When Cpl. William W. Brown, Co. D, 141st Battalion, 36th Division, "went over the top" during the Battle of St Etienne in World War I on 8-9 Oct 1918, he fought as only a Texan should. While courageously advancing under violent artillery and machine gun fire, Brown was killed in action by German shrapnel, which resulted in fractures of the skull and left arm at the elbow.
He was originally buried in an isolated battlefield grave on the Medeah
Farm at St. Etienne-a-Arnes (Ardennes). He was posthumously awarded the
French Croix de Guerre with a silver star for extraordinary heroism. Brown
was disinterred and
reburied four times before he reached his final resting place at the Meuse Argonne Cemetery #1232 at Romagnesous -Montfaucon in Meuse, France in Grave 174, Sec. 85, Plot 4.
You are probably wondering how I learned so much about Corporal Brown and his death. There are little-known documents called "burial case files" for most World War I casualties contained in Record Group 92 at the National Archives in Washington, DC. These files are related to servicemen or women who died while in the military during the time period 1915-39; the files were maintained for war casualties as well as for military domestic deaths.
The folders are arranged alphabetically and contained documents related to the individual's name, military organization, place of residence, date of death, circumstances of death, places of burial, next of kin, etc. These files also contain documentation if the mother of the deceased participated in the "World War I Mothers' Pilgrimages" program, which was sponsored by the U.S. government. This program transported mothers and wives of the deceased to the overseas military cemeteries.
When requesting copies of these burial case files, address your letter
to the National Archives, ATTN: Old Military Records - RG 92, 700 Pennsylvania
Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20408. Be sure to include as much information as
you know about
the solider, i.e., full name, date of birth/death, service number (if known), places of residence, etc.
World War I Document Archive
"The World War I Document Archive" is a Web site at: http://www.lib.byu.edu/~rdh/wwi/ that contains documents and links related to the “Great War.” Documents and materials included are contained in the following topic areas: (1) Conventions, Treaties and Official Papers; (2) Documents, by year beginning in 1914 through 1918; (3) Memorials and Personal Reminiscences; (4) World War I Biographical Dictionary; (5) World War I Image Archive; (6) Special Topics and Commentaries; (7) The Maritime War; (8) The Medical Front; and (9) World War I Sites: Links to Other Resources.
This Web site provides a wealth of information that is important to
genealogists. This site allows you to learn about the war in which your
ancestor fought. It is regrettable that many of us were never able to collect
the personal stories of our ancestors and their experiences in World War
I. Now, you can visit this Web site and obtain an impression of their experiences.
also recommend this as a bookmark for students and libraries.
The World War I Document Archive is "dedicated to the encouragement
of the collection, preservation, and development in electronic form of
materials relating to the First World War, both as a resource for scholars
and students and as a perpetual memorial to the heroism and sacrifice of
those who participated in the war throughout the world." The executive
director of the
archive is A. Jane Plotke, Ph.D. She can be contacted by e-mail at: mailto:email@example.com.
as published in Ancestry
Daily News, 25 May 2000. Used with permission of the author.
Lynna Kay Shuffield writes the "Our Loose Ends" genealogy column, which
is published in the "Taylor Daily Press" newspaper in Taylor, Williamson
County, Texas and the "Cameron Herald" newspaper in Cameron, Milam County,
Texas. She has written several books and is working on five more. She is
a member of many local and state genealogical societies, as well as the
Daughters of the American Revolution and the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
Lynna is a former major in the State Military Forces of Texas and a graduate
of the United States Marine Corps (USMC) Command and General Staff Course
(1998). She is also the county coordinator for the San Jacinto County TXGenWeb
Project at: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Academy/2670/SANJAC-01.htm
Her "Our Loose Ends" genealogy column can be found online at:
And the "Milam County, Texas: List of Honor--Individuals Who Have Given Their Lives in the Defense of Their Country from World War I through Vietnam" is at: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Academy/2670/
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