There is a valuable resource that was recently added to Ancestry.com. The U.S. Hospital Admission Card Files, 1942-1954. The information contained may help you piece together some of your family member’s puzzle. However, there is a catch……

This database describes itself in part,

The files contain records pertaining to some 5.3 million patients, mostly U.S. Army personnel wounded in battle during World War II and the Korean War. The World War II records include only Army personnel treated at Army facilities, but the Korean War records include a few records (approximately 5 percent) for non-Army personnel and non-Army treatment facilities (approximately 4 percent).

Here’s the issue……the database only contains, as it states, those who were in a hospital. The full data set at NPRC in St. Louis also contains those who were not treated in a hospital and those who died in military service.

When you use this new Ancestry database, you may still be missing part of the information you need to tell your story. Additionally, not every field seems to be indexed for every entry, so you see different fields for different people. This may be because the information wasn’t on the original Hospital Index Sheet or it just wasn’t transcribed.
No matter which direction you start research in  – online or at NPRC – check the database but be sure to follow-up with research at NPRC yourself or with a researcher. The image below is from my cousin James Privoznik who was Killed In Action. You won’t find him or this information in the database.

Do you need help telling your family member’s story and locating records? Ask me to schedule your free phone consult today and let’s get started with research.

© 2020 Research A Veteran

Are you wasting Time and Money on World War II research that may not pertain to your soldier?

I’ve spent a lot of time on social media and email answering the same/similar questions or commenting on posts to clear up misinformation. A lot of people have been posting that their family member served in a specific unit they got off a Discharge Paper without doing the research necessary to confirm there were no other units. It’s been my experience the last 10 years of research that in 95% of cases, service members were in more than one unit.

When you attempt to chase down the unit history of that discharge unit you are wasting time and money. It is vital you get the service file (OMPF) and do the appropriate branch research at NPRC or online to determine the correct units someone was in. Only then should you start pursuing unit records.

In an attempt to help researchers to stop wasting their time and money on World War II research, here are a few tips.

Do your homework and make sure your soldier/airmen/sailor/Marine was in the unit you think he was or he told you he was.

Why is this important? A lot of researchers (family members) have vague information or a few stories with which to begin research. They hear their father/grandfather/uncle (whomever) was in the 82nd Airborne or 1st Infantry Division and they go looking for all the history they can about that Division from a high level. They look for books hoping to catch a glimpse of their family member’s name. Some even go so far as to order unit records from College Park to get the big picture. Yet, they still have no real idea of when and how long their family member was actually in that unit.

Researchers need to start at the beginning – with their soldier and the “small” picture.

For example, I’ve had many clients come to me and tell me their father was in a particular unit and fought in several European Theater Campaigns. Once I conducted research into where they were, what units, and when, the story was not always what the family thought it was. Sometimes a soldier was in a Replacement Depot or Hospital part of the war and missed a lot of campaigns. You cannot assume just because his unit participated in a list of campaigns, that he was present.

How do you find out which units he was actually part of?

Start the research with the “small” picture of the soldier’s service history. You can start this on your own by reading my books, Stories from the World War II BattlefieldThese are the ONLY books on the market that teach you how to do the research, even if the records burned.

I give a step-by-step account of how to dig into the records. Volume 1 covers Army, Air Corps, and National Guard Records in 300+ pages. Volume 2 covers Navy, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Merchant Marines in 400+ pages. I hold a researcher’s hand and guide them through searching for basic information at home, provide checklists of where to look for information, and then guide them through the record retrieval process and analysis of information. Want to know how to organize your materials and write the stories? Volume 3 is coming out soon!

Another option is to request the service file from the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis. If it didn’t burn and you have a unit down to the company level, you can make an appointment to visit and and search Army Morning Reports (Army, Air Corps, National Guard.) Other service branches have records online at Ancestry.com – Navy or Marine Corps Muster Rolls.

Where can you learn more about World War II research? Have you tried collaboration?

Talk to other researchers, especially professionals, or those who have been working on a particular unit for many years. Contact military museums and libraries and research institutions that hold military records.

Attend a program or lecture series or watch webinars. I speak in both the U.S. and Europe on how to research World War II service and write the stories. The webinars or NARA Genealogy Fair programs which you can view online, give high level all wars overviews of records. They do not tell you how to do the research step by step.

I am available to speak in other locations than Chicago. Please contact me through to discuss program options.

Read blogs and online articles and magazine articles, on World War II for both a view of the big picture and how others have located information. Everyone has their own way of locating information and everyone has a different starting point. All avenues and starting points provide valuable lessons in research and analysis. Many who blog about their research and findings will tell you what when ‘right’ and what went ‘wrong’ in the process. This is a form of collaboration which is so important in research.

When do you need to hire a researcher?

When you cannot or chose not do do the research yourself. Some people hire me because they have no idea what to do, or do not have the time or desire to do the research themselves. Others hire me because I can obtain records in places that require an in-person visit. World War II records are held all over the U.S., not only in St. Louis or College Park.

Professional researchers know the ins and outs of research in various repositories. Researchers know where the records are, how to get them, how to analyze them and where to go next. They are also able to research and copy record that may require an in-person visit. For example, NPRC will allow you to mail in Form 180 and request a search of the Official Military Personnel File (OMPF). They will not then go search Morning Reports and tell you where your soldier was and in which units. Usually, you will receive a letter stating his file burned if he was Army, Air Corps, National Guard.

Professionals are good at connecting the dots and thinking outside the box for research resources. One thing I am VERY good at is piecing together service histories from almost nothing. You can read testimonials here. I also have a vast network of researchers around the world I work with, some of whom are in the Research Collective, others are not listed. No one person knows everything about any topic. Collaboration is key when researching World War II service.

Professional researchers can help clear up misconceptions, questionable photographs and documents a family holds. I had one client provide me with his family story that his father was part of D-Day, and also photographs, one of which stated, ‘June 1944 Normandy, 2nd time around.’  This caption written on the back made no sense because the majority of people who were involved in D-Day kept on fighting and moving out of the area or those who were seriously wounded were shipped to England and didn’t return to France right away.

Upon further research, the only explanation I could give for that photograph was, ‘I have no idea why that caption is there and here is why.’ The explanation was his father was in England with his unit until after the invasion happened. His unit was a new one formed in April 1944 and had no amphibious training. Therefore, they were not part of D-Day. I proved this through several military documents. Also, this unti departed England after D-Day and sat in the Channel for many days because of the bad storm that ripped through there mid-June. This unit disembarked 27 June through Utah and Omaha Beaches. From there, the unit began moving out of Normandy. There was no way, based on the records, he was in Normandy twice in June 1944, as the photo suggested.

I offer fully cited, detailed reports of service with the option to write a book about your soldier. A lot of people have trouble deciphering the military language and abbreviations. Professional researchers are skilled in this and can provide a more detailed accounting of a soldier’s service. All of my reports are fully cited with all the sources from which the information came so anyone can re-create my steps. I also provide copies of all records obtained, a bibliography of other materials and research suggestions.

The other thing I do, which many researchers do not, is write and publish a book about your soldier’s life. My background is in history and genealogy. I have written countless books for clients on their family’s history and military ancestors.

The main point here is to do your homework before investing a lot of time and money in the big picture of the war. Research on your own or with a professional. Both are valuable options to consider.

Additional Resources

Contact me to set up a free phone consult to discuss a research project.

Explore all our webinars and online courses at the following sites:

WWII Education

Finding the Answers Journey

© 2020 Research A Veteran

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.

© 2020 World War II Research and Writing Center