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May 8, 1945: V-E Day – Using Fold3 Records to Help Tell the Story of Your WWII Veteran

Seventy-five years ago this month, Allied forces declared victory in Europe. V-E Day came at a steep price for American troops with more than 400,000 deaths during WWII. These WWII veterans, often called the Greatest Generation, were everyday men and women who put aside families, schooling, and jobs to answer the call and serve their country.

Canadian Women’s Army Corps celebrate V-E Day in London

It’s more important than ever to preserve their story. Of the 16 million Americans that served in WWII, only an estimated 250,000 veterans are still alive. That number declines with each passing day.

Telling their story is challenging for many because a large number of military personnel files were destroyed in a fire at the National Personnel Records Center in 1973 (including 80% of WWII Army files). The loss of those valuable records means that researchers need to look deep into military archives to reconstruct a service record. Fold3 is committed to honoring our veterans by providing 55 collections of WWII records containing more than 130 million individual records. You can see our entire WWII collection here, but here are a few of our favorite collections and some research tips:

Aviation Cadet James M. Kokales

US Air Force Photo Collection: This free collection contains thousands of WWII era photos from virtually every theater of war. There are personnel photos, crew photos, aircraft photos, aerial photos, and more. The collection is arranged regionally by war theater, but you can use search terms like name or flight squadron. In this photo, Hollywood actor Jimmy Stewart confers with members of the 453rd Bomb Group after returning from a mission over enemy territory. 

War Diaries: If your veteran served in the US Navy, the War Diaries collection covered day-to-day operations from 1942-1946. Most Navy units submitted these reports, along with some Marine Corps commands who submitted diaries for aviation units such as fighter squadrons. For example, the 132nd Mine Sweeping Flotilla filed a report of their involvement in the D-Day invasion. This division was tasked with the important job of clearing the waters of any mines before troops could come ashore. Read their narrative of D-Day here.

Missing Air Crew Reports: If you have an aviator that flew for the Army Air Forces in your family tree, this collection contains more than 16,000 reports for aircraft that were shot down, crashed, or went missing during WWII. The reports include the names of the crew and passengers, witness statements from both the ground and other aircraft, surviving crew member statements, details of bailouts, and notes when survivors were captured and taken POW. This report shares the amazing story of a lone survivor from an airplane shot down off the coast of New Guinea in 1943. 1st Lt. Jose L. Holguin described being severely wounded by flak in an attack that killed the pilot, co-pilot, and other crew members. When the plane began to spin out of control, Holguin was thrown out an open hatch but managed to deploy his chute. His plane crashed into the ground just below him, creating a fireball that burned his body and parachute. His parachute collapsed causing him to fall to earth where he broke his back. Holguin crawled through the jungle with several wounds, burns, and a broken back for three weeks before being captured and taken POW. After 27 months he was finally liberated.

European Theater Army Records: This collection records the logistics and challenges of organizing, supplying, and transporting an army across Europe. Search your veteran’s unit, battalion, company, etc. for insight. You’ll also find a series of monographs, or detailed studies, in this collection that cover multiple subjects. For example, read about the challenges of supplying food to the starving people of Belgium just before the Battle of the Bulge. Do you have someone in your family tree that served in the American Red Cross? Read a report on the Red Cross in Europe here. In this report, the military recorded the challenges faced and the procedures set in place when soldiers requested to get married. Ultimately, soldiers were required to file an application and wait two months before permission was granted.

Our WWII records are not limited to the United States. Some of our favorite UK and Commonwealth record collections include British WWII Commando Gallantry Awards, UK, Allied Prisoners of War collection, UK, Navy Lists, and Australia WWII Service Records.

Dive into these archives and start piecing together the story of your WWII veteran. Search Fold3.com today!

66 Comments

  1. My father, Lt. Robert Roy Stever, went ashore on Day-Day with the First Infantry during the second wave on Normandy. He was wounded during The Bulge and by the end of the war came out a Captain. He was always proud he served as am I and carry one of his Dog Tags on my key chain. Thanks to all who serve.

    • God bless you father. Having known a few men who went ashore on D-Day, every one was exceptional. We can never repay them for what they did, nor express enough gratitude. What we can do is live lives as proud Americans, which would make them proud of us, and which would show them their sacrifices were appreciated.

    • My father also went ashore on D-Day infantry second wave Omaha Beach.

    • Please post all those stories (of Army Vets of all eras) on the Soldier Registry at the National Museum of the US Army (www.armyhistory.org)! You can include a photo and it’s all free (unless you want to donate or order a plaque or brick).

  2. My father, George Knox Cracraft, at 20 years old was the pilot of B-17 Bomber ‘Mary Alice’ in 35 bombing raids over Germany. They were truly the Greatest Generation!

    • Yes they were!!! My mother worked at a place here in the states soldering the cross hatches for the bomb sights. I don’t know the name of the bomb sights she was working on, but it was high tech at the time. And top secret. She lived in Cincinnati at the time. My father was in the navy, liberating the south Pacific.

  3. My brother, Thomas J. Zimmerer was a Medic with the 9th Armored Dive in
    DECEMBER of 1944. The German Panzer Division was advancing so fast
    The U S troops didn’t have time to carry wounded soldiers. As a result my brother stayed behind with a wounded soldier. They intended to get back the next day but the ferocious fighting left my brother, Tom and the wounded
    Soldier stranded for 15 days. The hid in a cave and ran out of rations in a few days. DECEMBER in Belgium/Luxembourg is cold. Tom
    M had to crawl down a hill to get water for the fro a creek. In the course of those
    15 days(DEC. 111 to 25), Tom’s legs became frozen and gangrene set in.
    When they were rescued, Tom and the wounded soldier were hospitalized.
    It was determined that Tom had to have both his legs amputated just below the knee. It was a long healing process. Tom was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions. Tom was born on January 5, 1922 and he passed away on
    APRIL 12, 1968. Proud to have had him as my brother.

