Publications

Reference Information Paper 82

A Finding Aid to Records Relating to Personal Participation in World War II: American Military Casualties and Burials

Table of Contents

Part I: Textual Records Relating to Casualties and Burials

[For more information about the records described here, contact the Textual Archives Services Division, National Archives at College Park, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740. Telephone: 30- 837-3510 Email: Contact NARA]

Contents

Record Group 24--Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel

The Bureau of Naval Personnel (BUPERS) originated in 1862 as the Bureau of Navigation, which controlled only certain personnel functions related to officers. As the organization of the U.S. Navy evolved, the bureau assumed increased responsibility for personnel functions and in 1942 its name became the Bureau of Naval Personnel.

  • Records of the Casualty Section

    The records of BUPERS' Casualty Section for the World War II period pertain to Coast Guard personnel, Armed Guard units aboard merchant vessels, Navy aviation personnel, Navy nurses, and Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES); very little information is found regarding Marine Corps personnel. The series World War II casualty lists and related records, 1941-52 (25 ft.), consists of the following eight subseries:

    1. "World War II by ship" (11 ft.) is arranged alphabetically by name of vessel (with nominal and alpha-numeric designations intermixed). The records consist of correspondence, forms, lists, inquiries, and other material focused on identifying and accounting for all casualties, both wounded and dead. For many vessels, the details or circumstances of casualty-related events are provided. For others, especially large vessels with large losses, only name and rank lists are found. Information about aircraft carriers includes pilots and crewmen, and many ships' files include information on accidents as well as on combat-related casualties. Occasional files contain a wealth of detail, such as that of the heavy cruiser Houston, sunk in the Java Sea in March 1942. This file contains data on the disposition of survivors to various Japanese POW camps, descriptions of camp conditions, and reconstructions of crew losses suffered in the actual sinking. Although the files extend to such auxiliary ships as oilers and harbor tugs, some gaps in coverage remain. For instance, no entry is found for the extensive losses in the August 1945 sinking of the heavy cruiser Indianapolis.

    2. "World War II by ship (armed guard)" (7 ft.) covers merchant vessels on which Navy gun crews served. These records also are arranged alphabetically by name of ship and cover primarily vessels lost to enemy action. The kind and extent of information in the files is similar to that in the previous subseries.

    3. "World War II by battle or campaign" (1 ft.) is arranged by general geographic area of the action and thereunder generally alphabetically by the name of the battle or campaign. The records mostly consist of general accounts of actions and of lists containing only personal names, identification information, and location of casualties.

    4. "World War II by group or type of service" (2.5 ft.) has no clear arrangement scheme but consists of files clearly labeled concerning the subject groups. Occasionally records contain only statistical information, but most consist of lists of names of casualties classed by groups. These include "American Indians," "enlisted Filipinos," "Guam natives," "WAVES," nurses, submariners, chaplains, personnel in medical units," "Supply Corps officers," and "aviation personnel." Also among the records are separate lists for enlisted men and officers, arranged by month and location of casualty. Another list in this subseries is of Navy and Marine Corps aircraft "expended" outside the Continental United States during the war. This list is arranged by type of aircraft, thereunder by month and year of loss, and thereunder generally by the serial number of the aircraft. Each entry indicates the base from which the aircraft was operating, the location of the loss, and the specific day of the loss. Most entries include a name, presumably that of the pilot.

    5. "World War II by general geographic area" (0.5 ft.) consists of a few files regarding personnel and losses in specific countries or regions. Some files, for instance, are payroll lists for prewar Navy personnel in the Philippine Islands.

    6. "Records compiled by the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery" (1.5 ft.) mostly consist of correspondence listing casualties in specific locations or naval units. The files are labeled and arranged alphabetically by a mixture of place and unit names.

    7. "Comprehensive list by operation" (1.5 ft.) consists of 14 volumes of partially encoded tabulations of all casualties for each combat or other wartime "operation." Under each operation, casualties are listed alphabetically by surname. Codes are used both for operations and for types and causes of casualties. Operations include designations such as the following:

    "Pearl Harbor Attack"
    "Amphibious Operations, Saipan"
    "Bonin Raids"
    "Transport Operations, South Pacific"

    Types and causes of casualties are labeled according to reporting cycle, and include designations such as the following:

    "Original Reports"
    "Deaths Confirmed, Previously Reported Missing"
    "Presumed Dead, Previously Reported Missing"
    "Declared or Determined Dead, Previously Reported Missing"

    Some examples of the many "type and cause" codes indicate the level of information available:

    0700 Wounded--result of enemy action
    0132 Death by drowning--result of enemy action
    0137 Death resulting from enemy atrocity
    0153 Death due to collision--not enemy action
    6242 Presumed drowned--not enemy action--more than a year subsequent to determined missing
    8450 Death due to exposure--enemy action--while prisoner of war

    Entries in the lists contain name, identification number, unit assignment, cause of casualty, and date of casualty.

    8. "Alphabetical list by Army Office of the Quartermaster General" (1 ft.) consists of partially encoded "Electric Accounting Machine Reports" (tabulations) sent to BUPERS by the Department of the Army in October 1952. Binding labels refer to these reports--formally entitled "Roster of Burials in U.S. Military Cemeteries Overseas"--as "Navy Fatality Listings." The list is arranged by cemetery and thereunder alphabetically by surname of deceased. Each entry contains coded information on the deceased's religion, race, and discharge status; cemetery location; disposition of remains; and cremation where relevant.

    The series World War I casualty lists and related records, n.d. (10 ft.), contains the subseries "World War I [and World War II] by state" (8 in.), arranged alphabetically by name of state. Among the records are summary statistics for casualties in both world wars. Each state entry includes both World War I and World War II totals for Navy and Marine Corps casualties under the headings "Number Serving," "Battle Deaths," "Wounds Not Mortal," and "Total Casualties" (which is the sum of the previous two categories). Following the summaries are files on each state, arranged alphabetically, containing correspondence concerning World War I casualty statistics.

    The Casualty Section of BUPERS also included the Navy Prisoner of War Board, which was responsible for Navy's participation in the joint Army-Navy POW Board and for controlling information about Navy personnel who became POWs during World War II. Some of the Board's records contain information on casualties. The series, Navy Prisoner of War Board subject files, 1942-45, under file designations "V," "X-I," and "X-II," includes material concerning death certificates, burials, and the repatriation of sick and wounded POWs from both Japanese- and German-controlled camps. 9

    The series Casualty Branch administrative files, 1942-48 (7 ft.), contains several subseries related to World War II:

    1. The subseries "subject files" (1.2 ft.) contains sample casualty forms and correspondence and administrative policy statements on personal effects, the identification of remains, insurance, and benefits for survivors.

    2. The "chronological file, February 1942-December 1944" (2 ft.), consists of records relevant to the administrative processing of information on casualties as the war progressed.

    3. "Congressional correspondence, 1942-48" (2 ft.), is arranged chronologically and concerns such matters as administrative policy and inquiries on casualties and survivors' and veterans' benefits.

    4. "Miscellaneous correspondence" (0.5 ft.) contains correspondence and related records on POW dead, the American Battle Monuments Commission, benefits, and personal effects.

