I recently wrote an article on Company Morning Reports. People asked me several questions about them, so here is a little more information on these valuable reports.
There are many codes and abbreviations on Morning Reports. Here are a few resources to help you decipher what you are looking at.
Why doesn’t information show up on the day it happened?
It is rare for the information of a soldier’s wound, Prisoner of War (POW) status, Missing In Action (MIA) status, Killed In Action (KIA) status, illness, or transfer (among other things) to appear on a report the day it happened. Word had to move up the line from the source (hospital, Red Cross, soldier’s buddies, Graves Registration Service, etc.) to the clerk creating the records. Always look past the day an event happened. In the case of one soldier I researched in the 2nd Infantry Division, he and three other men were KIA on 15 June 1944 in France. They did not appear on a Morning Report as KIA until 11 July 1944.
We need to remember during certain times, think major campaigns or battles, that many men were changing status due to wounds, POW, MIA, or KIA. Men were also coming into the companies to replace those who were no longer part of the company. The clerk had a lot of work to do each day to record all these changes. Throughout the chaos of battle, information also may have been lost or taken longer to reach the man in charge of the records.
Why do some Morning Reports not exist?
There are many reasons WWII records do not exist. They may include but are not limited to the following.
- Flood/water damage
- Chemicals or other spilled on the records
- Records were in a vehicle, plane, ship, building which was destroyed during the war
- Left behind when a unit moved and never recovered
- Purposely destroyed by a unit during the war
- Purposely destroyed by the archives after the war
Why is the quality bad or almost impossible to read the Morning Report?
Records were typed on a typewriter or handwritten. There were no computers then to keep track of everything. Records may have not been in the best condition after creation, let alone years later when they were microfilmed to be used by researchers. Some are terribly faded and almost unreadable. Others are in ok condition, and some are fantastic. You never know what you will get until you start looking. When the record is too damaged or illegible to move your research forward, look at unit records for the journals which document things that happened each day. They will not replace Company Morning Reports, especially if you need to trace service of your soldier, but will provide a more detailed record of events than may be on the report. They should also trace where a unit was each day.
How do we access these records?
You can hire a researcher to pull the records or you can visit the National Personnel Records Center yourself and go through the microfilm.
To learn more about Morning Reports, see my books Stories from the World War II Battlefield, which provide a more in-depth look at these records. You can also see several examples at the 80th Infantry Division website.
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Want More Resources?
Visit the WWII Education Website and explore my military research webinars. This pack comes with 14 pages of questions, checklists, and resources to help you start your military research (WWI – Vietnam).
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