    • RIP to all those brave souls list, then and now. We have no idea what it means to sacrifice in this way and have become soft and vulnerable to modern day enemies! God help us all in saving our Republic!

    • God bless him and family! The two bravest people on a battlefield are without doubt the Medic and the Chaplain! They’re right in the middle of it treating and comforting the wounded! God Bless them!

  4. My father.,Robert Wayne Bowser, told the Elkhart County Draft Board that he would
    never be able to lift a rifle to shoot another human. His Mennonite religion forbade
    that. So they took him in the Army anyway and sent him to medical training where
    he became an Army nurse. He was sent to Hawaii where he took care of
    critically injured soldiers brought in from the Pacific. He never talked much
    about treating these men because that was heartbreaking and many died of
    injuries. He wrote encouraging letters to my mom, Emma, , telling her about the
    friends he made at the Hospital. The world was a dreary place, and
    he wanted to be positive in a negative environment. Love is a big word during
    wartime. He loved my mother and he wanted her to face her grade school students
    with as much love as possible. A few years later, 1946, he came back to Indiana
    with his Christian heart which had suffered silently. From that love, my brother and
    I were born. We were taught against guns and against violence. He had an uncommon type of bravery. When I think about the medical doctors and nurses,
    I remember that they had bravery of their own. They remained peace centered in a
    war that tested their commitment to build a more positive world.

    • Good man, your father. To stick to his principles through it all. Thank you for sharing this story.

  5. In my research for the book, When I Saw Her (not yet published) the French journalist Claude Blanchard describes his experiences as a war correspondent embedded with the Allied Forces from Strasbourg to Bastogne to Berlin. When he finally hung up his uniform in May, 1945, he wrote this:

    “Let me close by saying that it is not because of victory that I am now going to abandon my U.S. soldier’s gear with some melancholy. It is, above all, because most of the men whom I have known in this army had brave hearts and honest souls.”

  6. The messages above have touched me greatly.

    My own father, ( Srgt) Edwin Charles Hutchinson trained at the base in Champain (sp?), Indiana, in
    communications.
    My mother became twenty-one there. My
    dad was twenty-nine. My mother’s parents would not give their permission for them to marry. They liked my father, but mother’s parents insisted that they wait to marry until after the war.
    My mom and dad eloped and were married on January 6th, 1942 (I think).
    A year later my dad was posted to the Philippines. He was with teletype communications. He never told us what that involved. He was also with the occupying force on Okinawa.
    The one memory he mentioned more than once was how horrible he felt when he saw starving and hungry Philippine children lining up at the finished tray line to eat whatever the men had left on their plates.
    Some of you will have remembered seeing Japanese souvenirs your dad brought home. My mother kept what looked like a silk kimono and two pairs of beautiful, perhaps embroidered shoes in her hope chest all her life.
    My dad also brought home a Japanese rifle, no bullets of any kind. Perhaps some of you also saw a Japanese rifle, no bullets? My five-year old brother found the rifle, somehow managed to get it out of the house, and brought it up the hill to show it to a bunch of neighborhood kids. He arrived home with the rifle and the police much to my parents’ embarrassment.
    He always had a more unacceptable version of the family can-do. Luckily, in adulthood, he turned his drive to building his own successful business to hand down to his son.
    Someone wrote the other day, “Our parents and grandparents were asked to go to war and endure the suffering and ‘stiff-upper-lip” conditions of years of war. WE, on the other hand, are asked to join the battle against the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic by washing our hands, and staying at home sitting on our couches.” Living at the time of the Coronavirus HAS been difficult and frightening. But the comparison changes your perspective!

    • Wonderful story about your Mom and Dad. You are so right what we are currently asked to do pales in comparison to the sacrifices that they made.

    • My wife is tired of hearing me say the same thing. One doesn’t even need to be at war. My family is almost entirely military going back to the Revolutionary War with too many war stories to tell but, again, not necessary to make your point. I retired 30 years ago so some changes have occurred but the military owns you in that you may be sent anywhere at any time for any reason. Just being on a ship for a normal 6-8 month deployment is much worse than what people are complaining about.

  7. My Uncle was 4F because a childhood accident left him with only one eye. He kept trying to join and was finally taken into the Army late in the war. He was assigned to a railroad battalion. They were the kitchen and supply source for many late battles including the Battle of the Bulge. He was in a combat zone from the start of his deployment and was in the group of soldiers that entered Eagles Nest at the end of the war.
    I have a picture of him in Paris as one of the soldiers that won a drawing for a weekend pass to Paris.
    My father served as an officer on a destroyer escort in the Pacific. He used to say the Bill saw more action and had more fun than anyone else in the family,
    Immediately after the war his group stayed in Germany and rebuilt train tracks to establish supply lines. He was telling me this part of the story when we realized that it was the same train station that my daughter used while she was a exchange student in Germany.

