Do you have a veteran that fought in WWII in your family
tree? As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII, we
want to honor the brave men and women who sacrificed so much. Beginning on
Memorial Day and throughout this summer, we are featuring WWII veterans on our
social media channels, and we’d love to include your soldier!
How can you participate?
Create a Memorial on our Honor Wall. Search
your veteran’s name on our Honor Wall here.
If they already have a Memorial, you can add additional details, photos, and
stories to it. If they don’t have a Memorial, you can create one. This video
tutorial walks you through the process. Creating a Memorial is free and
helps preserve your veteran’s military history for future generations. Be sure
to include regiment, unit, or battalion, and as many searchable details as you
can. You can also attach records, stories, photos, journals, and more. Visit
our Honor Wall to see examples of
Next, send us a URL link to your Memorial
with a short summary of your veteran’s service. Remember, a social media
post has to be BRIEF. Send it to [email protected].
You can write a longer version of your story and attach it to your Memorial.
We’ll include your veteran’s photo in our social media post along with a link
to your Memorial page.
That’s it! We’ll honor as many of these WWII heroes that we possibly can in the upcoming months. Follow Fold3’s social media channels on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and watch for your veteran!
Do you have an ancestor that fought in the Civil War? We are beyond excited to launch the first phase of our new Civil War Stories, an ambitious project that ultimately hopes to create a comprehensive list of every soldier that fought in the Civil War, the company and regiment he belonged to, the battles he fought in, and finally what happened to each soldier following the war.
How can we possibly do this? We have created new technology allowing us to gather data from Ancestry®, Fold3®, Newspapers.com™, Find a Grave®, and other sources. Next, we are teaming up with the American Battlefield Trust and their Civil War experts to integrate their amazing collections of stories, videos, and photographs into our new experience. Stitching all of these collections together, we have created the first of its kind searchable database of Civil War soldiers, regiments and battles. The human cost of the Civil War was astounding. The proportion of deaths to the population was greater than any other conflict in American history. Nearly 3% of the population died – roughly comparable to 6-10 million Americans today.
This was the last war where companies enlisted from home
communities. Soldiers were often related to others in the company, and all
shared a sense of connection. If a company endured losses in a battle, there
was a dramatic impact back in their hometown. This will also help tell the
story of the families left behind. We want to help you paint a picture of how
the Civil War impacted your family tree!
How will this rollout? We will begin with the major Civil War battles. Starting today, you can head to our Civil War Stories page and learn details about some of the major Civil War battles, including what regiments fought in each battle.
And then starting with North Carolina Regiments, you will be
able to see regiment timelines. When did they muster in? Where did they fight? Who
were the officers? Eventually, we will add the ability to refine down to
company. By the time this project is complete, you’ll be able to map out your
soldier’s movements throughout the war.
Finally, we’ll add individual soldiers state by state
beginning with North Carolina, followed by New York. We realize that you may
know details about your Civil War soldier that nobody else does. Do you have
family records, photographs or journals that have been passed down? We’re going
to provide a way for you to contribute to this Civil War Stories collection.
Maybe your journal mentions other soldiers in the same company. Now their
ancestors will be able to share your data.
You can see why we’re so excited about Civil War Stories. Watch for updates throughout the year. If you would like to contribute any research/photographs/letters to be included in this project, visit https://www.ancestry.com/civil-war-stories/add-photo. Together, we will make this a powerful research tool!To learn more about this, head to our Civil War Stories page today!
American soldiers began the process of interviewing
survivors, caring for the critically ill, and documenting the atrocities in the
camp. German soldiers destroyed
many of the camp records three weeks before the arrival of the Americans,
making an exact accounting difficult.
In the early morning hours of March 24, 1945, a massive WWII
airborne operation known as Operation
Varsity launched with an attempt to deploy 17,000 American and British
Airborne troops across the Rhine River. It was the largest single-day airborne
operation in history.
