Homecoming for Sergeant Mitchell Moore

Mitchell Haygood Moore (1920-1944)
Killed in Air Combat over Germany,  November 26, 1944, World War II

Grave of Mitchell Haygood Moore, Union Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

Grave of Mitchell Haygood Moore, Union Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

Mitchell Haygood Moore, a young salesman from Sirmans, GA, was a son of Atticus H. Moore and Pearlie Belle Tomlinson.  In 1943, he married Mildred Lorene Clements, of Ray City, GA. His bride was a daughter of Alma and Hosea  “Hod” P. Clements.

Marriage announcement of Mildred Lorene Clements and Mitchell Haygood Moore. Clinch County News.

Marriage announcement of Mildred Lorene Clements and Mitchell Haygood Moore. Clinch County News.

Clinch County News
Friday, December 3,  1943

The marriage of Sgt. Mitchell Haygood Moore of Lanier county, and Miss Mildred Lorene Clements of Ray City, took place recently at the Methodist church in Ray City, Rev. L. D. McConnell officiating.  Sgt Moore is a son of Mr. and Mrs. Atticus H. Moore, former Clinch county residents who were cut off into Lanier when that county was formed in 1920. The bride is a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Hosea C. Clements of Ray City.

It was in the midst of WWII and Moore was as a Staff Sergeant in the Army Air Force.  Other Ray City AAF men included B-26 pilot James Swindle, B-24 pilot Max Maurice Johnson, and flying officer Jim Paulk.  Staff Srgt Charles B. Shaw, Jr., Ray City, served as a B-17 mechanic in the 8th Army Air Force, Snetterton Heath, England. Howell Shaw served at Sedalia Army Air Field and William C. Webb served in the Medical Corps of the Army Air Force. Lt. Jamie Connell, of Nashville, served as a  navigator-bombardier. Saunto Sollami served in the Army Air Corp and came to the area after the war.

Sgt. Moore was assigned  to the 854 AAF Bomber Squadron, 491st Bomber Group, flying as a crewman on a B-24 Liberator.  Some say he was a bombardier, others say he was a tail gunner. The 491st was one of seven Heavy Bombardment Groups – 488th through 494th – activated in the autumn of 1943.  By April of 1944, the 491st was  in England, and the group engaged in the long-range strategic bombardment of Germany.

A B-24 Liberator Bomber belonging to the 854 AAF Bomber Squadron. This plane was one of 15 B-24s was shot down on the Misburg Mission, November 26, 1944.

A B-24 Liberator Bomber belonging to the 854 AAF Bomber Squadron, 491st Bombardment Group. Of the 28 B-24s that flew the Misburg Mission, November 26, 1944, 16 were shot down. This plane was one of the losses.

In July 1944 the 491st Bombardment Group supported the Allied breakout at St. Lo and assaulted V-weapon sites and communications lines in France during the summer of 1944.  After August, 1944 the 491st concentrated its attacks on strategic objectives in Germany, striking communications centers, oil refineries, storage depots, industrial areas, shipyards, bridges and other targets in such places as Berlin, Hamburg, Kassel, Cologne, Gelsenkirchen, Bielefeld, Hanover, and Magdeburg; on one occasion the 491st attacked the headquarters of the German General Staff at Zossen, Germany.

The Misburg Mission ~ November 26, 1944

Destroying Germany’s petroleum production was a major Allied strategy to shorten the war.  One of the vital German petroleum plants was the large Misburg refinery with 1,060 workers, located about 5 miles east of Hanover, Germany.   On  November 26, 1944,  the 491st bomber group participated in the ninth bomber mission against the refinery at Misburg, part of a massive air strike against Germany by the American Army Air Force on that day.  Combined with other aerial engagements, the day would mark the second largest air battle of WWII.

WWII aerial reconnaissance photo of bombing of the oil refinery at Misburg, Germany.

WWII aerial reconnaissance photo of bombing of the oil refinery at Misburg, Germany. Image courtesy of San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive.

