Our UK military records are expanding! We’ve recently added
a new collection, “UK,
Militia Attestation Papers, 1806-1915”. These records or attestation forms
were filled out at the time of recruitment, and in most cases, annotated to the
date of discharge. They form a record of military service for soldiers who
fought in conflicts during that time period.
The collection is arranged alphabetically under regiments and
in order of seniority.
Attestation Papers contain wonderful details for researching
specific soldiers. They list parish, town, and county of birth, address at the
time of enlistment, age, and trade or job. The papers also include a physical
description including a place to list any distinctive characteristics or scars.
The files list military service rendered and whether a soldier was wounded or
received medals or decorations. They also list the name and address of next of
Here are a few examples of what you might learn in this
collection. John Hart from Wales served in the Royal Monmouthshire Engineers.
His papers reveal that he
didn’t show up for training in 1891 and was liable to serve for an
additional year. In 1894, he was discharged by purchase, in other words, he
obtained a discharge by payment.
James Allison from Paisley, Scotland, was just 17-years-old
when he joined the 26th Foot (Scottish Rifles) in 1875. His
service record shows military service for 20 years before being discharged
This collection of Attestation Papers provides a glimpse
into the history of militias and multiple conflicts in the United Kingdom. If
you are researching ancestors that served for the United Kingdom during this
time, be sure to check out the collection on Fold3
On December 24-25, 1914, an impromptu cease-fire occurred
along the Western Front during WWI. Amid the battle, soldiers from both sides
set aside their weapons and came together peacefully in an event that has come
to be known as the WWI Christmas Truce. Here are a few first-hand accounts of
that historic event.
The Canadian Expeditionary Forces 24th Battalion recorded
their experience. “Early in the afternoon shelling
and rifle fire ceased completely and soon German soldiers were seen lifting
heads and shoulders cautiously over the parapet of their front line trench.
Encouraged by the fact that no fire was opened by the men of the 24th,
a number of Germans climbed over the top, advanced in No Man’s Land, and,
making signs of friendship, invited the Canadians to join them and celebrate
the occasion. Regulations frowned on such action, but curiosity proved strong,
and a group of Canadians, including a number from the 24th
Battalion, moved out to see what the enemy looked like at close range.
Conversation proved difficult at first, but a number of the Germans spoke
English fluently and others, having rehearsed for the occasion, one must judge,
endeavored to establish their benevolence by constant repetition of the phrase,
“Kaiser no damn good.” For nearly an hour the unofficial peace was prolonged,
the Canadians presenting the Germans with cigarettes and foodstuffs and
receiving in return buttons, badges, and several bottles of most excellent
beer. By this time, news of the event had reached authority, and peremptory
orders were issued to the Canadians in No Man’s Land to return to their own
line forthwith. When all had reported back, a salvo of artillery fire, aimed
carefully to burst at a spot where no harm to friend or foe would result,
warned the Germans that the truce was over and that hostilities had been
resumed…For some days after Christmas comparative quiet prevailed in the front
line, but soon activity increased and the Battalion’s losses indicated that
normal trench warfare conditions again existed.”
Hugh Taylor from the 2nd Battalion
Scots Guards led his company in an attack near Rouges Bancs on December 18-19,
1914. His troops succeeded in pushing back German soldiers and occupying their
trenches. While returning alone to the British trenches to report, Taylor was
caught in machine-gun fire and killed
instantly. For nearly a week, his body lay
near the German line. During the informal Christmas Truce, soldiers from both
sides collected the dead and brought their bodies to the center space between
their respective lines. They dug two trenches and buried British soldiers in
one and German soldiers in the other. An English Chaplain conducted a service.
Afterward, the soldiers spent several hours fraternizing with one another.
Captain Taylor’s body was carried to a small military graveyard at La
Cardoniere Farm and buried.
Three Americans serving in the Foreign Legion took part in
the Christmas Truce. Victor
Chapman, Eugene Jacobs, and Phil
Rader were in the trenches that day. Rader, a former United Press
correspondent, wrote a stirring
account of his experience. “For twenty days we had faced that
strip of land, forty-five feet wide, between our trench and that of the
Germans, that terrible No-Man’s Land, dotted with dead bodies, criss-crossed by
tangled masses of barbed wire.” Rader recounted cautiously raising his head. “Other
men did the same. We saw hundreds of German heads appearing. Shouts filled the
air. What miracle had happened? Men laughed and cheered. There was Christmas
light in our eyes and I know there were Christmas tears in mine. There were
smiles, smiles, smiles, where in days before there had been only rifle barrels.