    • Ships' Logs

      Ships' logs, long the responsibility of the Bureau of Navigation, were "inherited" by BUPERS. The "logbook" began in the 16th century when a device known as a log was used to measure the speed of a ship. Eventually the logbook became a journal in which to record important events of sea voyages and sea and weather conditions, as well as the ship's speed and other performance information. The form of logbooks evolved in the U.S. Navy, but by 1900 printed pages were issued unbound. At the end of each month, the completed pages were forwarded to the Bureau of Navigation (later BUPERS), where they were eventually bound in aggregates of one year or more.10

      Specific instructions for keeping ships logs have been part of U.S. Navy procedure since long before World War II. The instructions charge responsible officers to account for the following aspects of a voyage that pertain to casualties:

      1. All deaths.
      2. Names of all passengers [including wounded to be transported], with the time of embarkation and debarkation.
      3. A full, detailed account of every occurrence and remarkable incident during an action, including all damage to hull, rigging, and machinery, and all casualties.

      Because of considerations such as "the fog of war," security classifications, and the personal style of the officers who produced the logs, the contents of World War II logbooks range from highly dramatic and detailed to cryptic and frustrating. In cases of injuries, wounds, and deaths some detail about what happened and about the treatment offered is usually included. The log often tells where the wounded or injured were sent for evacuation or further treatment.

      When seeking information on specific individuals, it is absolutely necessary to go to ships' logs with considerable information in hand. Knowing where an individual was on a given day, in what battle or location he was wounded or killed, what ship rescued him or served as his assigned station--such matters are absolutely vital to finding him in the log. Information is often available, and in some cases, can be quite rewarding.11

    Record Group 52--Records of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery

    The Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BuMed) had served as the medical service of the Navy Department since its establishment in 1842. During World War II, under the direction of the Chief Surgeon of the Navy, BuMed was responsible for the maintenance of the health of Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard personnel, for the care of the sick, injured, and dead, and for related professional and technical training of Navy Department personnel.

    BuMed records in the National Archives consist primarily of central files maintained by the Bureau's Administration Division. Most of these records are administrative, historical, or otherwise general, in the sense that they seldom offer information on identifiable individuals. In those few cases where names are mentioned, finding aids and access methods do not lend themselves to finding given individuals. However, for cases in which access is based on date, military campaign, ship name, location, shore establishment, or other identifier, it may be possible to conclude that a given individual's experience could be revealed in the records. When this occurs, the records still rarely contain names but in some cases give more or less vivid accounts of how casualties and/or burials were handled at a given time and location. Sections of the records that describe illnesses or wounds suffered by individual Navy and Marine Corps personnel may be restricted in their availability.

    The series general correspondence, Jan. 1926-Dec. 1951 (210 ft.), is divided into three chronological subseries (1926-41, 1942-46, and 1947-51) and thereunder is arranged according to the Navy Filing Manual Scheme (4th edition). Information on World War II casualties and burials may be found under relevant classifications, but there is no way to find information on a given individual easily, since the series indexing this file (see below) contains no specific entries for the names of individuals buried or identified for burial.

    Index to general correspondence, Jan. 1926-Dec. 1951 (35 ft.), is divided into subseries corresponding to the subseries of the general correspondence. Each subseries is arranged alphabetically by name of subject, vessel, and individual (not including those wounded or killed). Each entry includes dates, office of origin, summary of contents, and file designation. Some entries refer to classified correspondence not found among the general correspondence. Most of the entries in the index under subjects such as "burials" or "casualties" refer to correspondence having to do with policy. A very small number of entries under such subjects list correspondence pertaining to individuals or classes of individuals. Cases in which individual names are primary entries are very rare.

    In the series of general correspondence itself, the Navy Filing Manual Scheme classifications that are relevant to casualties and burials in World War II are the following:

    A16 (WAR, PREPARATION FOR; CONDUCT OF)

    • A16-3 (Warfare operations; defensive; offensive; reports of; problems; war games)

    P6 (DEATH[S] AND CASUALTIES)

    • P6-1 (Casualties in action)
    • P6-2 (Death)
    • P6-3 (Remains)
    • P6-4 (Burial)
    • P6-5 (Memorials)
    • P6-6 (Graves and markers)
    • P6-7 (Condolences)

    QW (WAR)

    • QW-20 (World War II)

    Examples from each subseries follow: The 1926-41 subseries includes medical data concerning the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor, including observations on burn victims and a list of casualties and survivors aboard target ship USS Utah (classification QW). The 1942-46 subseries includes the air evacuation of casualties (A16-3/A21) and the standard procedures used in the identification and burial of remains of Navy and Marine Corps personnel (P6-3). Perhaps most useful is the 1947-51 subseries classification Q20/P6-1 (approximately 2 ft.), which includes extensive documentation concerning the identification and interment of individual Navy and Marine Corps personnel killed during the war. Since some of the correspondence is based on inquiries, classes of casualties--such as the names of all American sailors who died while serving aboard submarines in the Pacific--are occasionally listed. The records are arranged chronologically by date of correspondence and include much information about unidentified remains of servicemen. Also included is information about and lists of Navy personnel buried in specific areas, e.g., a 23-page list of personnel buried in cemeteries in the Solomon Islands as of November 1945.

    There is some chance of finding lists of casualties and burials in specific locations for specific periods, or of finding those associated with specific campaigns, by using the above classifications and the index. But this file can best be used to supplement information found elsewhere, or as a "last resort" in the absence of information organized for better access according to individual names.

    The series records relating to the history of naval medicine, 1775-1945 (6 ft.), appears to contain (although no direct evidence confirms this) the "raw material" for the 3-volume series history of the Naval Medical Department, 1941-45 (see below). The former series is arranged according to a numerical classification scheme, a copy of which is located at its beginning; World War II activities are documented under classification 700.00-751.280. The records are arranged thereunder by military campaign, such as "Marshall Islands Operation" or "Ryukyu's Operation," in generally chronological order and thereunder by subject. Many of the records are reports that may be found elsewhere. Although few individuals are mentioned in the records, the subjects covered, such as "wounded aboard ship," "transportation of wounded," and "burial of the dead," often give a vivid picture of the systems, activities, events, and experiences associated with casualties and burials during the campaigns. Both the European and the Pacific Theaters are covered.

    History of the Naval Medical Department, 1941-45 (3 vols., 6 in.), is a narrative account entitled "U.S. Navy Medical Department Administrative History 1941-45." Although indicated to be three volumes, only two are found in the records of the National Archives. The series is arranged by combat theater (Pacific or European) and thereunder chronologically. As would be expected of an account of U.S. Navy activity, the largest part of the work concerns the war in the Pacific.

    Part I Japanese Attacks and Reversals of the Allies in the Pacific (55 pages)
    Part II The Allied Offensive in the Pacific (345 pages)
    Part III Japanese Defeat (221 pages)
    Part IV The Allied Invasions of North Africa and Europe (100 pages)

    Within each part are chapters based on specific campaigns (such as "The Marshalls" and "Normandy") arranged chronologically. Each chapter consists of a narrative account of the campaign from the viewpoint of the Navy Medical Department detailing the logistics of medical support; special health, disease, or wound problems associated with the campaign; the evacuation of the wounded; and the burial of the dead. Many photographs are integrated into the volumes, and each chapter contains bibliographic citations to military records and other sources for the narrative, some of which are no longer extant. While these accounts almost invariably do not mention individuals by name, they constitute an excellent eyewitness narrative of the combat of World War II as viewed by those concerned with casualties and burials in the field. Something about the experience of an individual may be learned by consulting that part of the narrative concerning the campaign in which he died or was wounded. In a few cases more detail will be available in the series described next.