November 26 was to be a black day for the 491st.  Through a series of unfortunate incidents, the bomber group’s defensive integrity was disrupted and the group fell under heavy attack by large numbers of enemy fighters.  As fighter cover for the bomber group, 47 American P-51 Mustangs engaged with more than 250 Luftwaffe fighters in the German skies.

The 491st dispatched 31 B-24s on that day;  three turned back, 28 reached the target, 16 never returned.  According to the 491st Bomber Group website, Mitchell Moore was flying as a Left Waist Gunner on the Misburg raid.

Although more than half of its planes were destroyed, the group fought through the  German interceptor planes, and successfully bombed the target. For this action the group was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation.

Atlanta Constitution reports bombers lost in November 26, 1944 raid on Misburg oil refinery.

Atlanta Constitution reports bombers lost in November 26, 1944 raid on Misburg oil refinery.

Atlanta Constitution
November 27, 1944

U.S. Planes Shoot Down 122 Germans

1,100 Heavy Bombers Blast Misburg Oil; 700 Fighters Along

LONDON, Nov. 26. — At least 122 Nazi fighter planes of approximately 200 which rose to protect Germany’s largest natural oil refinery at Misburg were shot down in aerial combat todayby and American fleet of 700 fighters and 1,100 heavy bombers.

The American fighters reported downing 110 of the Nazi interceptors, while 12 were destroyed by bomber crews. The escort planes also destroyed seven German planes on the ground in strafing attacks.

Thirty-seven American bombers and 13 fighters were reported missing from operations.

But it was the third largest bag of Nazi fighters shot down in combat. Just last Nov. 2, American pilots picked off 134 enemy planes Merseburg oil center – 13 miles west of Leipzig – and Germany sacrificed 117 in the same area on Sept. 11.

A gigantic battle swirled through the skies over Misburg.

Through the dense clouds stained with exploding flak from hundreds of ground guns, American pilots engaged the Germans in temperatures ranging from 40 to 50 degrees below zero.

NINTH ATTACK

Today’s attack was the ninth on the Misburg refinery, which lies 15 miles east of Hannover and has a yearly production of 220,000 tons. It followed up yesterday’s raid by 2,000 American planes on the Leuna works at Merseburg, one of Germany’s largest synthetic oil plants. Only a dozen enemy fighters were encountered on the Merseburg mission

Mitchell’s plane was one of those which did not return from Misburg.  The war raged on, and at home in Ray City, friends and families grieved and waited for word of Mitchell Moore.

The Nashville Herald,
January 4, 1945

Missing In Action

The friends and relatives of S-Sgt. Mitchell H. Moore regret too know that he has been reported missing in action over Germany since November 26, 1944.
Sgt. Moore was an aerial (torn) receiving his training at (torn) Miss., Loredo, Texas, (torn), later leaving for overseas (torn) peka, Kansas in September (torn).
His wife if the former (torn) red Clements of Ray City (torn) the present time is with her (torn) Mr. and Mrs. H.P. Clements.

On April 11, 1945, The Atlanta Constitution reported that Sergeant Mitchell H. Moore had been classified as killed in action.

The following month, on May 8, 1945 Germany surrendered – It was Victory in Europe day.   After the surrender, a memorial service was held for Staff Sergeant Mitchell H. Moore.

The Nashville Herald
July 19, 1945

Memorial Service For S. Sgt. M.H. Moore

According to an announcement made this week by the family of the late S. Sgt. Mitchell H. Moore, a Memorial Service will be held in his honor on Sunday afternoon, July 22, at 3:30 o’clock at the Unity Methodist church near Lakeland.
S. Sgt. Moore was killed in action over Germany November 26, 1944. He was well and favorably known in this section and has many friends who regret his untimely death. All friends of the family and others desiring to do so may attend the services.

Transcription courtesy of Skeeter Parker

It would be four more years before Moore’s body was returned to the United States.  The return of the living and the dead was the post-war mission of  the U.S. Merchant marines, ships worked by men like J.B. Mitchell Sirmans aboard the armed merchantman SS Wheaton Victory or Brocy Sirmans on  S.S. William G. Lee.   Moore’s final voyage was aboard the SS Haiti Victory.

