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Visiting D-day sites-need to know what

I was told, sometime ago, by a stranger that when I visit the D-day sights I should have information about my father's service.
He served in France, in 1944, but was not involved in D-Day. Does anyone know what he was referring to? I know his battalion and company, is there something else?
We are headed to Normandy this September.

Posted by
8293 posts

I know that in Canada the Department of Veterans’ Affairs in Ottawa has information on every soldier’s service in WW2. No doubt there is a similar department of your government but how to find it I have no idea. Maybe your local Congress person?

Posted by
14580 posts

Hi,

The guy could be referring what was your father's Division, or what "arm " was he in, ie, infantry, armor, engineers, artillery, airborne, etc.

If you have your father's Regiment and Division, eg, 17th Regiment/ 7th Division (they were in the Pacific), then it's much easier to track down where he was, when he got there to France, which operation he participated in, if not, the Division's number, what was its "nickname." US Army Division had usually nicknames.

Posted by
23434 posts

Sometime people want to track where their father was and went. You know his unit/company/division you can get the history (or log) of that unit as it traveled across Europe. It would give you some idea of where your father was and when. You might be able to get it through the military records of Ancestry. His personal record would not provide that detail so you need the Division record.

Posted by
352 posts

Thank you gentlemen for such a quick response. I am on the hunt!

Posted by
14580 posts

If you have your father's Army discharge papers signed by Harry Truman assuming he was "inactivated" to use the government lingo at the time, ie demobilized by the end of 1945 or 1946, that would reveal his unit, eg, an independent Regiment or part of a Division, and where he was in ETO (European Theater of Operations).

Posted by
1163 posts

My guess is that the "stranger" assumed you were trying to track your father's progress through Normandy. As such, I would not put much weight in that advice. However, if you know your father served somewhere in Normandy, I would think you would want to know where—and you would want to visit those places. If you are trying to track his service record, be aware that a huge fire in the 70's (I think in Maryland, maybe PA) destroyed over 70% of the paper records of service people who served during that time. I was unable to easily track the records of my uncle who was KIA during WWII because of this fire. If in the unfortunate circumstances your father died in service (my condolences), the U.S. Battle Monuments Commission (https://www.abmc.gov/) does a good job trying to direct you to his grave or other information. They have databases and computer kiosks at the Normandy American Cemetery.

Posted by
352 posts

THank you all. Fortunately my father with two kids, and two more to come made it home.

Posted by
23434 posts

The fire was in St. Louis -- the loss was substantial but don't know how high. And there are other ways to find the record. You could check Fold3.com, a premium site of Ancestry.com. If you don't have access to Ancestry, your local library might have access to Fold3. IF near a family history center for the Church of Latter Day Saints, they have access to Fold3. It is an extremely rich sources for all military records. What you really want is the unit history since you know his company/battalion?

Posted by
971 posts

What was his Division, Batalion and Company?
D-day was just the First day on the much greater Battle of Normandy, codenamed Operation Overlord. Even if your fathers unit didn’t participate in the actual landings on D-Day, you might still be able to find places where he might have been involved in the fighting.
I just finished Antony Beevors book on D-Day (it covers the entire Battle Normandy) and it is packed with information about divisions, troop movements and maps.