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Index to General Orders?

Discussion in 'Military Service Records & Genealogical Research' started by Pen, Jul 14, 2009.

  1. Pen

    Pen Member

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    I'm researching various family members who served during WWII. I could sure use some help with a distant cousin on whom I have scant information.

    Sgt. Dennis Edward Hayes was KIA (in Europe) 23 Oct 1944. I think he was originally buried at Epinal, France; but his body was returned home in 1948 for reburial in the cemetery at Barstow, Ward Co, Texas. There is no information on his tombstone regarding his military service.

    He had no children and I have, thus far, been unable to find who in the family might have had any papers related to his service. All his siblings except one are deceased. Denny was married at the time of his death and his widow (with whom the family lost contact many years ago) would have been the logical person to have them; in any case, the probability of her still living and still having them is remote.

    Oddly enough, I cannot find him by name or serial number in the NARA database of enlistees, which is very frustrating. I did find Denny's name and Army serial number on the list of casualties for Ward County, Texas. (listed as Sgt. Dennis E. Hayes, Serial #38439255).

    I also have copies of two pertinent newspaper clippings:
    Nov 10, 1944:
    "DENNY E. HAYES KILLED IN ACTION
    Sergeant Denny E. Hayes, son of Mr. and Mrs. P.A. Hayes of Barstow, was killed in action in France on Oct. 24. His parents have been notified."
    June 10, 1948:
    "BODY OF SERGEANT DENNIS HAYES OF BARSTOW RETURNED
    The Body of Sergeant Dennis E. Hayes of Barstow, who was killed in action at Epinal France [sic] on October 24, 1944 was returned to Barstow this morning. He was a member of the famed 44th Division."
    (The rest of that article simply names family members and the time/date of the funeral. No further military information is included in it.) I doubt that he was actually killed at Epinal; it's much more likely that he was buried there for a time, but I certainly don't know that for sure.

    Going on that one line, that Denny was in the 44th Division, I found a book on ebay called Index to the General Orders, 44th Infantry Division, by Brandon T. Wiegand. Bought the thing and, sure enough, there on page 57 is listed:
    Hayes, Dennis E., SGT, 324th Infantry, 44th Division PH KIA (44DIVAGOBD)

    Now, for some reason (failing memory in an old mind?) I had it in my head that Denny Hayes drove a tank, just like his cousin Arthur "Bud" Hayes. From the way I read the above, it appears that's not true.

    So, here's my questions:
    What's the "324th Infantry"? A regiment? A battalion? How do I find out where the 324th was on October 24, 1944, when Denny was killed? Am I assuming too much to think that one line in the Index to GO book is telling me enough to know what Denny's unit was? How much smaller units (above his company's alph designation) should I be looking for?

    I don't have Denny's social security number. It's listed as one of the necessary items when requesting service records. Is it possible for me to fill out a form 180 without it and get something from NARA? Does the fact that NARA doesn't have him in their enlistment database indicate they won't be able to find anything on his service? (but, if that's true - how come they're able to list him on casualties from his home county in Texas?)

    I'm so new to researching this stuff. I have all my Dad's military papers, so this is covering unknown territory for me. Help and suggestions on what to do to find out more about this honored cousin's sacrifice would be gratefully received.

    Thanks!
    Penny
     
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  2. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy

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    The 324th was an infantry regiment, one of three in an infantry divsion, such as the 44th. Infantry divsions usually had at least one tank battalion attached to the division, but his designation would have been the tank battalion number. The tanks were attached, but were actually part of the division and so, did not wear the infantry division's patch, nor were the carried on the divisional rolls.

    Here is a book http://openlibrary.org/b/OL6057117M/Combat-history-of-the-324th-Infantry-Regiment%2C-44th-Infantry-Division. your library might can borrow it for you.

    Google 44th Infantry Division and 324th Infantry Regiment.

    I will look tonight and see what I can find for you on the whereabouts of the 324th IR on the given date.

    Note: The 324th was part of the 81st Division in World War I
     
  3. kerrd5

    kerrd5 Ace

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    Penny,

    To ascertain which company of the 324th Infantry Regiment
    Sgt Hayes belonged to, I would suggest that you file a FOIA
    request with the Army Human Resources Command in Alexandria, VA,
    and ask for his Individual Deceased Personnel File, IDPF for short.
    These usually identify the cause of death and, in this instance,
    should contain the documents his parents or next of kin would
    have signed authorizing the repatriation of his remains.