Remains of S Sgt Mitchell Moore returned aboard SS Haiti Victory, 1949

Remains of S Sgt Mitchell Moore returned aboard SS Haiti Victory, 1949

 

May 8, 1949, four years to the day after Victory in Europe was declared, the U.S. Army announced the body of S. Sgt Mitchell Moore was among those of 104 Georgians being returned by the SS Haiti Victory.

May 8, 1949, four years to the day after Victory in Europe was declared, the U.S. Army announced the bodies of 104 Georgians were being returned aboard the SS Haiti Victory, among them the body  of S. Sgt Mitchell Moore.

Atlanta Constitution
May 8, 1949

Bodies of 104 Georgians On Way Home From Europe

Remains of 104 Georgians, including 14 Atlantans, who lost their lives during World War II are being returned to the United States from Europe aboud the U. S. Army transport Haiti Victory, the Department of the Army announced.
Armed forces dead originally buried in temporary military cemeteries in France, Holland and Belgium are among those being returned. Next of kin will be notified in advance of the arrival of the remains at the Regional Distribution Center of the American Graves Registration Service.

Funeral services for Mitchell Moore were held at Unity Methodist Church, and the remains were re-interred at Union Church Cemetery (Burnt Church) near Lakeland, GA.

The Nashville Herald
June 16, 1949

S-Sgt. Mitchell Moore Returned to States for Burial

Funeral services will be held Sunday at the Unity Methodist Church of Crisp Community for Staff Sergeant Mitchell Moore, who was killed with his entire crew when their plane was shot down over Hanover, Germany, November 26, 1944. Sgt. Moore will be laid to rest at the Burnt Church cemetery.

Services will begin at 4:30 Sunday afternoon with the Rev. J. W. Herndon of Norman Park, and the Rev. Bishop of Lakeland, officiating.

Sgt. Moore is survived by two brothers, W.W. Moore of Nashville, and J.P. Moore of Stockton, and three sisters, Miss Rosa Lee Moore, Mrs. Shelton Davis, and Mrs. G.E. West, all of Stockton.

Transcription courtesy of Skeeter Parker

†††

The Nashville Herald
June 23, 1949

Sgt. Mitchell Moore Laid To Rest Sunday

Staff Sergeant Mitchell H. Moore was laid to rest Sunday at the Unity Methodist Church of Crisp Community in Lanier County.

A military burial was given to the air forceman, who was killed over Hanover, Germany in 1944, by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Club of Lakeland. The Rev. J.W. Herndon of Norman Park and the Rev. Bishop of Lakeland officiated.

Sgt. Moore is survived by his wife, the former Miss Mildred Clements of Ray City, two brothers, W.W. Moore of Nashville, and J.P. Moore of Stockton, and three sisters, Miss Rosa Lee Moore, Mrs. Shelton Davis, and Mrs. G.E. West, all of Stockton.

Transcription courtesy of Skeeter Parker

Application for WWII headstone for Mitchell H. Moore.

Application for WWII headstone for Mitchell H. Moore.

The widow, Mildred C. Moore applied for a monument for her husband;  A stark white marble marker to mark the grave of a young man who gave his life in the service of his country.

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D’Ree Yawn and Friends in Ray City

In the 1930s D’Ree Yawn was a teenage girl living in Ray City, GA, photographed here with Mildred Clements, and another friend, Marie.

Three young friends in Ray City. Left to right: Mildred Clements, Marie ?, and D'Ree Yawn. Image courtesy of Debra Klein.

Three young friends in Ray City. Left to right: Mildred Clements, Marie ?, and D’Ree Yawn. Image courtesy of Debra Klein.

D’Ree Yawn and Mildred Clements were friends and neighbors. Mildred lived in the home on the northeast corner of Jones Street and Pauline Street; her parents were Hod Clements and Alma Florence May.

