1944. The censor obliterated makings on the back of the tank on this print. (Official U.S. Army Signal Corps photo 111-SC-229411 by W. C. Sanderson, National Archives)

The regimental commander, Colonel John S. Roosma (1900–1983), ordered 3rd Battalion to join 1st Battalion’s on the attack at noon on November 19, 1944. 1st Battalion was unable to extricate itself from Prummern, so that afternoon 3rd Battalion advanced on Beeck behind a rolling barrage provided by British artillery. Heavy German fire stopped Companies “I” and “K” just south of Beeck. An anticipated German counterattack never materialized, and 3rd Battalion continued their attack on the afternoon of November 20, capturing three pillboxes.

3rd Battalion received orders to attack again at noon on November 21, 1944, but German fire from high ground made it impossible to advance. The 334th Infantry’s 1st and 2nd Battalions went into reserve, but McClure’s 3rd Battalion remained in the line, now attached to the 405th Infantry of the 102nd Infantry Division. 3rd Battalion attacked again on the evening of November 22, but made little headway.

Assault on Beeck

In a paper that he wrote later while attending Advanced Infantry Officers Class No. 1 at Fort Benning, Georgia, during 1949–1950, Private McClure’s company commander, Captain Dudley, stated that since Company “K” was to spearhead the following day’s attack, they were pulled back to Prummern for “a hot meal, cleaning muddy weapons and reorganizing the platoons.” 1st Platoon and the mortar section of the 4th Platoon had already been decimated. 2nd and 3rd Platoons and the machine gun section of 4th Platoon were understrength but operational. It is unclear what platoon Private McClure was assigned to.

The men of Company “K” got six hours’ rest off the line. The line of departure was located on what the men had nicknamed Mahogany Hill. Captain Dudley described the situation as of November 23, 1944:

          Having been constantly in the attack since the 19th of November, the 3rd Battalion, 334th Infantry, had gained a position on the reverse slope of MAHOGANY HILL, northeast of PRUMMERN, by the evening of the 22nd of November.  Company L occupied the reverse slope and Companies I and K were closely echeloned to the right rear.

          The 3rd Battalion was attached to the 405th Infantry and was to attack on the left flank of the Regiment which had the mission of clearing BEECK and securing the high ground beyond.  Company K would lead the attack initially by passing through Company L on MAHOGANY HILL.  The initial objective was two pill boxes which presently confronted the Battalion.  The ultimate mission was to pass around the left of BEECK and join the 405th Infantry on the high ground beyond.  Company L was to secure the line of departure, which was the crest of MAHOGANY HILL, and be prepared to follow closely behind Company K to assist in accomplishing the final mission.  Company I which was reduced in strength to approximately platoon size and had no officers, was to be attached to Company K.  All heavy weapons of Company M were to deliver long range supporting fire during the initial phase of the attack.  Thereafter, the machine gun platoons were to follow in close general support and the mortar platoon was to continue to support from positions in rear of MAHOGANY HILL.

The first objective was a pair of enemy pillboxes. The plan was for 2nd Platoon to advance on the right against the first pillbox and 3rd Platoon to advance on the left against the second pillbox. A special platoon, dubbed Support Platoon, had been organized from the remnants of Company “I” and would “remain in [the] rear of MAHOGANY HILL to be prepared to assist in the assault of either platoon.”

After a hot breakfast at 0500, Company “K” was issued rations and extra ammunition before arriving at the line of departure at 0700. The attack began on schedule at 0725, with American artillery opening up on the pillboxes and laying a smokescreen. 2nd Platoon advanced on its pillbox, suppressing the Germans inside with continuous automatic rifle fire. Once they got close enough, the bazooka teams began launching rockets at the embrasure while riflemen advanced close enough to throw a smoke grenade inside. Two Germans were killed and five more captured, with one American casualty.

3rd Platoon had a scare when, after advancing about 150 yards, an enemy tank opened fire. Mysteriously, the enemy tank subsequently withdrew, and 3rd Platoon continued their assault. Fortunately, the second pillbox’s embrasure was not well situated to repel the attack and approximately 15 enemy soldiers inside surrendered, with 3rd Platoon suffering only two casualties during the assault.

Soldiers from Company “C,” 335th Infantry Regiment, 84th Infantry Division, on November 29, 1944, near Beeck (Official U.S. Army Signal Corps photo 111-SC-197232, National Archives)

The attack had begun very smoothly, but Captain Dudley had orders to continue the advance to Beeck. He wrote that after capturing the two pillboxes, “the plan of attack was not outlined in detail except that the attack would continue down the narrow finger to the final objective.” The neighboring 405th Infantry had not advanced and Captain Dudley discovered that numerous pillboxes—and the tank that attacked 3rd Platoon earlier—covered the road to Beeck.

