Two of the greatest military conflicts during the 20th century were the ‘Great War’ - later known as World War I and then less than 20 years later the second great war, this one being World War II. No one can say they did not have a relative or ancestor involved somehow in either of those conflicts and in some cases served in both.
Now it does not mean a relative was in the military. People from all walks of life, abilities, and gender were affected by one or both of the world wars. Of course those who donned a military uniform were not just Americans, but Canadians, British, Australians, French, Italians and Germans, just some of the major citizens of nations involved. Many more people were involved on the home fronts.
Your ancestor may have been needed to build the weapons in factories, pack the food supplies or even grow additional wheat, rice or corn to feed the troops. Many women became involved by serving as nurses, working in munitions factories, planting victory gardens as well as building vehicles for military use. Few people realize that some 12,000 women enlisted in the United States Navy and Marine Corps during the World War I, of which some 400 of them died while in service. The same spirit of participation was true in Canada and Great Britain for females.
Using the Online World War One Indexes and Records will offer a variety of sources to learn more about any ancestors who served in the military sector (4.5 million soldiers just in the U. S. A.). Some of the databases are fee-based subscriptions but several are free to search and use. The first sections are general sites but then are the ones for states. Here in the individual states’ records of enlistments and discharges were kept and many are online now. There are also countries outside the United States; like Britain, Canada, Australia, Germany, New Zealand and Finland with some military indexes for the Great War.
Before the United States entered World War II in December 1941, Europe was already at war again. Once again thousands of soldiers were called into military service and volunteers called upon to assist in the homeland. Women took on a more active role in the factories to produce the needed equipment. Additional women joined the special military branches in Canada, U. S. A., Great Britain and Australia, to serve in numerous ways. My own mother was a First Lieutenant with the Women’s Army Corps and served as a lawyer (she had her law degree in 1942) and even served overseas. There were over 150,000 American women just in the WAC, plus an additional 6,520 African-American women who served.
With over 16 million Americans serving in the military between 1941 and 1946, it is very likely your family tree had several relatives in the service. Using the Online World War Two Indexes and Records there are several general databases on those that served, including casualties and those missing in action or taken prisoner. Also several states have online their own records for military personnel who participated in World War II. Review that section to see if a relative’s home state is listed and what is available. Included in this set of indexes are other countries such as Australia, Canada, Germany, Russia and Poland with information.
For all of your ancestors who were in the military or served on the home front as civilians between 1941 and 1946, make sure you register their names on the National World War II Memorial Official site. This will make them a permanent part of the memorial that is situated in Washington, D. C.
Poster: 1917 recruitment for women to serve in the military.