  8. Thank you Mr.Emerson for sharing your father’s story. His bravery to stand up for his beliefs is one of the freedoms that were being fought for, and his contributions were vitally important. Many people misunderstand the stand of Christians as regards conscientious objection or neutrality, they equate it with either cowardice or treachery and sometimes both. Few there are that put their allegiance to their creator before their country and it takes deep faith, courage and submission to the will of God. In Hitler’s Germany such ones were being put in the concentration camps even many in the Allied countries were in-prisoned.
    My father was a B17 pilot, I also served in the MoANG(Vietnam era) then while my husband USAF Capt. was stationed in Germany, I began studying the Bible seriously so did my husband and now as Jehovah’s Witnesses we also are neutral as to war or politics.
    Again thank you for the story of your family.

  9. My dad, Paul W. Katus, joined the Michigan National Guard 106 Calvary. He thought of it as a ‘poor man’s country club’. When America started the draft, his unit was enlisted into the US army 21 Feb 1941. When W.W. II started he was shipped to Papuan New Guinea 18 June 1942 as an Anti-Aircraft gunner. He got Malaria and spiked a high fever. So did everyone else in his unit, so they all remained at their post
    Paul got three orders to return to the U.S.. The first two, his commanding officer had them canceled, stating Sgt. Katus could not be spared. The third order, his C.O. was away from the base. Paul got on the first plane out on 12 March 1944, and was gone before he returned. He became a D.I. in South Carolina, and got an Honorable Discharge, 7 June 1945. That was two months before Japan surrendered, but the policy was first in, first out
    I got all the facts from his honorable discharge separation papers my dad had saved in his records. It is sad that all that great information for everyone else was lost in the fire back in 1973

  10. ‘Mayhem Over Berlin’ is a fitting title for a situation very few of us would ever imagine encountering ourselves. Yet this scenario is another incredibly intense situation my father, Lt. Ernest Anders Erickson of the 95th Bomb Group experienced during his combat flying days in England in 1944. I grew up contemplating what it must have felt like flying a B-17 in combat. In that late morning confrontation over Berlin can be sensed in all it’s chaotic intensity, whenever my father talked about that day on May 24th, 1944.

    Months after this Berlin mission, my father spent time in early August of 1944 in Italy after completing four missions as part of a shuttle bombing run flying the ‘Lili of the Lamplight.’ It was his longest assignment that began on August 5th, 1944, when the Lili took off from Horham Airfield in England on the first in a series of five consecutive shuttle bombing missions which spanned the width of the European continent.

    During that ten-day run my father and his crew encountered barrages of deadly flak fire and Luftwaffe fighter attacks. After flying missions over Rahmel and Trzebien in Poland, and Bazau in Romania, the squadron landed at Poltava Airfield in the Ukraine, where they refueled and rearmed. They carried out one final mission in Eastern Europe and then flew back to Poltava. After a brief lay-over at the airfield, the 334th Squadron headed towards the Mediterranean.

    They landed at the 15th Air Force base in Italy, formerly controlled by the Germans at Tortorella Airfield, referred to as Foggia Satellite No. 2. The crew spent the time in and around Foggia unwinding from the long week of flying. Soon enough he and some of the crew commandeered a jeep.They visited the Mediterranean cities of Salerno & Naples and my father had a chance to photograph the allied ships which were moored in the harbor and scattered throughout the waterways.

    In Foggia, a crew member captured what I have always thought were classic photographs of my father standing in front of various abandoned Luftwaffe bombers. The photos were taken not long after the Allies had taken over the airfield. Abandoned equipment and airplanes were strewn across the countryside.

    The images are quite surreal when compared to other photographs that my father took. When viewing the photos, one can consider the shambled retreat of the once highly disciplined, invincible and soon to be shattered German military. An era held still in photographic imagery. A dozen of these photographs can be viewed on the three pages of my father’s Air Corps section.

    By mid August the ‘Lili of the Lamplight’ left Foggia and completed one more mission, their 34th, over Toulouse, France before heading home to Horham.

    By late August my father awaited the day they would complete their last and final 35th mission. The cards laid out for that mission on August 26th, 1944 took a very uncertain last minute diversion. While the crew anticipated their last raid on Germany’s Industries, their ship the Lili would be involved in it’s final flight. As my dad referred to his ship as his Lucky Lady, the ‘Lili of the Lamplight’s luck would run out soon after she headed off on a mission over Austria with another crew.

    A day later my father did fly his 35th and final mission. He later put in a transfer to fly B-29s in the Pacific. Photos of all this here at my Family Archive Project: http://markerickson.com/Family_History/Ernest_Erickson/

  11. My father was stationed on Tinian and was a radio operator on a B-29. He never talked about his service and barely answered questions we asked him. After he died at the age of 59, his aunt gave me a box of letters he had written to her and her family. It was a precious gift. I transcribed them and made copies for my siblings. Then, 35 years later, I had been hearing how we need more personal stories from these men and women. I decided to publish his letters so others could get a sense of what an 18 year old boy from a small town in Oregon went through. I am so proud of my father and I so wished I had told him so when I had a chance. The book is available on Amazon and is called “WWII Letters from the Pacific” By Linda McCormick.

  12. I have an efile of my husband’s WWII memories. Where can I post it. By the way he is still alive at 95. Edgar Gene Waggoner

  13. Totally inappropriate, politically motivated, post by Sharon I. Higgins, on May 3, 2020, should be removed.

    My father, Raymond Eugene Bennett, served 4 years in the European Theater of Operations, during WWII; and continued to serve our nation until his retirement after 20 years in the service.

    • Thank you for calling out the totally inappropriate and disrespectful comment by Sharon Higgins. I agree that it should be removed.

