Clarence R. West
Biography: Clarence Ray West, “Ray”, was born on October 26, 1922, in Strong, Union County, Arkansas. He was one of six sons and one daughter born to Elmer Houston West and Pearl Anna McBroom. The family later moved to Spearsville, Union Parish, Louisiana, where he attended Spearsville High School, completing two years. His draft card, dated June 1942, indicates he was working at the Ozark Ordnance Works near El Dorado, AR.
Service Time: Ray entered the Army in 1942 and was eventually assigned to Company C of the 823rd Tank Destroyer Battalion. The 823rd trained at a number of military bases including Camps Bowie and Hood, Texas, and Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, where they were located prior to participating in the Louisiana maneuvers.
The unit boarded trains on March 9, 1944, enroute to Camp Myles Standish, and the Boston port, where they arrived on the 12th to begin their final preparations for the trip overseas. On April 6th, they loaded the U.S.S. Sea Porpoise and sailed for England, arriving in Newport, Wales, on the 17th after an uneventful trip.
After some additional training and a delay, they boarded three LSTs and landed on Omaha Beach, Normandy, France, on June 24, 1944. They were equipped with 3″ towed anti-tank guns and went into action within 24 hours of their arrival. Supporting the drive on St. Lô, they fought at Mortain in August and passed through Belgium and Holland, entering Germany on September 17th.
Fighting along the Siegfried Line in October, which included the encirclement of Aachen, the 823rd converted to M10 tank destroyers beginning in November, and shifted to the Ardennes in late December, fighting to eliminate the Bulge in January, 1945.
On December 18th, Company C guns were in place to the north and east of Stavelot, Belgium. During the ensuing actions, Company C continued eliminating German troops, and destroying their equipment, and the M10 crew that Ray was part of was credited with destroying four Panzer VI “King Tiger” tanks, belonging to s PzAbt. 501, at or around Stavelot.
They crossed the Roer River on February 24th and the Rhine River on March 24th. The unit raced eastward to the Elbe River, at Magdeburg, in April and finally began military occupation duties on April 21st. The 823rd received credit for the campaigns of Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe. Ray was awarded a Purple Heart medal for wounds received. He was also awarded the WWII Victory, EAME and the Occupation of Germany medals. He was discharged on October 30, 1945. On January 17, 1946, he re-enlisted and was discharged on June 8, 1947. We believe he left the military at the rank of Corporal.
We do not have any information on Clarence’s life after he left the military. He passed away on June 17, 1993 and was buried in the Laran Cemetery, Laran, LA. Thank you to FindaGrave contributor Henry Osborn for use of the grave marker photo.