Introduction and Explanation of 515th Archives and Other Documents

The following official documents cover the history of the 515th Field Artillery Battalion from its embarkation on the troopship USS Argentina in late October, 1944 through the end of the war to January, 1946. You will note that the documents contain unit rosters for the months of March and June, 1945. (These same rosters are also located individually on a separate link for easier viewing.)Veterans and their families will want to browse through the rosters to find the names of 515th veterans. The two rosters are divided into five batteries each – HQ, A, B, C and Service. With each name is the rank as well as designated job or occupation of the serviceman. I also have in my possession copies of other documents of a more technical nature related to the 515th. These documents deal with the time period at Fort Lewis and Fort Bragg. For those interested, I can make copies and mail them.

The reader will also note a letter addressed to Lt. Colonel Howell from Brigadier General Edward S. Ott, XV Corps Artillery. This letter, dated 14 June, 1945, recognizes the 515th for its efforts and contributions at the time the last major offensive of the war was launched in March of the same year. 

The documents were originally copied from the files of the U.S. military unit histories held by the National Archives II facility in College Park, Maryland. They were copied by me in the spring and summer of 2004. The unit histories are regarded as public domain and may be viewed and copied by anyone who desires to visit the facility. There is a security procedure, so one may want to check ahead of time before making a visit to ensure that everything is in order. Contacting the facility ahead of time to request files of a particular unit is recommended since it may take some time to access the histories. I made my request ahead of time, so there was no waiting time in my experience.

Working through the labyrinth of accessible National Archives material in relation to World War II is not particularly easy. Anyone who has looked for personnel records regarding the time period will admit that securing information regarding individuals is no easy task. The primary reason for this is because of a fire at the National Personnel Records Center at St. Louis, Missouri in 1973. Approximately 80% of the records from 1912 to 1960 were destroyed or damaged by the fire. Many of the records had earlier been transferred to the Veterans Administration however, so some researchers may find success through that agency. (This is how I was able to secure my father’s personnel file.)

Also held at the St. Louis facility are unit rosters and morning reports. These are not easily accessible, but, at least to my understanding, were not damaged by the fire. Unit rosters were done on a monthly basis and the morning reports only list those unit members with whom something unusual happened – hospitalized, wounded, killed, transferred, etc. These reports are apparently difficult to study and, as far as my experience is concerned, only available through personal or professional researchers. The National Archives is not adequately staffed to do extensive research for people. It is fortunate that at least two full sets of rosters for the 515th were included with the unit history held at the Archives II facility. I do not know if other units included rosters in their reports.


Letter of Recognition

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