WWI & WWII RESEARCHING
There are many instances coming to our attention concerning
children and grandchildren, particularly of WWII veterans, who are
researching their father or grandfather, who served in the European
Theater during WWII.
When a soldier was killed, he remained on the battlefield, in place, until their unit's medics came along, pronounced him dead, and they in turn notified the Graves Registration Unit. If by chance the soldier was not dead, he was evacuated to the nearest Aid Station or Hospital, where eventually he recovered or died. Again the Graves Registration Unit removed the body to its own facility.
The G.R.U. made positive identification of the body, recorded the condition of the body, obvious wounds and/or the cause of death, and was inventoried for personal effects.
The body was then removed to a rear area, where further identification was made, a medical examination made, and personal effects packaged and secured, and later sent to the nearest next of kin, with the usual greeting from the U.S. Army, "We regret to inform you ".
As soon as possible and practical, the body was placed in a body bag, which sometimes consisted of only a mattress cover, and buried in a shallow grave of a temporary cemetery, although carefully marked and identified.
After establishment of our many U.S. Military Cemeteries and Memorials throughout Europe, all of the bodies in these temporary cemeteries were re-interred into the permanently established sites, and those temporary cemeteries were closed.
Starting in 1947, a repatriation of bodies program was initiated and up until the 1960's, it was possible to have bodies returned to the U.S. at government expense, for private burials near the decedent's home. It was the decision of the family as to whether they wanted the body brought home or not. Of course a big percentage did, but the rest chose to let their "loved one" rest among his buddies near where he fell for the cause in which he believed, and for which he fought Since that time, further removal of bodies has been prohibited.
Next-of-kin may request information on veterans who were Killed in Action, (KIA), and in many cases, can get a detailed file on the handling of the body from the time of death until burial in a U.S. Military cemetery and/or removal to the U.S., and in some cases, information on where the body was re-interred in the U.S.A.
This information is contained in an "Individual Deceased Personnel File", (I.D.P.F.), and may be obtained as follows:
Write to the agency below, requesting the "IDPF" on: Veteran's full name; Army Serial #; Unit if known; Date and Place of death if known; and your relationship to the deceased veteran. The more details that are furnished, the quicker they can research this information and get a reply back to you. It will take perhaps 6-8 weeks to obtain this data.
U.S. Army Human Resources Command
Click here for a "Form Letter" to use as a guide
All of the Cemeteries on foreign soil are under the jurisdiction of the "American Battle Monuments Commission" in Arlington, VA.
Each cemetery has been granted use of the site, in perpetuity by the host government, to the United States, tax and rent free.
There are eight (8) WWI U.S. Cemeteries in Europe, mostly in the NE of France and SE of Belgium, and one in England, as follows:
Aisne-Marne Belleau Woods, France - 2,288 Graves 1,060
There are twelve (12) WWII U.S. Cemeteries in Europe one (1) in England, one (1) in North Africa, and one (1) in the Philippines as follows:
Ardennes Neuville-en-Condroz, Belg. - 5,310 Graves,
A white marble headstone marks each grave - a Star of David for those of the Jewish faith; and a Latin Cross for all others.
At the memorials in these Cemeteries, are inscribed the names of the Missing, who in the respective regions, gave their lives in the service of their Country, but whose remains were never found or not identified. A small non-denominational chapel forms a part of each WWII Cemetery & Memorial.
No further burials may be made in the Cemeteries under the ABMC's jurisdiction, except those remains which may, in the future, be found on one of the battle fields. Occasionally a body is found after all of these years, and is respectfully buried in the nearest Cemetery to where the body was found. (Unless the family requests otherwise).
Cemeteries are open to the public every day of the year, usually from 9 - 5.
Only fresh cut flowers and arrangements are allowed to be placed on gravesites.
An American Superintendent is stationed at each Cemetery, and all administrative personnel speak English, and can assist in location of grave sites.
Upon request of the "next-of-kin" the ABMC will furnish, at no cost, photos as follows:
A brochure listing all of the Cemeteries and Memorials, giving a description of each, as well as directions to the facility and other pertinent data, and a separate and special brochure on each facility may be obtained from the ABMC as follows:
American Battle Monuments Commission
In some of the above Cemeteries, many of the local people have adopted a grave of a soldier who is unknown to them, but he is "their adopted son", in thanks and honor for his sacrifice in giving them their Liberty and Freedom in 1944-5. It is just amazing that these people still give thanks and pay tribute to their heroes after all these 56 years!!