In the final months of WWII, Western Allied Forces advanced
east into Germany. This meant crossing numerous rivers, many of which no longer
had standing bridges. The Rhine River was especially treacherous, with steep
banks and swift currents, providing German forces with a natural defensive
Planning got underway to deploy airborne forces on the east
side of the Rhine. The principal
mission was to seize and hold the high ground five miles north of Wesel,
Germany, and to facilitate the ground action and establish a bridgehead. The
soldiers would then hold the territory until the advancing units of the British
21st Army Group joined them, allowing them to advance to northern
Germany. Extensive photo reconnaissance identified suitable drop zones. This operation
would be part of Operation Plunder and would
involve troops from the 17th
Airborne Division and the British 6th Airborne Division.
served in the 513th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 17th
Airborne Division. During Operation Varsity, he parachuted to a landing near
Wesel. When his company attacked a strongly defended building, another platoon
became pinned down by intense fire. Stryker
voluntarily ran to the head of the unit calling for soldiers to follow him. He
charged the German position and was
killed just 25 yards from the building. His attack provided a diversion
that allowed other soldiers to take the position, where they captured over 200
soldiers and freed three American airmen held as prisoners. Stryker was
posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. In 2002, the US Army named its new
fighting vehicle “Stryker” in his honor.
When Erik and Sonni Bornmeier purchased Sonni’s great-grandmother’s
home several years ago, they had no idea that the military footlocker stored in
the basement would take them on an incredible journey of discovery to find the
remains of a WWII pilot shot down in France. The Bornmeiers’ used military
records from Fold3, newspaper articles
from Newspapers.com, numerous other
sources, and some ingenious detective work to piece together the story of
Sonni’s great uncle, 2nd Lt. George F. Wilson. He died in
France in 1944 and to this day his remains have not been identified. Erik
and Sonni are determined to bring him home. We share their journey in hopes
that the tips and strategies they’ve learned along the way can help someone
else in their research.
The journey to learn more about Uncle George began on Memorial
Day in 2018 when the Bornmeiers’ watched Band of Brothers. Touched by
the heroics of so many young soldiers, Erik and Sonni went to the basement and dusted
off George’s footlocker. Inside they found a stack of letters from George to
his mother. By the time they finished the last letter, they had come to know
George and wanted to know what happened to him.
Seven crew members were captured and taken POW, and one escaped
with the help of the French Resistance. All eight returned home after the war
and all reported that George was gravely injured, never bailed out, and went
down with the plane.
Using the witness statements from the MACR, Erik learned
that the German Army created a similar report to track all planes shot down.
Those reports, called Kampf Flugzeuge (KU) reports, were captured by the US
military after the war. Erik also learned French priests kept detailed reports
of what they witnessed during the war. Using the information in the MACR, the
KU report, and a French repository, Erik triangulated potential crash sites.
One witness in the MACR described that George avoided a
small town and a castle before crashing into a field. The next step for Erik
was to head to France and try to find the crash site.
Erik’s quest led him to the small town of Monchy-Cayeux. The
town matched the criteria in the witness statement (town, castle and nearby
fields). Erik met a local journalist and with his help, they started
questioning the town’s older residents. They found three eyewitnesses who were
young children during the war but remembered seeing a plane crash. One said, “I
remember it as if it were yesterday.” They guided Erik to a field and before
long Erik started to find pieces of debris. Word traveled and the town united
to help Erik. A young man showed up with a metal detector. Before long, they
found parts of a fuselage, gauges, bullets, and plexiglass from a windshield.
They found a crash site!
Erik’s time in France was short, but he has since returned
several more times. Each time he pieces together more of the story. The residents
of Monchy-Cayeux have rallied behind Erik and are anxious to help him find
answers. Two brothers who still live close to the crash site gave a detailed
account of locals gathering up weapons from the plane and throwing them in the
river. A local diver explored the river but failed to find anything. Another
report said George’s body was moved to a nearby family graveyard. A third
witness remembered a priest coming to bless a grave on the edge of the field. The
search to find George’s remains continues.
In the meantime, back home in the US, Erik and Sonni started
searching Newspapers.com to find
information on George’s crew. They found
clippings for many
of the crew
members, and before long, they learned that two of George’s crew members were
still alive! Erik hopped on a plane and had a wonderful meeting with them. They
provided Erik with personal accounts of that day and filled in many of the
The Bornmeiers’ are working with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), the
government agency charged with bringing home the remains of Americans
unaccounted for. They continue to research and are anxious to return to France.
Residents of Monchy-Cayeux have taken ownership of this project and have begun
holding town meetings to research the town’s history and the role it played in
WWII. George is one of more than 72,000 Americans that remain unaccounted for
from WWII. Each day, efforts are being made to bring those soldiers home. To
learn the story of your WWII soldier, start your search today using Fold3 and Newspapers.com!
The United States Colored Troops (USCT) was a branch of the
United States Army during the Civil War. The USCT was founded in 1863 and
composed primarily of African-American soldiers. Before the war ended in 1865, approximately
185,000 black men served in the USCT. Nearly 40,000 lost their lives. They
played a crucial role in helping the United States Army to ultimate victory.
