Staff Sergeant Allen D. Cloud
– Company M, 3rd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment –
Allen was born on the 2nd of June, 1914. On January 10th, 1941, Allen entered the U.S. Army in Trenton, New Jersey at the age of 26. According to Allen he was “selected” by Selective Service. He was then sent to Fort Dix, New Jersey as a Private First Class. 10 days later Allen was transferred to Fort Bragg, North Carolina for infantry training and took part in the “Carolina Maneuvers”.
In February / March 1942 he completed NCO school and had furlough visits to Delaware
when not on guard duty. A month later he met Father Tim Andrysiak, chaplain with I, K, L and M Companies of 3rd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment. Father Tim began his overseas duty in November 1942 with the invasion of North Africa and in the 1943 invasion of Sicily. He remained with the troops through many battles and they respected him for this. Many wrote home about him, including Allen.
After ten days as machine gun instructor at Camp Bradford, Virginia, Corporal Cloud “shipped out” with the 9th Infantry Division across the Atlantic on the Susan B. Anthony (4-tier bunks); part of a 100 ship convoy in nine column as part of Operation Goalpost, the US landing of Major General George S. Patton’s Western Task Force at Mehdia on the Atlantic coast of Morocco in ‘Operation Torch’ on 8 November 1943.
Operation Torch was the three-pronged amphibious invasion of Morocco and Algeria. Patton’s force made three separate landings—all within an hour of each other and in total darkness—to guarantee an open supply line across the Atlantic. One force would land near the port of Safi, one hundred forty miles southwest of Casablanca. The second landing (27 ships with 9000 men), Operation Goalpost, was commanded by Major General Lucian Truscott Jr. and had the mission of seizing the strategic Port Lyautey (now Kenitra), sixty miles northeast of Casablanca, and the Citadel fort (Kasbah) at Mehdia. These troops included the 9th Infantry. The third force, which Patton himself commanded, would land at Fedala, a small port eighteen miles northeast of Casablanca
M Company (in Lt. Col. John J. Toffey’s 3rd Battalion), part of Operation Goalpost, landed at Port Lyautey, Morocco, and saw its first combat on this day, for which they would receive the Combat Infantry Badge. The 3rd Battalion took heavy artillery fire on the night of November 9. M Company came under both artillery and machine gun fire. They dug foxholes with helmets and knives since they had no entrenching tools. The main objectives were protecting airfields at Port-Lyautey and at Sale, 25 miles south, near Rabat. To reach them the troops would first have to take the coastal village of Mehdia and the town of Port-Lyautey five miles inland. The troops’ landing had gunfire support from the USS Texas. The fighting ended on November 10, 1942. The three-day fight for Mehdia and Port Lyautey had cost 79 American lives, with 250 men wounded. The unit spent the next few months in the area living in tents and working with the local population, as well as doing border guard duty with Spanish Morocco to the North.
The 60th Infantry Regiment spearheaded the November 1942, invasion of French Morocco at Port Lyautey in Operation Torch, winning the arrowhead assault landing device in an action which laid the basis for its nickname ‘Scouts Out’. At the time of the invasion, there was great confusion among the Navy coxswains about the landing sites. They either placed their units in the wrong sector, or put them on the beaches very late. The 60th, for example, landed at 05:30, 40 minutes late, giving the defending Vichy French time to organize. The 1st Battalion landed 2,800 yards north of their assigned beach, and were engaged by French light tanks once ashore. The 2nd and 3rd Battalions were strafed by French planes. Company E, 2nd Battalion, was stopped completely at a strongpoint, the Port Lyautey lighthouse. The 2nd Battalion’s eventual objective was to take an ancient fortress, the Kasba. Once the landing points were completely secured, engagements were fought between small units and opposing batteries. The regiment culminated its successful North African campaigns with a defense on 18 April 1943 (Easter Sunday) against a massive German attack, and earned a Presidential Unit Citation. The Germans hit the “Go Devils” from all four sides with 2 full battalions of infantry supported by artillery. After a four hours attack that failed, the Germans threw in the towel, leaving 116 dead, 48 wounded, and many prisoners in American hands.”
By the end of January, 1943, the German 21st Panzer Division, under Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, had grown to more than 100,000 in Tunisia. To liberate Tunisia, the Allies conducted a different kind of campaign. Axis air power in Sicily made an amphibious assault too risky. The Allied troops must advance overland—into terrain much different than what they had found in Morocco and Algeria.
