Searching for unknown US Army casualty

Discussion in 'US Units' started by Michael Somerville, Jul 12, 2021.

  1. Hi

    Can anyone tell me if there is a master database for US Army casualties in WW2 that can be searched to a similar same level as the CWGC database. I am trying to verify a 'friendly fire' incident between British and American troops in the vicinity of Monte Cassino on the night of 15-16th January 1944, which supposedly led to the death of an American lieutenant shot in the head and killed instantly. But I don't know the officer's name or even his unit for certain (though almost certainly part of 36th Texas Division) as neither are mentioned in the British account I have. Another account of the same night only reports an American corporal being injured, so would like to know which is true!

    I have tried the US National Archives (WWII Army and Army Air Force Casualties), but casualties are listed by state and then name and then it still does not give date or location of the casualty. The American Battlefield Monuments Commission has a database searchable by date of death, (Search ABMC Burials and Memorials | American Battle Monuments Commission) but only for those buried overseas - which is a tiny fraction of the 36th Division casualties around that time. Databases on Genealogy sites (eg the list in Online World War II Indexes and Records - WWII (USA) also seem to insist upon a name and are not searchable by date and/or location

    It is somewhat of a needle in a haystack, but any ideas please? CWGC let me download every British death in Italy, but can't see a way to do similar for US losses, due in part to their policy of repatriation.

    Mike Somerville
  2. Temujin

    Temujin Member

    Could you post the British account, or give us more detail of the British unit etc?
  3. 5th Sherwood Foresters. Entry in the WD for 15th refers to an American corporal being wounded. But a long account by Michael Glover, a Lt in the Foresters at the time, gives a detailed story about an American Lt being killed. See attached

    Attached Files:

  4. Temujin

    Temujin Member

    I just tried searching using Fold3…….you can search American’s KIA by specific date…..but the result is 170,000 results, they are grouped by States in the results BUT……without a name, or possibly a State this would be impossible task
  5. Temujin

    Temujin Member

    This at least gives us Map References etc……so now it may be possible to find out “which” American units were in this vicinity during that time period and hopefully narrow down the possible US units in that area… obviously it was a foot patrol……so the American unit had to be within a 20 mile (probably a lot less) radius of these actions……
  6. Yes, if you are looking at same thing as me that is the US National Archives (WWII Army and Army Air Force Casualties) lists, so although you can enter a date I don't think it helps much other than to pin it down to WW2!
  7. Temujin

    Temujin Member

    Another avenue that I use is BRIGADE war Dairies of the British. I have found that Brigade War diaries are much better at giving you details of the “entire picture” of the Brigade area, and details like supporting troops, or liaison between units is always mentioned……so if a American patrol was “planned” to enter the British area or contact, these may be in the Brigade War Diaries…….a suggestion, just trying to narrow down the possible US units for searching
  8. Temujin

    Temujin Member

    Sorry I can’t help you much more…..I’m more a Canadian researcher……and I know where to find all the Canadian Unit, Brigade, Division War Diaries, but I’m not as experienced with the British side…..I’m sure some of our British experts on this site will give some thoughts or clues shortly
  9. Thx. Not got hold of the Brigade diary yet due to restricted access at the archive - on my list of things to do. Possible it might help id the American unit, though doubt it will help with the individual.
  10. Temujin

    Temujin Member

    True, but once you have a definite American unit I would suspect it may be easier to find out Officer losses of that unit for that time period…….I would hope…….good luck
  11. The 91st Recce Sqdn seems to have been operating on the Foresters' flank at the time. I have a (barely legible) copy of their action report for the period. Possible they might have been responsible for an earlier friendly fire incident on 9 January, I but can't see any reference to an incident on 15th, and Glover refers to an Infantry Bn.
  12. Temujin

    Temujin Member

    Michael…..I read thru the 5 Foresters WD and I see that the unit that was the American Infantry unit “liased” with the Battalion were “3 Battalion 143 Infantry Regiment liase re their movements on right”.

    And I found the 5th Army History of the Italian and it confirms that the American Unit on the “left” of their line, was the 143rd Infantry Regiment.

