I read two books this weekend about our honored dead of World War II. The first was Disposition of Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard World War II Dead. This was a pamphlet sent to families after the war was over explaining their choices as to the final interment of their Soldier Dead. The Army had a similar pamphlet.
I also read The Foreign Burial of American War Dead – A History – by Chris Dickon. This book explained the history of how the U.S. handled the dead from the early days of our country through the present day. There was a lot of information on pre-WWI burials I had not previously read, as that has not been a focus. All that information explained why during the Civil War, the military began a group of soldiers in the Quartermaster Corps that handled the Soldier Dead. Of course there were no rules or regulations and war was hell so many men went unidentified or unrecovered for various reasons.
By World War I and World War II, the military had better procedures in place and many soldiers were recovered and identified. There are however, many who still sleep in foreign soil waiting to be discovered and waiting to be identified.
One thing that makes this book even more valuable is the extensive appendix listing cemeteries that are not American Battle Monuments Commission cemeteries formed after World War I and II, that hold American dead. The names of the cemeteries and its honored dead are listed.
If you are looking for a good overall read about what became the Graves Registration Service in World War II and beyond, this book will provide a good history. It is a good starting point for anyone thinking about researching this topic.
© 2014, Generations, Woodridge, IL