Finding Family Who Fought in World War II
Fighting Divisions by Chief Warrant Officer E. J. Kahn, Jr. and Technical Sergeant Henry McLemore from Materials Provided by the Office of Technical Information, Special Information Section, Headquarters Army Ground Forces. Washington, DC: The Infantry Journal, 1945. 940.539 K12F
Gawne, Jonathan. Finding Your Father’s War: A Practical Guide to Researching and Understanding Service in the World War II US Army. Philadelphia: Casemate, 2005. 940.54 G24F
Guide to Genealogical Research in the National Archives of the United States. Edited by Anne Bruner Eales and Robert M. Kvasnicka. 3rd ed. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 2000. 929.1 GUIDE
Guide to the Sources of United States Military History. Edited by Robin Higham. Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 1975. R 016.355 G94H
How to Locate Anyone Who Is or Has Been in the Military: Armed Forces Locator Directory. San Antonio, TX: Military Information Enterprises, 1999. 355.002 J63H
Knox, Debra Johnson. World War II Military Records: A Family Historian’s Guide. Spartanburg, SC: MIE Publishing, 2003.
This is a key work and unfortunately it is currently out of print. The Newton Free Library does not own it. Circulating copies can be requested from the Medford Public Library and the Morse Institute Library in Natick. Non-circulating copies are owned by the Cary Memorial Library in Lexington, the Goodnow Library in Sudbury, and the Waltham Public Library. All these libraries belong to the Minuteman Library Network.
Military Service Records at the National Archives. Reference Information Paper 109. Compiled by Trevor K. Plante. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 2007. R 929.1 U58M
Neagles, James C. U.S. Military Records: A Guide to Federal and State Sources–Colonial America to the Present. Salt Lake City, UT: Ancestry, 1994. R 929.309 N24U
Phillips, Cody. The Guide to U.S. Army Museums. Washington, D.C.: Center of Military History, United States Army, 2005. R 355.007 P54G
Stanton, Shelby L. Order of Battle, U.S. Army, World War II. Novato, CA: Predidio, 1984. R 355.309 S79O
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES WITH EXAMPLES
PERSONAL NARRATIVES OF SEARCHES MADE BY FAMILY MEMBERS
Bradley, James. Flags of Our Fathers. New York: Bantam Books, 2000. 940.542 B72F
James Bradley’s father was one of the men in the famous war photo of soldiers raising the American flag on Iwo Jima. The author researches the lives of the other men in the photo, learning more about his father in the process. This book is the result of that research.
Dale, Diana Thompson. Finding Billy: An Internet Odyssey. Denver, CO: Golden Slipper Press, 2003. 940.544 DALE
The author begins a search for information about her Uncle Billy, a pilot killed in World War II. She ultimately hopes to locate his body so that he can be laid to rest with his family. The use of the Internet proves to be a critical factor in her search.
Elvin, Jan. The Box from Braunau: In Search of My Father’s War. New York: Amacom, 2009. 940.541 E51B.
This work includes an index, a bibliography and five appendices: Army Organization in World War II, My Father’s Wartime Itinerary, Glosary of Terms and Military Acronyms, Sources for Information on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for Veterans, and How to Search for Your Father’s War.
When she was small, the box her father brought back from World War II labeled “Braunau 1944” was just a box. It was only when she was older and opened it, that her journey to understand more about her father and his experiences began. In it were diaries and letters about her father’s service in World War II. As a lieutenant in Patton’s Army he saw the extremes of what one human being can do to another in the Ebensee concentration camp. The box itself was a gift from an inmate in an Austrian labor camp.
Sheehan, Susan. A Missing Plane. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons. 1986. 940.544 S54M
Sheehan’s book begins with the discovery of the remains of a World War II plane in New Guinea through forensic identification to the notification of the family. The second part of the book recounts the life of the pilot.
Steinman, Louise. The Souvenir: A Daughter Discovers Her Father’s War. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2001. 940.542 STEINMAN
When the author discovers a trunk full of letters that her father wrote during his service in World War II, she also finds a Japanese flag with many Japanese signatures. Her search for the family of the flag’s owner and the revelations within the letters teach her much about the war and her father.