D’Ree was a daughter of Vera Laura Roberts and Clayton Samuel Yawn.  She was the sister of Allene Yawn and Caswell Yawn. In the 1920s D’Ree Yawn lived with her parents in the residence of her great uncle James Studstill. The Studstill home was located half-a-block down Jones Street, on a large lot on the southwest corner of Jones and Bishop Street. Some time in the 1930s D’Ree’s family moved up Jones Street to a house directly across Pauline Street from the Clements house. This house still stands, although it has been somewhat remodeled. In the 1930s there was a massive old magnolia tree in the front yard of this house that nearly obscured it from the street.

D'Ree Yawn and her family occupied this home in the 1930s.

D’Ree Yawn and her family occupied this home in the 1930s.

 

D'Ree Yawn and her family occupied this home in the 1930s.

1930s residence of the Yawn Family, Ray City, GA

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Mildred Lorene Clements Married Sergeant Mitchell Haygood Moore

Mildred Lorene Clements , of Ray City, GA, was a daughter of Alma and Hosea  “Hod” P. Clements and a sister of Frances Clements.

Mildred attended school in Ray City, and graduated with the RCHS class of 1939.  Mildred and Frances Clements attended the  Tri-Hi-Y Conference, Moultrie, GA, in  1939, along with Lucille Carter, Jaunelle Clements and Carolyn Swindle.

In 1940-41 Mildred attended Andrew College, a small Methodist junior college for women at Cuthbert, GA.

It was in the midst of WWII that Mildred Lorene Clements married Sergeant Mitchell Haygood Moore, of Lanier County.

Clinch County News Friday, December 3, 1943 Wedding announcement of Sergeant Mitchell Haygood Moore and Miss Mildred Lorene Clements, of Ray City, GA

Clinch County News Friday, December 3, 1943 Wedding announcement of Sergeant Mitchell Haygood Moore and Miss Mildred Lorene Clements, of Ray City, GA

Clinch County News
Friday, December 3,  1943

The marriage of Sgt. Mitchell Haygood Moore of Lanier county, and Miss Mildred Lorene Clements of Ray City, took place recently at the Methodist church in Ray City, Rev. L. D. McConnel officiating.  Sgt Moore is a son of Mr. and Mrs. Atticus H. Moore, former Clinch county residents who were cut off into Lanier when that county was formed in 1920. The bride is a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Hosea C. Clements of Ray City.

After their honeymoon,  Sgt Moore went off to fight in Europe. He would not return in life.

Andrew College Alumnus Mildred Clements

Andrew College

In 1940-41 Mildred Clements, of Ray City, GA, attended Andrew College at Cuthbert, GA. At the time, Andrew College was a small Methodist junior college for women. The choice of schools was appropriate , as Mildred Clements would observe a lifelong commitment to the Methodist church.

The Valdosta Times
April 6, 1941

The friends of Miss Mildred Clements are glad to learn that she has improved from her illness and returned to Andrew College Tuesday where she will graduate this term.

Andrew College, Cuthbert, GA

Andrew College, Cuthbert, GA

Born Sept. 14, 1921, in Berrien County, Mildred Lorene Clements was a daughter of Alma May and Hod P. Clements.  H. P. Clements was a banker and prominent businessman of Ray City. He was college educated and appreciated the value of a college education for his children.

20130712-075023.jpg

Andrew College Historical Marker

While Mildred attended Andrew College, her sister Frances and cousin Annie Ruth Clements went to Georgia State Women’s College.

According to the Andrew College website:

The Charter of Andrew College, granted in 1854 by the Georgia Legislature, is the second oldest charter in the United States giving an educational institution the right to confer degrees upon women. Originally named Andrew Female College, Andrew operated as a women’s four-year college for 63 years. In 1917 Andrew became a junior college and in 1956 the institution became co-educational. During the Civil War, classes were stopped and the College served as a hospital for wounded confederate soldiers. When classes resumed in 1866, a physical education course was added to the College’s curriculum, the first such course to be required of women in the South. In 1892, Andrew’s buildings burnt to the ground. However, the people of Cuthbert raised the funds necessary to build Old Main, the College’s landmark building, that very same year. Only a handful of colleges in Georgia are older than Andrew and few possess such a rich and celebrated history. Andrew College is recently celebrated the culmination of its Sesquicentennial (150 years of service) and a progressive Campus Master Plan was recently approved by Andrew’s Board of Trustees. “Andrew is small, but there are those that love her.”

