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My fathers documents - am I missing anything?

Discussion in 'Military Service Records & Genealogical Research' started by KodiakBeer, Dec 7, 2012.

  1. Buten42

    Buten42 Member Patron  

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    Thanks for the salute Keith, and especially the story about your father. All the letters and stories from my brother's wartime buddies from the 2nd Armored echo your fathers hate for the SS. Glad the paper I sent helped--would love to post it but it's too large. Your father would be proud of what your doing.
    Dave
     
  2. Natman

    Natman Member

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    Adam and Dave said it well. This is an interesting thread and I've enjoyed reading it. And, I've learned some things along the way. Doesn't get any better than that.
    Thank you for sharing.
     
  3. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    Not interested in a day trip to Kansas? ;) I do believe that you can request copies of documents, but it will probably be pricey. Though I bet you could get quite a few documents for the price of a round-trip ticket. :D

    If you go to the link that Steve provided and click on the Research drop down menu, there is a PDF of their fee schedule.
     
  4. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Not really. It costs about $500 just to fly to Anchorage where I can catch a plane to the lower 48 for another thousand bucks - and that just to see if any of the info was useful. In looking over the info, I didn't see anything really pertinent for my purposes. For instance, they have casualty reports up to Oct 22nd, 1944 and nothing after that. My Dads PH is dated 29 December.

    The NARA files are even skimpier. I couldn't find a single document from the 30th Division in WWII, though they seem to have a lot from WWI...?
     
  5. Natman

    Natman Member

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    Have you requested an Index to the Records for the 30th ID from NARA?
     
  6. Biak

    Biak Adjutant

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  7. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    I've sent a request to a private research firm recommended by somebody on the forum. We'll see what they quote me...

    I'll give you an example of how difficult it is to research from a place like this. I tracked down a document called WWII Combat Interviews (Armed Forces Oral Histories) with an enormous section devoted to the 30th Infantry Division. It was in microfiche, but working through the local library I finally obtained a copy only to learn there is not a microfiche reader on the entire island, much less a reader that could print copies. My son at the U of AK, Fairbanks, is now trying to get the same document and assures me that a dusty old fiche reader at the university can print copies. The stars may finally align to get me those documents, but at this point I don't even know what's in them. The material may turn out to be useless for my book. But, I keep plugging away...
     
  8. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Biak,

    Thanks for the link. I'll research that further, but most of the headings look like stuff I already have. Your mind would boggle at all the info I've collected over the last three years. I've got a bus link stuffed with post battle reports, intelligence summaries, hundreds of photographs - every sort of document you could think of. In addition to that, I've got about 40 paper books consisting of everything from unit histories to first person accounts and biographies. Then... I've got another 25 or 30 books in Kindle format. The books are not only 30th Division specific, but also from the German units they fought.

    This isn't all about my dad, but about a book I'll eventually write on Old Hickory. The funny thing is how contradictory much of this information is. Every time I think I know what happened at a particular place and time, I get another reference that tells a wildly different story. Many historians have spoken of how every soldier fights a different war, or how every soldier only sees only a tiny slice of a battle. I'm finding that to be very, very true. And that "fog of war" goes right into the official accounts of actions. The reports that go up to the Regiment or Division often seem to have little relationship to what PFC Smith or SGT Jones saw on the ground.
    When you find a German account of the same action, the truth becomes even more fractured. A half dozen GI's who get lost carrying rations to the company becomes a company-sized flanking maneuver driven back by MG42's and mortars to the Germans.

    War is a very confusing thing...
     
  9. Natman

    Natman Member

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    A private researcher may be the best way to go. With all the info you already have, what you need at this stage will be company level AAR's/Ops Rpts, etc. I've only researched TD battalions; really have no idea how "far down the ladder" an infantry divisions reports would go. I've seen after action interviews/reports done by company CO's, platoon commanders and even sergeants, especially for the Ardennes campaign but others also. Some even have nicely detailed drawings.

    I wish you luck and look forward to reading about any new find you come across.
     