After defeats against Germany’s General Field Marshall Rommel, Allied forces had retreated to the two passes on the western arm of the mountains into Algeria, at Sbiba and Kasserine. The 9th infantry began moving from Oran, Algeria, to Kasserine, Tunisia on a 100-hour 900-mile forced march on slippery, winding roads. The ground in Kasserine Pass was wet and spongy from heavy rainfall. On February 19, 1943, Rommel launched what would become the Battle of Kasserine Pass. After two days of rolling over the U.S. defenders, the Afrika Korps had suffered few casualties, while the U.S. forces lost 6000 men and two-thirds of their tanks. The defeat of U.S. forces at Kasserine Pass by Rommel’s Afrika Korps in February underlined the general and specific weaknesses of U.S. troops and leaders.
Command of the new U.S. II Corps in Tunisia (six divisions, including the 9th) passed to George Patton, with Omar Bradley as assistant Corps Commander. Patton pushed his men to fight and dress like the best soldiers in the world—including neckties in the heat of North Africa. But heavy rains stopped his tanks and trucks for two days.
Pattton planned a two-pronged attack to the sea. The 9th Infantry Division (under Major General Manton S. Eddy) would make its first attack as a unit on the south, while the 1st advanced on the north. The 9th would be making its first attack at night, a difficult tactic in the easiest terrain and in the rocky hills east of El Guettar nearly impossible for a unit with only five months’ experience. The 60th attacked the Station de Sened and the Maknassey Pass. The town of Maknassy was surrounded on three sides by mountains firmly held by Germans. The plain in between offered scant cover for the Allies.
March 29, 1943
During this time, the principal handicap was the almost complete lack of adequate maps. When the attack by the 9th Division was launched before dawn on the morning of March 28, three battalions of the 9th soon became lost, and two remained out of touch for 36 hours. For the next 11 days a bitter battle was waged for hills 290, 369, and 772. In nine days, the 9th Division alone lost 1812 killed, including 5 battalion commanders, 872 wounded, and 820 missing or ill. Nearly everyone in M Company had severe dysentery.
“At dawn on March 29 the battle was resumed. The Germans began shelling. One machine gun section captured eight German prisoners and turned them over to battalion. Two of the companies machine guns were knocked out by enemy artillery fire. The casualties began to climb. . . No ground was gained that day.” (The GI’s War).
Staff Sergeant Allen Cloud was awarded a Bronze Star for “heroism in ground combat” in Tunisia on March 29, 1943; by 2/4/44 executive order of President Roosevelt; actually not given until 2/14/51.
He also received a “Certificate of Commendation” signed by Major General Manton S. Eddy for “outstanding and especially meritorious service.” The citation stated that “During the engagement at Maknassy, Tunisia, Sergeant Cloud kept his section in position to cover patrols with his rifle company, despite intense artillery fire. He concluded his mission successfully. Such courage and devotion to duty are highly commendable.”
On June 2nd, 1943, Allen Cloud received his Purple Heart letter (on his birthday) for being wounded in action at Maknassy. He had been in Africa for 8 months. The victory in Tunisia came at a heavy cost: 70,000 Allied casualties. The US Army lost 2715 dead, 8978 wounded and 628 missing.
Sicily 9 July – 17 1943
As a result of his accomplishments in North Africa, General Patton was given command of the 7th Army (six divisions, including the 9th) in preparation for the 1943 invasion of Sicily (Operation Husky). Defending the island were two divisions of Germans and 200,000 of their uncertain Italian allies. The 7th Army’s mission was to protect the western flank of Montgomery’s British 8th Army as both advanced northwards towards Messina. The 9th remained in reserve in northern Africa on occupation and guard duty while the main body of the II Corps invaded Sicily. They were to relieve the 1st Division in Troina on August 1, capturing Cesaro on August 8, and ending up in Messina where they remained on guard duty until November 1943.
In Sicily the regiment continued its winning ways, culminating in the famous “Ghost March,” where the unit infiltrated enemy lines and broke open the last of the German resistance. The Regiment landed at Palermo, Sicily on 5 August. Their first combat action was the first of the infiltrations they would make in Sicily. The Regiment flanked the city of Troina, which forced the German artillery protecting the Infantry in the city to withdraw, allowing other U.S. divisions to easily swallow up the Germans in the city. Next, the Go Devils chased the retreating Germans east towards Randazzo. The pursuit was hindered by a number booby traps, demolitions, anti-tank and personnel mines, craters and blown bridges. Regardless, the 60th completed its flanking movement around Randazzo, which allowed its sister regiment, the 39th Infantry, to take the city. With Randazzo taken, the road to Messina was open; and the city was taken on 17 August. Rest and further training followed for some two months. On the 11th of November 1943, the 60th Infantry Regiment embarked for Winchester, England.
