All the records burned and I cannot tell my soldier or Airman’s story!

How many times have you heard that phrase uttered by Army, Air Forces, and National Guard WWII researchers? I’ve heard so many people give up and continue to pass the myth around Facebook that nothing can be done. But did you know there is a record set that will help you reconstruct military service? Even if the Official Military Personnel File (OMPF) or service file burned, you can still find out what happened to your soldier or airman from beginning of service to end, with this record set.

What people do not realize is there is a hidden gem in the records at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, MO. A record set that will provide the foundation researchers need to reconstruct service history from start to finish, especially if they are creative with their research. What is the gem?

Company Morning Reports

I Co 504th PIR Morning Reports-3A Morning Report was created each day outlining events of the prior day for the events of a Company. To locate information in Morning Reports you must know the Company in which your soldier served. It is not enough to know in which division or regiment. The Company can be found on a discharge paper or IDPF or any other letter or document that has a unit listed on it. Morning Reports can be traced in any direction based on the information you have.

Morning Reports listed many details about the company which include:
  • The location of the company for the date of the report.
  • Strength of the unit in numbers of men
  • Details of those entering and leaving the company
  • Names of those declared AWOL, Missing In Action, Killed In Action, or wounded.
  • The reports also provided information on the day’s events. Some clerks reported weather conditions, in addition to the usual information on where the unit was fighting, and other enemy encounters.

The companies were required to report numbers of men at each meal, which provided information to the Army, who then was able to provide food and appropriate supplies for the soldiers. These numbers also alerted headquarters when the ranks were depleted and replacements were needed.

Morning Reports are useful because they can help you track a soldier’s service from start to finish, as long as the company clerk included all the details of the entrance and exit of a soldier, showing where he came from, and where he was going. Not all company clerks did this or had the time to do this. If you cannot find detailed information within a Morning Report, consider the battle conditions under which the clerks were trying to compile reports.

Analyzing a Morning Report

The Morning Report shown in this post is for I Company 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) of the 82nd Infantry Division. What can we learn from this report?

  • Date of the report
  • Location (but be careful with Airborne reports because their station is reported as being in England, but if you keep looking at the reports, you will end up at month’s end learning the company is really in Holland and has been there several days.)  Always check other records to ensure your soldier’s company was where you think it was.
  • We see Robert Wagner listed as going from duty to slighting injured in action. We have his serial number and rank. Knowing he was injured adds to his timeline of service we can create. Had he been removed from the company, that would have been noted.
  • We know how many men are in the company this date.
  • We have a record of events which helps us locate additional histories and records.

How do we access these records?

You can hire a researcher to pull the records or you can visit the National Personnel Records Center yourself and go through the microfilm.

To learn more about Morning Reports, see my books Stories from the World War II Battlefield, which provide a more in-depth look at these records. You can also see several examples at the 134th Infantry Regiment 35th Infantry Division website.

Can I help you with your research?

Are you ready to learn the bigger picture of your family member’s military service? Email us at info@wwiirwc.com to set up your free phone consultation today to discuss project options, fees, and time. You can also sign-up for our free newsletter to receive tips and coupons for our research webinars and classes.

©  2020 Research A Veteran

Abbreviations, codes, numbers, and ……. confusion.


Is this how you feel sometimes when you are looking for World War II information?

Sometimes the most difficult part of starting World War I or World War II research is locating vital pieces of information to move a search forward. This is especially important if the Official Military Personnel File burned. Are you looking for information on a service man or woman’s service number, unit, enlistment and discharge dates? The National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, MO, has a great resource for World War I and World War II researchers. The VA Index.

The VA Index

VA Index card

The VA Index is available for World War I and World War II service members. What is on the Index and why do you need it?

  • Full name of soldier, sailor, or Marine
  • Unit in which they served (not always on the card.)
  • Address
  • ENL: Date of enlistment
  • DIS: Date of discharge (often if the soldier was KIA, the death date is written on the card.)
  • SN: Service/serial number
  • A lot of letter codes with numbers. World War I cards may have more letters than World War II. There are many more codes than this, but these are the commonly seen ones on these cards.
    • C: Veterans Claim number
    • XC: Prefix X indicates veteran is deceased.
    • K: US Government Life Insurance. Issued when veterans converted their War Risk term (T) insurance into permanent policies or made direct application for this type of insurance.
    • N: National Service Life Insurance. Term insurance issued veterans during WWII.
    • V: National Service Life Insurance. This type of policy was issued when veterans converted their term insurance (N) or made the initial application permanent.
    • I: Permanent or Total Disability Claim or death payment of term insurance (WWI ONLY)
    • A: Adjusted Compensation (Bonus)
    • T: War Risk Insurance (WWI ONLY)
    • R: Rehabilitation (WWI ONLY)
    • CT: WWI Certificate (issued with bonus)
    • Z: Merchant Marine service number prefix.

Request a search

The VA Index is searchable by NPRC staff for a fee.

NPRC

1 Archives Dr.

St. Louis, MO 63138

What other resources have you used to start your World War I or World War II research? Please share in the comments.

© 2020 Research A Veteran

Contact Us For Research Help!

Contact us for information and to set up your free phone consultation today!

Are you interested in learning about the military death files created in World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam? Would you like to understand the job of the American Graves Registration Service and how they handled our war dead? Then this webinar is for you!

This 1.5 hour webinar will focus on the history and jobs of the men who worked in the American Graves Registration Service. Then we will explore the Individual Deceased Personnel File and discuss why you need this vital record. Finally, take a journey with me in the footsteps of my cousin James Privoznik, through his military records and path through Europe to his death and burial. Learn how I told his story.

Learn more and register here to save your spot. This is the final time I’m teaching this course.

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