  10. Buten42

    Buten42 Member Patron  

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    The best written overview of the the European action, in my opinion, is the series by the Office of the Chief of Military History, Dept of the Army.
    The general heading is U.S. Army in WWII, European Theater of Opeations. I have the second of the series "Breakout and Pursuit" by Martin Blumenson. It goes into great, easy to understand detail regarding what really happend. I bought the book to better understand what role the 2nd Armored played in the breakout in Normandy (including Cobra) and I came away very satified and well versed. I glanced in the index for the 30th Infantry Division and the 117th Regiment and it has a lot of references for both. Your library should either have it or be able to get it through interlibrary loan. Well worth looking into.
     
  11. Natman

    Natman Member

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  12. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    The information in that link is very general and not even very accurate. For example, they refer to the 1st Bn. 117th CO ("Curlew") as "Ernest" Frankland, when in fact his name was Robert Frankland. The timelines are not very good either - the 1st battalion arrived in Stavelot about 1100 on the 18th, in time to engage the King Tigers of SS-Pz.Abt. 501 bringing up the rear of KG Peiper and shut down the the German advance. The "official" histories say that the town was still open through the 19th.

    That's part of that "fog of war" in histories that I described earlier. If you rely on the "big picture" you lose track of the "real picture." It's true that a few armored vehicles were able to shoot and scoot through the streets during the afternoon and evening of the 18th, but the Kampfgruppe following Peiper (KG Sandig) was to all intents and purposes stopped cold by early afternoon on the 18th, even though fighting continued in the town through that period.
     
  13. Biak

    Biak Adjutant

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    Fully understand your dilemma. Trying to find information on the 'gritty' side is durn near impossible. I've spent hours and days chasing down a snippet here and there looking into my Uncle's WW2 experiences in the Pacific. Very little in the mainstream but one thing usually leads to another. I've found several references to things mentioned in the Unit History that led me in other directions and, usually by accident, to something you'd never find otherwise. Something as simple as a one page MACR gave me a date and place which, three days later and numerous dead-end links, in turn I found mention of a flight that resulted in the destruction of two ships that was not mentioned anywhere else.
    Good luck & looking forward to seeing what you find.
     
  14. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    I've got a highly recommended researcher pulling up documents on my dad, and I'll be sure to post those in the next few weeks (he says that's all it will take).

    As for the book on the 30th, it will be another year before I'm even close to publishing. One of the most interesting series of documents that I've come across recently is a series of telephone transcripts between the Division and Regiments/Battalions. The speakers are all coded, but I've tracked down a list of code names for various commanders. Anyway, it's quite amazing how disconnected the Division (over at Malmedy) is from the Regiments and Battalions scattered around Stavelot, Trois Ponts, La Glieze, etc. Hobbs (Division) is giving various orders and the Regiments and Battalions are tactfully explaining why they can't do this or that, or why they disregarded a previous order and did something else. To Hobbs credit, he is fine with this. You can see that he places great trust in his commanders and gives them great latitude to do as they think best - and they do very well indeed! I got great insight into the leadership with these transcripts and it changed my opinion of Hobbs. In the early days in Normandy, Hobbs had gone through the Division like a Cossack, chopping off the heads of every CO who made even a tiny error. By this point in the war, he's got a team that he trusts implicitly and they can disobey his orders based on their own judgment.

    I suspect this relationship is the key to why the 30th Division was rated tops in the ETO. They have great commanders and those commanders have the confidence to execute actions without worrying about repercussions from the Division.
     
  15. dga99

    dga99 Member

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    The codes are WD GO 33-45 and WD GO 40-45. War department, General Order #33, dated 1945 and War Department, General Order # 40, dated 1945. They probably refer to his campaigns or awards.
    Darryl
     
  16. dga99

    dga99 Member

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    He is eligible for the Bronze Star Medal as authorized in 1947 for his CIB.
    Darryl
     
  17. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Yes, the Bronze Star is on the jacket.
     
  18. dga99

    dga99 Member

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    You can find the War Department and Department of the Army General Orders at the following website:

    Maneuver Center of Excellence Libraries

    Darryl
     
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  19. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    Great resource, Darryl. Straight to my bookmarks. Thanks for posting it.
     
  20. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member

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    Thanks for posting this link, Darryl. Like Tommy, this went right in my bookmarks. A great resource.
     

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