For the Normandy Cemetery, see the following website:
A new website has recently been opened by the A.B.M.C.. This website gives one the opportunity to locate the grave of any person buried in an overseas cemetery. It can be found at: www.abmc.gov Click on "About War Dead". This page will give you a picture and details of each Cemetery; Rank and Army Serial # of any individual that you may be seeking, (You provide correct legal name), burial site, and it will give you the grave location within the Cemetery.
Another facility that researchers may be interested in, is the storage facility of most of our US military records, where you can possibly get information on the combat records of a veteran. In order to facilitate such a search, you must supply: Name, Rank, Army Serial #, Dates of Service, Branch of Service, and specific unit and dates for which you want records. The wait may be as long as 12 months of longer - they are notoriously slow!
National Personnel Records Center
General historical and Army unit histories may be available from:
U.S. Army Military History Institute
Books may be obtained from here on loan through your own Public Library on an inter-library-loan basis, if available at time of request.
Another repository of importance is our National Archives, where many military records are stored, and copies of such material can be obtained for a nominal cost of copying and postage.
National Archives & Records Administration
Listed below are the names and addresses of some of the European Cemeteries & Memorials, with e-mail addresses. All Superintendents are very cooperative in replying to individual requests. If you'd like a printable, MS Word version of this list, click here.
THE AMERICAN BATTLE MONUMENTS COMMISSION EUROPEAN
WORLD WAR I CEMETERIES
Flora Nicolas - Cemetery Associate
Derek Odell - Cemetery Associate TEL: 00.44.1483.473.237
Christopher Sims - Cemetery Associate TEL: 00.32.56.60.11.22
Dominique Didiot - Cemetery Associate
Nathalie Le Barbier - Cemetery Associate TEL: 03.23.82.21.81
Nadia-Ezz-Eddine, Cemetery Associate TEL: 03.83.80.01.01
Murielle Defrenne, Cemetery Associate TEL: 03.23.66.87.20
Gabrielle Mihaescu, Cemetery Associate
WORLD WAR II CEMETERIES
Joris Vincent - Cemetery Associate TEL: 00.32.43.71.42.87
Maurice Lemardele, Cemetery Associate TEL: 02.33.89.24.90
Arthur Brookes, Cemetery Associate TEL: 00.44.1954.210.350
Dominique Jambois, Cemetery Associate TEL: 03.29.82.04.75
Caroline Oliver, Cemetery Associate TEL: 00.32.87.68.71.73
Valerie Muller, Cemetery Associate TEL: 03.87.92.07.32
Erwin Franzen - Cemetery Associate TEL: 00.322.214.171.124
Frenk Lahaye, Cemetery Associate TEL: 00.31.43.45.81.208
NORMANDY VISITOR CENTER (NVC)
Note: Superintendents may be changed occasionally.
For more information on the ABMC Website, the following
address may be helpful:
On it you will find:
Various Services Offered
Copy of form for request is included later on this page.
BRITISH OR CANADIAN CONTACT
Requests for similar information concerning burials of WWI & WWII British or Canadian veterans in the Ypres, Belgium area is as follows:
Mr. Jeremy Gee, OBE, Director
Through this agency, the addresses for contacts in other areas may be obtained.
OTHER USEFUL ADDRESSES
American Battle Monuments Commission
ABMC European Region
ABMC Mediterranean Region
ABMC Pacific Region
This office maintains the register of WWII dead. It may furnish the name of the cemetery where the soldier is buried stateside:
Department of the Army
Information on individual service records for US Air Force personnel:
Information on individual service records for US Navy and Marine personnel:
Chief, Bureau of Medicine & Surgery
Information for US Coast Guard personnel:
Operational Archives Branch Information on ships, naval units etc:
National Memorial of the Pacific Known as the "Punchbowl". Maintained by an Army veteran's association, which makes available grave locations, a map of Grave site and a Polaroid photo of the Grave marker or memorial:
2177 Puowaina Dr.
Mr. Robert King Maintains a list of U.S. Army Veterans Associations and provides a complete list for a nominal fee:
4406 Rolling Brook Ct.
Superintendent of Documents Prints and distributes all kinds of printed material and books that are published by U.S. Government, at a nominal cost:
US Government Printing Office
The agency that handles all requests for replacement, or original issue, of Medals to which one is entitled, and copies of Discharge/Separation Forms, if necessary:
National Personnel Records Center
Camp Blanding Museum Has available most all Official Medals at a nominal cost. Limited other decoraions, memorabilia & history books:
5629 SR #16 W
American Ex-Prisoner of War Membership Directory, Alpha & by Unit, of P.O.W.'s belonging to Assoc:
3201 E. Pioneer Parkway, #40
Some of this Data has been taken from A.B.M.C. Documents, and other sources which are in Public Domain. Compiled by Frank W. Towers.
|Updated March 29, 2008|