      And please know that your father’s service, along with mine and millions of other men that served to preserve our freedom, has not been forgotten.

  14. My maternal grandfather was 45 years old when he volunteered to serve (he was determined to serve after a floating kneecap prevented him from serving in WWI) and was a Captain (then Major) in the Army’s Civil Affairs Division. He helped organize a return to normalcy for the local populations (in Italy, Yugoslavia and then Austria) after the Allies had secured victory over the Nazis.

    In a letter he hand-wrote on May 12, 1945, from Linz, Austria, he said he had “spent V-I day in Italy and V-E day in Germany” but “just to keep the record perfectly clear — I do _not_ want to spend V-J in Japan.”

    “… V-E day was not a very joyous one over here as far as I was concerned. I drove hard the whole day. We saw natives messing around in the rubble of what had at one time been famous cities. There were no church bells ringing here. The only festive air at all was that scores of bombers flew around at low altitude most all day long — splashing around much as a group of children would do on a beach. I suppose they enjoyed coming over once without being shot at. Then, too, they had a chance to see close down the results of their efforts. The results were there — they had done it.

    “…I am sure from one end of Germany to the other this country has felt the devastating effect of modern war. They have been well pasted day and night after day and night. And then their armies have been cut to pieces right here on their own soil. One place I drove through the other day had the greatest destruction of guns, tanks and trucks that it is believable could take place. They shall not tell our children that they were not beaten …”

    Both of my parents worked in the Manhattan Project, at the Y-12 uranium separation plant in Oak Ridge, Tenn. My mom was a clerk in the group that reviewed quality control of incoming materials. My father was a chemist who graduated college in 1943 at age 19, supervised the operation of a line of Calutron magnetic isotope separators. His post-war career was devoted to the health and safety of radiation workers. He is still alive at 96 years old, and gave this oral history interview in 2005: https://www.manhattanprojectvoices.org/oral-histories/donald-rosss-interview

    The Greatest Generations, to be sure. (Plural intended!)

  15. I never tire of reading letters or books on the War years and I made sure my adult kids knew about them. By the time my Dad was old enough to fight, he wasn’t needed, but he became involved in the CCC’s. He helped with the building of the Tillamook Blimp Hanger etc. I still have few of my WW11 war ration coupons! He who doesn’t know history is bound to repeat it!
    I had uncles in the war and also the Korean War. One uncle was never the same mentally afterwards. He only told my older brother his experiences in the war and no one else. Later in life when my bro. realized this, he too had forgotten many of them
    If you knew anyone interned in a camp and kept a diary (we did), those diaries are now on line and can be accessed by looking up “WW11 Diaries”.

  16. In 2006 one of the residents of the retirement community where my parents lived persuaded about 60 of the residents who had served in WWII to summarize their memories. He assembled the contributions, anywhere from a few sentences to a few pages, into a book. I imagine the book was widely circulated within the community, but I don’t know of it going any further.

  17. My father had a friend named Solomon Furstenberg or Fuerstenberg.. He was from Chicago. He had an heroic career in the Army during WWII. He was wounded and was treated for removal of shrapnel at a local veterans hospital in Chicago for years after the war.

  18. My cousin Marshall Feinglas was 19 when he was killed in his first action. So many young men never had a chance to enjoy life so we could maintain our freedom. We owe them everything.

  19. Richard L Miller It was called the Norden bomb site.

  20. My father served in the Pacific Theatre in the Army 873rd Engineer Aviation Battalion. While in Tacloban on the Island of Leyte, he received a head wound during a Christmas Eve bombing in 1944. Because of this, he was sent home and was to later be in the Invasion of Japan but the war ended. He was discharged on November 25, 1945. He was awarded the Good Conduct Medal, the Pacific Theatre Ribbon and the Purple Heart. He was a very patriotic person, loved his country and the flag it represents. I am very proud to be the daughter of a WWII Veteran. God Bless America and God Bless our Veterans…past, present and those to come.

  21. My Uncle Charles A. Rinehart, 1st Lt US Army 507th Parachute Infantry Division parachuted into Normandy on D-Day, or possibly the night before. He was killed in action July 7, 1944, and he is buried at the Normandy American Cemetery, Colleville-sur Mer, France. I was the first relative to visit his grave 66 years later.

    • I read your message regarding your uncle, Charles Rinehart, killed in Normandy on July 7, 1944. On July 8th, I landed in Normandy at Utah Beach with the 119th AAA Gun Bn. It reminded me of the several times I provided transportation in my jeep to paratroopers who participated in D-Day. They were still around more than a month later, and needed a ride back to the beach to return to England. These young men, such as your uncle, were true heroes.
      After Normandy our unit provided anti-aircraft and field artillery support as part of Gen. George Patton’s Third Army thrust across France into Germany, participating in a total of five campaigns. Today is the 75th anniversary ending the war in Europe. I am honored to have been a part of of it.

    • Thank for your story of your heroic uncle and your visit to his grave in France.
      I’m curios about your name. My paternal grandmother’s family name was Doerr. Do you have relatives from Chicago?

  22. My father, Carol Jackson Stiverson, enlisted in the U. S. Army Air Corp in March, 1943. After training stateside at Strother Army Air Base, he graduated from Advanced Flying School, Class 44A at Moore Field.He then was stationed at Richmond Army Air Base until Oct 1944. He was then sent to Europe and was with the 8th Air Force, 50th Fighter Group, 10th Fighter Squadron. First stationed in England and later in France, Carol flew 93 missions in P-47s providing bomber support and attacking German installations. He returned home safely in August 1945.

