This guide will help students conduct their fallen soldier research by giving them a step-by-step guide to finding information about their soldier. The guide also includes helpful tips, online resources to consider, and recommended reading broken up by topic. You do not need to search for all of the resources in this guide. They are only suggestions. This guide should serve as just that – a guide. All research processes are different because people had different life experiences. You may find that some of the sources mentioned in this guide are not available. You may also find that other sources about your soldier are available because of his unique circumstances. For example, if your soldier was born in another country and moved to the United States, you may be able to find him on the passenger manifest of the ship he traveled on, or find papers related to his processing at Ellis Island or an application for citizenship.
Throughout the research process, try to think like a detective. You will often find a scrap of information in one place and another scrap of information in another place. Like assembling a puzzle, the events and people which made up your soldier’s life will likely have to be assembled with care from many sources. Think critically about each detail of your soldier’s life that you find. Ask yourself “what does this tell me about my soldier? Does it change what I already know?” Be creative when you look for sources. What you look for and what you can find will depend on what your soldier did, but we all leave records behind for others to find. What records would be available about your soldier from the military, his city, and the national government?
Most importantly of all do not get discouraged and do not give up. Fallen soldier research is not easy, but it is very rewarding. You may find that no matter how hard you look, you are not able to find out about some detail of your soldier’s life. That happens, unfortunately. With time, people forget and details disappear. It is nature’s way of healing herself after a tragedy. What is most important is that the men and woman who gave everything they had are not forgotten. As researchers, all we can do is work hard on our research and hope that we get results. If you do, you will usually be rewarded.
Note: In this guide we will frequently refer to the military personnel we are researching as ‘soldiers’ and will usually refer to them in the masculine gender. I use these terms out of convenience, because most of the military personnel buried at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial were in the Army and were men. No disrespect is meant to the thousands of women who courageously served their country during the war, or to the members of the United States Navy or United States Coast Guard. Obviously, students are welcome to research a man or a woman, a soldier, sailor, or coastguardsman.
Fallen Soldier Research Process
1. Choosing Your Soldier Just as life and nature form a circle, we will start our fallen soldier research at the place where we will also end. The American Battle Monuments Commission’s (ABMC) website is where we should look first to select our soldier and to find information about him. You can search for soldiers from a particular state by going here: http://www.abmc.gov/search/wwii_state.php. Once you have the list of soldiers from your state, click on each entry to see some information about the soldier. Select a few soldiers who interest you. Maybe you want to research a sailor, or a pilot, or an officer, or some other specific type of soldier. Write down the names and service numbers of the soldiers who you would like to learn more about. Once you have assembled a list of at least three or five names (be sure to write down their service numbers too), we will find out a bit more about the soldier’s life and where he was from.
The next stop on our journey should be the website of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). NARA has our soldier’s military records. We will want to do more research using NARA’s website and archives later on, but for right now we are interested in finding our soldier’s enlistment record. The enlistment record has basic information about our soldier. It tells us the state and year of his birth, the county and state he lived in when he entered the service, whether he volunteered or was drafted, his civilian occupation, marital status, and other information. Unfortunately, not all men will have an enlistment record online. NARA’s website only has Army enlistment records online. Many officers did not have enlistment records, though some men did. Pilots enlisted as ‘aviation cadets’ before being commissioned, so they did have enlistment records. Some other officers started out as enlisted men and were commissioned while they were in the service. It is always a good idea to search for an enlistment record for your soldier, regardless of his branch or rank.
Enlistment records are almost always very easy to find by clicking here: http://aad.archives.gov/aad/series-description.jsp?s=3360&cat=WR26&bc=,sl. In the box marked ‘Search this Series,’ type in your soldier’s service number and click search. You should have one record found by your search. Click on ‘view records’ and then click on the icon that looks like a document under ‘view record.’ Your soldier’s enlistment record will open. The information contained in this record will help you determine which soldier you want to research. Right now the most important line is ‘residence: county.’ That will tell you the county where your soldier lived when he entered the military. It is a good idea to research a soldier from your area because you will be close to local resources which can help you, but that is not a requirement. Look through the other details of the enlistment records and decide which soldier you want to research. Maybe one of the soldiers was married and had children and you want to research him, or perhaps you want to research someone who was drafted (‘selectees’ on the enlistment record), or a National Guardsman, or a volunteer. Once you have decided on a soldier to research, be sure to copy and paste the enlistment record into a word document and save it on your computer, or print it out. The enlistment record is often one of the most valuable resources you will find during your research.