A bazooka team attempted to knock out the enemy tank, but only provoked it to begin shelling the captured pillbox. Captain Dudley was unable to raise the battalion commander or the artillery liaison officer via radio, so Company “K” had no choice but to sit tight.

Around 1000 hours, Company “L” moved up to join Company “K,” followed by the 3rd Battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Norman D. Carnes (1911–1990). Carnes and Dudley discussed the situation. Colonel Carnes decided

to continue the attack after calling for more smoke on the enemy positions to the left front of the Battalion. […] Companies L and K would attack abreast; Company K on the right.  Company M’s machine guns were to continue in close general support and the 81 [mm] Mortar Platoon was to continue to support from its position in rear of MAHOGANY HILL.  The enemy tank, apparently out of ammunition, would be by-passed.  A misting rain had begun[.]

As many as nine mutually supporting pillboxes were in the way. While they might not be able to aim effectively through the smoke, they would not be suppressed with artillery or covering fire that had proved so effective capturing the first two. Captain Dudley recalled that he objected to the planned frontal assault, and

in a low voice that no one else could hear, [I] told the Battalion Commander that it would be suicide to continue the attack as planned.  The Battalion Commander, his face the very picture of determination and yet his voice betraying a slight hint of sadness said, “Yes, I know, and I will lead the attack”.

Artillery laid the smokescreen at 1100 and the attack resumed. Company “K” advanced “with the 3rd and 2nd Platoons abreast, the 2nd Platoon on the right” and Support Platoon behind 2nd Platoon. 500 yards into the advance, a German machine gun opened fire, but the rounds went over their heads. 200 yards further on, however, “the enemy let go with the full force of his fire power.”

Captain Dudley wrote:

On the left flank and front numerous automatic weapons opened up from the pill boxes beneath the road bed.  On the right flank the tracer fire ceased and low grazing fire began mowing the tops of the sugar beet plants.  The Company was definitely caught in a vicious three-sided cross fire.

Company “K” losses were terrible. Dudley continued:

          The simultaneous fires of the many enemy pill boxes and emplacements gained a certain amount of surprise and a heavy toll in casualties was taken before the trips could take advantage of the scanty cover available.  The fire of the machine guns was so low that some men were hit while lying flat on the ground.  After the Company was well pinned to the ground the enemy dropped in a few mortar rounds for good measure[.]

Company “K” was pinned down for the next eight hours. The survivors could scarcely move an inch without provoking a burst of machine gun fire. Captain Dudley could not raise any of the platoon leaders or Lieutenant Colonel Carnes. He wrote that after nightfall, he was able to move forward at 1900 hours to find all four of his platoon leaders had been hit, three of them fatally. (The unit’s morning reports do not quite confirm that recollection, indicating that one of the platoon leaders, 2nd Lieutenant Wallace W. Barnes, was unhurt, though the company’s executive officer, 1st Lieutenant Harry E. Queer (1919–1944), was among those killed.)

Captain Dudley ordered his men to move the wounded back to the safety of the second pillbox, avoiding enemy patrols as best they could—sometimes by playing dead—since the company’s weapons had largely been rendered inoperable by the mud. Dudley wrote that all known survivors of Company “K” had been evacuated by 0200 hours on November 24, 1944. The battalion had nothing to show for their losses other than the capture of the two pillboxes the previous morning.

Private McClure was listed as missing in action in Germany as of November 24, 1944. Officially, that was his date of death, although Captain Dudley’s narrative strongly suggests that McClure was killed the day before, November 23, 1944. McClure’s body was recovered near Beeck around December 12, 1944. No specific cause of death was recorded on his burial report beyond that it occurred in combat. On December 15, 1944, he was buried in the U.S. Military Cemetery Margraten, Netherlands.

Company “K” had gone into combat with a strength of 183 men on November 19, 1944. During the next 11 days, the unit recorded nearly 200 casualties: 24 killed, 47 wounded, 35 captured, and 93 suffering from illness, cold weather injuries, or exhaustion. That the unit was able to remain in combat at all was only because about 122 replacements (and a handful of soldiers returning from the hospital) flowed into the unit during the same time.

Morning report recording that Private McClure was missing in action (National Personnel Records Center)
Morning report confirming that Private McClure was missing in action (National Personnel Records Center)

An inventory of Private McClure’s personal effects included a Johann Faber fountain pen, a Bible, a pair of souvenir shoes, and his naturalization certificate.

After the war, Private McClure’s widow requested that he be buried at a military cemetery overseas. He was reburied in the permanent Margraten cemetery, now known as the Netherlands American Cemetery (Plot A, Row 9, Grave 9). Lydia McClure did not remarry.

Private McClure’s name is honored on his widow’s headstone at Fairview Cemetery in Knox, Maine, and at Veterans Memorial Park in New Castle, Delaware.



