This version contains corrections made 15 October 2021
|Temporary Cemetery for the Fallen of the 147th U.S. Infantry
By Lynna Kay Shuffield
When Cpl. William W. Brown, Co. D, 141st Infantry, 36th Division, "went over the top" during the Battle of Blanc Mont Ridge in World War I on 8–9 Oct 1918, he fought as only a Texan should. While courageously advancing under violent artillery and machine gun fire, Brown was killed in action by German shrapnel, which resulted in fractures of the skull and left arm at the elbow.
He was originally buried in an isolated battlefield grave on the Medeah Farm at St. Etienne-a-Arnes (Ardennes). He was posthumously awarded the French Croix de Guerre with a silver star for extraordinary heroism. Brown was disinterred and reburied four times before he reached his final resting place at the Meuse Argonne Cemetery #1232 at Romagne-sous -Montfaucon in Meuse, France in Grave 174, Sec. 85, Plot 4.
|Corporal William Brown's Final Resting Place
(While Under Construction)
You are probably wondering how I learned so much about Corporal Brown and his death. There are little-known documents called "burial case files" for most World War I casualties contained in Record Group 92 now located at the National Archives facility in St. Louis, MO. These files are related to servicemen or women who died while in the military during the time period 1915-39; the files were maintained for war casualties as well as for military domestic deaths. See https://catalog.archives.gov/id/595318 for the NARA catalog description of the burial case files.
The folders are arranged alphabetically and contained documents related to the individual's name, military organization, place of residence, date of death, circumstances of death, places of burial, next of kin, etc. These files also contain documentation if the mother of the deceased participated in the "World War I Mothers' Pilgrimages" program, which was sponsored by the U.S. government. This program transported mothers and wives of the deceased to the overseas military cemeteries.
National Archives at St. Louis (RL-SL)
1 Archives Drive, Room 340
St. Louis, MO 63138
Be sure to include as much information as you know about the solider, i.e., full name, date of birth/death, service number (if known), places of residence, etc.
Thanks to Patrick Osborn of the National Archives for pointing out that the contact information in the original version of this article was out of date.