    Here’s is their “movement” plans for the upcoming action which was suppose to start on the 20 Jan…..and the Regiment had moved into line on the Forester’’s RIGHT FLANK. I’ve also included a map on dispositions of Allied forces as of the 15 Jan 44


    Last edited: Jul 12, 2021
  13. Temujin

    Temujin Member

    By the 5 Foresters WD, I see the Company involved was “B” Company. If plotted on a map where this company was the night of the 15 Jan 44. I’ve also given a “close up” of the position

    I would suggest the next step is to see if you can find the causality list for the 3rd Battalion, 143rd Infantry Regiment and see if you can find an officer casualty for the night of the 15 Jan 44 (or morning of the 16th Jan)


    BrianHall1963 likes this.
  14. Thanks. I found the 5th Army History yesterday; but I think it is ambiguous over which unit was in the area on 15th Jan. The 3/143rd was definitely the unit in the river crossing itself, but it does not identify the unit(s) involved in the capture of M Trocchio on 15th. I am coming to think that it is probably down to 3/143rd Infantry or 3/6th Armoured Infantry, which are the two infantry units mentioned in 5SF WD. Still, it narrows it down a bit, though still not sure if can find a detailed casualty list for these.

    Also can you tell me how you located the map? I have the 1:100,000 from the University of Texas collection, but this appears to be the more detailed 1:50,000 scale map, and this particular sheet is not in the UT holdings. I can see the URL and get this particular image, but interested to know how to locate others.
  15. Temujin

    Temujin Member

    On the 3/143…..I believe it “may be” this unit that was involved, as mentioned in the 5 Forester’s WD’s the Americans on their right (which should have been the 3/143) made a “liaison” visit on the 14th, shortly before the incident. Liaison visits are normally carried out between units that are beside each other (on each flank) from Units which are NOT part of your Brigade or Division in order to ensure contact and what each other is doing (to help prevent Blue on Blue and to ensure battle and defence co-operation). So my gut tells me that this unit is the most likely unit to have the interaction with the “B” Company 5 Foresters as reported in their War Diaries. US Unit WD may give you more info??

    I know that the US National Archives holds the “war diaries” (I’m sorry, there not called that in US service, but they are “similar” to Commonwealth, but more formal, with less detail that Brit/Canadian WD’s)…..but I’ve only researched them once and had to hire a researcher to go get the records I wanted…..which wasn’t ideal as I found the researcher ONLY look for the EXACT PAGES you asked for… looking at the pages before or after……(in my case I had to hire him twice, because the page I need was the “next page” to what I had told him to look for). EDIT: Looked up the records i have, called “Unit Journal’s” (mine is from an Artillary unit in the 81st Wildcat División)

    In respect to the maps, I usually use the McMaster University web site for all WW1 and WW2 maps (and they also have air photo’s etc etc etc). These are all FREE to use, and you normally can download them in TWO resolutions…..the higher resolution usually be a 1 GB file… it does take a little time to download depending on your internet speed. Link to WW2 maps

    World War II (1939-1945)
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2021
    BrianHall1963 likes this.
  16. Thanks, that is useful. I have been looking for documents on 143 Regiment, but as you have intimated, very little seems to be online and I ma not inclined to go to the expense of a researcher for this little bit of my history! But I am beginning to think it is the 3/143, so will keep plugging away. Thanks for info on the maps.
    BrianHall1963 likes this.
  17. Temujin

    Temujin Member

    I also forgot to say McMaster’s WW1 trench maps are excellent. they have hundreds of them at different scales. I do quite a bit of WW1 research for folks and this is my “go to” map place

    AND they have an extensive library of WW1 Air Photo’s, which really help when working with trench maps.

    Here is their entire Map Collection, which includes South Africa, War of 1812, Cold War and even some Vietnam maps…..some collections are not large…the WW1 being the largest (I think)

    Map Collections
  18. Temujin

    Temujin Member

    Michael……..this may help a ‘bit”…….gives more information on the movement of American and British forces BEFORE the 15th Jan (ends on the 15th)……but if you read the various sections it describes the 141 Infantry Regiment took over the positions of the 6th Armoured Infantry Regiment, in preparation of the Rápido River crossings starting on the 20th Jan.

    We know that the 143rd held the “left of the line” so are shown on the previous map I posted on the bottom of the map, closest to the Division boundaries (and the 5th Foresters) AND this also shows us the British Division was on their left, and in fact mentions that part of the proposed attack over the Rápido by the 143rd Regiment would be THRU the Divisional boundaries (they would be attacking thru the British area)……so that explains the reason for the Liason to touch base at the 5th Foresters HQ on the 14th in order to share information about the coming attack THRU their area.

