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Serving GIs in the UK during WW2

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Serving GIs in the UK during WW2

Postby LauraWatkins » Mon May 21, 2018 4:43 pm

Could anyone point me in the direction of where I might be able to find information about American GIs based in Devon during the Second World War. Is there anyway to trace names of soldiers posted here?
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Re: Serving GIs in the UK during WW2

Postby AdrianB38 » Mon May 21, 2018 11:08 pm

This won't be particularly helpful but, unless someone contradicts me, I would have thought that any references to names would only be in US sources. The UK might hold some information about where units were stationed as part of the War Office files, but there would be no need for the WO to know individual's names.

Newspapers would be the obvious source of names in the UK.

If you were to want to try the US angle, then be prepared for problems. We think that we have problems with the WW2 fire destroying so many WW1 files - my understanding is that a fire in St. Louis destroyed a much bigger proportion of US Army data. The exact extent, I have never had to understand, so I could be being pessimistic.

But that's where I suspect that you'll need to look, and the sort of issues that you just might find.

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Re: Serving GIs in the UK during WW2

Postby MoVidger » Tue May 22, 2018 12:20 am

Below are some details regarding the fire which Adrian mentions. My father's records were lost in the 1973 fire. I can't recall which exact USAF squadron he flew with, but they were based for a time at RAF Lakenheath circa 1948 to 1952.

Army Personnel discharged November 1, 1912 to January 1, 1960 Estimated loss - 80%
Air Force Personnel discharged September 25, 1947 to January 1, 1964 Estimated loss - 75%

"No duplicate copies of these records were ever maintained, nor were microfilm copies produced. Neither were any indexes created prior to the fire. In addition, millions of documents had been lent to the Department of Veterans Affairs before the fire occurred. Therefore, a complete listing of the records that were lost is not available. However, in the years following the fire, the NPRC collected numerous series of records (referred to as Auxiliary Records) that are used to reconstruct basic service information".
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Re: Serving GIs in the UK during WW2

Postby AdrianB38 » Tue May 22, 2018 5:59 am

Wow. My impression was right - I had no idea where to go to confirm it, so "Thanks" for that. I guess any hope is based round those auxiliary records but that sounds like a pot luck type thing.

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Re: Serving GIs in the UK during WW2

Postby meekhcs » Tue May 22, 2018 8:02 am

www.assaulttrainingcenterfriends.co.uk/ ... enter.html

American soldiers trained for the DDay landings in Devon.The above is a link to website that covers this. Slapton Sands is referenced in several newspaper reports on google because of the training accident that occured there.

If this is anything to do with your enquiry you may find some background info on the above website. Without checking out a known soldier who lost his life there I don't know if the death would have been registered in the UK, Adrian may know.
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Re: Serving GIs in the UK during WW2

Postby AdrianB38 » Tue May 22, 2018 9:39 am

meekhcs wrote:... Without checking out a known soldier who lost his life there I don't know if the death would have been registered in the UK, Adrian may know.


That's an interesting question... I'd never thought about it that way round and my efforts to Google it just now, failed because all I get is about the registration of British service personnel who died outside the UK.

Logically, if you read the stuff, any death in the UK should be registered by a UK body. However, without explicit confirmation, I remain cynically suspicious of what might happen when bureaucracies collide - specifically the GRO and the US Army. All I can say is that during WW1, the French and Belgian authorities, I found, issued death certificates for deaths of British Army personnel away from the battlefield but deaths in action were handled by the UK GRO. So there is some sort of vague precedent - but what the Slapton Sands tragedy would count as, I have no idea.

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Re: Serving GIs in the UK during WW2

Postby meekhcs » Tue May 22, 2018 10:37 am

Actually, I have had a further thought.

Our great Uncle died aboard an American merchant ship in the Bristol channel at the end of WW2. The ship was sunk by a German submarine. Gt Uncle was British but because he was serving aboard an American [*]edited vessel[*] his death was not registered in Britain.

So this would suggest it was more likely that the deaths would have been registered in the USA, and it more likely that perhaps there is a memorial to the fallen in the UK.

Anyway without further detail from the originator of this post we are all fishing in the dark.
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Re: Serving GIs in the UK during WW2

Postby MoVidger » Sun Mar 24, 2019 6:18 pm

I don't know if Laura, the OP, is still checking the forum. FMP have just added a "US Servicemen in North Devon, England 1943-1945" record set. :)

Explore lists of over 5,000 US servicemen who were stationed in North Devon during WW2. The records consist of original visitor books kept by the local servicemen's club. The servicemen served at the Assault Training Centre in North Devon, which was set up in 1942. It was established during the Second World War as a centre to develop and practice amphibious assault exercises to prepare for the Normandy landing on D-Day. They practiced on the beaches at Woolacombe and Saunton Sands.
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Re: Serving GIs in the UK during WW2

Postby devonliz » Mon Mar 25, 2019 1:58 pm

American soldiers (Intelligence?) were definitely in Tiverton (Devon) too. They are mentioned occasionally in our local newspaper with photos of the old days ... the Tiverton Museum may be able to help, see http://www.tivertonmuseum.org.uk/
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