Mansfield Primrose Veteran Relives WWII POW Experience

By | November 7, 2015
Clarence Scofield

Clarence Scofield at Primrose

Mansfield, OH, Retirement Communities

Clarence Scofield was nearly shot by a German SS lieutenant in the closing days of WWII.

Scofield and the surviving members of his platoon had just surrendered when that lieutenant ordered the guards to move away so he could start shooting.

“It seemed that is was all over when another German soldier ran toward us with his arms waving in the air. He proved to be a white-haired colonel who must have been 50 years old,” Scofield said. “That SS officer was just a kid, and the colonel gave him a chewing out like I’d never heard before. The lieutenant stomped away in a huff, and our German-speaking member told us later that the colonel pulled rank and forbade the lieutenant from executing us.”

Sgt. Scofield and his men spent the last couple days of WWII in an impoverished POW camp, living on a diet of rutabaga soup, black bread and boiled potatoes. “Our overall treatment was good,” he said.

Scofield joined the Army at age 18. After basic training, he joined Company B of the 142nd Army Specialized Training Infantry Battalion. He was slated to be an engineer, but the Battle of the Bulge in Europe changed that, and Scofield was shifted to the 386 Regiment of the 97th Infantry Division. Combat began March 28th and would continue day after day until the day Scofield was captured during the Battle for the Ruhr Pocket in Germany. He called April 17, “the worst day of war for me.”

One evening after his platoon had dug in, Scofield was nearly hit by an enemy shell, which turned out to be a dud. His platoon fought off several German attacks, but the most memorable day for Scofield came when he and his men walked into a German village and encountered women dressed in long white dresses and colorful jackets and blouses. Then two elderly men dressed in black suits covered with sashes and medals presented themselves to the weary American riflemen. “It was like something out of ‘The Stent Prince,’” Scofield said. “They approached us and it turned out that they were the town mayor and band director, the official welcoming committee.”

Soon after, Scofield and his buddies were cut off and pinned down in a building by machine gun fire. A German 88 shell hit the building and knocked Scofield unconscious. When he awoke, he found that he had become a prisoner of war, but his time in the POW camp near Prague, Czechoslovakia, was short. Soon after he arrived in camp, the Russian army came calling and the prisoners joined them, heading west toward American lines.

During a skirmish with the Germans, Scofield said a Russian officer had his men charge. Forty of them were lost in the process. Eventually, Scofield and his mates broke away from the Russians, captured a German staff car and headed in the direction of American troops. The war ended a few days after that.

A trip home on a packed Liberty Ship was slow and nasty, he said. But once home, he was given one month of liberty to see his family before eventually being discharged. With the help of the new G.I. Bill (of Rights), Scofield attended Baldwin Wallace College, where he earned a degree in English. He was a school teacher for eight years before taking an accounting job with Lise Technologies in Cleveland. He worked there for 30 years before he met and married Barbara in 1955. The couple had three children and four grandchildren.

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