2. Sending for Your Soldier’s Personnel File and Individual Deceased Personnel Files Once you have selected a soldier, we can begin our research. You will likely be tempted to dive right in and start researching (good for you!), but it is a good idea to send letters requesting two valuable sources before you start your research. These records take several weeks to get, so it is smart to start the process as soon as possible. The National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, Missouri has your soldier’s Official Military Personnel File. This file is a record of your soldier’s life in the military: his training, the units to which he was assigned, places where he served, and the medals he was awarded. The bad news is that a fire destroyed most of the Army records held by the NPRC in 1973. Navy and Coast Guard records were not affected. The soldier’s personnel file is a valuable resource and is easy to get, so it is certainly worth requesting, even if your soldier was in the Army, because there is a chance that his records survived anyway. To request the military personnel file, you need to fill out Standard Form 180 and mail it to the NPRC. Standard Form 180 can be downloaded here: http://www.archives.gov/research/order/standard-form-180.pdf
Fill out as much of the form as you can, using the information you found on the ABMC’s website and on your soldier’s enlistment record. The most important sections are name and service number. For question #6, be sure to check that your soldier was deceased and write in the date of death. The NPRC does not send records of living veterans out, so they need to know that you are researching someone killed during WWII. In Section II, be sure to check that you want ‘All Documents in Official Military Personnel File.’ For ‘purpose,’ check ‘other’ and then state that you are a student researching soldiers killed in Normandy during WWII. In Section III, for ‘requester is,’ check ‘other’ and put ‘student.’ Then fill in your name and address and be sure to sign the form. The personnel file takes several weeks to get. If the NPRC has the file, you will likely receive it in 4-6 weeks. If they do not, you will receive a letter informing you of that in 2-3 weeks. Check that you have provided as much of the information that they need as you can, and mail the form to:
National Personnel Records Center
(Military Personnel Records)
9700 Page Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63132-5100
The other file you will want to request is the soldier’s Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF). The Army created an IDPF for each American serviceman or woman killed during the war. The Army created files for sailors and coastguardsmen too, so all branches are covered. The IDPF contains documents relating to the burial of your soldier. The file has documents relating to the burial of your soldier, correspondence sent by the military to the soldier’s family and correspondence from the family, lists of items found on the soldier’s body (very useful – you can learn a lot about a person but what he had in his pockets), and sometimes even descriptions by eyewitnesses of how the soldier got killed. The file DOES NOT contain anything graphic – no photographs or detailed descriptions of the body, so you do not need to worry about seeing that sort of thing. To get your soldier’s IDPF, fill out the form on page 4 of this document and mail it to the Army’s Human Resources Command. The IDPF will take 4-6 months to get. Remember, the Army handles the
IDPFs for all branches of the military:
Department of the Army
Human Resources Command of Excellence
ATTN: FOIA, Bldg 1, 3rd Floor, Suite 17
1600 Spearhead Division Avenue
Fort Knox, KY 40122
Freedom of Information Act Request TO: Department of the Army
Human Resources Command of Excellence
ATTN: FOIA, Bldg 1, 3rd Floor, Suite 17
1600 Spearhead Division Avenue
Fort Knox, KY 40122
I request a copy of the Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF) pertaining to:
Soldier’s Rank and Name: _________________________________________________________
Serial Number if known: _______________________________
Date of Death: _______________________
Next of Kin requesting documents: __________________________________________________
Next of Kin day time phone number: ___________________
Mailing address where documents will be sent: ________________________________________
Researching Your Soldier’s Civilian Life With those requests on their way, we can turn to the next priority: finding out about our soldier’s civilian life and trying to contact relatives. This is the most difficult part of the research, but can also be the most rewarding and interesting. The best place to start our search is by using Ancestry.com, which has many genealogical records online. Ancestry.com offers a two week free trial membership, so you should be able to do your research using the trial membership. Many libraries also subscribe to Ancestry.com, so you can find one that does and conduct your research there, if you want. Using Ancestry.com can connect us with census records, city directories, yearbook photographs, ship passenger manifests, and other resources. After you have created an account, click on ‘search records’ to bring up the search form. Type in the soldier’s first and last name in the relevant places. I recommend leaving out middle initials, as many records do not list those. Put the soldier’s year of birth in the box provided. Using the information we know from the soldier’s enlistment record and/or military personnel file, we can begin filling in other fields of the search form. The ‘any event’ boxes list several possibilities to add information, several of which we should be able to fill in:
• Birth: Year of birth and place (‘nativity’) are both on the enlistment record.
