8 Replies Latest reply on Aug 18, 2020 7:28 AM by Judy Smythe

    Seeking WWI service records of great grandfather

    Judy Smythe Newbie

      I have located my great grandfather's draft registration card, but as it is dated September 12 1918, just two months before the end of the war I think it is unlikely that he served.  However, I would like to confirm this one way or the other.  Any advice on how I might go about this would be very much appreciated.  I am in Australia so I am unable to undertake any research in person in the US.

        • Re: Seeking WWI service records of great grandfather
          Elliot Schneider Navigator

          Judy,

           

          Any additional information pertain to your great grandfather. Name, DOB, place of birth.

           

           

          Thanks,

           

          Elliot

            • Re: Seeking WWI service records of great grandfather
              Judy Smythe Newbie

              Thank you for your response Elliot.  His full name was John Thomas Wright, but he always went by the name Thomas or Tom.  On his draft registration card he is just Thomas Wright.  He was born in Australia in 1875 and went to San Francisco in 1906.  The family lost all contact with him after a few years and no one has ever known what became of him.  This draft registration card is the only trace of him that has ever been found.  It shows that he was still living in San Francisco in 1918.  It lists his wife in Australia (by her correct full name) as his next of kin and he gives the address for her as the family home in Bendigo (Victoria, Australia) so there is no doubt that this is indeed "our" Tom. 

               

              It's not much to go on, I know, but it is all we have.

               

              Thank you in advance for any advice you can offer regarding where I should go from here.

               

              Judy

                • Re: Seeking WWI service records of great grandfather
                  Elliot Schneider Navigator

                  Judy,

                   

                  Here is some information below,

                   

                    • Re: Seeking WWI service records of great grandfather
                      Judy Smythe Newbie

                      Hi Elliot,

                       

                      Thank you again for your time and efforts in helping me to locate my great grandfather.

                       

                      Unfortunately, he does not appear to be on the list you sent.  We believe it is highly unlikely that he ever returned to Australia.  The fact that after 12 years in America he still acknowledged his wife in Australia as his next of kin and gave the Wright family home as her address suggests that if he ever did return he would have made contact.  My grandfather died at the age of 91 not having seen his father since they day he and his mother waved him off at the docks in Sydney on April 30 1906 when he was just a four year old boy.

                       

                      (John) Thomas Wright was a carpenter/builder by trade.  He went to San Francisco after the earthquake there in 1906, no doubt seeing it as a lucrative opportunity to utilise his skills helping to rebuild the city and make some money while he was at it, not to mention the fact that it would have been seen as something of an adventure.

                       

                      At present, my primary focus is to try to find out if he was ever enlisted in the American military after filling out his draft registration card.  Was he ever called up?  Did he have a medical?  Is it possible that he could have been deployed overseas given that the war ended just two months after he filled out that card?  I know I'm probably clutching at straws here, but it is the best lead we have for now.

                       

                      Kind regards,

                       

                      Judy

                • Re: Seeking WWI service records of great grandfather
                  Shannon Kerner Wayfarer

                  Dear Ms. Smythe,

                   

                  Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!

                   

                  If he was an American, we suggest that you request a copy of his 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 prior to 1958 are in the custody of NARA's National Personnel Records Center 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. You also may fax the form to 314-801-9195. For more information see Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF), Archival Records Requests.

                   

                  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NPRC was closed from March 23 through June 23, 2020.  As of June 24th, the NPRC entered into Phase One of a gradual reopening process.  The center is currently only servicing emergency requests and will soon expand its service to include time-sensitive requests from veterans for records needed to secure VA home loan guarantees and employment opportunities.

                   

                  If he was an Australian, we suggest you contact the National Archives of Australia, P.O. Box 7425, Canberra Business Centre, ACT 2610, Australia.  The web site is https://www.naa.gov.au/ and the email address for reference inquiries is ref@naa.gov.au.

                   

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

                   

                    • Re: Seeking WWI service records of great grandfather
                      Judy Smythe Newbie

                      Thank you for your suggestions Shannon.  I will look into those.

                       

                      As stated previously, he was an Australian but went to San Francisco in 1906 and never came back.  He filled in a Draft Registration Card in San Francisco in 1918 shortly before the end of the First World War.  I think it unlikely that he was ever actually drafted, but I am pursuing this avenue because it is the only lead we have.

                       

                      As for the Australian service records, I am aware of those and have already obtained the records of numerous other family members.  But as (John) Thomas Wright was in America at that time he did not enlist here and there are no records for him in the National Archives.

                       

                      Thanks,

                       

                      Judy

                    • Re: Seeking WWI service records of great grandfather
                      Sabine Gorgas Wayfarer

                      Hi Judy,

                       

                      did you check this ship list. Under the name of Thomas Wright is a note for a file from 11/9/38.

                      This Thomas is from Bendigo, Austrlia and if this number belongs to him it maybe this points on a naturalization process?

                       

                      Sabine

                       

                      Passenger list from 1906 with an attached file number

                        • Re: Seeking WWI service records of great grandfather
                          Judy Smythe Newbie

                          Thank you Sabine.  You might be on to something there!  That Thomas Wright is definitely my great grandfather.  I have had a copy of this manifest for about 12 years, but never had any idea what that date and number might have referred to.  Now I just have to figure out how to pursue the lead you have just given me . . .

                           

                          I very much appreciate you putting in the time to look this up and for giving some insight into what this notation might refer to.

                           

                          Regards,

                           

                          Judy