Clare Hibbs Armstrong
Clare Hibbs Armstrong
|Born||January 23, 1894|
Albert Lea, Minnesota
|Died||July 12, 1969 (aged 75)|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/||United States Army|
|Years of service||1917-1953|
|Unit||Coast Artillery Corps|
|Commands held||50th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Brigade|
|Battles/wars||World War I|
World War II
|Awards||Distinguished Service Medal|
Bronze Star Medal (2)
Army Commendation Medal
Clare Hibbs Armstrong (January 23, 1894 – July 12, 1969) was a highly decorated officer in the United States Army with the rank of Brigadier General. A graduate of the United States Military Academy, he was the commanding officer of the 50th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Brigade during the air defense of Antwerp during World War II. The 50th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Brigade destroyed 97% of all V-1 flying bombs aimed at the docking facilities that supplied the 12th and 21st Army Groups.
After the war, Armstrong remained in the army and served as military attaché for Belgium and Luxembourg, completing his career as the commanding general of the Third Army Anti-Aircraft Artillery Training Center at Camp Stewart, Georgia.
Armstrong was born on January 23, 1894, in Albert Lea, Minnesota, the son of bank president and city councilman DeWitt Clinton Armstrong and Anna Hibbs. After high school, Armstrong received an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York.
Armstrong's West Point class produced more than 55 future generals, including two Army Chiefs of Staff (Joseph L. Collins and Matthew B. Ridgway). Among his classmates were Rex W. Beasley, Robert M. Bathurst, Henry A. Barber Jr., William O. Butler, Theodore E. Buechler, Homer C. Brown, Aaron Bradshaw Jr., John T. Bissell, Mark W. Clark, John T. Cole, Miles A. Cowles, Gerald A. Counts, Norman D. Cota, Joseph L. Collins, John W. Coffey, James A. Code Jr., John M. Devine, William F. Daugherty, William W. Eagles, Charles H. Gerhardt, Theodore L. Futch, Robert W. Hasbrouck, William K. Harrison Jr., Arthur M. Harper, Ernest N. Harmon, Horace Harding, Milton B. Halsey, Augustus M. Gurney, Edwin J. House, Joel G. House, Charles S. Kilburn, Laurence B. Keiser, Harris Jones, Harold R. Jackson, Frederick A. Irving, Harris M. Melasky, William C. McMahon, John T. Murray, Charles L. Mullins Jr., Bryant E. Moore, Daniel Noce, Harold A. Nisley, Matthew B. Ridgway, William O. Reeder, Onslow S. Rolfe, Thomas D. Stamps, Willis R. Slaughter, Stephen H. Sherrill, Herbert N. Schwarzkopf, Albert C. Smith, Joseph P. Sullivan, Edward W. Timberlake, George D. Wahl, George F. Wooley Jr., Sterling A. Wood, Raymond E. S. Williamson, Robert A. Willard and George H. Weems.
Armstrong graduated on April 20, 1917, with Bachelor of Science degree, shortly after the United States entered World War I, and was commissioned second lieutenant in the Infantry Branch. He was subsequently ordered to Fort McPherson, Georgia and attached to the 17th Infantry Regiment. He was promoted to first lieutenant on May 5, 1917, and to temporary captain on August 5, and assumed command of his regiment's rifle company. As his regiment was preparing for combat deployment in France, the Spanish flu hit it and half his company died. He was also struck with the disease, but was nursed back to the health with his wife's help.
After recovering, Armstrong rejoined his regiment and served with it at Chickamauga, Georgia, Tampa, Florida and Camp Meade, Maryland until November 1919, when he received a permanent promotion to captain and orders for transfer to Fort Benning, Georgia. There, Armstrong served as operations officer of garrison's Motor Transport Corps until February 1920, when he was ordered to Camp Funston, Kansas for duty as property officer of the 7th Division under Major General Edward McGlachlin Jr.
