4 Replies Latest reply on Jul 23, 2021 11:08 AM by Nancy Summers

    Seeking WWI death benefits for Morris Leaf

    Nancy Summers Wayfarer

      I'm trying to find out whether any death benefits were paid to the parents of Morris Simon Leaf (born LIpshitz) when he was wounded in combat in France during WWI. He died 20 Aug. 1918. I believe he passed away in a hospital from infection. I don't know whether this was overseas or in the US.  Was there a law in place to give death benefits? How might I find the records? Would there be records of his hospitalization? Would there be records of his being transported from Europe back to the US?  I have found a transport list where he was sent to Europe.


      So far I've found this info:

      -- He completed a draft card in New York City in 1917

      -- He was inducted into the National Guard in New York City 5 April 1918. At that time the National Guard had been "federalized"; I think that means the men served as part of the regular US Army.

      -- He was initially assigned to the 2nd Provisional Battalion of the 252nd Brigade, as a Private

      -- He  was  transferred to the 107th Infantry 18 Apr 1918

      -- He served overseas from 9 May 1918 "to his death 20 Aug 1918"

      -- Service number 2672696

      -- He was born in Minsk, Russia (in the town of Rechitsa)

      -- He was unmarried; his father Louis Leaf was notified of his death at 43 W. 110th St., New York CIty


      Main Source: New York, U.S., Abstracts of National Guard Service in WWI , 1917-1919, Vol 20: 107th Infantry (7th Inf NYNG) H-L


      Just to make things more complicated:

      -- There are records for a Morris Leaf and a Morris Lipshitz. Not yet certain if these are the same person but I think so.

      -- There is a record card in the name of Morris Lipshitz copied for the PMGO (Provost Marshal General Office) which indicates that he is a Russian Jew (which was true, although he had been naturalized) and says "B.E.F.(Jewish Unit) N.Y. to Windsor 31 May 1918". BEF is British Expeditionary Forces and he may have served with them.

      -------- Would this affect the death benefits?

      -------- What was the relationship between the BEF and the US Army?


      -- There is a Book called "U.S., World War I American Expeditionary Forces Deaths, 1917-1919" which includes Morris S. Leaf with the same serial number, rank, unit and date of death. But the name is crossed out. Any idea what it means? Could it have been because he served with the BEF?

      ---[this resource is at NARA, group record number 407, NAID 1726747,  but I found it on Family Search]


      Any leads or information you can share with me would be most welcome!

        • Re: Seeking WWI death benefits for Morris Leaf
          Rachael Salyer Navigator

          Dear Ms. Summers,


          Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


          If you have not done so already, we suggest that you request a copy of Morris Leaf/Lipschitz’s  Official Military Personnel File (OMPF). OMPFs and individual medical reports for enlisted men of the U.S. Army who were separated from the service after October 1912 and before 1959 are in the custody of NARA's National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis. In many cases where personnel records were destroyed in the 1973 fire, proof of service can be provided from other records such as morning reports, payrolls, and military orders, and a certificate of military service will be issued. Please complete a GSA Standard Form 180 and mail it to NARA's National Personnel Records Center, (Military Personnel Records), 1 Archives Drive, St. Louis, MO  63138-1002. Veterans and their next of kin also may use eVetRecs to request records. See eVetRecs Help for instructions. For more information see Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF), Archival Records Requests. Since you have Mr. Leaf/Lipschitz’s serial number, you may use that when you submit your request.


          The information you seek may also be contained in his Army burial case file. Burial case files for 1915 to 1939 are in the custody of the National Archives at St. Louis (RL-SL). For more information about these records, please contact RL-SL via email at stl.archives@nara.gov.


          You mentioned that you have already seen Mr. Leaf/Lipshitz’s draft registration card. You may also wish to view morning reports and/or rosters for his unit to learn more about his service. Copies of most of the monthly rosters from November 1912 - 1943 and morning reports for Army units from November 1, 1912 to 1959 are in the custody of the National Archives at St. Louis (RL-SL). For more information about these records, please contact RL-SL. Please note that the World War I rosters have been digitized and are available online via FamilySearch.


          Next, we searched the National Archives Catalog and located the series Compiled Data on Casualties of the American Expeditionary Forces by State or United States Possession, 1917-1919 in the Records of the Adjutant General’s Office (Record Group 407) that lists Leaf, Morris S. on page 203 of the PDF file of New York World War I Dead, AEF. These records have been digitized and can be viewed online in the Catalog. This is the same resource you located on FamilySearch (National Archives Identifier 1726747). The listing for Pvt. Leaf is not crossed out, but it appears to have been added separately, so the typeface is slightly fainter than the rest of the list. The top of the page reads: “New York White: Inducted Into National Army or Assigned Thereto Upon Enlistment.”


          Additionally, we located the series Records of the 1st Through 338th and the 559th Infantry Regiment, 1916-1921 in the Records of U.S. Regular Army Mobile Units (Record Group 391) that includes the records of the 107th Infantry Regiment during WWI. The series Records of Divisions, ca. 1918-1942 in the Records of the American Expeditionary Forces (World War I) (Record Group 120) also contains records related to the 107th Infantry. For more information about these and similar non-digitized records, please contact the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) via email at archives2reference@nara.gov.


          Finally, we located 4 series of Deceased Veterans Claim Files (XC Files) at the National Archives at St. Louis (RL-SL) and 1 additional series of Deceased Veterans Claim Files (XC Files) at the National Archives at Boston (RE-BO) that may be of interest to you. These records have not been digitized. You may contact RL-SL via email at stl.archives@nara.gov and RE-BE at boston.archives@nara.gov for additional assistance with these records.


          Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RL-SL, RDT2, and RE-BO. Also, NPRC will continue servicing requests ONLY associated with medical treatments, burials, homeless veterans seeking admittance to a homeless shelter, and those involving the VA Home Loan program. If your request is urgent, please see Emergency Requests and Deadlines. Please refrain from submitting non-emergency requests such as replacement medals, administrative corrections, or records research until NPRC returns to pre-COVID staffing levels.  Please check archives.gov/veterans for updates to the NPRC operating hours and status. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.


          We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your research!

          1 person found this helpful
          • Re: Seeking WWI death benefits for Morris Leaf
            Nancy Summers Wayfarer

            Re: Morris Leaf's listing in American Expeditionary Forces Deaths


            You found a listing for Morris on page 203, which is titled as those who "entered service with the National Guard." The copy of the list on Family Search (below) shows it as page 200.  From other records I've learned that he did enlist in the National Guard and then was transferred to the Army. And the serial number matches the number I've seen in other records. So this entry surely is correct.


            I  found him on page 119, where his name was crossed out,as shown below. I wondered what happened. This page is titled as those  "inducted into national army or assigned thereto."


            Can I assume the record keepers moved him from one listing to the other for admin purposes?




            Whatever the reason,  I'm so glad you found Morris. Many thanks for solving this mystery!


            PS: This is a reminder to me to check more than one source for information, especially when something appears wrong or is missing.

            1 person found this helpful
            • Re: Seeking WWI death benefits for Morris Leaf
              Elliot Schneider Ranger



              Here is some additional documents for your research.






              Also Here is a copy of the VA Master Index Card:


              2 people found this helpful