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.
Believe it or not, some do NOT know where their father is buried! Mother never told them. She was traumatized at the time, and just said that "Daddy just went away and never came back." Now they are finding out the "Daddy" was a "Hero" and never came home because he is "buried over there somewhere!" They do not know the circumstances of his death, do not know which unit he fought with, nor the actions in which he was involved, and why were they not brought back home after the war. Many puzzling questions are being asked, and each one deserves an answer. But, where are the answers?
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 1960s, 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.
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:
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:
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.
request of the "next-of-kin" the ABMC will furnish, at no cost, photos
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:
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!
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!
General historical and Army unit histories may be available from:
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.
Listed below are the names and addresses of all 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
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: 00.3126.96.36.199
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: http://www.abmc.gov/
Various Services Offered
OF THE SERVICES AVAILABLE
Name, location and general information concerning the Cemetery or Memorial; Plot,
Row & Grave # if appropriate.
BRITISH OR CANADIAN CONTACTS:
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:
Battle Monuments Commission
ABMC European Region
ABMC Mediterranean Region
ABMC Pacific Region
Chief, Bureau of Medicine & Surgery
Operational Archives Branch
Memorial of the Pacific
Mr. Robert King
National Personnel Records
Camp Blanding Museum
Ex-Prisoner of War
of this Data has been taken from A.B.M.C. Documents, and other sources which are
in Public Domain.
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| Ardennes | Awards
| Bronze Stars |
Calendar | Medics
| Command Posts | Contact
| Dates | DSCs