Cassidy, Clyde

Clyde Cassidy was born January 31, 1925 in Barton, Vermont, not too far from where he lives today.  He grew up against the backdrop of the Depression, but as his father had steady work with the railroad conditions were not too bad for the family.  Clyde was in high school when the attack on Pearl Harbor took place; his older brother joined the Navy and volunteered for submarine duty.  Clyde followed him into the military two years later; he went into basic training and shipped overseas in 1943.  Clyde’s war would take place in the Mediterranean theater; he was in the 36th Infantry Division, 143rd Regimental Combat Team, and he saw action in Italy before being taken prisoner by the Germans.  His first action came in the form of a night patrol, and a week after that Clyde got caught up in the disastrous crossing of the Rapido River, and it was there that he became a POW.  Clyde and the other captured Americans were marched north, and on several occasions they came under attack by Allied planes, taking heavy casualties.  He was eventually incarcerated at Stalag IVb, and then Stalag IIb, though in both cases his stay was brief.  He spent the last year of the war on a work detail on a farm in northern Germany, near the city of Danzig.  He toiled alongside fellow POWs from the USSR and France, as well as women taken from the Ukraine and other locales occupied by the Nazis.  Clyde witnessed the brutality of the Gestapo and SS at this time, as prisoners were often taken away and executed – he and the other prisoners would hear the shootings at the nearby camps.  When the winter of 1944-45 came upon them the Red Army was closing in from the east, and the Allied POWs were forced on one of the notorious marches at this time.  Clyde managed to survive, and he credits this to his fellow prisoners – they all kept one another going.  One day the guards were gone, and not long after they saw GI signalmen at work:  they were liberated.  Not too long after they were flown to LeHavre to Camp Lucky Strike and after a few weeks they were on their way to New York.  Clyde made his way back to New England from there, still only 20 years old.  He reconnected with family, and found his own way in the rhythms of postwar American life.  Clyde Cassidy was interviewed over zoom by Scott Masters in the fall of 2022.