The terror of No-Man’s Land fell away. The sounds of happy voices filled the
The Christmas Truce of 1914 eventually ended, and the
goodwill shared between enemies for a brief moment during WWI evaporated as
fighting resumed. To learn more about WWI and the soldiers who fought in it, search Fold3
On December 16, 1944, German forces surprised American
soldiers in the densely forested Ardennes
region of Belgium, Luxembourg, and France, with a massive offensive also
known as the Battle of the Bulge,
or the Ardennes
Counteroffensive. Germany pushed through an Allied line, creating a bulge
in the Allied defensive lines. The deadly battle, which lasted until January
25, 1945, was the largest on the European western front during WWII and
resulted in an estimated 1
in 10 American combat casualties during the entire war. It also meant that
thousands of soldiers spent Christmas
1944 in temperatures that hovered around zero, in knee-deep
snow, and with limited
rations for Christmas dinner. On the home front, their families spent a
nervous holiday season, waiting for word of their loved ones.
D. Vari spent Christmas Eve huddled in a foxhole as shells
exploded around him all night long. “We could hear their guns going off and
the shells landing at the same time. They were close. They almost surrounded
the whole place. I remember Christmas Day. I got up, and we had a real bad
night, with artillery and everything. The first thing I saw was the steeple of
a church down in the valley. It was a beautiful day, the sun was just coming up
over a little village at the bottom.” The clear skies allowed US
planes to reinforce
soldiers along the front. The break
in the weather saved Vari’s unit.
Mattie Dickenson of Georgetown, Louisiana, remembered
Christmas 1944 as a difficult one. She anxiously waited for news from her
F. Dickenson. Benjamin was drafted when he was 38-years-old and found
himself fighting in the Battle of the Bulge. “I
do remember that was the saddest Christmas I ever spent. For 21 days I
didn’t know if he was dead or alive,” said Mattie. Though Benjamin was wounded,
he made it home alive. Mattie kept a piece of the parachute that dropped
supplies to her husband at Bastogne.
The Battle of the Bulge was Hitler’s last major offensive
along the Western Front. Within a month Allied forces pushed the Germans back
and closed the bulge. The battle was called “the greatest American battle of
the war” by Winston Churchill and it crushed Germany’s hopes for ultimate
success in the war. To learn more about the Battle of the Bulge and soldiers
who fought in it, search Fold3 today!
Fold3 has added four more states to our collection of U.S. WWII Draft
Registration Cards! The collection now includes cards from New York, New
Jersey, North Dakota, and Vermont. We now have Draft Registration Cards from 45
states or regions! The cards in this collection are registration cards and do
not necessarily indicate that the individual served in the military.
There were seven draft
registration periods in the United States for World War II service. The first
draft registration was held on October 16, 1940—before the United States had
entered the war. Men ages 21–36 were required to register at their local draft
board. The second draft registration was also held prior to the American
entrance into the war, on July 1, 1941. This registration was for men who had
turned 21 since the previous registration date nine months earlier.
The third (February 16,
1942) and fifth (June 30, 1942) registration periods expanded the ages required
to register; the age ranges for the third were extended to 20–21 and 35–44,
while the fifth extended them to ages 18–20. The sixth registration (December
10–31, 1942) was for men who had turned 18 since the fifth registration six months
prior. There was also a seventh registration, known as the “Extra
Registration,” from November 16 to December 31, 1943, which was for American
men ages 18–44 who were living abroad.
Pictured below is the draft card for Jacob John Dukart of North Dakota. He registered for the draft during the first registration period in October 1940. He enlisted in 1942, and in 1943, Pvt. Dukart was captured by German soldiers and sent to a POW camp. That Christmas, POWs in the camp sent a short wave broadcast greeting home to their families. It is not clear if the broadcast reached anyone at home during Christmas, but in February 1944 the messages were re-broadcast and listeners in Montana and Florida picked up the voice of Pvt. Dukart. He sent greetings to his wife and parents back in Dickinson, North Dakota, and asked for a photo of his daughter Jacqueline whom he had never seen. Pvt. Dukart was eventually freed and returned home to the United States. He passed away in 2004.
On November 12, 1864, Maj. Gen. William
T. Sherman ordered the destruction of the business district in Atlanta and
the Union Army started their March
to the Sea which ended just before Christmas in Savannah,
Georgia. The march, also known as the Savannah
Campaign, bolstered the Union Army and helped lead to the surrender of the
Confederacy and the end of the Civil War five months later.
During the Civil War, Atlanta served as a hub
for the Confederacy and a major transportation link for supplies and troops
between the eastern seaboard and the west. After a five-month successful campaign
from Tennessee through northwest Georgia, Union troops made their way to the
doorstep of Atlanta in mid-July. Gen.
John B. Hood decided to surrender the city and evacuate his Confederate
troops on September 1, 1864. Before leaving, Hood ordered
the depots destroyed to prevent them from falling into Union hands.
