Lt. Jean Clough was an Army nurse who served in North Africa & Italy during WW II

At 92 former Lt. Jean Clough of

At 92 former Lt. Jean Clough of “Venice on the Isles” retirement complex can still fit into her WW II nurses uniform. She was the guest speaker at the Clyde Lassen VFW Post in Englewood, Fla. on Veteran’s Day. Sun photo by Mary Auenson

Jean Clough graduated from high school in 1938 at 17, but she couldn’t get into nursing school at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, N.Y. until she was 18. It was a long year’s wait.

It would be 1943 before she graduated as a Registered Nurse and joined the Army Nurses Corps. By then World War II was well underway, America and her allies were barely holding their own in the fight against the Axis Powers–Germany, Japan and Italy. Her father, Harold Moody, was a World War I veteran, her older bother, Harold, was already a lieutenant commander in the Navy. Her younger brother, Ted, would follow his lead and become a landing craft jockey on D-Day taking troops onto the beaches at Normandy. She wanted to do her part for the war effort, too.

“Our family prided itself on having taken part in every war the USA ever fought. I use to hold–with almost reverence–the musket Benjamin Moody used in the Battle of Bunker Hill … during the Revolutionary War,” Jean wrote in a booklet for her grandchildren years after World War II. It was entitled: “A World War II Army Nurse Remembers.”

Jean is pictured with her father, Harold Moody, on the front porch of their Delmar, N.Y. home during the war. Photo provided

Jean is pictured with her father, Harold Moody, on the front porch of their Delmar, N.Y. home during the war. Photo provided

More than 100 nurses and dozens of doctors, all from Kings County Hospital, volunteered in a group to join the Army Medical Corps. They became the staff of the 37th General Hospital Group that saw action in North Africa and throughout the Italian Campaign, primarily in the Naples area.

“It was the fall of ’43 and they took us by train from New York City to Stark, Fla., that in those days was out in the middle of nowhere,” the 92 1/2-year-old ‘Village on the Isles’ resident recalled 70 years later. “We were bussed to Camp Blanding where we took our basic training.

It was at Blanding Jean met her future husband, Lucien Abbott, on a blind date. He was a young infantry lieutenant who had recently graduated from Clemson College. He was headed for the European Campaign with the 34th Infantry Division.

A few months later, she and the rest of the 37th General Hospital Group boarded “The Empress of Japan” in Newport News, Va. and sailed for the war. The ocean-liner that took them to the coast of North Africa was confiscated by the US when the war broke out. “Every sign on our ship was in Japanese, including the one for the ladies room,” she said with a smile. “It took us eight days to make the crossing. ‘The Empress’ didn’t slow down during most of the trip, except to pick up 15 French nuns in a life boat. Their ship had been torpedoed by a German submarine.

 Putting out the wash in Mature, Tunisia, Jean and her fellow nurses lived in the eight-person tents in the background. Photo provided

Putting out the wash in Mateur, Tunisia, Jean and her fellow nurses lived in the eight-person tents in the background. Photo provided

“When we arrived in the harbor at Casablanca, Morocco we could see what looked at first like telephone poles sticking out of the water. We got closer we realized they were the masts of ships sunk at dockside during the war,” Jean said. Casablanca was a big city with many white houses as the name implies. With its Casbah it was an exotic place for a group of young nurses from the States who had never been abroad before. There were many little shops along the streets. The town was filled full of military personnel from many nations. It was an exciting place to be. They slept in eight-person tents and their hospital was housed in much larger tent.

“I’ll always remember this one young soldier I was working with. He was horribly wounded. When I came into his room the first time he was crying. He grabbed my arm with the stub of his arm, he had no hand, and said, ‘Don’t try an get me well. Please, please give me something to put me away,” he told her.

“You don’t want to send someone who looks like this back to a wife. I just got married before I shipped out,” the young soldier explained in tears. “He wanted to die. He didn’t want to get better. We worked on him and he was eventually sent home,” Jean said. “You didn’t know whether to be happy or not in a case like this. I often wonder if he made it with his wife.

“One day they came to our tents and told us we were moving out immediately.They put us in little freight cars built during World War I for 40 soldiers and eight horses called ‘Forty and Eights.’ The train took us across the Horn of Africa to Mateur, Tunisia where we set up our tents once more,” she said.

“Our troops were going into Anzio, along the Italian coast. We got all the wounded soldiers from that battle. We were a 1,000 bed hospital, but because of Anzio we doubled in size. We put 1,000 additional Army cots for the wounded out in the open on the surrounding hills. They flew the wounded from the battle in Italy back to our hospital in Tunisia in plane after plane.”

This is Jean's younger brother, Ted, who ran a landing craft and brought troops into the beaches of Normandy on D-Day during World War II. Photo provided

This is Jean’s younger brother, Ted, who ran a landing craft and brought troops into the beaches of Normandy on D-Day during World War II. Photo provided

After Mateur we sailed for Bizerte, Tunisia along the coast. The Germans had just been run out of town and the place was in shambles. The Luftwaffe bombed the city and the harbor at Bizerte while they were setting up their hospital.

“We weren’t there long when we took a ship to Naples. We set up shop in Mussolini’s Victory Fair Grounds outside Naples. The grounds had beautiful unfinished buildings with pastoral scenes of cows and horses on the walls. We turned these buildings into hospitals,” she explained.

They lived on the seventh floor of an unfinished building that lacked elevators. It was in Naples that Jean’s and Lucien’s romance blossomed.

He was severely injured by shrapnel while fighting with the 34th Division in Italy.Lucien had been put on detached service, while recovering from his wounds, he worked in a hospital in the Fair Grounds across the street from where Jean was a nurse.

“A New Testament in his breast pocket when he was hit by shrapnel saved his life. It was torn into little shreds from the steel fragments that struck him,” she said.