    The series historical supplements submitted with sanitary reports, 1941-46 (7 ft.), is divided into two subseries. The first is arranged alphabetically by ship name, with nominal style names (Yorktown, Devilfish) and symbolic/number style names (LST-230, PT-109) alphabetized together. The second subseries is arranged roughly alphabetically by shore units or stations, with types of such ("barracks," "depot," "hospital," "plant") grouped alphabetically and arranged alphabetically thereunder by separate unit or station name. Some ships are missing, many folders are empty or contain only a cover letter, and less than 20 percent contain more than 20 pages of material. Those with substance consist of a great variety of kinds of records, including ships plans, published material, "yearbooks," narrative histories, photographs, maps, chronologies, and a very few "first-person accounts." Many of the files give excellent accounts of how naval medical units functioned and what it was like to be involved with one, but names, other than those of the authors of the records, are rare. Thus, to use the records profitably, it is mandatory that the researcher know the specific ship, location, or naval unit that gave medical care to an individual. With such knowledge, the chances are fair that something can be learned of the conditions experienced and treatment received by the individual.

    Reports relating to rescued survivors of wrecked ships and aircraft, 1942-45 (1 ft.), is a series arranged generally by category of vessel and thereunder alphabetically by vessel name. The accounts apply only to those survivors recovered by U.S. Navy vessels after April 1942, for a total of less than 200 reports. Narratives, transcripts of questionnaire interviews with survivors, and descriptions of wounds and injuries and the immediate medical treatments applied are included. Most of the reports pertain to incidents in the Battle of the Atlantic, but also included are reports of survivors recovered from U.S. destroyers lost in a typhoon off Luzon, Philippine Islands, December 1944, andfrom the heavy cruiser Indianapolis, sunk by submarine in the Pacific, July-August 1945.

    Record Group 92--Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General

    Congress created a Quartermaster's Department under a single Quartermaster General in 1818. During World War II the Quartermaster Corps (QMC) continued to function as the Army's principal procurement and distribution agency for noncombat equipment, supplies, and services. Specific wartime functions included accounting for and seeing to the proper disposition of the remains of deceased Army personnel. QMC troop units stationed overseas fell under the command of the various air, ground, or service commands, but the Office of the Quartermaster General generally supervised and inspected their activities.

    • Correspondence

    The series classified and unclassified general correspondence relating to places ("Geographic File"), 1936-54 (655 ft.), is divided into chronological subseries, the most relevant to World War II of being the ones for 1936-45 (252 ft.) and 1946-48 (232 ft.). These are arranged alphabetically by geographic location and thereunder according to the War Department decimal classification scheme. Locations overseas and in the United States are alphabetized together, and include cities, states, territories, foreign countries, forts, camps, and military cemeteries. The files for most of the locations include entries for decimals 293 ("Funerals, burials, and reports") and 314.6 ("Death and interment records"). Among these are burial lists that give name, service number, and location. Although the names of casualties occasionally appear in other contexts as well, it is absolutely necessary, as it is with the burial lists, to link an individual to a specific place and time to locate a record concerning him.

    The series of formerly classified and unclassified general correspondence relating to organizational units ("Miscellaneous File"), 1939-54 (311 ft.), contains records similar to those described in the preceding paragraph, including those under decimals 293 ("Funerals, burials, and reports") and 314.6 ("Death and interment records"). A similar caveat applies when searching for information on an individual; the key in this series is to know the date and organizational unit relevant to the individual being sought. The series is divided into formerly classified (29 ft.) and unclassified (282 ft.) collections, each of which is thereunder arranged alphabetically by category, name of unit, or subject, and thereunder according to the War Department decimal scheme. The following are the most productive for World War II casualty information:

    1. The "unclassified 1939-45 subseries" (136 ft.) contains, under decimal 314.6, weekly burial reports for deceased Army personnel in each theater.
    2. The "unclassified 1946-48 subseries" (58 ft.) contains--in files categorized under either "Graves Registration Service" or specific theaters of operation--information regardingthe recovery, identification, and interment of the remains of American servicemen.

    Unclassified general correspondence ("Subject File"), 1936-61 (1,887 ft.), is arranged in chronological subseries--1936-45 (329 ft.) and 1946-48 (122 ft.) pertain to World War II--and thereunder by the War Department decimal scheme. Information on individuals is generally lacking and difficult to locate where it does exist, except under decimals 293 and 314.6. Even in these files it is necessary that the researcher have more information than the individual's name as the basis for the search. For instance, the 1936-45 subseries contains 18 inches of records under decimal 293 (filed thereunder by subject, such as "Congressional cases," "Lost at sea," and "Notification of next of kin") and 1 inch of records under decimal 314.6 , including "Reports of Burials and Reburial." Similarly arranged records for both decimal 293 (46 in.) and decimal 314.6 (6 in.) are found in the subseries for 1946-48.

    • Records of the Memorial Division

    The Memorial Division in the Office of the Quartermaster General was created in 1941 to take charge of activities pertaining to the disposition of the Army's dead. This function included the following:

    1. The disposition of remains
    2. The purchase and supply of grave sites, headstones, and markers
    3. The establishment and operation of national cemeteries, POW cemeteries, post cemeteries, soldier plots, monuments, and certain parks under the jurisdiction of the War Department
    4. The work of the Graves Registration Service overseas and in the continental United States, including the handling of registration and interment records

    Rosters of military personnel whose remains were not recovered, 1951-54 (6 ft.), are electronic accounting machine lists of military personnel whose remains were not recovered during World War II. The lists are arranged alphabetically by surname of the decedent. The rosters show the name of the decedent, his rank, his branch and arm of service, and the date and general geographic area in which death occurred.

    Interment control forms, 1928-62 (353 ft.), are arranged alphabetically by the name of the decedent, except for 15 feet of records relating to unknown individuals, for which the forms--found at the end of the series--are arranged alphabetically by name of cemetery. These forms were used as records of control over burials and lots in national cemeteries of deceased military personnel and their dependents. The forms contain information such as the name of the decedent; his or her date of birth; the date of death; the place of burial and location of the gravesite; the next of kin; the name of the chaplain officiating at the burial; the type of religious emblem on the headstone; and data concerning the decedent's military service, such as dates, grade, regiment, division, and awards.

    Among the records held by the Cartographic and Architectural Unit of the National Archives are grave plot charts for temporary World War II cemeteries, 1946-51 (6 ft.). These maps show the row and grave numbers where U.S. military personnel were buried in temporary World War II cemeteries. Each entry on the map gives the last name, first and middle initials, and service number of the decedent. The charts are arranged by a numeric scheme, but all charts for one cemetery are not always filed together. An appendix in the records lists cemeteries included in the series.