The 9th Infantry Division, minus Allen Cloud arrived in the UK on the 27th of November, 1943. Here they first occupied quonset huts at Crawley Court — a few miles from Winchester (Peninsula) Barracks. The 60th Infantry Regiment trained and rested at nearby Camp Bushfield until the early spring of 1944.
Allen Cloud got out of the hospital in Sicily after nine weeks with amoebic dysentery. He stayed in Sicily for a few days, before going back to Africa on a ship on December 26th, 1943. Several weeks later, Allen arrived in England and went to the hospital there. Here Allen was getting X-rays and stayed in the hospital from February 1944 through early July 1944, undergoing more treatment for his wounds, dysentery and “shell shock”, possibly at U.S. Army Rehabilitation Center in Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, England. He trained troops at the 9th Division Headquarters in England for the Normandy D-Day invasion in June 1944.
The 9th Infantry Division hit Utah Beach in Normandy on June 10th, 1944 (“D plus 4”), cut off the Cotentin Peninsula, drove on to fortified Cherbourg and penetrated the port’s heavy defenses.
Allen wrote down his thoughts to his friend Joseph Black in a series of V-mail letters:
June 8, 1944 – V-mail to Joseph Black from England
“As you know by now, the “Second Front” is now open. I may get to see some of the land you saw in the last war. I feel so good today I think I could walk all the way to Germany if they don’t have many hills over there. The news is very good. In fact I may get to ride most of the way. Uncle Joe, this is a very good time to be able to leave the hospital before the boys start to come in from the field. I had very good care this time and I feel fine. I hope to be with my Unit when you receive this V-mail. If working in a hospital is like being a patient in one, I couldn’t stand it. I’ve had all the hospitals I want for a long, long time. Give my love to all the Fagans. It won’t be long now.”
July 23, 1944 – V-mail to Joseph Black from England
“I am out of the hospital over two weeks now and I am coming along fine. I work a little more every day, soon I will be my old self once again. I went on a six mile hike the other day and I never had a bit of trouble with my stomach. I have taken all the medicine I can take, even German medicine. Now it will just take time. I don’t know how soon I will be able to get back to my unit. . . I am going to school now, but this will only last for a short time. Then I must go before an Army Doctor and have my stomach looked over to see if I’m able to stand Combat Duty once again.“
August 10, 1944 – V-mail to Joseph Black from England
“I am still in England and trying to get to my unit before this war is over. The news is very good. The Germans are on the run again today. A few “Buzz Bombs” are coming over but most of them are knocked down before they get to do any harm. Uncle Joe, with the news the way it is, the morale is very high here in England. Also the morale of the soldiers is getting better every day. It’s not the same talk as it was when Africa and Sicily fell. The boys know when this is over, they are going home. A few think they might be sent to the Pacific. A don’t think so. I believe when Germany is done, Japan will stop fighting over night.”
Allen found himself in Birmingham, England on June 30, 1945, waiting to be shipped home. 2 weeks later on July 17th, he left England for the US.
Staff Sergeant Allen Cloud was finally Honorably Discharged on July 25th, 1945 at Fort Dix, New Jersey.
In a letter dated December 12th, 1944, Allen wrote “I have over eighty days of front line to my credit. I think I went over eighty mountains too.”
Shell Shock Info from the Office of the Surgeon General.
Allen Cloud was dealing with the traumatic results mentioned in the text as “shell shock”. In 1943 most people were still using the WW I term “shell shock” to describe men who broke under the stress of combat and ceased to function as soldiers. British army psychiatrists insisted that a new label, which encouraged men to believe the condition was temporary and treatable, had to be devised. At first the term “Not yet diagnosed (nervous)” was used, but during the retreat to El Alamein, Egypt, cases were described as suffering from “exhaustion.” In their medical notes doctors still distinguish between simple fear states, anxiety neuroses and campaign neuroses that hit soldiers who had served in combat for several years, but battle exhaustion became the term of choice.
The United States Army arrived in North Africa completely unprepared for combat stress casualties. American psychiatrists had convinced themselves that personnel selection would eliminate men predisposed to “anxiety neurosis.” The shock of combat at Kasserine Pass and the battles for Tunisia shattered this illusion producing hundreds of psychiatric cases.
In addition to the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star, Allen also received the European – African – Middle Eastern Service Medal, the US Army Good Conduct Medal and the Combat Infantry Badge.
After the war, Allen was a greenhouse horticulturist for many years in Montchanin, Delaware.
Allen passed away on the 1st of October, 2000 and got his last resting place at the Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Bear, New Castle County, Delaware.
We will never forget the actions of Allen that resulted in our freedom today.
A special thank you to Mary Ann for sharing her father’s story and research.