My father, Marvin A. McClure, had the interest and foresight to write a McClure Family History that contained an itinerary of cousins Nathan McClure, Alexander McClure and David Blair, all of whom were members of the Sixth Michigan Cavalry during the Civil War. His itinerary enabled me to compile a reasonably accurate summary of their activities. Had any one of them left a diary or post-war memoirs, it would have been fascinating reading to those of us of the later generations.
These memoirs of World War II were written so that my sons, Randy, Gary, Craig and Mark and my grandchildren and those generations to come might have a somewhat detailed account of those war-time events that I witnessed or in which I participated. There is nothing unique about my experiences. Similar events happened to thousands of other American airmen during World War II. Hitler and his Nazi Germany were a collection of the most despicable regime of thugs and murderers in modern history with the exception of the Soviet Union. I shudder at the fact that for a time, my life was in that madman’s hands. The humble fact is that my presence or absence would have had no affect on the outcome of the war. I am very lucky to be alive. My survival was the luck of the draw. Having survived, I am proud to have been directly involved.
After fifty years one may suspect one’s memory. However, in 1956 I toured the route of our westward march in reverse from the woods near Branau, Austria stopped at the entrance to the aluminum factory southeast of Branau, drove along some of the roads we walked, passed Mauthausen and visited the site of Stalag XVIIB. I was reassured of the accuracy of my memories. Sites and vistas were as I remembered them. General James H. Kidd, commander of the Sixth Michigan Cavalry, wrote his memoirs “Recollections of a Cavalry Man” in 1908, forty-three years after the Civil War. He states in his introduction that the events of the war were etched in his mind with the clarity of photographic plates. The sights and sounds of World War II are also etched in my mind with the clarity of a photograph.
Donald K. McClure, Lt.Col.,
United States Air Force, Retired