Gephart, Clyde T. (701st)

Clyde T. Gephart 1Clyde T. Gephart

Biography:  Clyde Thomas Gephart was born on September 12, 1918, in Frederick, Washington County, Pennsylvania. He was the son of William A. Gephart and Josephine M. Shaw and attended local schools through the 9th grade. His enlistment record indicates that he was working as a miner, or as a mine equipment operator, prior to the war. 

Service Time:  Clyde entered the service on April 11, 1942, at Pittsburgh, PA, and after his basic training, he was assigned to the Reconnaissance Company of the 701st Tank Destroyer Battalion. He served as a platoon leader for the unit.

The unit shipped out from the New York port on May 31, 1942, and arrived at Belfast, Northern Ireland, on June 11th. Companies B and C, along with one platoon of Recon Company, participated in the Operation Torch landings on November 8th, near Oran, Algeria. Advancing toward Tunisia, beginning November 16th, the battalion reached North Africa on December 10th. While in Tunisia, they were usually attached to the 1st Armored or 1st Infantry Divisions, during actions at El Guettar, Faid Pass, Sidi Bou Zid, Sbeitla, Hill 609, and Mateur.

Letter home from North Africa

Clyde T. Gephart 2It is interesting that in the letter Clyde wrote home, he is requesting that a protractor and scale would be purchased for him. These items would help him to calculate more accurately the correct angles for shooting their TDs. Depending on the unit, many of the TDs were used as artillery and the accuracy of their shots would be critical.

The 701st shipped to Italy in October 1943, and entered the line in the Pagnataro area. Their TDs operated largely as artillery and for much of early 1944, the battalion was attached to II or VI Corps in Cassino sector. They were then shipped to the Anzio beachhead in February 1944, and supported the 1st Armored Division during their breakout in late May, entering Rome on June 4th. The unit pushed north to the Arno River and crossed on September 1st, and then reached the Florence area.

They spent the winter training and firing artillery missions and supported the 10th Mountain Division’s drive into the Po River valley in April 1945. It was during this drive that on April 21st, the unit documentation identifies that the 1st Platoon Leader was killed and the platoon Sergeant, believed to be Clyde T. Gephart, was SWA (Seriously Wounded in Action). At the time, they were in the vicinity of Bomporto, Italy. After spending time in the hospital overseas, he shipped home on July 18th and was discharged on September 11th, at Walter Reed General Hospital in Washington D.C.

The unit received credit for campaigns in Algeria/French Morocco, Tunisia, Naples/Foggia, Rome Arno, North Apennines and the Po Valley. Clyde received the Purple Heart and left the service at the rank of Sergeant.

Very little is known about Clyde’s life after the war but we do know that he was married to the former Aretta Belle Zehfuss who had been born in Maryland and was the daughter of Robert G. Zehfuss and Mary Elizabeth Kelly. The new couple would go on to have a family.

Clyde T. Gephart 3Clyde passed away on October 20, 1994, and was buried in the Fort Jones Cemetery in Fort Jones, California. I want to thank Tom Sullivan for providing the photos of Clyde and his letter. I also want to thank Find A Grave contributor Suzie, for the use of the grave marker photo.