    Moreover, you can either contact the NARA in College Park, MD,
    and ask for copies of the Regiment's After Action Report for
    October 1944 (cost is $0.75 per page) or you can hire a local
    researcher to obtain the records for you.

    http://efour4ever.com/44thdivision/vosges.htm

    http://www.efour4ever.com/44thdivision/

    World War II Divisional Combat Chronicles

    Component Elements of the Infantry Divisions in World War II

    44th INFANTRY DIVISION

    In addition, the NARA was not able to read all of the Army Enlistment
    Records, and some were lost, so it is not uncommon for his record
    to be missing.


    Dave
     
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  4. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy

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    The 44th Infantry Division (ID) began the relief of the 79st ID on 18 Oct 1944 at Foret de Parroy, near Lunneville France. The 71st Infantry Regment (IR), of the 44th ID, went on the line 23 Oct 44 and the 324th IR followed the next day (24 Oct 1944).

    Apparently, he was killed as his division was going into action. How, that will be hard to determine - enemy artillery, mine, vehicle wreck, sniper?

    Here is a short mention of the regiment from a friend of the forum, Baseball in Wartime Baseball in Wartime - Ernie Raimondi
     
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  5. Pen

    Pen Member

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    JW, Dave,
    Thank you both so much! This is a huge help and tells me a lot more than I knew before. I will certainly see if my local librarian can help me borrow a copy of that book. (I actually found one copy of it for sale on the net, but before I pay $95 for it, I think I'll see if I can borrow one.)

    Doncha just love google?! I've had some good luck using it - and in the past I actually found a company history online with info on Denny's cousin, "Bud" Hayes (Baker Company, 778th Tank Battalion). It told of the day Bud was promoted to a tank commander and also about when he was killed. I figured such detailed info was rare and that I likely wouldn't find anything similar for Denny, but a gal can always hope, can't she!

    I'm particularly grateful to you for pointing out how to get the after-action reports for a given time. I didn't even realize I could get that! I'll also try to get info on Denny from Army Human Resources Command, even though I don't think I have to hand all the info they may require. One can only try and hope for the best.

    Would any of these (after action report or Denny's IDPF) tell me which company he was in?

    This soldier was one of so many who were "just kids". Denny was only 20 yrs. old. I can't imagine what going into war must have been like, especially for a boy that age. The war was tough enough on full grown men like my Dad, who was 35 (and used to some really tough situations) when he went in.

    By the way, I was told on the phone yesterday that the VFW in Monahans (county seat for Denny's home county) has a picture of Denny on the wall down there. Do you suppose it's worth my time to contact them and see what info they might have on him? It's only about a two hour drive from me. If I can track down a real live human associated with that VFW post, I could even make an appointment and go see them.

    Anyway, I thank you both profusely! I'll get on it and follow up on these fine leads.

    Warmest regards,
    Penny
     
  6. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy

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    You can dream-you never know when it might become reality.
    I was sorrier than gully dirt when I was 19-20 years old.
    Yes! Exhaust all easily obtainable and inexpensive sources before moving to the harder and more expensive trails.
     
  7. kerrd5

    kerrd5 Ace

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    Penny,

    Most Division, Regimental and Company histories have not been digitized, so you are lucky to have found Bud's. I can almost guarantee you that
    Denny's IDPF will identify which company of the 324th IR he belonged to.
    It is very unlikely, from my experience reading many AARs, that the
    AAR produced in the month of his death would identify his company.

    Since you are going to request Denny's IDPF, you might as well ask for Bud's.

    In 2009, I received IDPFs for my two uncles who died in the war.

    Here is the letter I used for Uncle Tim:

    US Army Human Resources Command
    ATTN: Public Affairs Office (FOIA)
    200 Stovall Street
    Alexandria, Virginia 22332-0404

    Dear Sirs,

    IAW with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), I should like to
    request a copy of the Individual Deceased Personnel File for my uncle Thomas J. Kerr,
    who died in World War II.

    Below is his personal information:

    - NAME: Kerr, Thomas J.
    - RANK: PFC
    - ASN: 33411898
    - UNIT: B Company, 63rd Infantry Regiment, 6th Infantry Division
    - DATE OF DEATH: 18 January 1945

    I realize that this will take some time, and I will be patient. Naturally, I am
    prepared to pay any costs necessary for the production and mailing of the file.