Armstrong spent almost a year in that capacity, departing in January 1921, when he was ordered to the Panama Canal Zone. He was assigned to the 42nd Infantry Regiment, consisting of Puerto Rican recruits. He was rifle company commander at Camp Gaillard and became interested in the still-developing anti-aircraft defense. Armstrong was so taken with this weapon that he requested transfer to the Coast Artillery Corps in November 1921. His first coast artillery assignment was with the 4th Company of Coast Artillery Regiment at Fort Amador, Panama Canal Zone and he remained in that capacity until December 1923, when he was ordered back to the United States. Armstrong transferred to the Coast Artillery in 1930.
Armstrong returned to the United States and served with coastal defense at Fort Hancock, New Jersey until July 1924, when he was ordered to the United States Military Academy at West Point for duty as an assistant instructor of tactics. He spent five years there and entered the Army Coast Artillery School at Fort Monroe, Virginia in August 1929.
Upon graduation a year later, Armstrong took a brief course at the Chemical Warfare School at Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland. After completing it in November 1930, he embarked for the Philippines. He was stationed at Fort Santiago, Manila and served as assistant for press relations in the Intelligence section until March 1931, when he joined the 92nd Coast Artillery Regiment (Philippine Scouts) at Fort Mills, Corregidor as battery commander. During his tenure as battery commander, his unit won a first "E" for excellence in gunnery in January 1932 and a second "E" in June 1932.
Following his return stateside in March 1932, Armstrong was attached to the 6th Coast Artillery Regiment at Fort Winfield Scott in San Francisco, California, and was promoted to major in March 1933. He participated with his unit in the exercise at Fort Worden, Washington and earned a third "E" for excellence in gunnery.
Two months later, he was ordered to Medford, Oregon, where he activated and commanded a local Civilian Conservation Corps District. During his one-year tenure, within the ongoing Great Depression, thousands of unemployed men attached to his command constructed bridges, firebreaks and cabins.
Armstrong served in Medford until August 1935, when he was ordered to the Army Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. There he completed advanced courses in June 1936. He was subsequently ordered to Washington, D.C., and appointed Chief of the Personnel Section in the Office of the Chief of Coast Artillery under Major general Archibald H. Sunderland. His wife, Mary, died of cancer in August 1938.
In September 1938, Armstrong was ordered back to the United States Military Academy at West Point as Post Inspector and War Plans officer. He assumed command of West Point Service Detachment in May 1939 and was promoted to lieutenant colonel on July 1, 1940.
World War II
Armstrong was temporarily promoted to colonel on December 11, 1941, four days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and departed West in May 1942. He was subsequently ordered to Camp Haan, California and assumed command of the 86th Coast Artillery Regiment. His outfit was redesignated the 109th Coast Artillery Group in January 1943 and Armstrong was temporarily promoted to brigadier general on March 16, 1943.
For his new billet, Armstrong was ordered to Camp Davis, North Carolina in July 1943 and assumed command of the 50th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Brigade. He spent several months intensively preparing for combat deployment and embarked for the European Theater of Operations in February 1944. Armstrong and his brigade were stationed in the United Kingdom and participated in the Normandy Campaign.
In October 1944, Armstrong was tasked with executing the Antwerp X Operation, which sought to protect the port of Antwerp and its residents against flying-bomb attacks. He formed a special defense anti-aircraft force, which included his own brigade, another U.S. anti-aircraft brigade, a British brigade and a Polish regiment—a total of 22,000 men designated for the defense of Antwerp. The port served as important operating logistical center, where most of the supplies from the United States were redistributed for Allied forces on the Continent.
For his service during the defense of Antwerp, Patton awarded Armstrong the Army Distinguished Service Medal and two Bronze Star Medals, and made him commander of Third United States Army. The Belgian government bestowed him with the Order of Leopold, rank Commander, Croix de Guerre with Palm.
The Allies decorated Armstrong with the Legion of Honour, French Croix de Guerre with Palm, the Order of the British Empire, Dutch Order of Orange Nassau, Luxembourg Order of the Oak Crown and Luxembourg War Cross.