After college, Mildred Clements married Mitchell Haygood Moore, a young salesman from Sirmans, GA.  During WWII he joined the Army Air Force and was assigned as a Staff Sergeant to the 854 AAF Bomber Squadron, 491st Bomber Group, flying as a crewman on a B-24 Liberator.  Some say he was a bombardier, others say he was a tail gunner. The 491st was one of seven Heavy Bombardment Groups – 488th through 494th – activated in the autumn of 1943.  By April of 1944, the 491st was  in England, and the group engaged in long-range strategic bombardment of Germany.  In July 1944 it supported the breakout at St. Lo and assaulted V-weapon sites and communications lines in France during the summer of 1944.  After August, 1944 the 491st concentrated its attacks on strategic objectives in Germany, striking communications centers, oil refineries, storage depots, industrial areas, shipyards, and other targets in such places as Berlin, Hamburg, Kassel, Cologne, Gelsenkirchen, Bielefeld, Hanover, and Magdeburg; on one occasion attacked the headquarters of the German General Staff at Zossen, Germany.  On the date of Mitchell Moore’s death, 26 November 1944, the 491st bomber group was on a mission to bomb an oil refinery at Misburg, Germany when the group was attacked by large numbers of enemy fighters.  There were 31 B-24s dispatched on that mission, 28 reached the target, 16 never came back. Although more than half of its planes were destroyed, the group fought off the interceptors, and successfully bombed the target. For this action the group was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation. According to the 491st Bomber Group website, Mitchell Moore was flying as a Left Waist gunner on the Misburg raid when he was killed in action.

 

After the war, Mildred applied for and received a marble headstone from the Army Office of the Quartermaster General, to mark his grave at Union Church Cemetery, near Lakeland, GA.

Application for WWII headstone for Mitchell H. Moore.

Application for WWII headstone for Mitchell H. Moore.

Later, Mildred married WWII veteran and high school classmate Lawson Fountain.  After the war, Lawson Fountain had gone into the banking business with Mildred’s father, Hod P. Clements and was for many years a fixture  in Ray City’s financial institutions.  Lawson Fountain has been the subject of previous posts: Lawson Fountain ~ Ray City Banker and Shoe String Bandits Strike Ray City Bank.

Obituary of Mildred Clements Fountain.

Mildred Clements Fountain

Mildred Clements Fountain, 84, of Ray City passed away Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2005, at her residence after a lengthy illness. She was born on Sept. 14, 1921, in Berrien County to the late Hosea and Alma Clements. Mrs. Fountain taught school for many years, teaching in Enigma, Hahira and Pine Grove. She was a very active member of the Ray City United Methodist Church serving as president of the United Methodist Women for 21 years and many other positions in her church. She was preceded in death by her husband, Mitchell Moore who gave the ultimate sacrifice in WWII and her husband, Lawson F. Fountain who was the president of the Bank of Ray City. Survivors include her son, James L. Fountain, Ray City; sister, Frances Carter, Valdosta; two nieces, Sherry Buffaloe, Lexington, Tenn., Laurel Thomas, Valdosta; nephew, Larry Carter, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.; several great-nieces and nephews. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 22, 2005, in the Ray City United Methodist Church with burial following in Beaver Dam Cemetery.

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Hosea Peeples “Hod” Clements

Hosea P. “Hod” Clements,  son of Ann Eliza Swindle and John Miles Clements, was a life long resident of Berrien County. He was a cousin of the Clements brothers who ran the Clements Lumber Company at Ray City, GA. Hod was educated at the Georgia Normal College and Business Institute, and served in France during WWI, but always returned to Ray City.

Hod P. Clements of Ray City, GA, 1911.

Hod P. Clements of Ray City, GA, 1911.

