I was recently putting together a timeline for 2nd Lt. Fred A. Davis for my books. I was looking at the notice of his death in the 23 Nov 1944 Chicago Tribune. His widow stated he was the co-pilot of a Liberator Bomber reported missing after a flight over Austria on November 2. What she fails to state, or the reported failed to report, was he went missing November 2, 1943. The War Department was actually reporting his Finding of Death, which was issued a year after he went missing and was unrecovered.
What is the moral of this bit of information? Check your facts. If this was the first piece of information you located on Fred, you might assume he went missing November 2, 1944 and was declared killed in action by the 23rd. In some cases this may be the truth. In Fred’s it was not. Always look for other sources to back up what you find in any source. Humans make errors and when dealing with military records we should assume nothing until we have checked the facts.
Some sources to check in this instance: Morning Reports, Service File, Individual Deceased Personnel File, Missing Air Crew Report (MACR), Bombing Mission Reports, Unit Histories. Those are just a few you can check.
What discrepancies have you located in records and how did you resolve them? I’d love to hear from you.
© 2014, Jennifer Holik Woodridge, IL