On my first trip to Europe in April 2015, I spent a lot of time at WWI cemeteries with my parents. My research is focused on WWII, although I do a little WWI when needed. As we visited the many American and British cemeteries and looked at the walls of the names of the missing, the one thing I kept hearing was, ‘It was such a waste.’
Many people know we still have soldiers, sailors, and Marines, Missing In Action from WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. What we often forget is the thousands of soldiers missing from WWI. Soldiers who will never be recovered by U.S. personnel because it is not in their mission. Soldiers who were likely blown to bits and there is nothing to recover, and therefore, have been forgotten.
World War I was a different kind of war than World War II. It was a stagnant boundary war for much of the time where small acres of land were fought over again and again. Bodies were buried, only to be hit by artillery and lost again. These are things we forget.
The United States World War I Centennial Commission has an extensive website of resources on the U.S. participation in WWI. This morning, another component was added to that, the Doughboy-MIA project.
This project strives to remember the names of the lost. Attempts to locate remains where possible and answer research requests. The website has a lot of information and research tips for you to help locate your missing soldier. While WWI research is similar to WWII, and we have the 1973 Fire to contend with, much of what you know about WWII research can be applied in the other war.
To learn more about WWII research, please check out my books Stories from the World War II Battlefield. Also, consider attending one of my lectures in the U.S. or Europe this year.
© 2016 Jennifer Holik
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