World War II United States Military Records, 1941 to 1945

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Over 16.5 million men and women served in the armed forces during World War II, of whom 291,557 died in battle, 113,842 died from other causes, and 670,846 were wounded. The Family History Library has few World War II military records.


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Service Records[edit | edit source]

Because of privacy restrictions and loss of records, it is usually best to document World War II service by finding home sources, or by writing to the Adjutant General’s Office of the state from which a soldier served. Discharges may also have been recorded at local county courthouses.

The National Archives has an online database of World War II Army Enlistment Records with more than 9 million entries. The database is in the Access to Archival Databases (AAD) at http://www.archives.gov Each record includes the serial number, enlistment date, birth year, and residence of the soldier.

Many records may no longer be available because of a 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center.

Pension Records[edit | edit source]

The Department of Veteran Affairs has benefit claims files. Veteran files are located at the regional office closest to the residence of the veteran at the time of application. To find phone numbers and addresses look in the following source:

Johnson, Richard S. How to Locate Anyone Who Is or Has Been in the Military. 7th ed. Ft. Sam Houston, Tex.: Military Information Enterprises, 1996. (FHL book 973 M27j 1996.) This book discusses various methods and addresses to locate and contact present and former military members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Reserve components.


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Cemetery Records[edit | edit source]

The American Battle Monument Commission has an online database of persons interred in World War II cemeteries overseas or missing in action. The database is available at http://www.abmc.gov/wardead/listings/wwii.php.

At the National Personnel Records Center, the American Battle Monument Commission has a microfiche register of the names of 134,548 veterans who died and were buried in American military cemeteries overseas. The list provides such information as: name, service number, last organization, some awards, last rank, and burial place.

Sailors who were killed or wounded in the war are named in the following:

U.S. Navy Department. Casualty Section, Office of Public Information. Combat Connected Naval Casualties World War II by States. 2 vols. n.p., n.d. (FHL book 973 M23un.) The names are arranged by state according to the address of the next of kin at notification. The entries contain the name of the sailor, rank, name of parents or wife, and address.

Casualty Lists, Pacific Naval Operations, 1941–1946. Washington, D.C.: NPPSO Naval District Washington Microfilm Section, 1979. (FHL film 485330.) These lists are alphabetically arranged by operation and ship name. They contain service number, rank, service specialty number, and date of death.

To find a state-by-state World War II Honor List of Dead and Missing Army and Army Air Forces Personnel from [State], 1946 you can use the Archival Research Catalog (ARC)  available on the National Archives and Records Administration web site at www.archives.gov/research/arc . You will view a facsimile of a county-by-county alphabetical list of deceased soldiers, their serial number, rank, and type of death.

To find a state-by-state Summary of War Casualties for World War II for Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard Personnel from [State], 1946 you can use the Archival Research Catalog (ARC)  available on the National Archives and Records Administration web site at www.archives.gov/research/arc . Each state list is alphabetical divided by the casualty type, including wounded and recovered. The list also shows next of kin address.

Draft Records[edit | edit source]

On 16 September 1940, President Roosevelt signed into law the first peacetime Selective Service Act. It required all 16 million men between the ages of 21 and 35 to register. Some Selective Service records are at the National Archives regional centers.

Unit Histories[edit | edit source]

The bibliographies of this outline list published unit histories. For brief organizational and service histories of Army combat units see the following:

Maurer, Maurer, ed. Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II. Department of the Air Force, USAF Historical Division, Air University, 1969.

Stanton, Shelby L. Order of Battle, U.S. Army, World War II. Novato, Calif.: Presidio Press, 1984. (FHL book 973 M2st.)

Prisoner of War Records[edit | edit source]

A valuable source when searching for prisoners of war is the Records of the Prisoner of War Information Division in the Records of the Office of the Provost Marshal General, 1941–, Record Group 389. It contains 31 volumes of rosters of P.O.W.s held by Germany, Japan, and neutral countries.

Additional records and information on prisoners of war held by the German military are also located in Record Group 242, National Archives Collection of Foreign Records Seized.

The following guide will also be helpful in locating prisoner records:

DeWhitt, Benjamin L., and Jennifer Davies Heaps, comps. Records Relating to Personal Participation in World War II: American Prisoners of War and Civilian Internees. Ref. Information Paper 80. Washington, D.C. National Archives and Records Adminstration, 1992 (FHL book 973 A3rr.)

National WWII Memorial
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The introduction to the memorial on the web site says, "The memory of America's World War II generation is preserved within the physical memorial and through the World War II Registry of Remembrances, an individual listing of Americans who contributed to the war effort. Any U.S. citizen who helped win the war, whether a veteran or someone on the home front, is eligible for the Registry."  The memorial was dedicated 29 May 2004.  Visit their website for more information at http://www.wwiimemorial.com

Sources for Further Reading[edit | edit source]

Ancell, R. Manning, with Christine Miller. The Biographical Dictionary of World War II Generals and Flag Officers: The U.S. Armed Forces. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1996. (FHL book 973 D36anc; computer number 808144.)

DeWhitt, Benjamin L. “World War II Ship’s Logs.” Prologue: Quarterly of the National Archives 24 (Winter 1992): 400–4. (FHL book 973 B2p.)

Gray, Paul D. “The Human Record of Conflict: Individual Military Service and Medical Records.” Prologue: Quarterly of the National Archives 23 (Fall 1991): 307–13. (FHL book 973 B2p.)

Heaps, Jennifer Davis. “World War II Prisoner-of-War Records.” Prologue: Quarterly of the National Archives 23. (Fall 1991): 323–8. (FHL book 973 B2p.)

Mix, Ann Bennett. Touchstones: A Guide to Records, Rights, and Resources for Families of American World War II Casualties. Bountiful, Utah: American Genealogical Lending Library, 1996. (FHL book 973 M27t.)

Pearl Harbor Survivors Association. Pearl Harbor Survivors: 50th Anniversary. Paducah, Ky.: Turner Publishing, 1992. (FHL book 996.93 M2p.) This book contains biographical sketches of veterans and a list of association members.

Websites[edit | edit source]