• Death: Year of death is on ABMC’s entry for the soldier. Almost always 1944.
• Lived in: Residence county and state on enlistment record.
• Military: Year of enlistment on the enlistment record.
You can also list the soldier’s civilian occupation in the ‘Keyword’ box. Then click search. You will likely get hundreds of records, most of which are not relevant. Just go through the list (if you have hundreds of results go through the first few pages at least) and try to confirm or eliminate the source as belonging to your soldier. Go through this list of questions in your head for each source:
• Does the name match? Does the middle initial match? If no middle initial is listed, that
DOES NOT eliminate the source.
• Is the date of birth within one year of my soldier’s date of birth? Years might be a year off;
census forms asked people how old they were at their last birthday. That does not quite tell
us what year the soldier was born, because it would depend on if the soldier had already had
his birthday or not in that year.
• Does the state of birth match the state where my soldier was born?
• Does the date of death match my soldier? If the man died in 1982, that isn’t our man!
• If he was old enough, does the occupation listed match the one on the enlistment record?
Remember that people change jobs, but if it is the same then it is almost certain that you
have the right man.
If you believe that the record does relate to your soldier, make sure you save a copy. Ancestry.com documents can be easily saved by right-clicking and selecting ‘save as,’ then choosing ‘JPEG’ and giving it a file name. Study the documents you found closely. What can we learn about our soldier and his family from these documents? If you did not find your soldier, try changing your search terms. Maybe you were too narrow or too wide in your search. If you still cannot find anything, do not fret. Once your soldier’s personnel file and IDPF arrive, they should provide new details which you can use for new searches.
There are other useful sources to use to find information about your soldier’s civilian life. R. L. Polk & Company published a series of directories for cities and counties across the country. The directories list the residents of that area and give their occupation, place of business, and address. You can check if a library in your area has a relevant directory by doing a search on WorldCat, the international library database. Search for ‘Polk directory New Jersey’ or something like that and you will get a list of directories. Click on a relevant directory and WorldCat will have a list of libraries in your area which have the directory: http://www.worldcat.org. The Library of Congress has all of the directories available: http://www.loc.gov. If you have found a directory for your soldier’s area but a library does not have a copy, try getting the directory from another library through interlibrary loan.
You can also try to find an obituary or article mentioning your soldier, or the fighting in Normandy. You will likely not find references to your soldier’s particular unit, because information like that was kept out of the newspapers for secrecy reasons (German spies can read newspapers too you know!). A local library may have access to Proquest Historical Newspapers, which is a wonderful source for finding old articles. Many universities and libraries subscribe to Proquest, but usually only major newspapers like the New York Times or the Chicago Tribune are available. A list of newspapers on Proquest is available here: http://www.proquest.com/en-US/catalogs/databases/detail/pq-hist-news.shtml. If the soldier’s local newspaper is not available on Proquest, a local library or university may have paper or microfilm copies of the newspaper on file. It took the military some time to send information about a soldier’s death to his next-of-kin, so an obituary probably will not appear until weeks or even months after his death. Be sure to check for articles about major events your soldier participated in, like D-Day, the capture of Cherbourg, Operation Cobra, and other operations. Most Americans of the time got their news by radio, but they were likely to read about an event in the newspaper too. Newspapers can give you a window into life in your soldier’s home town, both in how they viewed the war and in what other articles said about events happening in town. So be sure to look at the other articles too. What was happening around town? What were people concerned with? How much of an impact did the war have on your soldier’s town?
Another good place to look for information is your soldier’s school. If you know where he grew up, you should be able to determine which school he attended, or at least narrow it down to a few possibilities. Which schools in his area were around when your soldier would have been in high school or middle school? Contact the school and see if they have yearbooks from the 1930s (they probably do). Maybe you can find your soldier’s yearbook photo. Yearbooks in those days often listed clubs the student was involved in, or listed the student’s interests or a little about the student. This is a good way to find out what your soldier was like.