    I received both IDPF free of charge (our tax dollars at work). Uncle Tim's
    was 62 pages; Uncle Nick's was 29.

    Definitely contact the VFW and see if they can provide more info.


    Dave
     
  8. Pen

    Pen Member

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    Wow, Dave! Thanks so much! I just c/p'ed that into my word processor, replaced your man's data with each of my guys and printed it out. It surely doesn't get any easier than that. My letters will now go into this afternoon's mail.

    You're a peach for sharing this with the rest of us!

    Warmest regards,
    Penny
     
  9. Pen

    Pen Member

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    Dave, JW, and whomever,

    I am assuming (and hope you will take the time to verify or correct me) that the place I need to write to obtain an After Action Report (AAR) is:

    Modern Military Records (NWCTM)
    National Archives at College Park
    8601 Adelphi Road
    College Park, MD 20740-6001

    If I am requesting an AAR to cover a specific date, do I ask for an AAR for an entire month that would cover that date? (e.g. If I want to know about Oct. 24, 1944, then I ask for an AAR for October, 1944?)

    Exactly what unit designation do I need to request an AAR for? e.g. Are AARs filed for the entire regiment or did each company file one? Or did both file them separately? If these were only done by company: if I don't yet know the company designation I need, do I need to wait (which is the case for Denny Hayes, but not so with Bud) until I find out what company my soldier was in? Or, in the case of Denny Hayes, is it ok for me to ask for all the company AARs for the 324th Infantry Regiment for October, 1944?

    I'm sorry for the green-as-a-gourd questions. I just don't know enough to do what I need to do without bugging you wonderful folks for help! You've been so gracious about providing it - I hope you don't mind if I tug at your sleeve for a little more attention again so soon.

    Please know ahead of time how much I appreciate your assistance with this. I don't think there is another living soul in the Hayes clan who is trying to document these wonderful men's service records for our future generations, so it falls to me to do it. Besides, Bud and Denny deserve this and so much more, don't you think?

    Warmest regards as always,
    Penny
     
  10. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy

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    I can't help you with the records question. Wished I could, I just don't know much about that aspect of your dilema.
     
  11. Pen

    Pen Member

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    That's ok, JW. If I don't find an answer here in the next few days, I'll just launch off and give 'er a try, anyway!

    :D

    Warm regards,
    Penny
     
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  12. kerrd5

    kerrd5 Ace

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    Hi, Penny.

    The easiest thing to do is to establish an electronic account with
    the NARA and submit your request via the web.

    You can register under New User here:

    https://eservices.archives.gov/orde...SWEHo=eservices.archives.gov&SWETS=1247868202

    Yes, you want to request the AAR for the specific month for
    the regiment. Battalion journals may be available for the 324th,
    but there is no point in asking for them now, since you don't know
    Denny's Company.

    If the NARA has the AAR, and they probably do, they will send
    you a letter and tell you the cost.

    For both Denny and Bud, it is possible but unlikely, from my
    experience, that Company-level reports survived. The only
    common exception is Morning Reports, which are available
    from NPRC, St. Louis, for a fee.

    Commentary: The Daily Morning Report: Taking The Pulse of WWII

    80th Infantry Division Digital Archives Project

    From NARA, College Park, and I've been there nine times, by the way,
    the best you can reasonably hope for are Battalion-level Journals.

    This might be useful, too:

    http://www.archives.gov/research/ww2/ww2-participation.pdf

    If you have any additional questions when you submit your request for the AAR, just let us know.


    Dave
     
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  13. Pen

    Pen Member

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    Dave, I swan, you are a veritable fount of useful information. Thanks so very much!

    I sent two letters off yesterday, asking for Bud's and Denny's IDPFs. Now, I must force myself to forget that I've asked for them so I won't get too anxious during the wait. :)

    I hope others will find this thread and all the useful info you've given me.

    Thanks again!
    Penny
     
  14. Baker324

    Baker324 Member

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    [QUOTE= I did find Denny's name and Army serial number on the list of casualties for Ward County, Texas. (listed as Sgt. Dennis E. Hayes, Serial #38439255).


