Researching German WWII soldiers can be tricky because many
service records were destroyed during the war. 1939, the High Command of the
German Wehrmacht began operating an information center for war casualties and
prisoners of war. Initially, the agency was called WASt (short for Wehrmachtsauskunftstelle
für Kriegsverluste und Kriegsgefangene). In 1946, it was renamed Deutsche
Dienststelle für die Benachrichtigung der nächsten Angehörigen von Gefallenen
der ehemaligen deutschen Wehrmacht (German Office for the Notification of
Next-of-Kin of Members of the Former German Armed Forces who were Killed in
Action). The name is commonly shortened as Deutsche Dienststelle (WASt). In
2019, that service became part of the German Federal Archives as the newly
established Department PA (Information on Personal Data related to World Wars I
and II) and is based in Berlin-Reinickendorf.
The index cards in this collection contain information that
can help research German soldiers who were killed in WWII including:
Birthdate and Birthplace
Unit, Identification Number, Rank
Date of Death,
Time of Death, Place of Death, and Type of Casualty
Location, and Grave Number (if known)
These records are written in German but can be interpreted using the following example:
You may have noticed some changes to our site recently. Our engineers have been working hard behind the scenes to update our Fold3 browse experience. We know that change can be a little uncomfortable at first, but we think you’ll find the new browse will offer easy access to the nearly 600 million records available on Fold3.
What is the difference between Browse and Search? Browse simply allows you to browse all the collections (we call them publications) available in your desired research area. We’ve increased the number of filters offered allowing you to drill down to a specific conflict, country, available collections, military branch, and content provider. For example, if you’re searching WWII records, you can browse all WWII collections and then start to narrow the results by adding filters. Simply stated, “browse” is a great way to see what collections are available, and “search” is the best way to look for individual records.
How does it work? On the top bar of our home page, you’ll see an option called “Browse”. When you click on browse, you’ll see a column on your left. This is where you’ll add filters. You can then scroll down through the column on the right to see any collection available that contains relevant records. Browse is a great way to explore less familiar collections.
Can I still use search? Yes! Search is still the quickest way to drill down to the desired results and our search remains unchanged. You can search right from the home page or click “search” on the top bar and add filters like name, date, keyword, or even military ID number.
We hope you enjoy our new browse experience on Fold3. You might even discover a collection you’ve never explored before. To watch a short video tutorial on browsing Fold3 records, click here. To explore our new browse feature, visit Fold3 today!
The First Battle of Ypres was a bloody WWI Battle fought
October 19 – November 22, 1914, around the city of Ypres
in West Flanders, Belgium. It was the climactic fight of the “Race
to the Sea,” an attempt by the German army to break through Allied lines and
capture French ports on the English Channel which opened access to the North
Sea and beyond. The battle was extraordinarily costly in terms of casualties.
Allied losses included 54,000 British soldiers, 50,000 French soldiers, and
20,000 Belgian soldiers either killed,
wounded, or missing.
German casualties numbered more than 130,000. The battle was an attempt by both
sides to advance past the northern flank of their opponents, but neither
achieved significant breakthroughs leading to an indecisive win. During the battle,
both sides settled into trench
warfare which became commonplace all along the Western Front for the
remainder of the war.
In September 1914, German forces advanced through Belgium
and eastern France but were stopped by Allied troops in the Battle
of Marne. Both Armies then began the “Race to the Sea,” an attempt to
outflank each other as they headed northward. The armies came face
to face near Ypres, the gateway to the English Channel and key ports
including Calais and Boulogne-sur-Mer.
Fighting began on October 19, 1914, and with the real
possibility of losing the Channel ports, Allied soldiers were ordered to entrench
and hold their position to prevent German soldiers from pushing through.
On October 25, Belgium’s King
Albert took drastic action to prevent a German incursion north of the Lys
River. He ordered Belgians to manipulate the canals and floodgates in the Yser
valley. As the tide came in, they opened the floodgates, then closed them
before the water could recede. On October 29, Albert ordered the sluices opened
and a rush of water destroyed the town of Nieuport. It also flooded the battlefield
occupied by three German divisions, forcing them to retreat. With this action,
the Allies secured the left flank.
forces continued their
assault southeast of Ypres pushing back British troops. On October 31st,
German troops broke through the line and captured Gheluvelt
but a counterattack pushed them back out of the village.
