Military History/Researching My Grandfather's WW 2 Service
QUESTION: Mr. Horrell,
Thank you in advance for any help you can offer. My grandfather was in WWII, and I am trying to learn of his time in the war. I have his enlistment record from the National Archives, his discharge paper, and several letters he wrote to my grandmother with dates and APOs. We have been told his records were lost in the 1973 fire, and his discharge paper states "Certificate in Lieu of Lost or Destroyed."
The front of his discharge paper identifies him as a Technician 4th Grade, Headquarters Replacement Depot. A Notice of Change of Address from Aug 1944 is stamped with Infantry Company E and APO 15424. He departed the US on 17 Aug 44 and arrived ETO on 25 Aug 44.
He states in his letters that he was in England Aug-Oct 44, Belgium and Holland in Nov 44, and Germany by early Dec 44. He writes either Co. E Infantry or G.F.R.S.P. in the return address of these letters. He was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds he received in Germany on 2 Dec 44. He did not talk about the war but did tell my aunt that he was shot in house-to-house fighting and was evacuated on the hood of a Jeep. He spent more than 90 days in the hospital and wrote "Hospital Plan 4114" in the return address of those letters. After that, he writes "G.F.R.C. Train Crew #38 Det 189" in the return address of his letters and mentions helping transport soldiers.
These are the stamped APOs & dates.
APO 129---21 Sep 44
APO 129---6 Oct 44
APO 129---25 Oct 44
APO 872---23 Nov 44
APO 314---18 Dec 44
APO 314---25 Dec 44
APO 314---24 Jan 45
APO 176---28 Mar 45
APO 583---31 May 45
APO 583---12 Jun 45
APO 583---19 Jun 45
APO 176---27 Jun 45
APO 176---21 Aug 45
APO 176---12 Sep 45
APO 176---1 Oct 45
He participated in the Rhineland and Central Europe campaigns. I researched the Decorations and Citations he received. The paper I have lists one as the EAME Theater Ribbon w/ 2 Bronze Stars. We have his ribbons, and he has 4 Bronze Stars. Would those have been awarded later? He arrived back in the US on 16 Nov 45.
I have been reading a lot about the war. I have learned so much but feel like I can't pinpoint the information I want about him, such as what specific unit he may have been with before and after his wounds. I hope I have included enough facts here. Thank you so much for your time.
ANSWER: Dear Ms.,
Thank you for your question. In it you typed "his discharge papers". I am so, so pleased to read that you have a copy of your grandfather's Discharge Documents, which are invaluable toward ACCURATE historic research. Many people seem to negate the significance of the Veteran's Discharge Documents. However, the Veteran did sign their Discharge Documents, indicating the accuracy of the documents.
In your question you typed "his discharge papers state "Certificate in Lieu of Lost or Destroyed." If that is printed upon it, it is NOT a Discharge Document. Veteran's were provided 6-10 copies of their Discharge Documents, so it is YOU or YOUR family that is the source for your grandfather's Discharge Documents. There are four pages, but page two is most important. Page two has 57 numbered rectangles, each rectangle has a specific FACT about your grandfather's service during WW 2. Does that description look/seem familiar?
In your question you typed "He departed the US on 17 Aug 44 and arrived ETO on 25 Aug 44." May I ask for your source / document providing you with those dates?
Departure Date: August 17, 1944
Departure Location: New York Port of Embarkation
Troop Ship: RMS Ile de France
Arrival Date: August 25, 1944
Arrival Location: Gourock, Scotland
9,647 Troops onboard
In your question you typed "He was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds he received in Germany on 2 Dec 44." May I ask for your source / document providing you with that information?
The following are the various APO's & the location. No units were located with the APO's you provided.
APO 129: Warminster, England
APO 872: Norwich, England
APO 314: Bradford, England
ALPO 176: Tampers, France
ALPO 583: Chenille, France
In your question you typed "He participated in the Rhineland.......those have been awarded later?" No. You typed that your grandfather "participated in the Rhineland and Central Europe campaigns." One campaign, one Bronze Campaign Star on the campaign ribbon. Two campaigns, two Bronze Campaign Stars. Why there are four, I have no idea, but it is incorrect.
In your question you typed "he arrived back in the US on 16 Nov 45." May I ask for your source / document providing you with that date?
Departure Date: November 8, 1945
Departure Location: Le Hare, France
Troop Ship: SOS Argentina
Arrival Date: November 16, 1945
Arrival Location: New York Port of Embarkation
Good Luck with your quest.
Richard V. Hormel
WWW 2 Connections
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Dear Mr. Horrell,
Thank you so very much for your reply and for your time.
To answer your questions, the source/document providing me with the various dates & information I provided about my grandfather's WWII service are from the back of the document that states "Army of the United States - Certificate in Lieu of Lost or Destroyed - Honorable Discharge" that I mentioned in my question. The back of that document states "Transcript From Enlisted Record" at the top, and there are 40 numbered boxes. Those boxes are where I found information about when he departed the US and arrived ETO, when and where he was wounded, the decorations and citations he received, and when he arrived back in the US.
When you asked about the "57 numbered rectangles," I hoped that was the document I had, but it is not. Since your reply, I have contacted the Recorder in the county where my grandfather resided at the time of his discharge and inquired whether his papers might be on file there. I'm waiting for a reply.
I want to ask you so many more questions, but I will wait until I speak with the County Recorder. Again, I very much appreciate your time and knowledge.
Thank you for your follow-up. I will also eagerly wait for a reply from the Recorder in the county where your grandfather resided at the time of his discharge. Photocopies of the REAL Discharge Documents, the ones your grandfather received when he was discharged from the US Military, should provide us with the FACTS we need to begin ACCURATE historic research.
In the interim, would you be so kind as to photocopy "Army of the United States - Certificate in Lieu of Lost or Destroyed - Honorable Discharge" & send me the photocopy via First Class U.S.P.S. to the address at the end of this reply? I would like to see what I am suddenly reading all about.
Good Luck with your quest.
Richard V. Horrell
WW 2 Connections
2011 Richard Jones Road
Apt E 26
Nashville TN 37215-2837