  23. My father Norman Cupp was part of Operation Tidal Wave on August 1, 1943 that crippled the German fuel supplies in Ploesti Romania. This was also known as Black Sunday.

  24. We are a Russian Jewish family emanating from Russia, Latvia and Lithuania. Most of the family arrived around 1890. The first army veteran was Harry Silver from the Phillipines Insurrection 1897 working under General Arthur MacArthur set the stage for Siver’s nephew, Joe R. Sher, to enlist in World War 1 and later in World War 2, as a neighbor of the MacArthurs in Milwaukee, for him to reenlist and end up as the head of the Army group that broke the Japanese code. As a colonel and aid to Douglas MacArthur, unfortunately he died in a plane crash in 1943 over Corregidor. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, and a building is named after him in the Arizona Military Intelligence Hall of Fame. To my family: Norman Mistachkin, MD, Navy ship’s doctor in the South Pacific. Marvin Silver,Army warrant officer, seen in a photo in the belly of a plane crossing over to Normandy Beach; Jerome Isaacs, prisoner of the Germans in a concentration camp. All these people, sons of immigrants thought it was their duty to enlist for their chosen country. My children, today 120 years after the first family member joined the military, Captain Lawrence Cooper, former AirForce Academy and PhD in Space Policy, has remained in the military since 1982. Most recently he was in charge of cyber security for the joint chiefs, and now, Diplomatic Communications from the U.S. to Western Europe. I am so proud of my family and think of them not just today, but regularly. We are true to our country and what it signifies, as well as our Jewish ehnicity.

  25. He was born at Asbury-Methodist Hospital in Minneapolis, MN, on May 18, 1914. Shortly after his birth, his parents built one of the first houses in the Bryn Mawr neighborhood of Minneapolis. The family moved to Duluth, MN, when he was ten years old. He graduated from Duluth Central High School in 1933. He served in WWII from 1942 to 1945. He married Lois Siemen, at The Fort Snelling Chapel, July 18, 1942.He was transferred from Fort Snelling to Fort Knox, KT in 1944 for Battle training and Clerical training. They lived there until his transferred to Fort Mead.MD. His. Co., 140th Inf Regt. April 9, 1944 to Sept. 2, as a Corporal. He was sent to Mead, MD by troop train and prepared for overseas at Camp Kelmer, NY., Sept 12th as a as replacement. Lois returned to Duluth to stay with the Sims while pregnant with Floy Meta Sims. He left US Sept. 24, 1944; Landed at Glasgow, Scotland Sept 30; train to 11th Repl. Depot near Chester, England; travel to Fillshead for 3 weeks; then to Tidsworth between Andover and Salisbury from Nov.,1944 to Dec; Boat to Le Havre, France per English Channel; Box Car thru France to Givet, France for 2 weeks; by track to Germany; traveled to Frankfort then Nadwi, Liege, Verviers, Belgium; Stolberg and Aachen, Germany; Stayed in Brick factory near Front one night before moving into Stolberg where he joined the 9th Divs. on 23rd Dec 1944; moved up to Co.K 60th. Inf. Regmt at Monchau on Dec 25, 1944. He was in Monchau, Germany in the woods at Combat Patrol Jan 15 1945, fired on by an Enemy Machine Gun and the Squad Leader was Killed and they withdrew without gaining the objective, he was a Rifleman, Scout and Asst. BAR man! He moved on the 30th of Jan , 45 into Germany through the Siegfried Line and captured Drieborn on Feb 2, 45; captured Hosenfeld the same day and cleared the town, but was driven out by a German tank; retook the town at 7 AM of the 3rd.; returned to Drieborn a few days; moved to another sector by truck near Schmidt and stayed in town to sleep; back to Dreiborn; and was wounded 15th of Feb 45 by shrapnel in the back of both legs in a shower house. The right leg couldn’t be saved. He was sent to a VA hospital in Ogden, UT, for rehab, following an amputation of his right leg above the knee, while in a field hospital in France. Lois and baby Floy joined him in Utah. The three returned to Duluth sometime that summer.
    He was honorably discharged 31 Jan. 1946 from Bushnell General Hospital signed by Brig. General Hardaway.
    Purple Heart, Good Conduct medal, ETO Ribbon, Campaign Star American Theater Ribbon, Victory Ribbon
    His Id # 37281693
    He was Richard William Sims Born May18, 1914, Died Jun.10 1969 Minneapolis, MN

  26. I was in Times Square on VE Day. My Dad was a TWA flight dispatcher at Idlewild airport, and a serious amature photographer. I was 3 years old. He took his 8 millimeter Bell & Howell movie camera loaded with Kodachrome, and me to Times Square and filmed the impromptu celebration. I believe it’s the only color film taken of VE Day in Times Square. About the only memory I have of that day is asking Dad why there was so much paper in the streets and floating down from buildings. I still have his footage and plan to digitize it and place it in an archive. Five years later, we moved to Paris. We visited Omaha beach and saw the pill boxes with piles of rusting artillery shells behind them. We drove across occupied Germany which was still a wreck from two years of day and night bombing. We saw the ruins of factories and apartment buildings with their walls peeled open by bombs. We met a GI in the streets who was thrilled to find an American family. He took us to a PX where he treated us to hamburgers and milk shakes. Europe was in bad shape, still rebuilding their economy. Britain still had food rationing. There were men missing arms or legs. Women wore black widow’s weeds mourning for their dead and men wore black armbands. There were beggars and men hustling fake Parker pens and wrist watches. I’ll never forget those images. Thanks to all those Americans and our allies who fought and died in that terrible war.

