80th Division Digital Archives Project
Morning Reports - Commonly Used Abbreviations
The following are excerpts from Mitchell Kaidy, who was an assistant company clerk of Co. D, 345th Infantry Regiment. For more about Mr. Kaidy, click here.
Every day of World War II, a 3 1/4 by 7-inch Morning Report was 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 listed the unit location, killed-and-wounded in action, 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 soldiers Army Serial Number and Military Occupational Specialty were packed into the report. On such official documents, the Army refused to recognize draftees as such; and both draftees and enlistees were consistently designated as enlisted men (EM). Army officers were separately identified by rank and serial numbers, whose numerals were different, and less revealing, than enlisted mens 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, who was usually a corporal or sergeant. During infantry action the First Sergeant and Company Clerk often derived their information from fellow combatants; from the walking wounded waiting to be evacuated; or, occasionally, by scouting out foxholes. Obstacles to information-gathering near the front were clearly formidable and consistentand hazardous. During especially bloody combat, the wounded could lie unnoticed in inaccessible battle zones for hours or 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 patrol could have extended beyond reach or stayed out at night while 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.
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 often became depleted, usually during the Battle of the Bulge, replacements could not keep up, and underreporting was rife in World War II. 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.
"Wounds" usually meant that they were caused by enemy action.
"Injuries" usually meant that they were caused by accidents, premature explosions of our own mortar shells, etc.
"DOW" and "DOI" meant that death occurred on a date later than the date of the wounds or injuries.
MOS ("Military Occupational Specialty") - very extensive WWII MOS explanation list at 380th Bomb Group site - click here
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