Sunday, January 21, 2007

A Book About Researching World War II Army Service Records

Book Review: Finding Your Father's War - A Practical Guide to Researching and Understanding Service in the World War II US Army by Jonathan Gawne

Finding Your Father's War - A Practical Guide to Researching and Understanding Service in the World War II US Army book coverIf you have an ancestor or relative who served in the Army during World War II here is an entire book about researching records of individual soldiers and Army units. The book is divided into five distinct sections.

The first section, "Introduction to Army Units," discusses rank, branches of service and unit size. Don't know the difference between a squad, a platoon, a battalion, etc? Here's where to find out. A subsection on rank covers enlisted men, technicians and officers. For each rank (private, sergeant, etc) the insignia is shown along with the base pay.

Section two describes the types of records kept for an individual soldier and explains the Army's serial number system. There's even an illustration of a soldier's dog tag, explaining what each line and code means. Section three describes organizational records for army units.

The fourth section, "Finding Records," tells you where to look for many of the records discussed in the book. Here you can learn about using the Freedom of Information Act, the 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, the National Archives, Veterans Affairs records, and other topics. The author lets you know that some records are only available to next of kin, while others may be public domain and available to anyone.

The last section has all sorts of useful information and illustrations of insignias, badges, uniforms and medals - things you might find in the attic and are wondering what they mean. Insignias for WWII Armies, Army Groups, Corps, Major Army Commands, the Army Air Force, and Divisions (Infantry & Airborne, Armored, and Cavalry) are shown in appendices. Most of the book's illustrations are in color.

Overall this book contains a wealth of information about a soldier's World War II Army service and how you can find many of the records that have survived. I found it to be a nice resource for U.S. Army WWII genealogy research.

Also helpful: Online World War II Records and Indexes

No comments: