Family Tree Friday: World War II Records at College Park

Continuing the theme of my last post, which introduced alternate ways to research 20th century military service (to compensate for the personnel files lost in the 1973 file at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis), this time we’ll look at two essential series of unit records relating to World War II.

By far the most useful–and heavily-used–records about Army units are located in the series “World War II Operations Reports, 1940-1948″ (ARC ID 305275).  This series is arranged into six subseries, including 1) WWII Operations Reports, 2) Combat Interviews, 3) Miscellaneous Lists, 4) Order of Battle, 5) Pre-Invasion Planning, and 6) Special Files.  While I would encourage you to read the detailed archival description of the records on ARC, the main series of Operations Reports generally includes unit histories, after action reports, operation reports, journals, general orders, and intelligence reports about the combat operations of specific units and commands in active theaters–in particular the European Theater of Operations–and may also include photographs, maps, diaries, and unit yearbooks.  Here is where you can find details about the exploits of such noteworthy organizations as the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division (of Band of Brothers TV fame).  Even though there is a vast amount of information to wade through in the Operations Reports (over 12,000 linear feet of records in 27,000+ archival boxes!) there is a useful card index available (ARC ID 596364) which provides a brief description of the reports, including the name of the unit, file designation, type of record, and date.  For WWII veterans whose individual personnel files no longer exist in St. Louis, the Operations Reports offer a useful substitute for information regarding their wartime experiences.

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18 Responses to Family Tree Friday: World War II Records at College Park

  1. Jeannette Blankenship says:

    Where would you search for state-side service for W.A.C. enlisted personnel. My mother enlisted in Illinois in late 1941 or early 1942 and was a truck and ambulance driver. She was stationed at various bases in the upper widwest, but never saw duty overseas.

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    • Maureen says:

      Hi Jeannette,

      Thanks so much for your question! The service records of the WACs should be located at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis. The Center had a fire in 1973 that resulted in the destruction of millions of files, which may have affected your mother’s file. More information on the fire is at http://www.archives.gov/st-louis/military-personnel/fire-1973.html.

      You can learn a little more about the NPRC and the process of requesting military records here:
      http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/
      Generally, only veterans and their next of kin are able to request service records, but you should be fine since it’s your mother’s records you’re interested in. You can also contact the NPRC at MPR.center@nara.gov if you have more questions about military records.

      Your mother’s service sounds fascinating, and I hope this helps you get the materials you’re looking for!

      Maureen (admin)

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  2. Lynn says:

    wondering where i could find my fathers records, he enlisted in 1941 navy-sgt.gunman 3–
    would love any info or advice.

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  3. Patricia says:

    How would I find a tail gunner who died in 1945 All I have is his 1st name (Patrick)

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  4. Keith says:

    I would like to find out information on my Uncle Frank who Faught in WW II, He died when I was 9 in 1980 and my cousins told me he didn’t talk about the war, I want to know where he faught, his rank, can you please help me. I do have his dog tag Number if that helps.

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  5. Marilyn says:

    I was delighted with joy to see my uncle’s name on the list of the fallen soldiers from World War II. My mom showed me when I was a little girl where Solomon Walker Jr was buried at Lincoln Memorial Cementary in Atlanta. He died in 1945 or 1946

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  6. Sue says:

    Have all of the US Navy WW II personnel records been transferred to the NA at College Park? I am wondering whether to write to St. Louis or College Park. Thanks for the direction.

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    • John says:

      Hi Sue,

      Official military personnel folders for WWII Navy veterans are still held at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis. In fact, St. Louis holds the personnel records for all 20th century military service (all branches) since WWI, so you should definitely write to them for more information. You will need to send a Standard Form (SF) 180 to request a copy of a file, which you can download directly from NARA’s web site at http://www.archives.gov.

      Good luck with your research!

      – John

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  7. Millard Greer says:

    Records for World War one any improvement in those records?

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  8. Andrew Turtora says:

    My father served in Europe during WW2 in the Army Air Force. During that time, the Air Force was not a separate branch as it is today. The list of records destroyed in the St. Louis fire mentioned Army and then Air Force after 1947. I believe that is when the Army Air Force became its own branch. Can you clarify if Army Air Force records from 1942-1945 were destroyed along with Army records, or were they perhaps kept separately at that time.

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    • John says:

      Hi Andrew,

      To the best of my knowledge, according to information on the NARA web site regarding the St. Louis fire, Army Air Corps and Army Air Force records before 1947 were not kept separately from other Army service records, so they were effected equally by the fire. The fire destroyed 80% of Army records for personnel discharged between November 1, 1912 and January 1, 1960, along with 75% of Air Force records for personnel discharged from September 25, 1947 to January 1, 1964. You can find more information about the 1973 fire at http://www.archives.gov/st-louis/military-personnel/fire-1973.html.

      John

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  9. Janet Turnbull says:

    My father was in the OSS in the Pacific during WWII. Before he died he said his records were classified and held by the CIA (which the OSS became). Would any records from the Pacific theatre be at College Park? Thank you

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  10. Edward l Tetter says:

    My grandfather Alvin E Tetter was in the us navy during ww2 a coxwian but he was on two different ships first uss goldencity then uss manatee Ao-58 the rest of the time I have his log/diary a lot of histery within just like to know more about what he did during service.

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  11. Edward L Tetter says:

    I have a lot of relatives who were in the military in the past ww2. Ww1 civilwar and spanish American wars I’m just trying to find information if possible.

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    • Katherine says:

      Hi Edward,

      We hold record for the Civil War and the Spanish American War – both service records and pension files. You can request them from us by using our standard mail order forms (NATF Forms 85 and 86). WWI and later personnel records are held in the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis. You can use Standard Form 180 to request a search.

      Good luck with your research!

      – Katherine

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  12. Marcia says:

    My father fought in Battery A of the 63rd Field Artillery Btn in the 24th Infantry Division in WWII from 1943- May 1945 when he was wounded in Mindinao, Philippine Islands. How can I find the 63rd FA Btn unit reports for the time period he served? Are they specific to the Battery?

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