    Then, reading all this, the patrol of the 5th Forester’s which was suppose to meet the 143 Regiment at the bridge (and I think was the 3rd Battalion) makes sense in that they were linking up so the Brits could share the “on ground information”…………Issue WAS from the report by the Micheal Glover Account of the Brit patrol he seemed to be very Junior Officer (I’m not sure of his rank, but the Battalion HQ asked him ‘can he do it???”), and MOST of the 143 Regiment was also replacements from the battles they had BEFORE this… everyone was NEW……and as we know the Rápido River crossing on the 20 Jan was a disaster for the American’s (basically because they had “green” troops, unlike the previous actions they were in where the Regiment was ‘battle harden’d)

    Anyway, my thoughts on all that I just read…….doesn’t help you discover ‘who” the American officer was though……I’ve been searching but as you know the American search’s sites don’t let you look at the KIA by date, or by Unit, or location… tough to find out “who” this is.

    I’ve also “assumed” he may be a Texan… have been searching “Texan databases”…..but I may be completely wrong, he may have been from anywhere, IF he was one of the “replacement” officers……..the END of the Account is quite telling……here’s an American officer who does NOT respond to a challenge TWICE…..but the American Sgt ALSO doesn’t respond to the challenge when he Officer doesn’t…..maybe BOTH of them were NEW…..just more thoughts

    Last edited: Jul 14, 2021
    BrianHall1963 likes this.
  19. Yes, that all makes sense. Good observation that the attack was to be through the British sector, it would explain why it was a British patrol but expecting to meet up with the Americans who would make the actual crossing - I had sort of worked that out, but not spotted that they would cross the British boundary (in fact the Corps boundary between II US and X British Corps!). The SF attacked to the SW on the 20th, but the 16th DLI in their brigade were actually under US command that day to the left of the 143rd - I've not yet seen the DLI WD yet to know their precise actions that day. But the boundary issue would perhaps also explain that.

    Glover was a lieutenant, but he came from the Inns of Court Regt and then the Derbyshire Yeomanry - he was only posted to the SF in December with no prior infantry training. The 5th SF had lost almost all the officers who had landed at Salerno by January 1944. So very much the blind leading the blind. Your comments on the American's are circumstantial of course, but certainly plausible and would go far towards explaining the incident.
    BrianHall1963 likes this.
  20. Temujin

    Temujin Member

    Found this map Michael, it shows the area where the 143 Regiment’s attack during the Rápido River crossings, I’ve marked (with a red circle) the ‘appox’ location that the 5 Forester’s were, and you can see the 143 went thru their area. This doesn’t tell us WHICH Battalion of the 143 was going though their area??


    Info on the Division and specifically the losses and replacement to the 143 Infantry Regiment

    The "T-Patchers," 80 percent of whom were Texans, were shipped overseas in early 1943, arriving in Oran, Algeria, on April 11. The division was attached to the newly created Fifth Army, but did not see any action during the closing months of the North African campaign or in Sicily in July. When Italy was invaded on September 9, 1943, however, the 36th Division formed part of the initial invasion force. During 12 days of combat at the beachhead, the unit's infantrymen gave a good account of themselves, morale was high, and the division received the first of 10 Presidential Unit Citations and the first four of an eventual 15 Medals of Honor. Yet before the division was removed from Salerno for rest and refitting, it had suffered more than 4,000 casualties, the 143rd Infantry Regiment alone losing 1,144 men.

    Within two months the division was reinserted into the II Corps line near Mignano and Venafro, Italy, relieving the 3rd Infantry Division then engaged in the Winter Line campaign. During the next six weeks, the men of the 36th Division again distinguished themselves in heavy fighting along the Bernhard Line and in the battles for Monte la Difensia, Monte Maggiore, Monte Lungo and Monte Sammucro. The gains made, however, came at a high price. In the battle for Monte Sammucro alone, the 143rd Regiment lost 1,059 men. It suffered a further 1,400 casualties in the battle for San Pietro -- one American casualty for every Italian living in the village. Thoroughly exhausted by December 30, the division was again pulled from the line. Over the course of the next two weeks, the division received 1,014 enlisted replacements and 90 officers, most of them going to the grossly understrength 143rd Infantry Regiment. The majority of these new men had only 17 weeks of infantry training before they arrived in Italy, and most of the commissioned replacements were fresh from officer candidate school.


    Rapido River Disaster
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2021
    BrianHall1963 likes this.

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