  27. My father in law Larry Fitzwater was in the army and the battle of Luzon. He didn’t talk about his service much just as many others didn’t either. All of his records were lost in that fire. Would love so much to talk to anyone who might have been there. From what records I do have he was co K 19th inf. Also co B 32 inf . Thank you Beth

  28. My uncle John Paul Zimmer was drafted n 1941and was assigned to the 82 nd. airborne. At that time they were building Fort Campbell, in Ky. and Tenn. He was reassigned to the 101 st. Airborne glider trooper. He was sent to England for additional training for the D Day invasion. He crossed the English cannel behind a c47 and landed behind the German line. He stayed with the 101 st. all the way to the Eagle’s Nest and served a part of the occupation troops after the fighting was done. He was discharged from active duty to be home by Easter 1946. He saw combat in every fight the 101 st. was in, including Battle of the Bulge.

  29. My Brother John Young volunteered at seventeen when his Territorial Regiment the Leeds Rifles was mobilized in September 1939.My Father John Richard Bonner Young who was a class Z reserve from the First War was also recalled to duty at the same time. John Young served in the 49th Royal Tank regiment and landed in France on D day plus six and saw action in France, Belgium and Holland and was part of the Army of Occupation at war end. He attaied the rank sergeant by wars end.My Father was in the 6th Dragoon Guards was in the Battle of Mons and was wounded in 1915 he returned to action later in the war and was also in the Army of occupation in 1918.He later transferred to 10th Hussars and was stationed in Ireland and Egypt. Retiring from the army in 1932. After being re-mobilized He served as Quarter Master sergeant in Perham Down and Barnard Castle in England. He was also awarded the British Empire Medal by King George the 6th.

  30. My dad’s story is on YouTube behind enemy lines John Connelly,
    He was shot down and became a prisoner of war in Germany,
    He was 95 this year

  31. My Uncle, George Fischer (my dad’s twin brother) was riding in a tank in France. He traded places with the soldier who was riding in the turret. Almost immediately the tank hit a land mine. My uncle was thrown clear but the three other soldiers inside the tank were killed. He suffered some injuries but suffered from what was then called shell shock. He never really recovered from the mental anguish of surviving when his buddies were killed instantly.

  32. My Dad, Joe Hill Hammond, was born October 18, 1926.
    He passed away March 21, 2015. He was 88 years old. He was a good guy, and had many memories of his “war” years. Some stories seemed to be quite accurate, and some had gotten a little fuzzy. After all, he was about 80 when I decided to gather and verify details for a potential story. One recurring story was always about how they had to cut his boots off during those bitter cold days and nights of Dec 1944-Jan 1945 and being in the hospital in Luxembourg. This was during the time of the “Battle of the Bulge”, and his supply company participated in the “Red Ball Express”. His more current version of the “boot story” was he never got his boots replaced! I think maybe that was his way of adding a new twist to his story.
    After my Mom passed away in 2005, he moved in with me. I re-discovered the photo album that covered those early years of their marriage and his Army service. My Mom had created the album. I remember finding it when I was about 10, tucked away up on a shelf in our den closet. My Mom allowed me to look at it then, but only carefully, because of the photos. They were arranged and held on each album page with those little black (and some white) mounting corners that had to be glued in place. Now many were unglued and corners falling! It was one of those albums typical of that time, about 11″ x 14″ in size, with a thick red embossed front and back cover with heavy black paper pages, and all tied on the binding side with a long cord. Most of these photos were very small, only about 1″ x 2″. I’m not sure what kind of camera was used, but probably a small Kodak. My Dad told me that there was someone in the outfit that took photos all the time. Thanks to whoever he was. When I scanned them in to my PC and enlarged them, it’s amazing how some are very clear. I’ve posted almost all, here on this site, even some that were a bit fuzzy.
    According to his Discharge Form WD AGO 53-55:
    His Date of Induction: September 7, 1943. He was still 16 years old.
    His Date of Entry into Active Service: September 28, 1943 at Ft. McPherson, Georgia.

    His brother George, just 2 years older, had already joined in Dec 1942. He told me that he wanted to go help George. So with his Mother’s permission, and some local subterfuge from the Draft Board Registrar, Miss Mae Earl Strange, he was registered on August 9, 1943. Seems that when Miss Strange completed his Sel. Ser. Registration Form, they entered that same Aug 9, 1925 date as his birthday to show he had just turned 18. Now, years later, I knew where that date came from.
    According to the 841st History, “on October 3rd the first contingent of our future comrades and buddies arrived from Fort McPherson, Georgia – a great crew, all kinds of boys and men; some red cheeked, unacquainted with a razor, timid, awed and terrifically homesick – mere children; others, men with families – men with ability, background, stable, substantial citizens, not timid or awed, rather skeptical and filled with doubts. We had no more bedded these men down, so to speak, when the second and last group, from the same fort arrived, October 7th.” I’m guessing that my Dad was one of those “red-cheeked boys, unacquainted with a razor” since he was just turning 17.
    After V-E Day, May 8, 1945, the men of the 841st returned to the US, arriving on 27 July 1945. They enjoyed military leave to visit home and family. But most had orders to new locations to support the effort in the Pacific. My Dad was posted to Camp Cooke (now Vandenberg Air Force Base), California. He had just arrived about the time that the Japanese announced their surrender in August, and then V-J Day was official on 2 Sep 1945.
    He was honorably discharged November 28, 1945 at Camp Cooke, California and his organization at separation was listed as the 3430th Ordnance Maintenance Company.
    As an added coincidence, while in the US Air Force from 1966-1970, I was stationed at Vandenberg AFB. I have created a website to honor him, and his buddies, the men of the 841st: https://sites.google.com/site/841stodc/.