    I show from a list of 324th KIAs that I have, that Sgt. Hayes, Dennis E. was in H Company of the 324th. H Company is usually the heavy weapons company of a regiment. Date of death 10/23/44 and it shows he was from Texas.
     
  15. Pen

    Pen Member

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    Thanks, Baker324! It's a help to find out what company he was in.

    So, can y'all tell me (or point me to a way to find out about) what the term "heavy weapons company" means?

    Thanks again!

    p.s. doing a quick google came up with this link among others:
    http://www.efour4ever.com/44thdivision/bilesbuchen2.htm
    The fourth paragraph reads:
    "In addition, these outposts would be in a position to prevent the escape of enemy from the Buchen Busch Woods. The remaining E Company platoon would constitute the battalion reserve and was to take up positions in the vicinity of Melingerhoff Farm to protect the base of fire. F Company, plus one section of H Company, Heavy Machine Guns, was to follow E Company closely to a position north of the eastern half of the Buchen Busch Woods, from which it would deploy to assault the woods from the northeast. G Company, plus one section of H Company Heavy Machine Guns, was to follow F Company closely, seize, organize and hold the nose east of the Buchen Busch Woods." (emphasis mine)

    Does this lend further proof that "company H" was, indeed, the heavy weapons company for 324th Infantry?

    (I'm learnin' but the curve is steep! Thanks, guys.)
     
  16. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy

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    In each battalion there were 3 rifle companies and one weapons company.

    The rifle companies were just that, soldiers grouped in platoons, armed with (mostly) rifles, plus an additional weapons platoon.

    The weapons company were soldiers armed with heavy machine guns, 81mm mortars and bazookas. The weapons platoon was similarly armed, except smaller versions of the MGs and mortars. Anyway, they provided heavy firepower for the battalion that was under direct command of the battalion commander. They could be parcelled out in small groups to the rifle companies if needed or committed as a complete company, depending on the needs.

    All companies were "numbered" the same for all divisions.

    A, B, C were rifle companies for the 1st battalion of each regiment
    D company was the weapons compnay for the 1st battalion of each regiment

    E, F, G -rifle companies of the 2nd battalion
    H - Weapons of the 2nd battalion

    I, K, L - rifle coy of the 3rd
    M - weapons coy of the 3rd

    There was no J company, to avoid confusion with I company with written orders.
     
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  17. Pen

    Pen Member

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    Thanks, JW! That's very interesting and also very useful for a noob to learn.

    It occurs to me that there should be something (I doubt it exists, but it would be nice if it did) somewhere on these forums or on the internet; it could be titled "The Military for Dummies". :D Then people like me could go look stuff up in it. Since there doesn't seem to be such a reference, I hope you'll take a grateful salute on behalf of me and all the rest who may venture here and need to know such things.

    You're a good egg and patient beyond the call, sir.

    Penny
     
  18. Baker324

    Baker324 Member

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    -------------------------------------------------------------

    The regiment encountered heavy artillery fire in those early days. There were 39 men from the regiment killed in October, and unfortunately it appears that Dennis Hayes was the first.
     
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  19. Pen

    Pen Member

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    Thanks, Baker 324!

    I had found mention on the 44th's website that they arrived at Luneville, Meurthe-et-Moselle, France 15 Oct 44. The site said that it took them about 4 days to move the next 20 kilometers to the line (which I think was near Croismare?) to relieve the 314th, arriving there on Oct 24th.
    It said they were trying to travel by night, but no matter what, it seemed the enemy always knew right where to find them.

    How certain is it that Denny died from artillery fire?

    Aside: I talked yesterday to a really nice fella, a Viet Nam vet, named Danny Armenta. He's the QM of VFW Post 4004 in Monahans, Texas (only a couple of hours drive from me). It turns out they have pictures of both the Hayes boys mentioned in this thread on their post wall. He was happy to hear from someone in the Hayes clan and said he's wondered if any were left in the area. He told me I'm welcome to come make scans of the pictures. So, I'm going to drive down there and haul my lap top and scanner with me! :)

    I owe you (and the horseman from Alabam) a beer, at the very least! ;) Thanks again, for all your help!

    Best regards,
    Penny
     
  20. snowfrog61

    snowfrog61 recruit

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    By their own admission 10% of the punchcards were not scannable and of those that were, 35% contain errors. Don't be discouraged.
     

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