Clarence H. Juech
Biography: Clarence Howard Juech was born on January 8, 1923, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was the son of Richard Juech and Elsie Reiche and graduated from Wauwatosa High School in 1941. He continued his education at the Milwaukee School of Engineering from August 1941 to December of 1942, and then worked for the Heil Company in Milwaukee as a tool room keeper.
Clarence was drafted on August 6, 1943, and sent to Camp Grant in Illinois. A month later, he was in North Camp Hood, Texas and assigned to Company D of the 129th TDTB (Tank Destroyer Training Battalion). In January 1944, he joined the Headquarters Company of the 704th Tank Destroyer Battalion, which was training at Camp Maxey, TX, at the time. They were finally sent to Camp Miles Standish, Massachusetts, for final preparations before going overseas.
The unit shipped out from the Boston port on February 27, 1944, and arrived in Liverpool, England, on March 13th. For the next four months, they received additional training in the United Kingdom. Clarence shared a memory with his family that in early June of 1944, he was on guard duty in England. He remembered seeing a large number of planes flying overhead and knew something big was happening. It was only later that he found out that the planes were part of the Allies invasion of Normandy, commonly know as D-Day, June 6th. It was over a month later that the personnel of the 704th boarded LSTs and landed at Utah Beach on July 12th and 13th.
The 704th was first unit in the ETO (European Theater of Operations) to be equipped with M18 tank destroyers and participated in the Cobra breakout at the end of the month. They advanced into Brittany and then raced east across France, passing north of Orleans. They crossed the Moselle River to Luneville in early September and remained in the general area through October.
The 704th fought in the Morhange region in November and crossed the Saar River by month’s end. They were deployed to the Ardennes on December 19th and fought around Bastogne in January, 1945. They then moved back south, advancing into Germany near Sinz in February, fighting through the Siegfried Line and into the Saar-Moselle triangle. Supporting the drive to Bitburg in March, they reached the Rhine River by mid-month. Crossing the river on March 24th at Nierstein, the unit roared east to Gotha by April 4th, and passed through the Harz Mountains to Bayreuth, in late April. They made a brief stop at Ohrdruf and saw the atrocities which the unit’s history states that it:
“gave them a better understanding of what they were fighting for and a determination to finish the job of defeating Nazi Germany. Quickly!”
Clarence brought home a number of photos and negatives from the Ohrdruf camp and later donated them to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The 704th finally entered Czechoslovakia at Volyne on May 6th and the war ended two days later.
Clarence received credit for each of the unit’s five campaigns including Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe. He was awarded the EAME, the WWII Victory and the Good Conduct Medals. He also shared in the unit’s award of the Distinguished Unit Citation and Croix De Guerre.
Because of Clarence’s later entry into the Army, he was not able to rotate home with some of the longer-serving soldiers. He was assigned to the 144th Armored Signal Company of the 4th Armored Division for some period with service under the 83rd and 90th Infantry Division during the occupational period. He finally shipped home in December, 1945, and was discharged on the 28th at the rank of Private First Class.
Now back in the U.S., Clarence set his sights on continuing his education and used the G.I. Bill to begin studies at Purdue University. He graduated in 1950 with a degree in Electrical Engineering. While in school, he also married the former Doreen C. Knippel on November 23, 1946, in Wauwatosa, WI. Doreen was the daughter of Roman Knippel and Alvera Vowinkel and born in Milwaukee as well. The new couple would make their home in Wauwatosa and have a son they named Jim.
Clarence found work with with the Allen-Bradley Company in Milwaukee and remained with them for 34 years, retiring in 1984. In his spare time, Clarence enjoyed gardening, bowling, model railroading and stamp collecting. He was a member of the American Legion, the Professional Society of Engineers and the 10-year group from Allen-Bradley.
Clarence passed away on March 6, 1986, and was buried in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I want to thank Clarence’s son, Jim, for providing the information and photos used in this tribute. Jim also shared additional photos his father had taken of 704th personnel.