In early November, Germany captured Messines and Wytschaete,
but fresh French reinforcements stopped the advance. As temperatures fell, the
onset of winter brought miserable conditions. Soldiers were holed
up in trenches half-filled with freezing water. After a lull of several
days, German troops planned one final assault with plans to break through into
Ypres. On November
11, after an intense bombardment on Messines Ridge, they broke through and
penetrated Nonne Bosschen. Once again, counterattacks drove
the Germans back. After a final attack at Herentage Wood on November 17th,
German forces moved into a defensive mode and sent available troops to the
Russian front. Sporadic fighting continued until November 22nd when
of winter forced the battle to end. Both sides suffered appalling casualties
and the city of Ypres would be the scene of two more battles before the end of
the war. To research your ancestors that fought in the First Battle of Ypres,
search WWI collections including British Army Lists,
Army WWI Pension Records; British
WWI Wounded and Missing; Airmen Died
in the Great War; and Biographies
of Fallen British Officers. Search Fold3
today to learn more about the First Battle of Ypres.
Phan Rang Air Base was an important United States Air Force base during the Vietnam War. It is located in the Ninh Thuan Province of Vietnam.
Originally built by the Imperial Japanese Army during WWII, it was rebuilt by the United States Air Force and used during the Vietnam War by both the USAF and the South Vietnamese Air Force. As part of the US withdrawal from Vietnam, the base was turned over to South Vietnam. In April 1975, the People’s Army of Vietnam seized the base, and today it is used by the Vietnam People’s Air Force.
We’ve recently added historical records from Phan Rang (also
called Happy Valley). These records include stories, photos, rosters, and
newsletters that have been collected and shared to a Facebook page dedicated to
those who were once stationed at the base.
In 1864, railroad engineer and cartographer Simon G. Elliott
visited the battlefield of Antietam and prepared a detailed map that documented
the burials of 5,844 soldiers—2,634 Union and 3,210 Confederate. After the war,
Elliott’s map found its way to the archives of the New York Public Library (NYPL)
where it remained largely forgotten.
Earlier this year, two Civil War researchers from the Adams
County Historical Society in Gettysburg, Pa., were searching the NYPL digital archives
for more information about Elliott (who had also created a well-known map for
the Gettysburg battlefield), when they stumbled upon the Antietam map. Realizing
the significance of their find, they immediately reached out to the American
Battlefield Trust, who confirmed the importance of the map and shared it with rangers
at Antietam National Battlefield Park. The Elliott map sheds new light into the
Battle of Antietam where more than 23,000 men were killed, wounded, or listed
as missing, in one day. In some instances, researchers can pinpoint the exact burial
location of individual soldiers, regiments, and even horses.
As part of our Civil War Stories
project, we’ve teamed up with the American
Battlefield Trust to help tell the individual story of Civil War soldiers,
the regiments they fought in, and the families and communities they left behind.
The Elliott map is an amazing tool to help us do this!
In the days after the Battle of Antietam, the area
surrounding Sharpsburg, Maryland, turned into a mass burial ground. Soldiers
were buried in single graves or sometimes in long trenches turned mass grave. In
1864, the same year Elliott mapped the battlefield, efforts got underway to
identify the gravesites. The State of Maryland purchased property nearby, and
in 1867, the newly created Antietam
National Cemetery was dedicated. Many of the soldiers’ remains were
disinterred from the battlefield and reinterred in the Antietam Cemetery. Their
original burial location became lost to time.
The Elliott map helps tell the story of soldiers like Isaac Thurlow from the Third Wisconsin Infantry,
Company C. On April 19, 1861, just four days after Abraham Lincoln sounded the call
asking for 75,000 troops to
enlist in the Civil War, residents of Green County, Wisconsin, gathered
at the County Court House to discuss organizing a company of volunteers.
During that patriotic meeting, hands shot up one by one as men volunteered to
leave their homes and families to heed President Lincoln’s call. Within a short
time, 83 men enrolled, including 24-year-old Isaac Thurlow. His 18-year-old
would follow in his footsteps just a month later.
On September 17, 1862, during the Battle of Antietam, the
Third Wisconsin was just north of the Miller Cornfield in an open and exposed
position when its men were attacked by Hood’s Division as they emerged
from the corn about 7:30 a.m.
Do you have ancestors who fought at Antietam? Search the Elliott map for the location of their regiment and head over to our Civil War Stories page to learn more. As part of our Civil War Stories project, Fold3 and the American Battlefield Trust are trying to research every soldier who fought in the Civil War. You can be a part of this massive effort by sharing your Civil War records, stories, journals, and documents. Just upload images using this tool. Alternatively, you can attach images to an existing soldier’s Memorial or create a new Memorial page using this video tutorial. Keep in mind that Fold3 has already generated thousands of memorials using regimental records, and one may already exist for your soldier.
We’re so excited about this project! Eventually, you’ll be
able to search your ancestor and see regimental records for all the soldiers he
served with. In many cases, these are brothers, fathers, sons, and cousins. To
take a closer look at the Antietam Elliott map, click here.
To learn more about the Battle of
Antietam and the regiments that fought in it, visit our Civil War Stories page
on Fold3 today.
On September 10, 1861, the Battle
of Carnifex Ferry took place in the opening months of the Civil War at Nicholas
County, Virginia (now West Virginia). The Union Army, under the direction of Brig.
