The last six months, since my parents visited some of the WWII Battlefields in Europe, I have started searching for information on all my WWI and WWII family's soldiers. I have learned there are two very important files from both wars when a soldier was killed, that contain a great deal of information. For WWI it is the Burial File. For WWII it is the IDPF (Individual Deceased Personnel Record). I have both files now for two ancestors and am awaiting a couple more IDPF's from WWII.

The Great War Society's page has a lot of useful information on tracking down WWI information including the Burial File. Lynna Kay Shuffield wrote a great article for Ancestry.com called World War I Burial Case Files.

My cousin Michael Kokoska's burial file contained letters written by his parents; a bit of medical information including dental records; a written statement about how he died; many pages of correspondence between the government and the family; telegrams about where his remains would be shipped and when they would arrive; and a good description of his remains at burial and disinterment. I cried as I read his file, especially the letters from his aging parents asking when their son's remains would grace our Chicago's Bohemian National Cemetery. I could really feel their pain through their letters. To me, this file is an invaluable resource in telling the story of this family.

The Burial File did not contain any Statement of Service history, but there are some wonderful books about the 32nd Division's service in WWI and from those books and the U.S. Army's Order of Battle book series, I was able to piece together where his infantry unit was during the few months he was in France. See my Bibliography for books on the 32nd Division.

If you are researching WWI or WWII and had a soldier die, I encourage you to obtain the files.

This entry was posted on Friday, March 19, 2010 at Friday, March 19, 2010 and is filed under , , , , , , , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

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