    The series applications for headstones, 1925-62 (815 ft.), is arranged chronologically in ten segments, covering time periods of varying lengths, and thereunder alphabetically by name of decedent. The series consists of forms accumulated in connection with the provision of headstones for the unmarked graves of honorably discharged veterans and those who died while on active duty. The forms include information such as the name of the decedent, dates of birth and death, the name and location of the cemetery, the type of religious emblem requested, and the name and address of the applicant and his or her relationship to the deceased. Also included is information concerning the decedent's military service, such as dates of enlistment and discharge, grade, service number, company, regiment, and division.

    Records of Missing Air Crews

    In October 1942, Headquarters, Army Air Forces (AAF) undertook a 7-month study of the methods used in World War I to account for airmen reported missing in action and of the sources currently available for the same job. It was determined that those methods and sources were not adequate to World War II air war activities, and in May 1943 AAF recommended the adoption of a special form, Missing Air Crew Report (MACR), to record the facts of the last known circumstances regarding missing air crews. The MACR was also designed to relate that information to facts obtained later and from other sources, with the aim of determining the ultimate fate of missing personnel.

    The War Department approved the AAF recommendation, and on May 23, 1943, the Adjutant General directed that within 48 hours of an official finding that an aircraft or any member of its crew was missing and had last been seen in combat or over enemy-held territory, an MACR be prepared by the station from which the aircraft had departed. These forms were then sent to Headquarters, AAF, in small batches and numbered consecutively there. The Casualty Branch, Headquarters, AAF, served as a central collection point for MACRs throughout the war. In late 1946 all MACRs at AAF Headquarters were transferred to the Identification Branch of the Memorial Division, Office of the Quartermaster General. These forms were a valuable part of the Quartermaster Department's postwar program to identify missing American military personnel. AAF units continued to prepare and submit MACRs though 1947 and in January 1949 all of those postwar reports were turned over to the Memorial Division.

    Most of the reports of missing air crews [MACRs], 1943-47 (118 ft.), therefore, are reports prepared soon after aircraft were reported missing, but some were prepared after the war by both AAF and the Office of the Quartermaster General. A few were also prepared, more or less "after the fact," for crashes that had occurred before the MACR formwas institutionalized in May 1943. The reports in the series are arranged numerically in case files. It should be emphasized that the dates in the series title, 1943-47, refer to the timespan of the investigations, not to the dates of the aircraft losses themselves; the series covers only wartime losses plus a very few that occurred immediately after the end of hostilities.

    The MACRs generally are used best in conjunction with other records but in a very few cases may be the only documentation available concerning a given individual. Four indexes to MACRs are available, arranged according to the following:

    1. Personal name of each crew member
    2. Tail number of lost aircraft
    3. Date of loss
    4. Serial number of each gun mounted on lost aircraft

    The indexes indicate the number of the MACR in which the indexed term is found. Index entries occasionally contain "extra" information, such as the service number of an individual crew member. The reports themselves have been microfilmed by the National Archives and are available for reproduction. Only the name index has been microfilmed.

    Typically an MACR gives some or all of the following kinds of information about each crew member:

    1. Name
    2. Rank
    3. Service number
    4. Crew position
    5. Name and address of next of kin.

    The report also usually indicates the following:

    1. AAF organization to which the aircraft was assigned
    2. Place of departure and destination of the flight plan
    3. Weather conditions and visibility at the time of loss
    4. Cause of crash
    5. Type, model, and serial number of the aircraft and its engines
    6. Kinds of weapons installed and their serial numbers

    Some case files include the names of persons with some knowledge of the aircraft's last flight. In some cases these are rescued or returned crew members. Few reports contain the full range of information, especially those prepared in 1943 and in 1947.

    The MACRs are arranged numerically in case files from 1 to 16,708, with a small incidence of irregularities and gaps in the numbering. The duplication of numbers was rectified with the addition of suffixes--"a,b,c," etc. Only about 120 of the case files are actually missing.

    Anotherseries, lists of Allied air crashes, Sept. 1939-Mar. 1945 (4 in.), is arranged chronologically by the date of each crash. These lists were prepared from German sources (see entry for Record Group 242) by the Notification Section of the Office of the Quartermaster General. Information in each record includes the time of the crash, the type of craft, craft identification numbers or symbols (if available), the general location of the crash, and reference numbers from pertinent German records. The lists are mostly of British and American aircraft. This series generally contains very little information beyond that found in the MACR case files.

    Information related to MACRs may be found in Record Group 407 correspondence (see p. 32), which contains some information from air crash survivors solicited by the Adjutant General's Office after the war. Unfortunately there is no way to find correspondence on a given individual using the MACRs. For access methods to that correspondence, see its description.

    • Other Records

    The series records relating to the selection and interment of the unknown soldiers for World War II and the Korean War, 1957-58 (9 ft.), consists of reports, correspondence, press clippings, and pamphlets related to the selection of unidentified remains from among the war dead. Included are reports on disinterments that originated in overseas commands.

    Record Group 112--Records of the Office of the Surgeon General (Army)

    The Surgeon General of the Army served as the principal medical authority in the Army in World War II. The headquarters of the Surgeon General, known during the war as the Surgeon General's Office (SGO), was directly responsible to the Army Chief of Staff until March 1942, and thereafter served under Headquarters, Services of Supply (later called Headquarters, Army Service Forces) for the duration of the war. SGO formulated medical policies for the Army as a whole and supervised the activities of the Medical Department and its many administrative and professional services. Specific responsibilities of the Surgeon General's command included conservation of manpower through such measures as adequate medical and surgical treatment and suitable hospitalization and reconditioning.

    SGO oversaw these activities throughout the Army and exercised direct command over various medical installations in the United States (e.g., general hospitals, research laboratories, medical depots). Medical staff sections of Army field commands and specialized medical troop units, however, were subordinated to their respective field headquarters. Wartime records of SGO largely comprise central files, but annual and other reports from medical units under field commands are also in this record group. Also, records of many medical staff sections and field units were withdrawn from command files after the war and loaned to SGO for use in historical studies. Those records that describe illnesses or wounds suffered by individual Army personnel are restricted in their availability because of privacy considerations.

    The series correspondence with military installations, commands, and units, and with civilian organizations ("Geographic File"), 1917-49 (2,637 ft.), consists of significant general records concerning medical and health conditions, systems, and procedures in World War II. The series contains an abundance of representative information indicating how medical units operated in specific places and times and showing the nature and extent of combat and noncombat casualties in specific campaigns, including medical treatment administered. Information on individuals, however, is scattered and difficult to access by personal names.

    Theseries is arranged in five subseries of chronological blocks. The first four, including those for 1938-44 and 1945-46 (approximately 735 ft.), are each arranged according to alphabetically labeled subject classifications roughly corresponding to types of facilities and units. Thereunder these four are arranged either alphabetically by unit name or numerically by unit number. The majority of the records in World War II subseries consist of monthly sanitary reports describing conditions, controls, and countermeasures regarding sanitation, medical, and casualty-handling problems. The reports of infantry divisions and evacuation hospitals are most likely to contain data on combat and combat-related casualties.

