This site is a tribute to my father, T/5 Clifford Eugene Audinet (KIA 4/26/45), the men of the 473rd Infantry Regiment, 532nd Anti Aircraft Artillery-Automatic Weapons Battalion, and the soldiers of associated units of the U.S. 5th Army and British 8th Army who helped to liberate Italy in WWII. If you're a veteran of the 473rd Infantry Regiment, please spend a minute at: Searching for 3rd batallion members
Do you know any of these men?
SHOW ME THE MANNER IN WHICH A NATION OR COMMUNITY CARES FOR ITS DEAD AND I WILL MEASURE WITH MATHEMATICAL EXACTNESS THE TENDER MERCIES OF ITS PEOPLE, THE RESPECT FOR THE LAWS OF THE LAND AND THEIR LOYALTY TO HIGH IDEALS.
This index page has been added to relate the story of why this site is here. (You may go directly to the Italian Campaign "Table Of Contents" ) I do this in hopes of bringing a greater level of understanding to how war affects many levels of people and layers of time.
This site is NOT here to glorify war. It IS here to honor my father, the men he served with, and the men they served under. In addition it is meant to help bring the stories of men who were, in addition to being soldiers, fathers, and their children, orphans of WWII.
I became interested in genealogy in 1997 and started my research. My mother's family, mostly from Nova Scotia and Ireland/Scotland were well represented. My father's family, mostly from France was there back to my great grandfather. I focused hard on my father's side but, not from his perspective (He was killed in the war. Forget!) but, from my grandfather's. I have no idea what woke me up to the fact that there was no historical data on dad. Nothing to single him out, not even a birth date! Who doesn't know their father's birthday? I had a high-school yearbook page from a school friend of his who I met when I made the trip to Vancouver after my mother's death to wrap up her affairs. That was that - high school, marriage (didn't know when or where), Army, dead! Oh, and that he was a skier. That was it! And no details. I had been completely shielded from any knowledge of my father.
I dropped the rest of the family research immediately. One of the most interesting aspects of this change of direction was that now I cared about Dad, immediately. Before, even as late as 52 years after his death I felt no drive to learn about him-he wasn't in my thinking. The work of family (3 children), job, and marriage had kept me totally focused. Now I felt released from shielded captivity and compelled to pursue the story. I began to love my father and miss him. The first clue as to who he was had been with me for 8 years, since my mother's death. V-Mail!
I looked through my mother's pictures and letters for clues. I found two; The letter to her from the War Department telling her where he was buried (Florence, Italy) and supplying his service number, and a V-Mail Christmas greeting dated November 14, 1943.
Later research showed that it had been sent at the time of dad's arrival at Naples from North Africa with the 532nd AAA-AWBn. Right there on the card was his name and return address. T/5 Clifford E. Audinet, Hq. Btry., 532nd AAA-AWBn. I didn't realize at the time that you can't do anything with the U.S. Government without a unit. In one day I had his service number, place of burial, and unit. I started to put the internet to work.
First I had to write to the Veteran's Administration for dad's birth date. But to what address? More nights of searching the web then, success! A page called "Dad's War" was a source of government addresses from a man trying to help others fill in their father's military careers. He was not an orphan, which later proved to make a difference, but the information was universal. I wrote my first letter of the search, being very careful to include all information including my own DOB and SSN and asking for his birth date. The VA wrote back and they actually provided his birthday, December 19, 1918. Of course they provided absolutely nothing else. But I was on a roll.
While searching for the VA data I came across and bookmarked the AWON (American World War II Orphan's Network) web site. This was started by Ann Mix, who's dad was killed in Italy also. It is a site dedicated to helping war orphans find their dads. What a resource that turned out to be . It was through AWON that I found out how to send for my father's "201 File". The 201 is the file that follows every soldier, sailor, airman, and Marine throughout their career, in battle and out. While waiting for that file I sent for his IDPF (Individual Deceased Personnel File) also known as burial records. When the 201 arrived it held more information than I could have hoped for. Some of it surprised me!
It was through the 201 file and the Army "Green Book" history of the Italian Campaign that I discovered that the 532nd AAA-AWBn had been disolved (with 3 other AAA units and an Armored unit) into the 473rd Infantry Regiment. Now I was stopped. I could find no reference to the 473rd and that was the unit dad was in when he died (I had not yet realized that the 532nd would provide more about who he was than would the short time in the 473rd.). The 473rd was only in existence for 5 months and I didn't think it would be in any history. However, I pushed on and spent some more time at the library.
I found "Buffalo Soldiers in Italy" and scanned through it to find more information on the movement of the 473rd than I had found to date. This was because the the 473rd was attached to the 92nd (Buffalo) Division and also worked closely with the 442nd (Nisei) Regimental Combat Team and the 10th Mountain Division. I felt I had enough information to put on the web and see what would happen. It wasn't much of a page at first but it did the job in a big way. A young man in Italy, Marcello Biava was writing the history of the 473rd because the unit liberated his grandfather's home town of Genoa, Italy. He contacted me when he discovered the site and we started working together. He has provided me with an incredible amount of information, including where and how dad was killed. My 2002 trip to Italy was a tremendous experience and is chronicled on this site. Between us we found the 435th AAA-AWBn/473rd Infantry Association which put me in touch with the man who was with dad when the tank he was in was hit. I started attending their reunions and now represent my dad in the association. In 2003 I was contacted by my dad's best friend. That story is still developing.
Additionally, as of 2008 I have learned more than I could have imagined. The story of this ten year search for my father is chronicled in a book titled ""K.I.A. An Orphan's Search For His Father Through The Fog Of War". Go to Amazon.com, select books, enter Audinet"