S. Rosecrans sought to stop the advancing Confederate Army, under the
direction of Gen. John B. Floyd.
The battle took place near Summersville at an important crossing of the Gauley
River and resulted in a strategic Union victory. The battle was an impetus to
the movement that helped portions of Western Virginia break away to become the
35th state of West Virginia. Two future U.S. presidents, Rutherford
B. Hayes, and William McKinley were among the soldiers who fought at Carnifex
Events leading up to the Battle of Carnifex Ferry had been
unfolding for weeks. Confederate troops had advanced into the Kanawha
Valley and launched an attack at Kessler’s Cross Lanes (just over a mile
from the ferry crossing) on August 26th. Proceeding to Carnifex
Ferry, they drove Henry Patterson and his family from their farmhouse which
overlooked the Gauley River. Some 2000 Confederate forces then set up a
defensive position on the Patterson farm and along the steep cliffs overlooking
In order to take control of the area, Rosecrans assembled a
of 7,000 to push the Confederates southward. As the Federals advanced, the
leading brigade encountered Floyd’s pickets about 3:30 p.m. on the afternoon of
10th at the ferry.
Hayes, 38, and William
McKinley, 18, both served in the Ohio 23rd
Infantry. For many soldiers in the Ohio
23rd, this was their first battle experience (the unit mustered in
just three months earlier). During the battle, the 23rd found themselves caught
in a friendly fire incident while trying to flank the Confederate line. In the
confusion and fleeting daylight, they started firing on their own men, killing
two and wounding 30. The Patterson home was also caught in the crossfire from
both armies and riddled with bullets. The structure still stands today at the
Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park.
Fighting continued until dark, at which point the
Confederates withdrew and the Union soldiers settled in for the night, prepared
to resume the battle at daylight. During the night, Floyd,
realizing that he was outnumbered and facing heavy Union artillery, decided to retreat
his army across the ferry to the south side of the Gauley River and continue
eastward to Meadow Bluff
near Lewisburg. The Federals, exhausted from their march to Carnifex Ferry and
the ensuing battle and facing adverse weather, decided against pursuit.
The conflict resulted in Union losses of 17 dead and 141
wounded. Confederate losses totaled 30 wounded with an unknown number of
deaths. The Battle of Carnifex Ferry allowed the Federals to secure the Kanawha
Valley and its tributaries which gave protection to those who favored secession
from Virginia. Six weeks after the battle, residents of areas controlled by
Union forces voted to form their own state, and in 1863, West
Virginia joined the Union.
To learn more about the Battle of Carnifex Ferry, search Fold3 today!
The Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) was the force raised
by Canada for service overseas during WWI. Some 620,000 Canadians who enlisted
between 1914-1918 served in the CEF. Of those enlistees, about 424,000 went
overseas. Most were volunteers, but when recruitment slowed, a conscription law
went into effect in 1918. Our new Canadian
Expeditionary Force, 1915-1919 collection contains nominal rolls, rosters,
war diaries, yearbooks, and unit histories for the CEF. Before the war came to
an end in November 1918, the CEF gained the respect of both friend and foe as
an elite fighting force. There were more than 233,000 Canadian casualties
during WWI, resulting in nearly 61,000 deaths.
As part of the British Empire, Canada automatically entered
WWI in August 1914 when Britain declared war on Germany. Canada, however, had
limited military forces and began accepting volunteer recruits to serve. The
first Canadian division arrived in Europe in 1915 under the command of the
British military. Additional battalions arrived as the war progressed. Soon
Canada’s fighting forces evolved into a National Army.
Some examples of what you might find in this collection are unit
this one for the 13th Battalion that fought in the Battle
of Vimy Ridge. If you have an ancestor that served as a nurse with the CEF,
rolls for the Nursing Sisters are a great resource that provides the name
and address for next of kin of the nurse enlistees. These women left their
homes and families to care for soldiers with injuries and their dedicated work
saved many lives.
The Canadian Grenadier Guards from the 87th
Infantry Battalion were primarily recruited from Montreal but had members from
every province of Canada. Their yearbook includes photographs
of individual soldiers. The 160th Bruce Battalion was formed
from residents of Bruce County, Ontario. In this collection, you can find a roster
from the 160th Bruce Battalion from December 1916. The group celebrated
the Christmas holiday at Bramshott Camp in England. Canadians
in Khaki was a WWI pictorial newspaper that included stories of valor and
heroism like this one for Sergeant-Major
F. W. Hall who died during the Second Battle of Ypres. He served in the 8th
Canadian Infantry Battalion in the front line trenches. To get to the trench,
soldiers had to cross an exposed bank where enemy machine-gun fire resulted in
many casualties. Sergeant-Major Hall left the safety of the trench twice to
rescue wounded men who lie suffering on the exposed bank. While attempting to
carry a third injured soldier back to the trench he was killed.