    The fifth subseries, for 1940-49 (872 ft.), is arranged geographically by theater area and is by far the most fertile source in this series for determining personal experiences during the war. The records for the Zone of the Interior (approximately 603 ft.), the European Theater (approximately 185 ft.), and the Southwest Pacific (approximately 102 ft.), comprise some 96 percent of the records. All of the other geographic designations--China-Burma-India, the Americas, Alaska, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, and others--account for only 30 feet of records. Each geographic category is arranged according to the War Department decimal scheme. The most profitable focus for the researcher is the Zone of the Interior records, which contain studies of activities in all theaters (decimals 314.7 and 319.1). These records relate to all aspects of wartime medical activities and include histories of individual medical units, programs for treatment of specific problems, and studies of battle casualties suffered by air and ground units (some for specific campaigns). As valuable as the information in the 1940-49 subseries is, however, research is made difficult by the lack of finding aids. It is also clear that a number of files were withdrawn for historical research by SGO with no further indication of their ultimate disposition.

    Formerly security-classified correspondence with military installations, commands, and units, and with civilian organizations ("Geographic File"), 1938-46 (40 ft.), consists of two chronological subseries, arranged in the same way as the first four subseries of the foregoing series. These latter subseries supplement the earlier series to some extent but contain a far greater proportion of records concerning purely administrative matters.

    Two other series contain information similar to that found in all of the correspondence from RG 112 described above. That is, the series seldom refer to individual casualties by name but in some cases provide a vivid picture of casualty-related matters in a specific location at a specific time or concerning a specific type of casualty or a specific Army medical unit. First are annual reports of divisions of the Surgeon General's Office, 1942-49 (15 ft.), arranged alphabetically by division title, thereunder either chronologically or by subunit, and thereunder chronologically. The formats of the reports vary greatly, from lists of activities and accomplishments to detailed narratives supported by photographs, charts, and statistical information. The annual reports of components of the Army Medical Department, 1940-49 (310 ft.), are arranged geographically by theater and thereunder either alphabetically by name of unit or numerically by unit designation. These reports are similar to the preceding series in variety and content but are generally more detailed. The majority of reports concern the European Theater and the Southwest Pacific Area, but entries are also found for all other theaters and areas abroad. This series is closely related to and complemented by the "Humeds" file in Record Group 338 (see p. 29).

    Record Group 117--Records of the American Battle Monuments Commission

    The American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC), created by an act of March 4, 1923, erects and maintains memorials at suitable sites (except in national cemeteries), commemorating the services of American Armed Forces since April 6, 1917. ABMC also designs, constructs, administers, and maintains permanent American military cemeteries located outside the United States and its possessions and maintains at overseas cemeteries rosters of burials and of persons recorded as missing. The Commission's operations were extended to World War II by Public Laws 456, Seventy-Ninth Congress, and 368, Eightieth Congress. ABMC's Washington Office compiled a 3-volume publication, Register of World War II Dead Interred in American Military Cemeteries on Foreign Soil and in National Cemeteries Administered by the Department of the Army in Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico, Also World War II and Korea Missing or Lost or Buried at Sea, which lists alphabetically the names of deceased individuals and cites the military units to which they were assigned, the burial site (cemetery, row, block, and grave number), and the date of death.

    The American Battle Monuments Commission records related to World War II in the National Archives do not contain a great deal of information on individual burials. Most of that information is easily available from the Commission itself or from the publication cited above. The records consist of all or part of the following five series:

    1. Records concerning the construction of the Pacific War Memorial, 1961-64 (10 in.): This monument--dedicated to those Americans who died while serving in the Pacific Theater of Operations--was built at the National Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl National Cemetery), Honolulu, Hawaii. The records are arranged chronologically.

    2. Letters received, 1940-65 (5 ft.), by ABMC's European Regional Office: Most of these records concern the construction and maintenance functions of ABMC, but a few records relate to discrepancies concerning the names of deceased individuals and the locations of gravesites. The records are arranged chronologically.

    3. Letters sent, 1944-62 (5 ft. 10 in.), by ABMC's European Regional Office: Most of the records, which are arranged chronologically, are administrative.

    4. Decimal subject file, 1918-67 (10 in.), of the European Regional Office: These records consist of directives, guides, pamphlets, bulletins, press releases, and notices, arranged according to the War Department decimal classification scheme. Approximately 3 inches of records concern the selection of "unknowns" from among World War II deceased for burial at Arlington National Cemetery. Included are the booklets The Unknowns of World War II and Korea and The Selection of the Candidate-Unknown From Trans-Atlantic Phase of World War II, and drawings and illustrations of proposals for the design of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

    5. Construction and maintenance records of World War II cemeteries, 1948-56 (9 ft. 7 in.): This series consists mostly of records concerning construction and maintenance contracts. The records are arranged numerically by contract number.

    Record Group 127--Records of the U.S. Marine Corps

    The U.S. Marine Corps was created by an act of Congress on July 11, 1798. Although an integral part of the naval establishment, the Marine Corps has always functioned as a specialized amphibious force capable of independent operation. Naval regulations stipulated the corps' specific duties as garrisoning and defense of Navy yards and stations in the continental United States and overseas, the defense of the Panama Canal Zone, the garrisoning of U.S. seacoast defenses, and the provision of detachments for service on board U.S. naval vessels. By World War II the Marine Corps represented a mobile ground- and air-combat force that could be rapidly deployed to any region to protect American interests. Relatively few of the existing Marine Corps records for the World War II period are in the custody of the National Archives.

    RECORDS OF THE OFFICE OF THE COMMANDANT

    The Office of the Commandant general correspondence file, January 1939-June 1950 (738 ft.), contains one of the National Archives' largest collections of Marine Corps records from World War II. The series is arranged according to the ELLS-DRAN Filing System, the filing scheme long in use in the Corps. 12 Three classes of subjects yield information on Marine Corps casualties in the war:

    1435 "DEATH CASUALTY" (6 ft.) is arranged by chronological blocks, thereunder by ELLS-DRAN subcategories (1435-10, "Casualty calls--Gratuity"; 1435-45, "Report of"; and 1435-55, "Statistics"), and thereunder chronologically by date of report or correspondence. The chronological blocks at the highest level of arrangement under 1435 are not always in order. The records, which are correspondence to the Office of the Commandant from units in the field, are accompanied by or consist of the following:

    1. "Reports on Combat Casualties," which include unit designation; date and cause of casualty; person's name, rate, and serial number; diagnosis and prognosis; and disposition (name of cemetery for overseas burials).

    2. "Casualty Reports" and "Reports of Death Casualty," which are arranged by unit (generally company) and include date of report; date and place of casualty; person's name, rank, and serial number; and organization.

    3. "Declaration of Death-MIA," consisting of correspondence about circumstances and investigations regarding Marine personnel missing or missing in action.

    4. Scattered reports on other casualty-related operations, such as evacuations of wounded personnel and "Casualty Assistance Calls" (stateside visits to dependents of deceased Marines)

    Information in this file is good, and in some cases fairly detailed but it is not easy to find the name of a given individual. Knowing the date and location of a specific casualty is of less help than might be expected, because the records are arranged according to the dates of reports and these dates lag behind the dates of casualties by as much as a few weeks or as little as a few days. That lag seems to be dependent on the location of the combat action as well as on the usual pressures of war but it seems to decrease in 1944-45.

