American Expeditionary Forces Casualty [Death] Lists
By Constance Potter
"From the above figures the daily average to be reported was as follows: Killed in action, 69; died of wounds, 69; died of disease, 122; severely wounded, 752."
-- The Chicago Tribune, December 17, 1918, on the accounting of U.S. casualties to the War Department by General John Pershing
The Adjutant General’s Office in the War Department created casualty lists of those who died in the American Expeditionary Forces (A.E.F.) in World War I. The lists, dated November 6, 1920, do not include the names of men who were wounded and did not die of their wounds. The lists also do not include those who served in the Navy or the Marines although men assigned to the 5th and 6th Marine Regiments in the 2nd A.E.F. Division are listed.
The causes of death are:
- KIA—Killed in Action
- DOW—Died of Wounds
- D or O.C.—Disease or other causes. The list does not specify the disease or other cause, which can included suicide, accidents, drowning, and air accidents.
There are three lists: by state, by division, and by organization for those units not attached to a division (non-divisional units).
Organized by those killed in action; those who died of wounds; and finally, those who died of disease or other causes. The officers are listed first by rank, name, organization at the time of death, the date of death, and cause of death. Enlisted men follow and are listed by name, serial number, rank, organization at the time of death, date of death, and cause of death. White troops are listed before Colored troops.
They are then listed by:
- Men who entered the service with a National Guard unit or were assigned to the National Guard upon enlistment or induction.
- Men who enlisted in the Regular Army or were assigned to the Regular Army when inducted.
- Men inducted into the National Army or assigned to the National Army when inducted.
- Members of the Reserve Corps called into active service.
If a man was inducted from the National Guard, contact the State archives in the state from which he served. (If he served from the District of Columbia, contact the National Archives in St. Louis, MO.) They may have the records of his service in the National Guard.
The state lists do not include territories. There is a folder for “possessions,” however, there are only 18 names and it does not indicate where the men were from.
Here are some state casualty list examples:
Henry N. Gunther
Henry N. Gunther, the last American killed in the war, died at 10:59 AM on November 11, 1918. A private in Co. A, 313th Infantry, 80th Division, he served in the National Army.
Lewis Holley, from West Virginia, is listed as colored and shows that he was inducted in the National Army or assigned there when he enlisted.
Quentin Roosevelt, a son of President Theodore Roosevelt, is on this list of officers killed in action from the state of New York. Roosevelt does not have a serial number because officers were not issued serial numbers until later.
The list includes the 1st through 8th Divisions; 27th through 42nd Divisions; and the 76th through 93rd Divisions. After that they are broken down by regiment. The officers are listed first followed by the enlisted men. The list give the name, serial number (for enlisted only, not officers), rank, company, cause of death, and date of death. This list does not give the race of the soldier.
Henry N. Gunther of the 313th Infantry
Among the non-division units are the Air Service, Cavalry, Chemical Warfare or Gas Regiment, Coast Artillery Corps, Engineers, Medical Departments, Ordnance, Pioneer Infantry, Quartermaster Corps, Signal Corps, and Tank Corps and Anti-Aircraft Units.
Quentin Roosevelt listed under Aero Squadrons.
Lewis Holley of the 542nd Engineers
Note that the lists may not be complete, for example, there is no date of death for Roosevelt on the Aero Squadron list. Also, the name may be misspelled or the middle initial may be wrong.
Finding the lists
The A.E.F. casualty lists are in the Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1917 through . . . . (Record Group 407) held at the National Archives in College Park, MD. They comprise the following entry numbers:
- Entry UD 10: World War I Organization Records, Office File, Casualties of A.E.F. by State.
- Entry UD 11: World War I Organization Records, Office File, Casualties of A.E.F. by Division.
- Entry UD 12: World War I Organization Records, Office File, Casualties of the A.E.F. by Non-Divisional Organizations.
Ordering Copies of the Records
To request a search of the records either write to Textual Reference Archives II Branch (RDT2), National Archives at College Park, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001 or send an email to Archives2reference@nara.gov. When requesting the records give the soldier’s name, the state he was from, and if possible, the unit in which he served.
Next article: Merchant Marine
Constance Potter is a retired reference archivist. She worked at the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, DC for more than 30 years.