Don’t forget to contact local or state historical societies about your search. Historical societies have expertise and an interest in the history of that particular area and they can help you find information about your soldier and about life in that area during the time period. The Library of Congress has many resources online which relate to the Great Depression and WWII: http://www.loc.gov/topics/content.php?subcat=11. In particular, take a look at the Federal Writers Project and see if there are any stories available relating to your soldier’s area.
One of the goals of researching your soldier’s civilian life is to connect with his surviving family members. You may even be able to find people who knew your soldier personally – brothers, sisters, neighbors, other soldiers. Finding these people can help you learn what your soldier was like as a person and can help you share your research with them. Either way, it is worthwhile to contact them: if they have extensive information about the soldier, they can share it with you. If not, then you might be able to share your learning about their relative with them!
Finding family members today is not easy, because your information is likely to be seventy or eighty years old. Hopefully you have created a partial family tree of your soldier’s family by finding census information. Try doing internet searches for your soldier’s siblings. If they are deceased, you may be able to find an obituary online. Then you can try to find their children by searching for the people listed in the ‘survived by’ section. Use http://www.whitepages.com to search for people with that name in the relevant town. Whitepages.com usually lists the person’s approximate age group, which will help you determine if they are the person you are looking for. Contact anyone who seems like they might be related and don’t get discouraged. This is perhaps the most difficult part of fallen soldier research, but connecting with someone who knew your soldier or is related to him is very rewarding.
Military Research Since we likely do not have detailed information on our soldier’s daily activities when he was in Normandy, our military research will focus on the soldier’s unit instead. If we can identify what unit our soldier was in, we can learn where that unit served and what it did. By learning about our soldier’s military unit, we are also learning about his activities in Normandy, because wherever his unit went and fought, he followed. Determining the regiment or other military unit the soldier served in is easy; the soldier’s entry on the American Battle Monument Commission’s website (http://www.ambc.gov) tells us the regiment and division to which the soldier belonged. Finding out which company or battery a soldier served with is more difficult, and will likely require primary source research.
But we will return to that later. To begin with, our first task should be to learn about the soldier’s division, or group if our soldier was part of an aircrew. Most divisions which served in Normandy have had book-length histories written about them. You should be able to find a copy in a library, or request one through interlibrary loan.
The best place to find out what books have been written about your soldier’s unit is WorldCat, the international library database: http://www.worldcat.org. Try searching for the name of your soldier’s unit and see what comes up. For example, search for ‘2nd Ranger Battalion’ or ‘29th Infantry Division.’ When you find a book, look at the entry; WorldCat’s page for that book will list libraries in your area which have the book in its collection. The Air Force published a handy bibliography of unit histories here: http://www.afhso.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-101004-052.pdf.
If you cannot find a book about your soldier’s unit, try looking at the ‘G.I. Stories here: http://www.lonesentry.com. The GI Stories are short histories of the divisions which fought in Europe during WWII. They were published in 1945 and are a useful primary source which gives us an idea of how the division’s men saw themselves and thought about their division’s accomplishments. They can be used as a substitution for a secondary source history if absolutely necessary, but are quite brief and are not as accurate as a professionally researched history. Find a book about your soldier’s unit and read about the battles they were involved in – it will provide the necessary context for your primary source research.
Once you have read some secondary sources, you can try finding primary sources for your soldier. There are a few websites which have primary source documents available online. These are a wonderful resource, if your soldier’s unit happens to be covered. 6 Juin 1944 has documents relating to the Omaha Beach, Utah Beach, and airborne assaults: http://www.6juin1944.com/assaut/en_index.html. American D-Day has some documents about the 1st and 29th Infantry Divisions: http://www.americandday.org/Documents/index.html. The Army’s Combined Arms Research Library has some documents online as well: http://cgsc.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/landingpage/collection/p4013coll8. Unfortunately, many units will not be covered by these sites. For those units, we will have to rely on archival documents.