    1610 "FUNERAL BURIAL" (1.5 ft.) is arranged by chronological blocks and thereunder by ELLS-DRAN subcategories (1610-25, "Expenses"; 1610-35, "Honors--Escorts--Body--Pallbearers"; 1610-45, "Interment--Reinterment"; 1610-45-10, "Unidentified"; and 1610-60, "Plots--Graves--Care of Stones--Markers--Monuments").

    The information in this category is much more general than that under 1435 and pertains primarily to policy and administrative matters, although some of the correspondence is with families of Marine casualties.

    1880 "MEMORIAL PLAQUE MONUMENT" (4 in.) is arranged generally chronologically and consists of responses to inquiries concerning proposed memorials and headstones for groups of and individual deceased Marines.

    Since there are no indexes or name lists to these records offering access paths based on personal names, and since dates of reports and correspondence only approximate dates of casualties, the researcher should be prepared to search the entire 8 feet of correspondence. It would also be advisable to consult all other relevant available Marine Corps records first, in order to have as many clues as possible when confronting this series. It should be noted that this series contains much information on Marine Corps casualties and other affairs dating before 1939 and through 1950 but not related to World War II.

    • Personnel Records of the Adjutant and Inspector's Department

    Information about Marines who were killed in action or who otherwise died, December 1941-October 1942, is in the first volume of death registers of enlisted men, 1868-1942, 2 vols. (1 ft.). The series is arranged according to three time periods, thereunder alphabetically by initial letter of surname, and thereunder chronologically by date of death. Each entry includes the deceased's name, rank, Marine Corps service number, date of enlistment, the date and place of death, unit, and cause of death. Marines on active duty at the time of death are entered in the register in black; those who were in the reserves or were inactive or retired at the time of death are entered in red.

    Records pertaining to Marine Corps strength and casualties, 1775-1971 (15 ft.), are, for the most part, aggregate data with no identification of individuals. However, one of the three subseries, entitled "miscellaneous" (5 in.), includes rosters of Marines buried in overseas cemeteries. Each entry indicates the plot, row, and grave number, and the name, rank, and service number of the deceased. A "remarks" column in the ledger usually contains only the date of disinterment for reburial in the United States. Most of the disinterments occurred 1946-47.

    The largest collection of Marine Corps records in National Archives custody is the muster rolls, Jan. 1789-Dec. 1945 (1,285 vol., 353 ft.). Of these, 680 volumes (187 ft.), covering September 1939-December 1945, are arranged as consolidated monthly returns from September 1939 through April 1940. Thereafter monthly muster rolls are divided between posts and stations (arranged alphabetically by name) and Fleet Marine Force units (arranged by type of unit and thereunder numerically by unit designation). Generally a unit's muster roll contains names of officers and enlisted men (arranged by rank), and remarks regarding transfers, promotions, discharges, and specialist grade or status. Rosters extend through the company level for technical and specialized units (such as tank battalions and medical companies) and through the battalion level for infantry regiments. Some data on individual casualties are included in these muster rolls.

    • Records of Fleet Marine Commands

    The correspondence and reports of division headquarters, 2nd Marine Division, 1942-49 (57 ft.) are arranged by a numeric-subject scheme, with some unarranged files at the end of the series. A file schema and list are found at the beginning of the series. Most of the records pertain to administrative and personnel matters that postdate the war's end, but four files contain information on casualties during World War II:

    1. "History of 1st Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion, Feb. 1942-May 1946" (file 2185- 65)

    2. "History of defense of Wake Island, Dec. 1941" (file 2185-65)

    3. "Extensive data on decorations and letters of commendation" (file 1740)

    4. Lists of 2nd Marine Division personnel killed or missing in action in the Tarawa and Marianas Islands campaigns, 1943-44 (subject file "Missing in Action")

    These reports are declassified, but other parts of this series remain classified for reasons of national security.

    • Records of Marine Corps Aviation Units

    Also still classified is 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing's correspondence and reports of wing headquarters, 1941-46 (16 ft.). This series is arranged according to the numeric-subject classifications of the Navy Filing Manual, with a list of the file titles and date spans at the beginning of the series. Although most of the records are administrative, four types of records contain various levels of information on casualties:

    1. An outline history of the unit, July 1941-December 1944 (file A12)
    2. Copies of the monthly war diary, December 1941-January 1946
    3. Copies of some war diaries for some constituent units
    4. "Decorations" (file P15), which contain details of cited actions involving casualties

    The series 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, Aircraft Action Reports, 1944-47, (7 ft.) is divided into two subseries--one arranged by geographic locations of air bases, the other by unit type and designation. The two subseries contain much duplicate information. The reports provide details of the operations of constituent units, especially against "bypassed" Japanese forces on Bougainville, New Britain, and Luzon, April 1944-September 1945. Each report notes the date and time of the mission, the number and type of aircraft employed, claims of damage done, casualties suffered, and ammunition expended, and includes a narrative of the combat action. Occasionally maps are found. Near the end of the series is "Casualty Log, April 1944-November 1945," which lists officers and enlisted personnel separately, giving name, rank, service number, location of casualty, and burial location information or "remains not recovered."

    Miscellaneous correspondence and reports of Marine aviation units (2 ft.) are arranged numerically by unit and contain outline histories and war diaries for some units, and reports on individual citations for bravery. Administrative file, Marine Air Corps Station, Ewa, Hawaii, 1942-49 (1 ft.), contains some war diaries, a few historical files with interviews, and information on crew casualties in training flights.

Record Group 208--Records of the Office of War Information

The Office of War Information (OWI) coordinated the dissemination of news about the war to the American public. Among the records of the Deputy Director for Military Information is the series records of deputy director Nicholas Roosevelt, 1943 (3 ft.), arranged alphabetically by subject. Several file folders in this series contain information relevant to personal experiences in the war. The file folders titled "News Releases" (5 in.) contain a list of the names of American officers in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps of General or Flag Rank killed in the war. The list is arranged by military branch and gives the year and month of death. In the same folder are stories providing details of the activities of U.S. forces in battle at Tarawa, including many names.

In the series memoranda of the acting deputy director [for Production and Manpower], Dec. 1943-June 1944 (1 in.), arranged chronologically, are numbered news releases in a file folder labeled "Negro." Each news release has a capital letter followed by a number located in the upper right corner, the lower right corner, or both, making them easy to identify. For example, a news release numbered N-1526 discusses two Negro Navy men killed, one wounded, and another one missing. The release numbered X-42418 concerns the participation of Negro Navy men in the destruction of Japanese forces. Number N-1526 contains a list of 81 Negro crewmen aboard the USS Franklin when it was attacked by a Japanese bomber.

In the records of the division's casualty section is correspondence of the chief, Feb.-July 1945 (5 in.), arranged alphabetically by subject. This series contains eight news releases issued by the War Department and OWI listing Army and Navy casualties. The names and number of soldiers killed, wounded, and missing are given in these lists, which are arranged mostly by home state. In some cases, these data are arranged according to region; for example "Serial No. 10, State Group 8" contains casualties from Kentucky, West Virginia, and Tennessee. Another, "Serial No. 102, State Group 3," deals with those from Delaware, Maryland, and Washington, DC. The casualty lists range from 2 to 57 pages and cover casualties in the European, Asiatic, Central Pacific, Mediterranean, and South Pacific areas. This information can be found in the folder labeled "Casualty Operation Exhibit." The series can also be of some use in tracking casualties among individuals from a few specific cities. For example, copies of the following articles are in the file:

1. "99 From Chicago and Nearby on Wounded List"
2. "78 Chicagoans Wounded in European Fighting"
3. "50 Chicago Soldiers Listed Killed in Action"
4. "Navy Lists Nine Chicago Dead"
5. "226 Chicago Servicemen Listed as Casualties"

Record Group 242--National Archives Collection of Foreign Records Seized

The Records of Luftgaukommandos (Air Defense Commands)--part of the German records seized by the United States during and after World War II--include records of commands responsible for defense against air attacks, such as German antiaircraft units, and contain accounts of American, British, and Russian aircraft downed, and the fate of their crews. These records should be used in conjunction with the Missing Air Crew Reports (see Record Group 92, p. 18). A few MACRs contain references to the records of the Luftgaukommandos, and may include English translations of the German-language documents. More are found in the related lists of Allied air crashes (see p. 20). The informationmost often given about individual downed airmen is name, rank, date and place of crash, and fate (capture, injury, death, etc.). Four indexes accompany the records: Two are arranged alphabetically by the surname of downed flier; the other two are arranged chronologically by date of crash and geographically by Luftwaffe administrative district.

Record Group 247--Records of the Office of the Chief of Chaplains

The chaplain monthly report files, 1917-1950 (871 ft.), are arranged into four subseries based on chronological blocks. The subseries for 1920-45 is arranged into separate sections for Reserve (670 ft.) and Regular Army (34 ft.) chaplains and thereunder alphabetically by name of chaplain. Since these files are also considered to be chaplains' "201 files" (personnel files), direct access to them is limited by considerations of privacy.

The monthly reports are interfiled with copies of correspondence and other documents. Although the reports are on forms that simplify accounting for number of services, hospital visits, counselling sessions, teaching sessions, marriages, births/christenings, funerals, etc., the form leaves room for a wide range of personal style. Thus the quality and detail of the reports varies to a considerable extent. Each funeral reported by a chaplain includes the name, rank, service number, and unit of the deceased; the date of interment; and information about the location of the cemetery and the grave.

Access to the funeral reports is excellent through index to chaplains reports, 1923-55 (274 ft.), which consists of 3- by 5-inch cards arranged alphabetically by name of deceased. Each card contains the name of a deceased person, the name of the chaplain who performed the burial service, the date of the report in which the funeral is accounted for, and occasionally other identifying information such as the rank of the deceased.

Record Group 337--Records of Headquarters Army Ground Forces

Army Ground Forces was the command structure in charge of all ground combat activities of American Forces in World War II. The Information Section of the Office of the Commanding General, Army Ground Forces, produced press releases, 1943-45 (9 ft.), that are arranged by date (often several per day) and bound in manilla folders. Each press release contains the names of publications to which the item was sent. On the covers of the manilla folders are lists of the subjects of the press releases, ordered in the same way as the contents. The subject usually consists of the name of the individual who is the focus of the article, but a few articles concern several individuals. The National Archives is creating an index to the press releases, which is arranged alphabetically by the surnames of the individuals who are the subjects of the articles.

The simplest and briefest releases are notices of individual soldiers returning home on leave, telling their plans for visiting relatives (who are often named), details about their civilian life, and details about their military service. Many interviews with servicemen recount combat and other military experiences. Numerous articles are about combat deathsand heroism. A relatively small number of the press releases are about individuals who were wounded during the war.

Record Group 338--Records of U.S. Army Commands

  • Records of the Fifth Army Graves Registration Service

The records of the U.S. Fifth Army are not typical of major units in World War II regarding casualties and burials in a combat theater. That is to say, they are more complete and integrated than might be expected. This is likely because the unit differed from others in that it fought within a relatively limited geographic area (North Africa, Sicily, and Italy), waged a rather protracted campaign in an even more limited area (Italy), and conducted operations in contiguous territory that came under the jurisdiction of a "co-belligerent" after Italy surrendered to the Allies in September 1943. All of these factors contributed to a better-than-normal situation regarding operational factors such as communications, recovery of remains, transportation, and perhaps even recordkeeping itself.

Memorandums and burial reports, 1943-45 (2 ft.), are arranged in subject files, most of which pertain directly to the specific mission of the Graves Registration Service. Among the records are aerial photographs of American military cemeteries in Italy as well as annotated relief maps (1:100,000 scale) showing their locations. The file "Cemetery statistics, 1944-45" contains photographs of charts showing the opening and closing dates of cemeteries and the numbers of burials by category (American, Allied, and enemy) and by dates. The same file contains a report with a brief history of each Fifth Army-controlled cemetery--one each in Athens, the Balkans, and Sicily, and numerous ones in Italy.

The largest file, "Cemeteries" (1.25 ft.), is arranged alphabetically by name of cemetery and contains a separate folder for each cemetery. Many of the folders contain photographs, plats, and correspondence concerning that folder's cemetery. The greatest portion of each folder's records, however, consists of burial reports, giving the name, rank, service number, date of burial, unit, and grave location of all individuals buried there. A folder entitled "Isolated burials" (1 in.) contains correspondence and accompanying records related to burials of American and Allied dead in locations outside of GRS control. These records are generally concerned with reinterments and judgments regarding recovery of remains near combat zones.

  • Historians' Background Files from "Humeds"

The historians' background files of the Historical Unit, Medical Service ("Humeds") and successor organizations, 1941-54 (approximately 225 ft.), are arranged by category of medical unit and thereunder numerically by unit designation. These files contain information about postwar and Korean war medical concerns as well as about World War II. Since the folders almost invariably bear decimal citations, they apparently were withdrawn from original unit files to be used as background material for official histories; nearly all of the decimal labels are for 314.7 ("Military histories"). The records are very similar in content to the annual reports of components of the Army Medical Department in Record Group 112 (see p. 22). Since the records in RG 112 are generally more complete and better organized for access, they should be consulted first regarding information about casualties in specific geographic areas, campaigns, or military units.

Record Group 389--Records of the Office of the Provost Marshal General

During, and for a time after, World War II the U.S. Army's Office of the Provost Marshal General (OPMG) acted for both the Secretary of War and the Secretary of the Navy in assuming responsibility for American prisoners of war. The central source for information about Americans in enemy custody during the war was OPMG's Prisoner of War Information Division. The series general subject file, 1942-46 (64 ft.), is the single most important group of records regarding the personal experiences of American POWs in the war. 13 Arranged alphabetically by subject title, the file contains a mixture of document types, geographic locations, content indicators, and other factors. The following files are those that contain extensive lists or other information concerning individuals who were both POWs and casualties:

1. "Casualty Reports" (4 ft.) contain information on casualties or suspected casualties, mostly as copies of a form sent to AGO's Machine Records Branch for tabulation. The records are arranged by large geographic area and thereunder alphabetically by surname.

2. "Death Lists" (2.5 ft.) are arranged alphabetically by category or geographic location.

3. "Monetary Effects of Deceased USA POWs" (0.5 ft.) consists mostly of administrative material.