When the Civil War started in 1861, African-Americans were
initially turned away when they tried to enlist. As the war progressed,
attitudes shifted. The first official authorization allowing African-Americans
to employ in federal service came in July 1862. Following the Emancipation
Proclamation in 1863, President Lincoln authorized the use of African-Americans
in combat. Before the war was over, African-Americans accounted for 10 percent
of the Union army.
On January 27, 1945, 75-years ago this month, the Soviet
Army pried open the gates of Auschwitz
concentration camp in German-occupied Poland and liberated some 7,000 emaciated
prisoners. About 58,000 others had been hurriedly marched westward before
the Soviet Army approached. Auschwitz, the German word for the Polish town of
Oswiecim, was the site of the largest
Nazi concentration camp during WWII. It consisted of a concentration camp,
a labor camp, and large
gas chambers and crematoria.
More than 1.3
million people were sent to Auschwitz between 1940-1945. Some 1.1 million of
them were killed. Nine in 10 were Jews.
During WWII, the Nazi regime imprisoned an estimated 15-20
million people who they perceived as a political threat or inferior, especially
Jews. They were held in camps and ghettos across Europe and subjected to
abominable conditions, brutality, and murder
in what has become known as the Holocaust.
Auschwitz was the largest of these death camps and was
divided into three main camps: Auschwitz
III. Auschwitz I housed prisoners in abandoned Polish army barracks. Some
were subjected to inhumane medical experiments carried out by SS doctors. Auschwitz
II, also known as Auschwitz-Birkenau,
held the greatest
number of prisoners and also housed large gas chambers and crematoria. Auschwitz
III was a work camp that housed prisoners working at a synthetic rubber
factory. Other smaller sub-camps also existed.
The Nazis experimented with Zyklon
B gas to kill prisoners at Auschwitz I. These tests were deemed successful
and the program greatly expanded at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When new deportees
arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau, they immediately underwent
selection. Some were saved to be used as forced
labor, while others went directly to the gas chambers. This process tore
families apart, and separated family members would typically never see one
One such family was the Guttmann family. Irene Guttmann and her twin brother
Rene were living in Prague with their parents when German soldiers arrested
Irene’s father. He was sent to Auschwitz where he was killed in December 1941. The
twins and their mother were deported to Theresienstadt ghetto and later to
Auschwitz where their mother died. The 5-year-old
twins were separated and subjected to horrific medical experiments under
Dr. Josef Mengele. Their story is just one of many that occurred during the
On January 18, 1945, as the Soviet Army approached, the
Nazis abandoned Auschwitz. The SS tried to hide evidence of the crimes
committed at the camp by burning documents and blowing up several crematoria. The
‘healthy’ prisoners, numbering about 58,000, set off westward on a death march.
Very few of them survived. The remaining prisoners, some 7,000, were too
sick and starving to march and left to die in the camp.
Rene Guttman was herded onto a truck to be sent to his
death, but Dr.
Mengele countermanded the order, saying that only he could kill his twins. With
this order, both Rene and Irene remained in the camp.
On that bitterly cold morning of January 27th,
prisoners huddled in their barracks. “We
heard a grenade exploding near the entrance area,” recalled a former
prisoner. “We looked out and saw some Soviet reconnaissance soldiers
approaching, guns in their hands. The soldiers came up and said: ‘You are free
The Guttmann twins recalled liberation day. “I
remember walking out of Auschwitz. I do remember trying to look back and
around me to see if I could find Irene because I was leaving this place. I did
see her, but we had to march on. There was shooting all around us…then we were
surrounded by Russians dressed in white uniforms, that was the liberation,” said
Rene. Irene, who was too weak to walk, was carried by a Polish peasant woman to
One year later, a charity organization arranged for Irene
to come to the United States along with other war orphans, where she was
adopted. She wondered if she would ever see her brother Rene again. With the
help of her adoptive family, they managed to locate Rene, who was living in
Prague. The family adopted him as well, reuniting
the twins in 1950.
When evidence of the atrocities committed at Auschwitz and
other concentration camps came to light, the world was shocked. Decades later,
the 2005 United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution naming January 27th,
the day that Auschwitz was liberated, as International Holocaust Remembrance
Day. To learn more about the Holocaust, including survivor stories,
photographs, and other related documents, see our Holocaust Collection on Fold3.