Testimonies from the Midwest

 

Clinton L. Johnson, Co. B, 8th AIB, 20th Armored

Clinton L. Johnson, Co. B              Division patch         Photo of Clinton L. Johnson

Clinton L. Johnson was born on February 3, 1923, at Britton, South Dakota. Raised as a Baptist, Clinton was a truck driver for Standard Oil Company before entering the service on February 19, 1943.

Service Record: I was drafted on February 19, 1943 at Britton, South Dakota. I went to Fort Snelling for induction and then was sent to Camp Campbell, Kentucky, on March 1, 1943, and was assigned to the 20th Armored. I was sent to Europe in February of 1945. For the entire length of my service, I drove a half-track which contained a driver, squad header, platoon header, and ten riflemen. 

Camp Encounter: Although Clinton Johnson does not provide a direct camp encounter, he sent along a memoir written by Art Lynch, another 20th Armored Division veteran. An excerpt from his memoir includes the following recollection of Dachau liberation:

           ...Shortly after dawn on April 30, 1945, we headed northeastward along the river to a bridge at Dachau. In Dachau, we ran into the world's worst traffic jam, as three divisions tried to move southeastward through the town to get in position to attack Munich. The part of the convoy we were in, stalled along the road that passed the one and only entrance to the Dachau Concentration Camp.  To our left, there was a moat running parallel to the road. Beyond was a fenced-in area where scores of wood buildings stood in neat rows. To our right, there were many two story brick buildings, which we learned were SS barracks.

Our half track was stopped for about an hour about 30 to 40 yards away from the entrance to the concentration camp. I distinctly remember a concrete bridge crossing the moat from the road we were on to an arched building.              

Mr. Lynch goes on to say that others in the 20th Armored saw more of the liberation of Dachau than he did. In fact,  he wrote, "...a number of the men saw a photographer taking pictures and paid him fifty cents to send copies of the pictures to their homes." 

Later in his memoir, Mr. Lynch refers to an "elite concentration camp (really an internment camp) for American and British civilians, called Lager No. 7. A huge building on the edge of the business district housed 162 American males and 525 British males in relative comfort, considering wartime conditions (Per a document from the National Archives, dated May 8, 1945, referring to Laufen Internment and Tuberculosis Camp)... 

Several miles northwest of Laufen, at Lebanau, there was another concentration camp. This one housed 306 German women political prisoners and 198 German Jews (Per a document from the National Archives, dated May 8, 1945). ...The women were in good health and lived in clean barracks with bunks. The Jews looked like scarecrows and were cramped in three barracks buildings fitted with racks without mattresses. Orders came down to move the Jews out of their barracks, clean and delouse them (the Jews), send the sick to a hospital in Laufen and move the rest into some of the barracks occupied by the women. When they were moved out, a couple of guys donned gas masks and went into the emptied barracks. They found three dead bodies in the racks. The filthy barracks were burned.

 

After the War: Clinton Johnson  was discharged on February 6, 1946. He had this to say of his experiences:

 I worked for Northwestern Bell for 36 years. I married and have four children, ten grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. I retired on October 15, 1982 at Mitchell, South Dakota. Now I live in Sioux Falls but are shortly moving to Brandon, South Dakota.

 

Advice from a WW II Veteran to Today's Youth:

I don't believe that the USA should try to police the world. Let countries who have differences settle them themselves unless it violates our best interest. I don't believe in political wars.

The barbed-wire fence and a moat in Dachau

The barbed-wire fence and a moat in Dachau; photo courtesy USHMM

An American soldier stands guard outside of the Dachau concentration camp while survivors bathe in the moat

An American soldier stands guard outside of the Dachau concentration camp while survivors bathe in the moat; photo courtesy USHMM

Stalag VIIA identification tag

Stalag VIIA identification tag, courtesy  http://www.moosburg.org/info/stalag/bilder.html

US POWs from Africa (March 1943)

US POWs from Africa (March 1943); photo courtesy
http://www.moosburg.org/info/stalag/bilder.html

   http://web.tampabay.rr.com/20thad/