4. "Sinkings" (0.5 ft.) contains narratives, reports, correspondence, and lists of POWs related to the sinkings of Japanese transports carrying American prisoners.

Record Group 407--Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1917-

The series unclassified central decimal correspondence file, 1940-54 (3,828 ft.), is divided into five subseries based on chronological periods and thereunder arranged by the War Department decimal file system. Each decimal classification is arranged chronologically. Following the decimal subfiles in each subseries are subject ("project") files which are themselves arranged according to the War Department decimal classification scheme.

The subseries are dated 1940-45, 1946-48, 1949-50, 1951-52, and 1953-54. All contain some material relevant to casualties in World War II, but the first two are the most productive in that regard. The remaining three, containing correspondence of 1949-54, are increasingly concerned with casualties in the Korean conflict but do contain occasional material about World II missing. The relevant decimal classifications are 293-293.9 (Funerals, burials, and reports . . . the dead; recovery of, [disposition] of) and 704 (Casualties, wounded, and wounds). Since the content of these decimal classifications in the first two subseries, 1940-45 and 1946-48, is typical of the total series, descriptions are given for them below, followed by measurements only for the remaining three subseries:

1. "1940-45 subseries"

Decimal 293-293.9 (10 in.) contains mostly correspondence about administrative, policy, and procedural matters involving recovery, identification, preservation, transportation, and interment of war dead. The second most common record type is correspondence seeking to match fingerprints, dental records, and other information on file with "unidentified deceased." Also found are a few inches of lists of overseas burials, filed by country of location.

Decimal 704 (Casualty) (16 ft.) consists largely of correspondence with combat survivors--many of whom were repatriated POWs--seeking information on still-missing military personnel (typically, members of downed air crews). Most of the inquiries are form letters; the majority of replies are graphic and colorful handwritten accounts of (usually air) combat.

Decimal 704 (Dead) (16 ft.) is similar to the previous decimal file but much more often contains findings supporting the conclusion of death or the decision that in the absence of information death must be assumed. Nevertheless, both "704" files contain findings of death.

2. "1946-48 subseries"

Decimal 293-293.9 (4.5 ft.) is similar to the same decimal classification for the 1940-45 subseries but contains a significantly greater proportion of records attempting to identify individuals and much less administrative and policy material. This is because 1946-48 was the most active period in AGO's attempt to identify remains and locate missing personnel from World War II.

Decimal 704 (Casualty) (12 ft.), like the next decimal classification, resembles parallel files in the 1940-45 subseries. With each succeeding subseries in this classification, a greater proportion of attempts to identify remains and locate missing from World War II are based on "intelligence style" activities (such as interrogation of former enemy military personnel and on-site investigations) and a smaller proportion on correspondence with American combat survivors.

Decimal 704 (Dead) (9 ft.)

3."1949-50 subseries"

Decimal 293-293.9 (1.3 ft.)

Decimal 704 (2.5 ft.)

4. "1951-52 subseries"

Decimal 293-293.9 (10 in.)

Decimal 704 (1.5 ft.)

5. "1953-54 subseries"

Decimal 293-293.9 (3 in.)

Decimal 704 (1.5 ft.)

This unclassified central correspondence file contains some excellent material concerning World War II casualties, particularly those that were deaths difficult to confirm, locate, or identify. It should not, however, be used as a first source for any attempt to locate information on a given individual. Such a search would be frustrating and fruitless.

The only productive way to approach this series for such information is with previously acquired information in hand--information that itself provides a key to the proper search path. Ideally this would include a private individual's copy of correspondence with AGO during this period. This would provide a date to serve as the key to locating further correspondence and supporting documentation. Any other key to the date of correspondence with AGO (such as private diary annotations or the date of a change of status from "missing" to "declared dead") might provide similar help. Even in those cases, however, the search could either be so rewarding as to provide the dog tags and dental charts of American POWs who died in a Japanese camp, or so frustrating as to provide a few pages of nearly blank forms and terse correspondence. The series is described here because it contains a good deal of very detailed information on the fates of some individuals. That information is never easy to find. There are no indexes to the series by individual names.

Occasionally, the correspondence and enclosures refer to Missing Air Crew Reports (see Record Group 92, p. 18) by number. In such cases, the MACRs seldom provide additional information. Indeed, the opposite is usually true, since the correspondence is often with returned survivors of air crashes who were unavailable for information when the MACR was produced. Unfortunately the Missing Air Crew Reports in Record Group 92 provide no search path into the Record Group 407 correspondence series.

The series, formerly classified central decimal correspondence file, 1940-54 (1,185 ft.), is similar to the foregoing series of correspondence, which was never classified. With regard to World War II casualties and burials, this series contains material similar tothe unclassified correspondence. Arrangement of and access to the series is also very much the same as for the unclassified material in that the correspondence is divided into chronological subseries and arranged thereunder according to the War Department decimal file system and thereunder chronologically by the date of the correspondence. Again, access to information on given individuals must be based on a good deal of previously derived information that includes dates keyed to the dates of the correspondence. The subject content of the records is also very similar to the unclassified files but with much less detailed information which often is in the form of casualty reports, progress reports, lists of casualties, and brief letters and texts of telegraphic or radio communications. The volume of the relevant decimal files is as follows:

1. "1940-42 subseries"

Decimal 293-293.9 (5 in.)

Decimal 704 (1.5 ft.)

2. "1943-45 subseries"

Decimal 293-293.9 (5 in.)

Decimal 704 (Dead) (73 ft.)

Decimal 704 (Missing) (8.5 ft.)

Decimal 704 (Sick) (3 ft.)

3. "1946-47 subseries"

Decimal 293-293.9 (10 in.)

Decimal 704 (2 ft.)

Reference Material on World War II Casualties and Burials

The following volumes contain lists of American military personnel who died or were declared missing in World War II. These are part of the reference collection of the Military Reference Branch and are not part of the accessioned records of the National Archives.

1. World War II Honor List of Dead and Missing--State of [Name of State]. War Department, June 1946. A separate volume is found for each state and the District of Columbia, and another for territories and protectorates. Entries are filed according to the home address of the deceased or missing person. Each volume is arranged by county and thereunder alphabetically by surname, and lists the person's name, rank, service, service number, and status.

2. War Casualties: Officers, U.S. Navy and U.S. Naval Reserve, 7 December 1941-1 January 1944, Bureau of Naval Personnel (1944). These lists contain full name, rank, serial number, and address of next of kin. The volume is arranged in three sections:

a) all casualties listed alphabetically by surname
b) casualties due to enemy action, divided into categories by type of service and/or action and thereunder listed alphabetically by surname
c) casualties not due to enemy action, divided into categories and thereunder listed alphabetically by surname.

3. State Summary of War Casualties ([name of state]), U.S. Navy (1946). These lists also contain full name, rank, serial number, and address of next of kin. A separate volume is found for each state and the District of Columbia, and another for all U.S. territories and protectorates. Each volume is divided into casualties, listed by county, and is thereunder arranged alphabetically by surname.


Note: Compiled by Benjamin L. DeWhitt. Published by the National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC, 1993.

Web version prepared 1999. Additions and changes incorporated in the Web version are between brackets [] and in italics.

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