McClure’s widow’s statement and Virginia marriage certificate appear to both contain false information about her. She gave her maiden name as Lydia Ellen Neal, stated that she was born in Rockport, Maine, around 1907, and had not been previously married. It appears that she was actually born as Lydia Katainen in Finland in 1901. It is unclear if the deception was due to immigration issues, to conceal the fact that she had been previously at least once (in Maine in 1919), or for some other reason.


McClure’s widow’s statement and Virginia marriage records both state that the McClures were married in Winchester, Virginia, on September 20, 1941. Curiously, McClure’s draft card from October 16, 1940, listed Lydia Ellen McClure as his wife. Although the card was annotated with his change in address to New Castle, the note about her as a point of contact appears original to the card. Presumably, they were a couple but not legally married by the fall of 1940.

Date of Death/Company “K” Casualties

The discrepancy about Private McClure’s date of death is representative of the difficulty of accurate recordkeeping under combat conditions. Although it sometimes took a few days for details about casualties to reach the company clerk, ideally such information would be backdated to the correct date. However, when casualties were heavy, it may have been not at all clear when a particular soldier became a casualty. Morning reports never explicitly admitted when the precise date of a casualty was unknown.

Whether or not Captain Dudley’s assessment of 50% casualties in the November 23 attack is too high or not, his company’s morning reports’ figures are undoubtedly too low. Including backdated entries, only 10 casualties were listed on November 23, 1944: one killed, four wounded, one missing (captured), two cold weather injuries, and two combat exhaustion). 22 casualties were reported on the day that Private McClure was reported missing, November 24, 1944: one killed, two wounded, 11 injured or sick (mostly trench foot), two combat exhaustion, and six missing (of whom two had been killed and three captured).

The November 25 morning report (and backdated future morning reports) recorded seven men missing (six of whom had been killed and one captured). On November 26, four were reported killed and four missing (of whom two were dead and one wounded). The morning reports and after action report gave no indication that Company “K” was in combat from the evening of November 24, 1944, until November 30, making it likely that at least some of the casualties reported for November 25–26 actually occurred on November 23–24. Indeed, only two officers were listed as casualties during November 23–24, despite Captain Dudley’s assertion that four were killed or wounded in that attack. (One officer was listed as missing as of November 22, and two more on November 25.)


Thanks to the Delaware Public Archives for the use of their photo.


“2 Delaware Men Killed; 5 Wounded.” Journal-Every Evening, December 27, 1944.

Draper, Theodore. The 84th Infantry Division in the Battle of Germany November 1944–May 1945. The Viking Press, 1946.

Dudley, Eldridge C. “The Operations of Company K, 334th Infantry (84th Infantry Division) Near Prummern, Germany During the November Offensive 23 November – 24 November 1944 (Rhineland Campaign) (Personal Experience of a Company Commander).” World War II Student Paper Collection, Advanced Infantry Officers Class. Maneuver Center of Excellence Libraries, Fort Benning, Georgia.

Hoy, Charles E. “After Action Report of 334th Infantry Regiment, 84th Infantry Division, APO 84, U. S. Army.” Headquarters 334th Infantry, December 3, 1944. World War II Operations Reports, 1940–48. Record Group 407, Records of the Adjutant General’s Office. National Archives at College Park, Maryland.

James S. McClure Individual Deceased Personnel File. Courtesy of U.S. Army Human Resources Command.

“Lydia Ellen McClure.” Maine Sunday Telegram, December 6, 1998.

Maine Marriages 1892-1996 (except 1967 to 1976). Maine State Archives, Augusta, Maine.

Manifests of Alien Arrivals at Buffalo, Lewiston, Niagra Falls, and Rochester, New York, 1902–1954. Record Group 85, Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787–2004. National Archives at Washington, D.C.

McClure, Lydia. James Stuart McClure Individual Military Service Record, April 3, 1945. Record Group 1325-003-053, Record of Delawareans Who Died in World War II.  Delaware Public Archives, Dover, Delaware.

Morning Reports for Company “K,” 334th Infantry Regiment. November 1944 – December 1944. U.S. Army Morning Reports, c. 1912–1946. Record Group 64, Records of the National Archives and Records Administration. National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, Missouri.

Ocean Arrivals, Form 30A, 1919–1924. Library and Archives Canada.  

Petitions For Naturalization, 1903–1972. Record Group 21, Records of District Courts of the United States. National Archives at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Sixth Census of Canada, 1921. Library and Archives Canada.

Virginia Marriages, 1936–2014. Virginia Department of Health, Richmond, Virginia.

World War II Army Enlistment Records. Record Group 64, Records of the National Archives and Records Administration. National Archives at College Park, Maryland. WWII Draft Registration Cards for New Jersey, 10/16/1940–3/31/1947. Record Group 147, Records of the Selective Service System. National Archives at St. Louis, Missouri.

Last updated on April 19, 2023

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