  33. Fold 3 purports to be an international database but as usual I only hear The United States trumpet being blown.I have two veterans who are my heroes. My father, Bombadier Reginald Percy White, a Royal Artillery anti-aircraft gunner who, as part of the British First Army took part in the battles of Tobruk and El Allemein in order to stop Rommel and his Afrika Corps from taking control of the Middle East oil-fields. Following the defeat of Rommel they joined forces with the Eighth Army in order to fight their way up the Italian mainland to attack the Germans from their under-belly. His battery had 37 confirmed downing of German aircraft.
    The second hero was Royal Marine Comando Ronald Joyce, my mothers brother, who was a member of the elite Special Boat Service. We know that he was involved in special operations in Norway and later in the Far East. We never really knew what he did but when he died in 2004 he had left a locked trunk in his attic which contained many souvenirs including three diaries.
    Between 1939 and 1942 the United States had supplied the allies with armaments, ships and food and got very rich as a result. Although not involved with the physical fighting this was a very necessary part of the war. Following the bombing of Pearl Harbour by the Japanese, the United States joined the physical fight. By this time the Royal Air Force, along with Polish and Commonwealth airmen, had given the Luftwaffe a bloody nose in the Battle of Britain and the Royal Navy had dealt with most of Germany’s capital ships but their U-boats were still a major threat.
    The main argument that the United States had was with Japan, but the U.S. knew that it would take them a long time if they took on the Japanese on their own whilst the rest of the world was still fighting Germany. It made sense to deal with Germany first as the Germans had already been weakened by previous encounters and then for everybody to deal with the Japanese afterwards.
    The notion that the United States on it’s own brought about the end of WW2 is nonsense, but that it is how it is often portrayed to the rest of the world. 400,000 deaths of U.S. service personnel was 400,000 too many and the rest of the world is grateful for the help that was given. That was about 0.35% of the population of the U.S. but to put that in perspective four million Polish Jews were slaughtered, and that was 85% of their Jewish population. Twenty million Russians, who after all were on our side, also lost their lives. Whilst this thread is about VE Day, one also needs to bear in mind that the bombs which ultimately ended the world conflict would not have come about without the expertise of former German scientists.
    Over 45 million people worldwide lost their lives as a result of the political aspirations of not much more than a handful of people and it must never be allowed to happen again.

    • Roger, anybody who reads any serious history immediately recognizes that America was not alone. I enjoy reading about the period before Pearl Harbor and own all three volumes of the Winston Churchill biography. I suspect that fold3 is not as well known in other places as it is in America, and hopefully as that changes we will get more and more stories of the allies, their sacrifices and their contributions.

  34. My Father Jack Connolly enlisted in the Royal Air Force in 1940. He was invalided out but then enlisted in the Home Guard & served until demobilised after VE Day, His brothers Bob and Ben served in the British Army and Royal Navy respectively. Bob enlisted early-on and was evacuated from Dunkirk & went on to drive ammunition trucks in the North African Campaigns. Ben enlisted in 1941 and served on 3 ships, HMS Spirea, a small anti-submarine corvette, HMS Sussex, a heavy cruiser & then HMS Ocean, a newly launched aircraft carrier. He was on the Sussex 3 years and saw action. The ship evaded torpedoes from many U-Boat attacks. RIP Fellas.

  35. My Aunt, Eunice A Lycke, who is all of 5 feet and 100 pounds, joined the Marines in WWII. She was stationed in an Air base in the US and worked as an air traffic controller for her service. She now is 98 years old and living with me. She has Alzheimer’s. I have all of her marine pins and military records. She still takes walks with me around the block and can only tell a little about her experience during the war. I love her dearly. She never married or had any children of her own.

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  38. My father Gilbert A. McLaughlin was in the Army during WW11. He never left the U.S.He was stationed at one time at Fort Sill, OK. He and my mom divorced when I was 3 1/2 I was born in 1944. He was very young, enlisted at 18. I have tried through Ancestry to locate from Army archives a photo of him and there is nothing. Was there only one photo taken during that time? MY younger sister hated his side of the family and destroyed photos of him, so I’m left with a very grainy photo when he was dating my mom. Help!

  39. My uncle John Gerald Mullis piloted a landing craft on D-Day at Omaha Beach. He made many runs that day bringing young brave men to liberate Europe.

  40. My father-in-law Eugene N. Fisk was part of the 10th Mountain Division that helped to liberate Italy.

  41. My uncle Edward Mertz was in the navy during World War II and saw action in the Pacific.

  42. Please take me off you site. Money is short right now

  43. My father, Paul Peter Mader, was a Tec 4 in WWII with Co. A 81st Tank Bn of the 5th Armored Division. He was in the 2nd wave in Normandy, witnessing all the dead bodies of the 1st invasion. He was also involved in the Battle of the Bulge and his tank retriever’s odometer had 2500 miles on it on VE Day. He received a handmade colored drawing/thank you note from the Germans because they were so grateful to be freed. I will be posting interviews, videos, etc. on his memorial page & would love to connect with folks who had family members serving with this company.