The records of your soldier’s military unit are stored at two or three different archives. Most records are stored at the National Archives at College Park, MD. College Park has all of the Army, Navy, and Coast Guard records. Some Army Air Forces records are stored at College Park, but most are held by the U.S. Air Force Historical Research Agency (AFHRA) at Maxwell Air Force Base, AL. Between them, these two archives have almost all of the military documents you would want to use for your research. Unfortunately, these archives usually do not make copies of their records – you will have to visit the archive to do your research. Keep in mind that each unit down to regimental/battalion level has records at the archives. So, if your soldier was in the 116th Infantry Regiment, you can find records for the 116th Infantry. You can also find records for the organizations to which the 116th was assigned: the 29th Infantry Division, the U.S. V Corps, and the U.S. First Army. Obviously, the ‘lower’ records in the hierarchy are more likely to be useful, because they are more specific. So the 116th’s records are more likely to be helpful for what we are researching than the First Army’s records. When you go through the records, you will find many different types of reports and other sources. Here are some of the most common:
After Action Report (AAR): After action reports are accounts of a unit’s activities for a particular period of time. They were written and submitted by an officer of the unit several days or weeks after the events recorded happened. They provide detailed information on the unit’s activities during that time period (usually one month of time).
Unit History: The unit history is a short summary of what the unit did during a particular time period. Usually a history was published each year, though some units will only have a history for 1944 or for 1945. They are useful when used alongside the AARs – read the history for the ‘big picture’ and the AARs for the details
War Diary: Ships kept war diaries, but Army units did not (they had unit journals instead). Like AARs, war diaries covered a specific period of time, usually one month. They are a log of events occurring on the ship and the times they occurred. E. g. 0615 Turned 12 degrees to port. 0620 Spotted airplanes overhead, etc. These provide even more detailed accounts than the AARs, and are useful when used alongside them.
Unit Journals: These are named after the staff officer keeping them. E.g. the S-2 Journal was the journal of the unit’s intelligence officer. Like the war diaries kept on naval vessels, these are a log of messages being sent and received by the staff officer. The S-3 (operations) and S-2 (intelligence) journals are probably the most helpful for us.
Field Orders (FO): These are military orders received when the unit was in Normandy. Before units landed on D-Day, they were issued a field order for the invasion, listing the tasks they were supposed to accomplish in Normandy. Commanders issued additional orders to their units after the invasion, updating or changing the unit’s original orders. Field orders were issued sequentially. E.g. FO #2 updated or replaced the orders given in FO #1.
General Orders: These orders were administrative rather than combat-related. Many general order messages dealt with changes in command: this officer is leaving; this one is now in command. The general orders do have a few items of interest, however. There are often messages of commendation from a unit’s commander, or from another commander. General orders often have interesting items relating to the daily life of the soldiers while they were in the United States or in England, such as maps of a unit’s camp or a message stating what the unit’s daily routine will be. Most importantly, this is the best place for us to find out to which company or battery our soldier belonged. You will often find lists of men who earned common military awards like Good Conduct Medals or Combat Infantryman Badge’s. These are usually broken up by company/battery, so you can scan down the list and see where your soldier’s name appeared, which tells you the unit to which he belonged.
Missing Air Crew Report (MACR): The Army Air Forces created a MACR for each airplane which was shot down. The MACR usually had details on what happened to the plane and its crew, as seen by other men in the squadron. This is a very useful way of finding out what happened to your particular soldier. The MACRs are held on microfiche, separate from the records of your soldier’s squadron or group.
Kampf Flugzeuge USA (KU) Report: ‘KU’ reports were created by the German military. They have details of American airplanes which crashed in German territory, including 17 details of the fate of the crew. The National Archives has translated copies of the reports. KU reports are also separate from squadron or group records
In addition to the records housed at College Park and Maxwell Air Force Base, the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, MO has a few useful records, notably company morning reports and unit rosters. The unit rosters list the men in each military unit. Rosters for 1944 and1945 are not available – they were thrown away. But you might be able to identify what company your soldier was in by consulting the 1943 unit rosters. Company morning reports were filled out each morning by the company’s 1st Sergeant. The report discusses the events which occurred the previous day and lists the men not present for duty on that day. They are helpful in getting a day-by-day account of what was happening in the company, but are best used alongside other sources like AARs and unit histories.
If you cannot get to any of these archives, you may still be able to get primary sources for your soldier. The U.S. military maintains museums in many places around the country, which may have helpful documents to look through. Here is a list of U.S. military museums which may be helpful:
Army Center of Military History, Ft. McNair, Washington, DC: http://www.history.army.mil
United States Military Academy, West Point, NY: http://www.usma.edu/
Combined Arms Research Library, Ft. Leavenworth, KS: http://www.cgsc.edu/carl/
List of Army museums: http://www.history.army.mil/html/museums/dir-links.html
Air Force Air Force Historical Research Agency, Maxwell Air Force Base, AL: http://www.afhra.af.mil
National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH:
Air Mobility Command Museum, Dover Air Force Base, DE: http://amcmuseum.org/
Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO: http://www.usafa.af.mil/
Navy Naval History and Heritage Command, Washington, DC: http://www.history.navy.mil/
List of U.S. Navy museums: http://www.history.navy.mil/museums/index.html
Coast Guard U.S. Coast Guard Museum, New London, CT: http://www.uscg.mil/hq/cg092/museum/
Another important part of military research is finding oral history interviews from men in your soldier’s unit. Understanding the events that your soldier participated in is important, but it is also important to understand what the war was like for your soldier. There are several places to find oral history interviews. The military interviewed servicemen during the war – Army, Navy, and Coast Guard interviews are at the College Park National Archives, Army Air Forces interviews are at AFHRA in Alabama. These interviews are interesting because they were conducted during the war – sometimes only hours after the soldier left the front line. There are also books of oral histories and a few websites online. 6 Juin 1944 has a collection of interviews online: http://www.6juin1944.com/veterans/index.php.
The best resource is the Veteran’s History Project at the Library of Congress: http://lcweb2.loc.gov/diglib/vhp/html/search/search.html. On the left-hand column, select ‘service unit/ship,’ then check the relevant boxes for war and branch of service. Type in the name of the soldier’s unit and hit ‘search.’ The Library of Congress has gathered tens of thousands of WWII interviews, many of which can be read or watched online. There is a good chance that at least one man from your soldier’s unit was interviewed. In addition, some of the books in the ‘Individual Combat Experiences’ section of the reading suggestions list (pg. 23) may be helpful.
If archival sources are not available to you, then you will have to rely on secondary book sources and oral history interviews. Even without archival documents, there are plenty of resources out there online and in book form which can help you understand your soldier’s experience in Normandy. It’s always worth putting your soldier’s name and his unit’s name into a search engine and seeing what you can find!
Here are some of the most useful websites for doing fallen soldier research. Some of these I have already mentioned and are listed again here to have them all in one place.
WorldCat: The international library database, the best place to find books online. http://www.worldcat.org
The American Battle Monuments Commission’s (ABMC) website allows you to search for soldiers by name, by state, or by unit here: http://www.abmc.gov/search/wwii.php
Ancestry.com offers a way to find census information and other sources about a soldier’s civilian life: http://www.ancestry.com
The National Archives has a handy brochure on researching WWII soldiers: http://www.archives.gov/research/military/ww2/ww2-participation.pdf
The U.S. Army’s Center of Military History has published a series of excellent books on World War II, including From Utah Beach to Cherbourg, Omaha Beachhead, Cross Channel Attack, St. Lo, and Breakout and Pursuit. Some of the archival resources on their website may also prove useful: http://www.history.army.mil/html/bookshelves/resmat/ww2eamet.html
The U.S. Air Force’s Historical Studies Office has a number of excellent books on the Army Air Forces during WWII: http://www.afhso.af.mil
Air Force histories bibliography: http://www.afhso.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-101004-052.pdf
Lone Sentry: Photographs, Documents, and Research on World War II has numerous articles, training manuals, and intelligence bulletins which provide interesting primary sources for various topics: http://www.lonesentry.com/
American D-Day has a number of useful documents, including primary source documents relating to the 1st and 29th Infantry Divisions: http://www.americandday.org/
6 Juin 1944 also has useful documents, oral histories, maps, and photographs for both the Utah and
Omaha Beach assaults: http://www.6juin1944.com/assaut/en_index.html
The Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress’s website is a great place to find oral histories of veterans from your soldier’s unit. Check the relevant boxes and search for the regiment or battalion for which you are looking: http://www.loc.gov/vets/
Tankdestroyer.net is an invaluable resource for students researching tank destroyer soldiers. Each battalion has its own page with a short history of the unit and many scanned primary source documents online: http://tankdestroyer.net
Wwiivehicles.com is also useful for finding technical information and photos of WWII armored vehicles: http://www.wwiivehicles.com
The U.S. Coast Guard’s website has some nice information and images of their activities at Normandy: http://www.uscg.mil/history/Normandy_Index.asp
The Eighth Air Force Historical Society’s website has some useful information about the organization in WWII: http://www.8thafhs.org/
The United States Army Air Forces in World War II has a section on airborne operations with short histories of the operations and details on the types of aircraft used:
Patrick K. O’Donnell’s website, The Drop Zone, has some oral histories of airborne veterans online: http://www.thedropzone.org/index_back.html
WWII Airborne has detailed information and histories of airborne units:
Historian Mark Bando’s Trigger Time: 101st Airborne WWII has some interesting information about the 101st Airborne, including stories, unit insignia, etc:
Antiaircraft Command: Preserving the history of U.S. Army Antiaircraft Artillery of World War II has useful information on the weapons and equipment used by AA troops and unit histories of many anti-aircraft battalions: http://www.antiaircraft.org/index.htm
WW2 U.S. Medical Research Centre has excellent information on all facets of the medical corps in WWII, including histories, pictures and descriptions of equipment, and details on the organization of units: http://med-dept.com/index.php
If you are interested in the tactics and techniques of your soldier’s unit, many Army field manuals are available online here: http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/ref/FM/
For unit organizations, the best source is Gary Kennedy’s excellent website Battalion Organization during the Second World War: http://www.bayonetstrength.150m.com/
Another good source is the Military Research Service: http://www.militaryresearch.org/freebies.htm
Images and artwork:
http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/ww2.html http://www.archives.gov/research/military/ww2/photos/#aviation http://www.archives.gov/research/african-americans/ww2-pictures/
http://www.archive.org/ (NOTE: Has many WWII-era newsreels and documentaries)
Blumenson, Martin. Breakout and Pursuit. Washington: Office of the Chief of Military History,
Greenfield, Kent Roberts. The War against Germany: Europe and Adjacent Areas. Washington:
Center of Military History, 1989.
Mauldin, Bill. Willie and Joe: The WWII Years. Todd Depastino, ed. Seattle: Fantagraphics
Individual Combat Experience:
Ellis, John. The Sharp End: The Fighting Man in World War II. New York: Charles Scribner’s
Grossman, Lt. Col. Dave and Loren W. Christensen. On Combat: The Psychology and
Physiology of Deadly Conflict in War and in Peace. Millstadt, IL: Warrior Science Publications, 2008.
—. On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society. Boston: Little,
Keegan, John. The Face of Battle. New York: Penguin Books, 1976.
Lord Moran. The Anatomy of Courage: The Classic Account of the Psychological Effects of War.
New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 1945.
Marshall, S. L. A. Men against Fire: The Problem of Battle Command. Norman: University of
Oklahoma Press, 2000.
Mauldin, Bill. Up Front. New York: Norton, 2000.
McManus, John C. The Deadly Brotherhood: The American Combat Soldier in World War II.
New York: Ballantine Books, 1998.
Pyle, Ernie. Brave Men. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2001.
Stone Robert C. “Status and Leadership in a Combat Fighter Squadron.” The American Journal
of Sociology, 51:5 (March 1946), 388-394.
Swank, R. L. and W. E. Marchand. Combat Neuroses: The Development of Combat Exhaustion.
Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry, March, 1946.
Military Theory / Strategy:
Corbett, Julian. Some Principles of Maritime Strategy. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press,
Douhet, Guilio. The Command of the Air. Trans. Dino Ferrari. Washington: Air Force History
and Museums Program, 1998.
Liddell-Hart, B. H. Strategy: The Classic Book on Military Strategy. New York: Meridian, 1991.
Mahan, Alfred Thayer. The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660-1783. New York: Dover
Murray, Williamson and Allan R. Millett, eds. Military Innovation in the Interwar Period. New
York: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
Von Clausewitz, Carl. On War. ed. and trans. by Michael Howard and Peter Paret. Princeton, NJ:
Princeton University Press, 1976.
