Military Monday -Examining WWII Death Records Other Components

Welcome to the newest installment in the world of military records! As you read through this series, please keep in mind I’m discussing World War II records only. While there is a lot of overlap between other wars and records, the focus here is only World War II. Today we will wrap up our discussion of the components of WWII death records. If you missed the original post about common elements of an IDPF, you can view that now.

Today let’s answer a few questions about records or pieces of information that may be contained within IDPFs or other records.

 Are there death certificates available for soldiers?

If a soldier died state-side there will be a death certificate. Many pilots were killed during training and you may find their death certificates within service papers, although usually with the county or state vital records departments. The State of Utah did require a death certificate issues on soldiers who were killed overseas before the bodies could be repatriated and buried in the state.

How might soldiers have been identified besides identification tags?

Soldiers may have been identified by papers they carried, pay books, by other soldiers in their unit, and often, tattoos or other distinguishing marks on the body. Take a look at two pages from Vernon Bigness’ IDPF that discuss how his tattoos were used to identify him. The records always provided an explanation of why the Graves Registration Service determined an individual to be a specific soldier. There will always be an evidence trail.

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Source: United States Army, Individual Deceased Personnel File, U.S. Army Human Resources Command, “X-91 Identification Check List” in the file of Vernon Bigness, SN 12081523.

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Might I find some lists of soldiers from the unit in which my soldier served in IDPFs?

Yes. In some cases there will be lists of those who went missing or were recovered and whose remains have to be compared because identification tags were not located. The following image is from Tom Tompkins IDPF.

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 Are names of family members mentioned?

Yes. Usually the name and address of the widow or parents are list. Yet, in the IDPF of Elias Santillanes, shown below, we see information on his siblings also.

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Source: United States Army, Individual Deceased Personnel File, U.S. Army Human Resources Command, “Address of Legal Next of Kin,” file of Elias Santillanes, SN 38353308.”

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Source: United States Army, Individual Deceased Personnel File, U.S. Army Human Resources Command, “Address of Legal Next of Kin,” file of Elias Santillanes, SN 38353308.”

There are many other facets to discover and learn about regarding IDPFs and other Graves Registration Service records. These will be investigated in-depth in an upcoming book fall 2014.

Like what you’ve seen and want to know more? Sign up for my newsletter on my author website. For military research and writing services, or to book a lecture on military records, please contact me through my website Generations.

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© 2014, Generations, Woodridge, IL

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