Military Monday – U.S. Submarine Men Lost During World War II Book Review

Six Sub booksLast week I was at Pritzker Military Museum and Library doing some research and writing and found a set of six books called United States Submarine Men Lost During World War II. The book series is based on a research project by Paul W. Wittmer and Charles R. Hinman. This book is a compilation of basic information on all the known men who died while in, or were attached to, a command of the U.S. Submarine Service, including passengers lost on U.S. submarines.

The books are incredible. On each page are two entries for men. Almost every entry contains a photograph of the man. Each entry also includes the following information:

  • Full name and rank
  • Submarine on which he was lost
  • Date or approximate date of loss
  • Hometown, place entered service from and when, and where he lived in 1930 based on the census
  • Where he is buried or which Table of the Missing he is listed on through the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC)
  • Birth date, place, and parents names with address listed in military service file

A variety of sources was used to compile these books. Lists were compiled from State lists of individuals Killed In Action. Then the Naval service file (OMPF) was used to extract data. resources such as family trees, census records, and vital records were used.

There are a couple of important notes in the front of the book. These are vital to the research we do and results we find.

  • apparently, at some point, made a sweeping change to place of death for all U.S. Submariners “Lost At Sea.” The author stated Lost At Sea is appropriate and correct but the change made it to say “Lost City, West Virginia.”
  • The author also mentions discrepancies in the ABMC database online with date of death versus the finding of death date (one year plus one day of the Missing In Action date.) I have encountered this discrepancy with Bomber crew graves. It seems while the Finding of Death date is the official date of death for those MIA and unrecovered at that point, so the family can get the insurance payment and death gratuity – if it was “likely” the man was KIA then that date seems to be what appears in the database. For example, 2nd Lt. Fred Davis, pilot of a bomber which crashed 2 November 1943 in Austria was given a Finding of Death 3 November 1944. Yet his grave says the death date is 2 November 1943. Again, when we research, we must look at all the records and attempt to resolve discrepancies.

If you are interested in submariners who were lost during World War II or are researching the service of one, I highly recommend this book series. Just remember to use the information provided with other official military and civilian records.

© 2015 Jennifer Holik


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Military Monday – CRASH ’40-’45 Museum Speaking Engagement

I recently confirmed another speaking engagement in the Netherlands this fall.

Saturday, October 24, 13.00 (1:00 p.m.)
The Liberators. Reconstructing Army and Air Corps World War II Military Service
During 1944 and 1945, thousands of men and women serving in the U.S. Army and Army Air Forces, fought to defeat Germany and liberate Europe. Their stories are those of life and death, hope, friendship, love, memories of those left behind, and dreams of the future.

Many questions surround the service history of these men and women. How does one conduct research from Europe? What records are available and how can they be accessed? How can individuals connect with families of the fallen, the sweethearts, or who shared their homes during the war? And finally, how can we preserve their stories?

This program will be held at the CRASH ’40-45 Museum in Aalsmeerderbrug, Netherlands.

© 2015 Jennifer Holik

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Military Monday – WWII Research from Europe

Faces of Margraten 3 May 2015

Faces of Margraten 3 May 2015

I’m working on several projects currently in preparation for my return to Europe to give several presentations on World War II research and writing. If you live in Europe and have conducted research on World War II or adopted graves, I’d love your feedback to the following questions. Thank you for your assistance!

1. Why did you start adopting graves or doing research on U.S. soldiers?
2. Are you involved in any organizations for grave adoption or research in Europe?
3. Have you traveled to the U.S. to meet veterans, families, or do research? When and what did you do?
4. What difficulties have you encountered attempting research from Europe?
5. What have your research goals been for each soldier?
6. Did you meet your research goals? How long did it take?
7. What resources did you use to locate information? Family members,,, websites, libraries, museums, National Archives, European archives, U.S. based researchers?
8. What have you done with the research? Created a website? Written a book? Given a talk?
9. Tips for interviewing veterans – what do you have?
10. Best museums in Europe for WWII research and viewing of artifacts.
11. Best archives in Europe for WWII research.

© 2015 Jennifer Holik

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