Crithon D. Clayton
Biography: Crithon Daily Clayton was born on September 1, 1909, in Person County, North Carolina. He was the son of Atlas Jones Clayton and Nannie Lou Mooney and attended Brookland School through the 9th grade. He worked as a farmer prior to the war.
Service Time: At the age of 33, Crithon volunteered to serve in the Army on March 16, 1942, at Fort Bragg, NC. He was assigned to Company B of the 773rd Tank Destroyer Battalion and during his training, he qualified as a Marksman with the M1 Rifle and received the Motor Vehicle Driver Badge. He specifically served as assistant driver and radio operator in a TD.
The 773rd shipped out from the New York port on January 29, 1944, and arrived at Gourock, Scotland, on February 7th. The unit moved to a position near Dorchester in Dorset County and helped clean, build, camouflage, staff and organize three marshalling camps containing 25,000 men. These men would later be part of the D-Day landings in Normandy. The camps had been set up for the purpose of feeding, supplying, entertaining and guarding the combat troops.
The unit landed at both Utah and Omaha beaches on August 8th equipped with M10s. They saw their first real action at Le Bourg St. Leonard, beginning on August 17th during the envelopment of the Falaise Pocket. Advancing to the Moselle River sector via Paris, they later fought at Luneville and the Foret de Parroy. They supported the capture of Metz in November and General Order #250 of the 90th Infantry Division, issued on December 31st identifies that Crithon D. Clayton was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry. We do not have information regarding the specifics of his actions but we believe they occurred during the month of November while in the vicinity of Metz and the Moselle river. The photo above is Crithon receiving the Silver Star on March 26, 1945, at Groslangenfeld, germany, from Major General Lowell W. Rook commanding general of the 90th Infantry.
The 773rd joined operations against the Siegfried Line along the Saar River in December and were ordered to the Ardennes on January 6, 1945, fighting through the Siegfried Line in February. General Order #112 was issued on February 9th and identifies that Crithon was awarded the Bronze Star for actions in France. The unit reached the Rhine at Koblenz on March 16th and crossed the Rhine on March 23rd and 24th at Oppenheim. The unit helped capture Darmstadt and Frankfurt before driving across Germany to Czechoslovakia, beginning on April 1st. They finally cleared the Czechoslovak-German border area southward and were near Petrovice when the war ended.
Crithon shipped back to the U.S., arriving on April 12th and was assigned to the TG & FA Training Detachment of the Tank Destroyer School at Camp Hood, Texas. He left the service at the rank of Technician 5th Grade on September 25th while at Camp Hood. In addition to the Silver and Bronze Stars, he received the EAME Medal and was authorized to wear the Distinguished Unit Badge in recognition of the 773rd’s Unit Citation. They received the award for their actions in the Argentan-Falaise pocket from August 17th to the 22nd 1944. He also received credit for three of the unit’s campaigns, including Northern France, Ardennes-Alsace and Rhineland.
Once back in North Carolina, he went back to his former occupation of farming. In 1949, Crithon married the former Gladys Robertson who was born in Halifax, Virginia. The couple had three children, Quinton, born in 1950, Gail in 1953 and Jennifer in 1957. The family made their home in Roxboro, NC.
Crithon passed away on October 31, 1984, after a long illness and was buried at the Person Memorial Cemetery in Person County, NC. I want to thank Crithon’s daughter-in-law, Geneva, for providing the information and photo of Crithon for this tribute. I also want to thank Jesse Julian for the grave marker photo.
In addition to Crithon’s service, his younger brother Willie served as a paratrooper and was dropped behind enemy lines before the D-Day invasion. His sister Christean initially worked as a machinist at the Norfolk Naval Base but later joined the WACS (Women’s Army Corps) and served as one of the first airplane mechanics at the Herington Army Airfield in Kansas. When their father passed away, neither son was able to attend the funeral due to their overseas service commitments.