Ambrose, Stephen E. Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from
Normandy to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001.
Burgett, Donald R. Currahee!: A Screaming Eagle at Normandy. New York: Dell, 2000.
Gavin, James M. Airborne Warfare. Washington: Infantry Journal Press, 1947.
Hoyt, Edwin P. Airborne: The History of American Parachute Forces. New York: Stein & Day,
Marshall, S. L. A. Night Drop. New York: Bantam Books, 1962.
O’Donnell, Patrick K. Beyond Valor: World War II’s Ranger and Airborne Veterans Reveal the
Heart of Combat. New York: The Free Press, 2001.
Wolfe, Martin. Green Light!: a Troop Carrier Squadron’s War From Normandy to the Rhine.
Washington: Center for Air Force History, 1993. http://www.afhso.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-100927-040.pdf
Armor: Cooper, Belton Y. Death Traps: The Survival of an American Armored Division in World War
II. New York: Ballantine Books, 1998.
Crisp, Major Robert. Brazen Chariots. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2005.
Houston, Donald E. Hell on Wheels: The 2d Armored Division. Novato, CA: Presidio Press,
Tout, Ken. By Tank: D to VE Days. London: Hale, 2007.
Yeide, Harry. Steeds of Steel: A History of American Mechanized Cavalry in World War II. St.
—. The Infantry’s Armor: The U.S. Army’s Separate Tank Battalions in World War II.
Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2010.
—. The Tank Killers: A History of America’s World War II Tank Destroyer Force.
Havertown, PA: Casemate, 2004.
Cameron, Rebecca Hancock. Training to Fly: Military Flight Training, 1907-1945. Washington:
Air Force History and Museums Program, 1999.
Corn, Joseph J. The Winged Gospel: America’s Romance with Aviation. Baltimore, Johns
Hopkins University Press, 2002.
Hallion, Richard P. D-Day: Air Power over the Normandy Beaches and Beyond. Washington:
Air Force History and Museums Program, 1994.
Headquarters, Army Air Forces. Sunday Punch in Normandy: The Tactical Use of Heavy
Bombardment in the Normandy Invasion. Washington: Center for Air Force History, 1992. http://www.afhso.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-100929-060.pdf
Kennett, Lee. The First Air War: 1914-1918. New York: The Free Press, 1991.
Maurer, Maurer. Air Force Combat Units of World War II. Washington: Office of Air Force
Black, Robert W. Rangers in World War II. New York: Ivy Books, 1992.
—. The Battalion: The Dramatic Story of the 2nd Ranger Battalion in World War II.
Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2006.
Darby, William O. Darby’s Rangers: We Led the Way. San Raphael, CA: Presidio Press, 1980.
Lane, Ronald L. Rudder’s Rangers. Manassas, VA: Ranger Associates, 1979.
O’Donnell, Patrick K. Beyond Valor: World War II’s Ranger and Airborne Veterans Reveal the
Heart of Combat. New York: The Free Press, 2001.
Beck, Alfred M., Abe Bortz, and Charles W. Lynch, et al. The Corps of Engineers: The War
against Germany. Washington: Center of Military History, 1985. http://www.history.army.mil/html/books/010/10-22/index.html
Bykofsky, Joseph, and Harold Larsen. The Transportation Corps: Operations Overseas.
Washington: Office of the Chief of Military History, 1957.
Cosmas, Graham A., and Albert E. Cowdrey. The Medical Department: Medical Service in the
European Theater of Operations. Washington: Office of the Chief of Military History, 1992. http://www.history.army.mil/html/books/010/10-23/index.html
Mayo, Lida. The Ordnance Department: On Beachhead and Battlefront. Washington: Center of
Military History, 1991. http://www.history.army.mil/html/books/010/10-11/index.html
Ross, William F., and Charles F. Romanus. The Quartermaster Corps: Operations in the War
Against Germany. Washington: Center of Military History, 1991. http://www.history.army.mil/html/books/010/10-15/index.html
Ruppenthal, Roland G. The Logistical Support of the Armies, Vol. I, May 1941 – September
1944. Washington: Center of Military History, 1995. http://www.history.army.mil/html/books/007/7-2-1/index.html
Thompson, George Raynor, and Dixie R. Harris. The Signal Corps: The Outcome. Washington: