Sunday, October 12, 2014

Military Monday - Two Free WWII Databases

Wm Turnbach Jr WWII entry
I was researching summer activities for my youngest son's Cub Scout Pack when I came across two links to some databases on the Peterson Air & Space Museum's website.  The first was for a World War II U.S. Army Enlistment Archive.  As the website explains about this archive:

"This site is a searchable archive for World War II era Army enlistment records, generally spanning the years 1938 - 1946. We have records of 8,433,326 U.S. Army soldiers, reservists, and enlistees. Includes enlisted men and women, foreign scouts and nationals, etc. As a base resource for World War 2 U.S. Army Enlistment Archive we have relied on resources available through U.S. government archives and other public resources."

I don't know how they compiled the list of  "**possible alternate first names"  but since he was a cousin, and one I had actually communicated with before his passing, I'm fairly certain the William is correct.  Still, having alternates is certainly helpful if they come up when you search...they don't though. I went back and searched "Willy Turnbach" and got the response that there were no results to my search.  To perfect this search engine and database, I would suggest that the results would link back to anyone that has possible alternate names listed.  Still, if you're at all a veteran researcher with databases like this you'd simply leave out the first name entirely if you weren't getting any hits or just input a partial.

Wm Turnbach Jr WWII Expanded entry

There was also the World War II POW Archive that I checked out through the museum's site:

"This site features records of 143,374 U.S. servicemen/women and civilians who were held captive by Japan and Germany during World War Two. As a base resource for World War 2 POW Search we have relied on resources available through U.S. government archives and other public resources."

You can search both of these archives by first name, last name, alphabetically through links at the bottom of the page, or by partial name searches.  Both archives state that their records may not be complete due to record loss or loss during transfer to the archive due to corruption.  The archives are certainly worth checking out...and they're FREE.  Sure you may be able to find the same information on one of the paid genealogy sites out there, but here you don't have to pay.

A drawback to the whole "free" thing...there are ads that are on the page as well.  I suppose that's the price you pay for using a free site.  They have to pay for it somehow and ads don't really bother me, but it did get a tad annoying when there were 3 ads on the results page interrupting my flow.

I didn't know of any family members that were POWs during WWII so I threw the surname McCain into the POW search engine.  John McCain was a POW in Vietnam not WWII, but when I think of POWs his name pops into my head first (sorry Senator).  As it turns out there were 2 John McCains that were POWs during WWII.

The Personnel File Core Info can give you Name, Serial Number, Rank, Service, Arm (branch within the service), Organization, Parent Unit, and Unit Type.

As you can see from John A. McCain's record some of the information isn't there (no, it wasn't cropped out).  No reason is given as to why.  Perhaps there was no information in those blanks on the records that were entered into the database.  It would certainly be nice to have those last three bits of info, but I'm still impressed and quite frankly with the whole Name, Rank and Serial Number you can try to request information...and hope it wasn't lost in the records fire.

The Expanded Details give you the Detaining Power, Camp, First and Last Report, Area (Theatre), Source, Status.  Then below all of that information is a link where you can click to see the other POWs held at that camp.

The POW Camp that John K McCain was held at

Here we have two McCains each detained in a different theatre and each with a much different outcome.  Our European Theatre McCain was liberated/repatriated and the other died.  Now it says that he died in a ship sinking or shot trying to escape.  Remember to take a look at the first and last reports here.  He was held prisoner for almost 3 years before dying.  So unless they were putting him on a ship to transport him after he became a prisoner, it would be safer to say he was shot trying to escape.

Expanded Details for John K. McCain

Expanded Details for John A McCain

Lots of great info, but with some annoying adverts (yes, I cropped them out of the photos).  Still should be very worth a researcher's time!