 This is Harold, Jean's older brother, who served as a lieutenant commander in both the Atlantic and Pacific Theaters during World War II. Photo provided

This is Harold, Jean’s older brother, who served as a lieutenant commander in both the Atlantic and Pacific Theaters during World War II. Photo provided

All these months, since first meeting at Camp Blanding, they kept their romance alive through letters. By this time Lucien was a major.

“We decided to get married in the Allied Officers Club in Naples on Sept. 21, 1944,” she recalled. “Because we were in the Army we had to apply for a marriage license. Wouldn’t you know, the Army came back and said we could get married any day after Sept. 21.

“We chose the 22nd. Our wedding became a big deal because my husband knew a lot of brass who attended the affair. My mother sent me a wedding gown with a long train. We got a week off and honeymooned in Sorento and the Isle of Capri.

“A month or so later I found out I as pregnant. They sent me back to the States immediately. Since Lucian was still overseas I went home to Delmar, N.Y. to live with my parents.”

After he was discharged from the Army, Lucian went to work for a big pharmaceutical company in Atlanta. Three children and 13 years later Lucian died from war-related injuries. He was 43, it was 1958.

“I was 37 and could no longer work in nursing because in nursing you had to work three shifts around the clock. With three children, one of whom was only four, I had to quit nursing and find another job,” Jean said.

“So I went into teaching and taught junior high school science in schools around Atlanta for the next 20 years. I really liked it. Part of the time I got to be the school nurse, because in those days each school didn’t have a designated nurse.”

She retired from teaching in 1982 and eventually moved to Englewood, Fla. where her parents had retired. Jean has three children: Sandra, Karen and Andy.

Clough’s File

 This is Jean at 92 in her apartment at Name: Jean B. Moody Clough
D.o.B.: 24 March 1921
D.o.D.: 26 May 2014
Hometown: Philadelphia, Pa.
Currently: Venice, Fla.
Entered Service:  28 Jan. 1943
Discharged:  15 March 1945
Rank:  1st Lt.
Unit:  27th General Hospital Group
Campaigns: Italian Campaign, North Africa

This story was first published in the Charlotte Sun newspaper, Port Charlotte, Fla. on Wed., Nov. 20, 2013  and is republished with permission.

Click here to view Clough’s collection in the Library of Congress Veterans History Project.

Click here to view the War Tales fan page on FaceBook.

Click here to search Veterans Records and to obtain information on retrieving lost commendations.

All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be republished without permission. Links are encouraged.

Jean Clough

21 March 1921 – 26 May 2014

Jean Clough, 93, of Village on the Isle, Venice, FL passed away May 26, 2014 at the Venice Regional Medical Center. She was born March 24, 1921 in Philadelphia, PA to Harold and Ethel Moody.

She was a WWII Army veteran, where she served as a Registered Nurse with the Nurse Corps. She was always an Educator, teaching in Georgia and Melrose, Mass, where she taught 5th and 6 th grade for twenty years. She loved children and was always a teacher whether it be raising her children, teaching Sunday School or as a longtime Girl Scout leader.

Always the activist, Jean organized and coordinated community members in civic activities that related to the well-being of children. She retired in the mid-eighties and moved to this area from S. Hamilton, Mass. She was a member of the PEO Sisterhood and locally was an active member of the Englewood United Methodist Church. She held leadership positions in the various churches in which she belonged.

She is survived by children: Sandra Allen, Andrew Abbott, Marcia Whiting, Marlene Taylor, David Clough, Karen Jenkins and Thomas Clough. She had many grandchildren and great grandchildren. She was predeceased by her husband, Lucien Abbott in 1958 and husband, Allan Clough three years ago.

A Graveside service with military honors will be held at 11:00am, Friday, May 30, 2014 at Gulf Pines Memorial Park, 2401 Englewood Road, Englewood, FL 34223. A Celebration of Life Memorial Service will follow at 2:00pm Friday at the Village on the Isle, Renaissance #1, 920 S Tamiami Trail, Venice, FL 34285.

In lieu of flowers, those planning an expression of sympathy are asked to consider making a donation to the Music Therapy Program, Mark Manor at Village on the Isle or to the Asbury Grove Camp Meeting Place at http://www.asburygrove.org.

Funeral Information

A Graveside service with military honors will be held at 11:00am, Friday, May 30, 2014 at Gulf Pines Memorial Park, 2401 Englewood Road, Englewood, FL 34223. A Celebration of Life Memorial Service will follow at 2:00pm Friday at the Village on the Isle, Renaissance #1, 920 S Tamiami Trail, Venice, FL 34285.

Donations Information

In lieu of flowers, those planning an expression of sympathy are asked to consider making a donation to the Music Therapy Program, Mark Manor at Village on the Isle or to the Asbury Grove Camp Meeting Place at http://www.asburygrove.org.

Comments

  1. That’s my spunky and wonderful mother! I realize this article was written about her early history, however in the last paragraph it says that she has three children. She does have three biological children, but she also has four step children who are very much her children, too, and have been for forty seven years.
    I am so glad you interviewed my mother. Her war stories amazed us, sent some of us down roads that might not have been taken, and made us proud. I always wondered why it seemed that only men were the ones recognized for their heroism. Those nurses that Mother talked about certainly seemed worthy of the title hero, and at least recognition that they played a strong role in the war effort. Thank you for taking a step forward.

    • Sandra,
      Your mom told a great WW II story. Her exploits were something else. I’m glad I got to interview her.
      Regards,
      Don Moore
      Sun Newspapers
      War Tales

  2. Just an end note… Jean died on the celebrated Memorial Day last May 26(2014). Her funeral was on May 30, the original Memorial Day. It was a fitting tribute to a woman who served and loved her country.

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