Overheardin GenForum: Killed in Action, WWII by Rhonda R. McClure
December 30, 1999
Q: Is there a list or record of American soldiers killed in action during WWII? I am searching for information on an uncle who was drafted into the army in NY and was killed in the D-day invasion. -- Gary
A: With the recent films that came out this past year about World War II, our thoughts have naturally turned back to those of our family members who fought, and sometimes perished, during that war. It is to be expected that we may want to seek out the burial places for those of our family who died overseas.
American Battle Monuments Commission
It is the American Battle Monuments Commission that is in charge of the burials of American soldiers in overseas cemeteries. As you can see from the numbers mentioned above there are a lot of burials to keep track of. The commission has the records of all deceased servicemen who are buried in American overseas cemeteries or are listed on the Tablets of the Missing.
When you write to them at the address listed below, you will be sent a brochure that will tell you the exact location of your uncle's grave. If he was among those listed on the Tablet of the Missing, then the brochure will tell you where his listing is on the Tablets. You can also request a photograph of the cemetery and your uncle's grave marker or his name on the Tablet of the Missing. They will superimpose your uncles marker or name over the cemetery.
You can write them at:
American Battle Monuments Commission Operations
In my research of Americans buried overseas, I found out that some of the local residents in the countries where the American cemeteries can be found have adopted graves. While not all of the American Cemeteries have such programs, even those that don't seem to do other things. All of this is a way to honor the Allied troops who died in the liberation of their countries.
For those cemeteries where the graves have been adopted, the locals visit the grave and leave flowers. They do this regularly. To find out which cemeteries have such programs, you will want to pick up Ann Bennet Mix's Touchstones, A Guide to Records, Rights and Resources for Families of American World War II Casualties, published by AGLL in 1996. She surveyed the superintendents of each of the overseas cemeteries and then included their responses in her book.
D-day Military Personnel
It is possible that your ancestor is buried in the Brittany-American Cemetery in Saint-James (Montjoe-Saint-Martin) France. This cemetery is located between Avranches and Fougeres and is near Mont-St. Michael in southwest Normandy. There are 4,410 Americans buried there and another 498 names on Tablets of the Missing. This cemetery though is often overlooked by researchers because of the larger one at St. Laurent-Sur-Mer.
You can contact them, if mailing from the United States, by writing:
Brittany American Cemetery
The Normandy American Cemetery (St. Laurent-Sur-Mer) is located above Omaha Beach. It is this cemetery that is portrayed in Saving Private Ryan. If your uncle was one of those brave soldiers who gave his life during the landings at Normandy, then it is likely that he is buried there. There are 9,386 American soldiers buried there and another 1,557 names listed on Tablets of the Missing. This is another cemetery that doesn't have an adoption program as such.
To contact the cemetery from the United States, you can write them at:
Normandy American Cemetery
One of the first things that I do when I am working on a new research problem is see what I can find online. And this was no different. There were some interesting links to sites that you may want to check out.
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