DIARIES, JOURNALS, LETTERS, DISPATCHES
Churchill, Edward D., 1895-1972. Surgeon to Soldiers: Diary and Records of the Surgical Consultant, Allied Headquarters, World War II. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1972. 355.345 C47S
Kahn, Sy Myron. Between Tedium and Terror: A Soldier’s World War II Diary, 1943-45. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1993. 940.542 K12B
Ostlund, Mike. Find ‘Em, Chase ‘Em, Sink ‘Em: The Mysterious Loss of the WWII Submarine USS Gudgeon. Guilford, CT: Lyons Press, 2006. 940.545 O85F
The author has reconstructed the life and loss of the submarine and its crew from patrol reports in U.S. and Japanese archives, interviews with men who had served aboard her, and the personal effects of the lost men’s relatives. The book contains a selected bibliography and notes for those interested in more information.
Pyle, Ernie, 1900-1945. Ernie’s War: The Best of Ernie Pyle’s World War II Dispatches. Edited by David Nichols. New York: Random House, 1986. 940.53 P99E
Schaefer, Chris. Bataan Diary: An American Family in World War II, 1941-1945. Houston, TX: Riverview, 2004. 940.535 S29B
Stroup. Russell Cartwright, 1905-1977. Letters from the Pacific: A Combat Chaplain in World War II. Edited with an introduction by Richard Cartwright Austin. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2000. 940.547 S92L
Whitehead, Don. Combat Reporter: Don Whithead’s World War II Diary and Memoirs. Edited by John B. Romeiser. New York: Fordham University Press, 2006. 940.541 W58C
World War II Letters: A Glimpse into the Heart of the Second World War Through the Words of Those Who Were Fighting It. Edited by Bill Adler with Tracy Quinn McLennan. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2002. 940.548 WORLD
PERSONAL NARRATIVES BY PARTICIPANTS
Giangreco, D. M. Eyewitness to D-Day: Firsthand Accounts from the Landing at Normandy to the Liberation of Paris. New York: Barnes and Noble Books, 2004. 940.542 GIANCRECO
Leckie, Robert. Helmet for My Pillow: From Paris Island to the Pacific, a Young Marine’s Stirring Account of Combat in World War II. New York: Bantam, 2010. In Processing, 30 March 2010.
Sledge, E. B. With the Old Breed at Peleliu and Okinawa. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991. 940.542 SLEDGE
Winters, Richard D. Beyond the Band of Brothers: The War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters. New York: Berkley Caliber, 2006. 940.542 Winters
REGIMENTAL AND DIVISION HISTORIES
Ambrose, Stephen E. The Wild Blue: The Men and Boys Who Flew the B-24s Over Germany. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2001. 940.544 AMBROSE
Conner, Howard M. The Spearhead: The World War II History of the 5th Marine Division. Washington, DC: Infantry Journal Press, 1950. 940.539 C76S
Hampton, Ellen. Women of Valor: The Rochambelles on the WWII Front. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006. 940.547 H18W
Historical Division, United States War Department. Merrill’s Marauders: February – May 1944. American Forces in Action Series. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office, 4 June 1945. 940.543 U58M
Patton’s Fighting Bridge Builders: Company B, 1303rd Engineer General Service Regiment. Edited by Joseph C. Fitzharris. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2007. 940.541 P27F
Check online library catalogs, such as the Library of Congress (www.loc.gov), to see if your own regiment or division has a published history.
BROADER WORLD WAR II SERVICE HISTORIES
Ambrose, Stephen E. Citizen Soldiers: The U.S. Army from the Normandy Beaches to the Bulge to the Surrender of Germany, June 7, 1944-May 7, 1945. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1997. 940.542 A49C
Keith, Don. Final Patrol: True Stories of World War II Submarines. New York: NAL Caliber, 2006. 940.545 K26F
The Library of Congress World War II Companion. Edited and with an Introduction by David M. Kennedy. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2007. 940.53 L61K
Lowder, Hughston E. The Silent Service: U.S. Submarines in World War II. Baltimore, MD: Silent Service Books, 1987. 940.545 L95S
Millett, Allan Reed. Semper Fidelis: The History of the United States Marine Corps. Rev. ed. New York: Free Press, 1991. 359.96 M61S
Morison, Samuel Eliot. History of the United States Naval Operations in World War II. 15 vols. Boston: Little, Brown: 1947-1962. 940.546 M82B
United States. USAF Historical Division. The Army Air Forces in World War II. 7 vols. Prepared under the editorship of Wesley Frank Craven and James Lea Cate. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1948-1958. 940.545 C85A
War Stories II: Heroism in the Pacific. Edited by Oliver L. North with Joe Musser. Washington, DC: Regnery, 2004. 940.542 N81W
War Stories III: The Heroes Who Defeated Hitler. Edited by Oliver L. North with Joe Musser. Washington, DC: Regnery, 2005. 940.542 N81W
Ward, Geoffrey C. and Ken Burns. The War: An Intimate History, 1941-1945. New York: A.A. Knopf, 2007. 940.537 W21W
Willoughby, Malcolm Francis. The U. S. Coast Guard in World War II. Annapolis: Unites States Naval Institute, 1957. 940.546 W68U
FOR VETERANS WRITING YOUR OWN MEMOIRES
Before I go on, I want to thank every veteran who reads this for your service. You gave up part of your life to keep this country safe and our freedoms secure. There is no way to repay you for what you did. This booklist is just a tiny down payment on the part of one librarian. Thank you.
Cook, Kimberly A. Do Bar Fights Count? How to Write Your Military Stories. La Vergne, TN: Lightning Source, Inc., 2006. 808.02 C77D
This work was written by an army veteran who has taught writing to other veterans. It is the only book I have found so far specifically geared toward veterans. If you have a computer (or a friend that has a computer) copy and paste the following address and take a look at the first 15 pages of the book. http://www.booklocker.com/pdf/2405s.pdf
OTHER BOOKS THAT ARE GEARED TO A MORE GENERAL AUDIENCE, BUT WHICH MAY PROVE HELPFUL ARE:
Greene, Bob and D. G. Fulford. To Our Children’s Children: Preserving Family Histories for Generations to Come. New York: Doubleday, 1991. 929.1 G83T
This book is useful for people who want to write, but don’t know where to start or get stuck in the middle. It consists of a series of questions on a number of topics that can be used as prompts. Pages 64 to 70 cover military memories and pages 71 to 76 cover the home front.
McDonnell, Jane Taylor. Living to Tell the Tale: A Guide to Writing Memoir. New York: Penguin Books, 1998. 808.066 M14L
Roorbach, Bill. Writing Life Stories. Cincinnati, OH: Story Press, 1998. 808.066 R67W
Zinsser, William. Writing About Your Life: A Journey into the Past. New York: Marlowe and Company, 2004. 828.09 Z66 .ZI
Zinsser spent part of World War II as a GI in North Africa and Italy.
Index to Online Resourcs
Cyndi’s List: Genealogy Index to World War II Military Websites: http://www.cyndislist.com/worldwar2.htm
Libraries and Archives
Library of Congress: http://www.loc.gov This is among the best of the online catalogs to check for published regimental and division histories.
Library of Congress – Veterans History Project: http://www.loc.gov/vets
National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., Military Records: http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records
Online Finding Aids
Online Military Indexes and Records: A Genealogy Guide: http://www.militaryindexes.com
The Search for the USS Grunion and for family members of the crew: http://www.ussgrunion.com
Websites of the Official Historians for the Five Branches of the United States Military
United States Army Center of Military History: http://www.army.mil/cmh-pg/index.html
United States Air Force History Office: http://www.airforcehistory.hq.af.mil
United States Coast Guard Historian’s Office: http://www.uscg.mil/history
United States Marine Corps History Division: http://www.tecom.usmc.mil/HD
United States Naval Historical Center: http://www.history.navy.mil
Subscription Database Available in the Newton Free Library
Ancestry Library Edition
Do you need to find more information on your military ancestors? Ancestry includes a number of photographic copies of original records. To get to Ancestry, Click on “Have You Tried Our Online Databases?” on one of the library’s Internet connected computers. Next click on Genealogy, then Ancestry. To get to Ancestry’s military records, click on “Search” near the top left hand side of the first page–to the right of the word “Home”. When the next page comes up, look to the right side for a separate frame with headings. Under the first set, “Historical Records”, you will see a sub-heading of “Military Records”. Click on it. When the next page comes up, scroll down the main body, not the frames. It will first feature several collections, then list all collections with military records. Don’t forget to check the “General Search Tips” at the bottom of this page.
To learn more about using Ancestry’s military records to best advantage, click on or copy and past the following address into your computer browser’s address (or location) box:
http://store.ancestry.com/custom/mfsku4448_PDF_ProductDetail.aspx. You do not have to be on the Ancestry site to get here. Now you have access to the pdf version of the book Military Records at Ancestry.com by Esther Yu Sumner. Ancestry allows you to download it or print it out free of charge.
If you find additional books, websites or other sources that helped you, would you let me know by leaving a comment in the box below. I’d like to add them to this list. If you leave your initials, I will include them with the entry. And feel free to let me know if you find any mistakes or problems with this list.
28 September 2010 (updated)/vea
Newton Free Library