On September 15, 1917 Hod P. Clements married Alma Florence May in a ceremony performed by A. J. Futch, Minister of God.  Alma was a daughter of Mary Florence “Molly” Simmons and Sirmon Green May. Her father was a farmer at Nashville, GA .

Hosea Peeples "Hod" Clements and Alma Florence May were married in Berrien County, GA on September 15, 1917.

Hosea Peeples “Hod” Clements and Alma Florence May were married in Berrien County, GA on September 15, 1917.

The following year Alma gave birth to their first child, James Herman Clements, born May 8, 1918.

As told in the previous post (Hod P. Clements and the Dixie Division ), Hod joined the army and shipped overseas late in the summer of 1918  where he served from September 17, 1918 to July 5, 1919.

James Herman Clements, son of Alma Florence May and Hod P. Clements, circa 1921. Image courtesy of berriencountyga.com.

James Herman Clements, son of Alma Florence May and Hod P. Clements, circa 1921. Image courtesy of berriencountyga.com.

For a while Hod and Alma made their home on his father’s farm, situated on

They moved to Ray City in the 1920s and lived in a house on Jones Street, Ray City, GA. Armed with a degree from the Georgia Normal College and Business Institute, Hod Clements went into business in Ray City: “From 1923 until 1945 Clements operated a general store named Swindle and Clements.”

James Herman Clements and Mildred Lorene Clements, children of Alma and Hod P. Clements, with Marie and Pete Studstill. Image courtesy of berriencountyga.com.

James Herman Clements and Mildred Lorene Clements, children of Alma and Hod P. Clements, with Marie and Pete Studstill. Image courtesy of berriencountyga.com.

The Clements were involved in the community. Hod Clements was a Master Mason, raised up January 8, 1935, and a member of Duncan Lodge. Alma Clements was a supporter of local education and in 1941 she was working in the lunchroom at the Ray City School.

In the 1940s the Clements home on Jones Street was valued at $1000.  Hod and Alma lived there with their children, James Herman Clements, Mildred Lorene Clements, and Helen Frances Clements. Also boarding in the Clements home was James Gaskins Grady.  Grady was a school teacher who had come to Ray City from Montevallo, AL some time after 1935.

The Clements’ neighbors on Jones Street were James M. Studstill, who was the uncle of Vera R. Yawn, and great uncle of D’ree, Allene, and Caswell S. Yawn. Another neighbor was Thomas J. Studstill, and a few doors down were Chester Nobles, Billy Creech, and J. H. P. Johnson.

Hod worked 60 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, employed as the manager of a meat market.  For this he earned $30 a week, $1500 a year.

In 1948, buying the old Ray City Bank and its equipment for $3,500 he opened The Bank of Ray City , a private bank and the only financial institution in the town at that time.  Obtaining a state charter in 1949, H.P. Clements began banking with a capital of $10,000. In 1956, Mr. Clements’ son-in-law, Lawson Fountain, returned to Ray City, from Jacksonville, FL and afterwards the two ran the bank together. In later years Mr. Clements was forced to retire due to ill health. Then in 1973 the bank was sold to the Citizens Bank of Nashville. Georgia, and is now the Ray City office of that bank.

Hosea P. Clements died June 8, 1978 and now rests in Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

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Ray City Home of Hod P. Clements

Hosea “Hod” P. Clements and his wife, Alma,  lived in a house on Jones Street, Ray City, GA, where they raised their daughters, Mildred and Frances.

According to a 1973 Valdosta Times interview, Hod Clements was born in 1890 in Milltown (now Lakeland), GA and moved to Ray City in the 1920s.

Home on Jones Street, Ray City, GA was the residence of Alma and Hosea

Home on Jones Street, Ray City, GA was the residence of Alma and Hosea “Hod” Peoples Clements.

Armed with a degree from the Georgia Normal College and Business Institute, Hod Clements went into business in Ray City.

 “From 1923 until 1945 Clements operated a general store named Swindle and Clements.”

In 1948, buying the old Ray City Bank and its equipment for $3,500 he began banking with a capital of $10,000.

The original Ray City Bank was begun by his uncle Jim Swindle who organized it around 1908.