PRIVATE FIRST CLASS CLIFFORD WILLIAM ALDRICH was born in Michigan in 1926 to Clifford Chilson Aldrich and his wife Clara. His father was born in North Uxbridge, Massachusetts, his mother was born in Holland and brought to America as a young girl. Clifford C. Aldrich was living and working as a shipyard machinist in Detroit as early as September, 1918.
Clifford W. Aldrich was the middle child, coming after sister Jane and before baby sister Donna Aldrich. All the Aldrich children were born in Michigan. The family moved to Worcester, Massachusetts shortly before the April 1930 Federal Census was enumerated. Clifford C. Aldrich was then supporting his family as an insurance agent.
By April of 1942 the family had moved to New Jersey, taking up residence in Merchantville at 20 Chapel Avenue. Clifford C. Aldrich worked at the New York Shipbuilding Corporation shipyard in Camden. Clifford Aldrich had two years of high school and worked as a driver before being drafted.
Clifford W. Aldrich was inducted into the United States Army at Fort Dix NJ on March 28, 1944, and was eventually sent to join 3rd Squad, First Platoon, Company I, 386th Infantry Regiment, 97th Infantry Division at Fort Leonard Wood, MO. Before going overseas Private First Class Aldrich was trained as a rifleman and to use the Browning Automatic Rifle, or BAR, the light machine gun used by the United States Army during World War II.
In July 1944, the 97th Infantry Division moved to Camp San Luis Obispo, CA for amphibious training, and then on to Camp Cooke, CA in September 1944. In February 1945, the 97th Infantry Division left for the East Coast to embark for Europe. On February 13, 1945, the unit arrived at Camp Kilmer, NJ, and on February 19, 1945 the 97th departed from New York for Europe, arriving on March 1, 1945 at Le Havre, France, proceeding to Camp Lucky Strike, on their way to the front. The 97th Infantry Division left Camp Lucky Strike on the 27th of March. crossing the German border the next day, passing through Aachen.
On March 28 1945 the 97th Infantry Division crossed the German border west of Aachen and took up a defensive position along the west bank of the Rhine River opposite Düsseldorf, engaging in patrolling. The 97th entered the battle of the Ruhr pocket, crossing the Rhine near Bonn on April 3, and taking up a position on the southern bank of the Sieg River. It crossed that river, April 7 and was in constant action for the next 9 days, culminating with the capture of Dusseldorf on April 16, 1945.
PFC Clifford W. Aldrich was killed in action in fighting between the Sieg River and Drabenderhohe on April 10, 1945. He is buried in the Netherlands American Cemetery at Margraten, Netherlands. His parents and sister Donna were still living in Merchantville as late as 1947. They returned to Michigan in the 1950s.
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