The daily morning report:
taking the pulse of World War Two
Every day of World War II, whether in training or during the most explosive warfare, a 3 1/4 by 7-inch Morning Report issued from each infantry company, artillery battery, and all other basic units, to higher headquarters.
Though it was, under exigent circumstances, sometimes handwritten, Army regulations required the morning report to be typed and promptly delivered to Regimental or equivalent headquarters. Ultimately, it reached the highest military authorities, and today collections of the small, information-packed documents are still preserved at the National Archives in College Park, Md.
Characterized by an extreme case of Army-speak, the little document disclosed a lot, and in wartime was highly guarded. During even the most arduous actions, the report issued from each infantry company listing killed-in-action, wounded, brief wound descriptions, evacuations to hospitals as a result of combat or weather-related causes; the captured, as well as missing in action, plus new assignees (known as replacements); promotions and transfers to and from other units with their rank and other information. All this plus the soldier’s Army Serial Number and Military Occupational Specialty were laid out.
On such official documents, the Army refused to recognize draftees; and both draftees and enlistees were designated as enlisted men (EM). Army officers were separately identified by rank and serial numbers, whose numerals were different than enlisted men’s numerals.
Compiling the Morning Report was ultimately the responsibility of the First Sergeant, but in practice most of the detail work was done by the Company Clerk, usually a corporal or sergeant. During infantry action the First Sergeant and Company Clerk often received information from fellow combatants; from the walking wounded waiting to be evacuated; or, occasionally, had to scout out foxholes themselves for information.
Obstacles to information - gathering near the front were clearly formidable - and hazardous. During especially bloody combat, the wounded could lie unnoticed in battle zones for days until detected. Or, because of the severity of their wounds, the wounded could have been quickly evacuated by jeep or ambulance before company headquarters was notified. The killed in action (KIAs) could lie for weeks on abandoned battlefields, or in woods or foxholes, before being located by Graves Registration Teams.
Reports of the capture of American soldiers by the enemy were even more problematic, because a squad or a patrol could have extended out beyond reach or stayed out at night seeking to capture a prisoner or even in response to enemy activity. Captured American soldiers were often listed for weeks as missing in action before they were confirmed to be in enemy hands.
During World War II infantry operations in Europe, squads or platoons of heavy- weapons companies were regularly attached to rifle companies, burdening the First Sergeant and Clerk with the duty of locating the rifle company to which the squad, platoon or section of heavy machineguns or heavy mortars (81 mm.) was temporarily attached, in order to identify any casualties.
Here is an example of Army-speak from a Morning Report of Co. D, 345th Infantry dated 23 Jan. 1945: "Above 8 EM (enlisted men) assgd. and jd. (assigned and joined) from Hq 48th Repl. (Replacement) Depot APO (Army Post Office) 73 US Army Par (paragraph) 7 SO 11 HQ 87th Inf Div EDOMB 17Jan45".
An untypical but not surprising article of information from the Co. D report of 3 Jan, 1945, listed a soldier who had been wounded in France on 15 Dec.1944, 19 days before the report was confirmed and filed in Belgium, with the notation "Extent of wounds unknown." Neither the Army Serial Number nor the evacuation hospital was listed.
The following is an actual report of an infantryman who was wounded: His name, rank serial number were listed, followed by "Dy (duty) to lost to 107th Evac Hosp W (wound) to right hand, left hand and face, Belgium, 8 Jan 45." Curiously, the authority for transferring the soldiers to hospitals had to be repeated in every instance, as in the following example: "Auth for all losses to hospitals Par 3b Sec II ETOUSA Cir 69".
Rifle companies, which suffered the highest percentage of casualties in the infantry, chronically understated casualties as illustrated by a rifle company that was reduced to 17 soldiers, including officers, but consistently reported 70 to 80 members on hand. Clearly, because the line companies consistently became depleted, replacements could not keep up, and underreporting was rife in World War II.
Under duress, many a morning report was scrawled in pen and ink, accompanied by scratches, deletions and additions; and some were typed on captured German typewriters featuring umlauts over some letters. Those 345th Infantry Regiment reports that survive at the National.Archives in College Park, Md., appear strangely neat and legible. The explanation is that, according to T/5 Lloyd Mitchell of Co. D, 345th Infantry, they were all retyped by Capt. Stanley H. Moore Jr. of 345th Regimental Headquarters, who had been (incredibly for him) assigned to re-work the ink-stained frontline products into legible form on an American typewriter.
It’s a wonder that Captain Moore survived World War II - and not because he was in danger of the enemy. No, Captain Moore nested at a safe distance away from the action, (often in France); his responsibility was always the same - to deliver cleanly-typed morning reports to higher headquarters.
Clearly, morning reports, mirroring frontline action in revealing detail, remain a hidden treasure of World War II that has yet to be mined by historians and archivists.
(As assistant company clerk/mail clerk of Co. D, 345th Infantry, Mitchell Kaidy regularly contributed information for morning reports. He also wrote citations for valorous awards and battlefield commissions of Co. D.)
|Site design & initiative:||Hans Houterman|
|Page text by:||Mr. Mitchell Kaidy (D Company, 345th Infantry Regiment, 87th Infantry Division)|
|Page created by:||Jeroen Koppes|