On September 2nd,Sherman
captured the city, but with a tenuous supply line, he knew he couldn’t hold
it for long. Sherman divided his army into two, sending half towards Nashville while
some 60,000 remaining troops would join him on a march
Sherman and his army, now cut off from any supply lines,
headed towards the coast. They lived off the land, taking supplies from fields and
farms as they beat a pathway of destruction towards
Savannah. Along the way, they encountered pockets of Confederate resistance
and destroyed railroad tracks and cut telegraph lines. Pvt.
Peterson recorded that on November 26, “while we was skirmishing with the
Rebels at Sandersville I was wounded in the leg by a ball.” Peterson ended up
in a hospital outside of Savannah where on December 10th he wrote
about the approaching Union Army, “The troops burnt the Charleston and Savanna
Railroad we lay about 6 miles from Savannah in the Field Hospital we can hear
the cannon the savanna River and the broadsides from the big guns very plain.”
On December 21st, after a march of 37 days and
some 250 miles, Union troops entered Savannah. Just days before Christmas, Sherman
sent a telegram to President Abraham Lincoln, “I beg to present you as a
Christmas gift the City of Savannah, with one hundred fifty guns and plenty of
ammunition. Also about twenty-five thousand bales of cotton.”
The destruction of Atlanta and Sherman’s March to the Sea
demoralized the Confederacy and contributed to the end of the Civil War in
April 1865. To learn more about the destruction of Atlanta and the March to the
Sea, search our Civil War records
collection on Fold3 today!
As WWI came to a close, the AEF instructed all Air Service Units to
send historical information to Gorrell’s office before returning to the United States.
Some squadrons fulfilled the request, while others were anxious to get home
saying, “Writing history does not appeal to them.”
The 1st and 8th Aero Squadrons complied with
the request and sent a gripping report of their involvement in the Battle
of Saint Mihiel, fought September 12-16, 1918. The battle was
the first US-led offensive during WWI and the first major usage of the US Army
Air Service in wartime.
Lt. Harry D. Aldrich of the 1st Aero Squadron was
flying over the front on September 12, 1918. He guided
American Expeditionary Forces to enemy positions by reconnoitering the area and
then dropping messages to those on the ground. That
afternoon, Lt. Aldrich received reports of a German battery delivering heavy
fire, but their location could not be ascertained from the ground. Aldrich took
to the skies with Lt. David Ker acting as Observer. While flying towards the
German gun positions, they were attacked
by a patrol of six or seven Fokker airplanes. “Lt. Ker
opened fire on them while I put our ship into a spiral,” said Aldrich. “I found
that my control wires were shot away and smoke and flames began pouring out of
the cockpit. The Germans were following us down.” Observers noted that the
burning plane was spiraling out of control, but moments before crashing, the
fuel tank exploded. The explosion acted as a cushion
and broke the fall of the aircraft.
In September 1940, as Nazi bombs rained
down on London during the Blitz, America began the first-ever peacetime conscription and enacted
the Selective Training and Service Act. The country was moving closer to war
and the Sullivan family of Waterloo, Iowa, answered the call. That fall, Joseph
Sullivan, 22, registered for the draft. By the following summer, the other
four Sullivan brothers – Albert,
25; and George,
26; also made the trip to the Federal Building in Waterloo and filled out their
registration cards. The Sullivan brothers insisted they serve together. Weeks
after the attack on Pearl Harbor, they
enlisted in the US Navy.
brothers were assigned to the USS
Juneau. Juneau was part of Task Force 67 and sent to escort a
resupply convoy to Guadalcanal. The Battle of Guadalcanal (codenamed Operation
Watchtower) was an offensive aimed to protect critical supply and
transportation links between the United States and Allies in Australia and New
Zealand. It was the first major offensive against Japanese forces.
On the night of November 12, 1942, after hours of fighting off Japanese torpedo bombers, a Japanese destroyer launched a torpedo that struck Juneau on the port side. She began to list and retreated from the battle. Operating on one screw, the Juneau steamed towards Espiritu Santo for repairs. The following morning, a Japanese submarine fired another torpedo hitting Juneau in the same spot she was hit the night before. Following a loud explosion, the USS Juneau broke in two and sank in just 20 seconds. Concerned about the possibility of another submarine attack, the American task force left the scene. The USS Helenamessaged a nearby B-17 search plane to report survivors in the water. Unfortunately, Helena’s message did not reach command headquarters, delaying rescue efforts for days. More than 100 men did survive the initial attack. Francis, Joseph and Madison Sullivan died instantly, but Albert may have survived until the second day before drowning. George lived for four or five days in a raft before succumbing, according to a letter from a shipmate to his parents. Eight days after sinking, ten survivors were plucked from the water. The tragedy claimed the lives of 687 men.
For 76 years, the wreckage of the USS Juneau rested
undiscovered on the ocean floor. On March 17, 2018, an expedition funded by
billionaire Paul Allen discovered the Juneau lying on her side about 2.6
miles below the surface of the ocean in the Solomon Islands. There are no plans
to raise the ship.