  44. My Great Uncle Philip Kelly was in world war 2 north Africa campaign 337th Infantry 2nd Battalion. Made Seargent.

  45. My father, Russell, Kiehl, was born an raised in Atchison, Kansas where he lived his entire life. It was also where Amelia Earhart was born and where she was raised from the age of three to twelve. Amelia was my father’s heroine. The last time she was in Atchison in 1935 the town had a parade in her honor and Dad, twelve at the time, followed her float the length of the parade route. When she got off the float she spoke with him and allowed her to stay with her most of the day! He, too, wanted to be a pilot!

    When Pearl Harbor came, my Father immediately volunteered and joined the Army Air Corps. He wanted to be a pilot but was turned down because he wore glasses. Then he told them he wanted to be a navigator. Again he was turned town because he wore glasses. He was emphatic he MUST be around airplanes. He was finally told he could be a plane mechanic. He said that was just fine with him because Amelia Earhart was also a plane mechanic! He was sent to Alabama for training. While there he met my mother. They married and he sent her to Atchison to live with his parents and brothers until he returned from the war.

    Following training my Father was shipped to the South Pacific Theater where he served on Saipan and Iwo Jima. He was transported to Iwo Jima on the USS Drew APA-162. The deadliest battles in the South Pacific would be fought where my Father was being taken to.

    Dad never talked about the war. He did not like the 4th of July and did not want me and my brother to have fireworks for a very long time. It took a lot of pleading on our part. The community had a large fireworks display, but we could never go. We would drive out into the country and sit in the car where we could still see some of the display, but the noise was muffled. My younger brother once told me Dad did finally tell him something that happened on Iwo Jima. He had been walking near Mount Serabachi when he kicked a rock out of his way. When it rolled down a bit of an incline, Dad saw it was a rotted skull of a man. It made him very upset.

    My father later joined the Air Force Reserves and rose to the rank of Chief Master Sergeant. He was called up to active Duty during the Berlin Crisis and served at Andrews Air Force Base for two years. He ensured my brother and I were both taken to Washington, DC to visit the Iwo Jima Memorial. He thoroughly instructed us in the meaning of the memorial. Then he took us to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Once again, my Father ensured my brother and I clearly understood the depth of that memorial.

    My father was a man of honor. For him it was always God, Country, and Family in that order. He wanted to make sure we understood why that was so important. We did. When he died in 2009 I made sure he was buried in full uniform to honor him and his dedication to his country.

  46. My Father, Staff Sgt. Benjamin F. Secor, was in the Army/Air Force with the 325th Fighter Group Checkertail Clan in North Africa. His job was to fix the body of the airplanes if they were damaged during bombing missions. Dad realized that on some missions when the pilot was returning to base & upon descent, the plane would overheat and explode; killing the pilot and anyone else on board. So Dad came up with the idea of how to cool the cockpit upon descent. He put a hole and a pin in the cockpit just below the pilots seat and when they were descending to return to base the pilot would pull the pin and cool air would rush into the cockpit and save the lives of the pilots and anyone else in the plane.

    A side note: Dad used to kid about making a beer cooler, as some pilots would take beer with them and when they pulled the pin it would also cool off the beer and they would have a nice cool drink upon returning to base. Refrigeration was very minimal in Northern Africa in the early to mid 1940’s..

    He was awarded the Bronze Star for his innovation and for saving lives.

    He was a very humble, gentle man but a true man’s man! He is buried in the Veterans Cemetery part of Glenwood Cemetery, Geneva, NY with military honors, 21 Gun Salute and bagpipes!

    My brother and I miss him every day!

  47. Roger, not all those in the US are ignorant of the crucial role of other countries in the war. I have long wished I could meet one of the RAF pilots from the Battle of Britain without who the US would have no place to stage its later roll. It was not just Britain that owed so much to them. In addition, I have long had a special admiration for the Royal family for staying in place and for the now Queen for seeking a way to serve. The effort was truly international. We need to remember that right now!

  48. I want to share that my grandfather Selzer had a son who served in the U.S. army in Europe. He returned with health problems and eventually died in 1957 from M.S. and the family was told his illlness was caused by the war. And just as important my grandfather had a brother who lived in Germany. He refused to support the Nazi Regime and was sent to a forced POW labor camp that had Russian POWs. Reading about these camps (see: https://www.theholocaustexplained.org/the-camps/types-of-camps/work-camps/ you realize how awful and deadly they were. When the camp was freed the Russian POWs told the liberators that my grandfather’s brother was a Russian in order to protect him from any further delays to his going home to his family he might have to endure. I am thankful there were those in Germany who refused to support Hitler and his Nazi regime.

  49. My father John Martin Garhart fought in the european theater He told my brother and I about the Battle of the Bulge and how proud he was that General Patton talked to him and ended saying “Keep up the good work soldier”. He showed me a book that showed the atrocities of the holocaust and my Mother said “Isn’t she too young? I was 6. My father told her that he didn’t want me to ever forget . I never have, he told of the French family who hid he and his brothers from the nazi’s. Some things he never talked about and took them to his grave. He was my Hero and still is, how I miss him.

  50. My father, B.E. Gregston drove landing boats at seven invasions in the Pacific. Names I am sure you will recognize, like Tarawa, Bouganville, Leyte, and Okinawa. His medals read like a history book. He never talked about it, other than to tell me as I was heading out for my first overseas duty “I hope you never have to play for all the marbles”. When I asked him why he never talked about it, he said “Because everybody did it.” The greatest generation indeed.