Following Nazi Germany's surrender in May 1945, Armstrong joined the headquarters of the 15th Army under Patton and served as its chief anti-aircraft officer during the occupation of Germany until April 1946. He then reverted to his peacetime rank of colonel and assumed duty as Chief of Guided Missiles, Coast Artillery & Anti-Aircraft Artillery Group Plans Section, Headquarters Anti-Aircraft Forces.
Armstrong returned to Belgium in December 1946 and assumed duty as military attaché for Belgium and Luxembourg. He was made a Freeman of Antwerp, a distinction shared only with Winston Churchill, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Field Marshall Bernard L. Montgomery. A bust of him is displayed in Antwerp's city hall.
After the Korean War broke out, Armstrong was again promoted to brigadier general on September 27, 1950, and ordered back to the United States in December. Due to his knowledge and experiences with anti-aircraft artillery, he was appointed commanding general of the Third Army Anti-Aircraft Artillery Training Center at Camp Stewart, Georgia. He was tasked with training anti-aircraft artillery crews as replacements for troops in Korea and received an Army Commendation Medal.
Armstrong remained in that capacity until March 31, 1953, when he retired from active duty after almost 36 years of service. He then worked as consultant for U.S. and Belgian weapons manufacturer companies and later settled in Mallorca, in the Balearic Islands of Spain. While there he met Catherine Hays Taylor, a widow from Ligonier, Pennsylvania, and they were married in 1955.
They settled in Hampton, Virginia, where Armstrong died on July 12, 1969, aged 75. He was buried with full military honors at United States Military Academy Post Cemetery beside his first wife, Mary. Armstrong was survived by his three children from his first marriage, sons Clare Jr. and DeWitt and daughter Elizabeth. His sons graduated from the United States Military Academy. Clare Jr. retired as lieutenant colonel and DeWitt reached the rank of brigadier general and completed his service as commanding general at Fort Devens.
Here is Armstrong's ribbon bar:
- "Clare H. Armstrong Papers – C.I.A. Websites" (PDF). Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved October 29, 2017.
- "Biography of Brigadier-General Clare Hibbs Armstrong (1894 - 1969), USA". generals.dk. generals.dk Websites. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
- Ancell, R. Manning; Miller, Christine M. (1996). The Biographical Dictionary of World War II Generals and Flag Officers. Westport, CT: Greenwood. p. 8. ISBN 0313295468.
- United States Military Academy. Official Register of the Officers and Cadets. United States Military Academy Printing Office. p. 35. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
- "Clare H. Armstrong 1917 - West Point Association of Graduates".
- King, Benjamin; Kutta, Timothy (2003). Impact: The History Of Germany's V-Weapons In World War II. Cambridge, Mass: Da Capo. p. 267. ISBN 0306812924. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
- "Valor awards for Clare H. Armstrong". valor.militarytimes.com. Militarytimes Websites. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
- Bergstrom, Christer (2014). The Ardennes, 1944-1945. Casemate. p. 178. ISBN 1612002773. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
- "The commendation for the defense of Antwerp". diplomacy.state.gov. diplomacy.state.gov Websites. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
- Ancell, R. Manning; Miller, Christine M. (1996). The Biographical Dictionary of World War. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. p. 8. ISBN 0-313-29546-8.
- "Catalogue description Recommendation for Award for Armstrong, Clare Hibbs, Rank: Brigadier General..." – via National Archive of the UK.
- Marquis Who's Who, Inc. Who Was Who in American History, the Military. Chicago: Marquis Who's Who, 1975. P. 15 ISBN 0837932017 OCLC 657162692
- United States Military Academy. Association of Graduates (1999). "Clare H. Armstrong Jr. '44". Assembly. 57 (4–6): 177. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
- "BG Clare Hibbs Armstrong (1894 – 1969) – Find A Grave Memorial".