Death and Burial Practices in World War I and WW II

Rick Sayre, CG, CGL, FUGA
Jan 19, 2021
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About BCG
5m 23s
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Speaker's Introduction
1m 33s
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3m 06s
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World War I
10m 20s
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Graves Registration Service
6m 40s
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4m 05s
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The Records
2m 41s
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The National Archives Catalog
7m 00s
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Burial Cards
3m 59s
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Case Study
18m 03s
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Gold Star Mothers
7m 04s
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1m 31s
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Related Records
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18m 07s
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Questions / answers
8m 43s

About this webinar

Much of this webinar focuses on the process of collecting, identifying, and burying the dead, and the resulting records, including their genealogical significance. In World War I (1917–1918) there were 53,402 battle deaths, while in World War II (1941–1945) battle deaths rose to 291,557. There are 124,905 American war dead interred overseas. This webinar also addresses how the United States honors and memorializes those killed in battle, including the role of the American Battle Monuments Commission, the American Gold Star Mothers program, and the operation of the Army’s Grave Registration Service.

About the speaker

About the speaker

Rick Sayre, CG, CGL, FUGA, a retired colonel who served 31 years in the U.S. Army, is a long-time researcher and instructor in genealogical topics. Rick is a past president and current board member of BCG. He coordinates the Advanced Land course
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  1. Legacy Family Tree
    4 years ago

    5+++++ Thoroughly enjoyed this webinar. Speaker was great, extremely knowledgeable. Learned a whole lot that I was not aware of. THANK YOU!!!

    A firehose of information. Perhaps two sessions would have been better divided chronologically.

    A great webinar! Thank you COL Sayre for sharing so much

    A very informative & presented webinar. Thanks again for having these sessions available.

    A very informative and interesting presentation. Thank you Rick & Geoff. : )

    A very informative and powerful lecture. The handout is jam-packed with teriffic reference material. Thank you Rick!

    A wealth of information. Too much to absorb in just one watching. I especially appreciated learning about how returned remains are treated with so much respect.

    A wonderful presentation

    Absolutely brilliant moving webinar.

    Absolutely wonderful presentation!!! My uncle worked for the ABMC until he retired in the late 1990’s …. and I can atest to his reverence to his ‘duty’ as he called it. Thank you – thank you!

    Am curious to learn about WWII resources…is there a follow up to include this info as well….Thank you immensely on behalf of our grandfathers and grandmothers who served.

    Amazing amount of information and thoughtfully presented. My family has had members serve in all the wars and conflicts from the Civil War through the current Afghanistan war (2018) and I was a proud Blue Star Mother. My Dad fought as a Marine on Okinawa during WWII. My son lost several friends while deployed, and we take comfort that our government strives to retrieve the remains of our loved ones. This presentation deeply affected many of us. Thank you.

    Amazing amount of information!

    amazing speaker and topic. great sound quality and visuals

    An excellent (and inspiring) presentation.

    appreciated actual documents and presenter’s explanation of them.

    Brought me to tears several times! Mr. Sayre knows this subject thoroughly and it shows in his presentation.

    Do not believe that there would be any place to learn in such detail about the depth our military goes to for those who lose their lives for America if it were not for this webinar.

    Especially interesting because I had a grand uncle killed in WWI in France, 46th Infantry. Been to KC WWI museum archives and the Camp Dodge library in Des Moines, but wasn’t aware of the online resources mentioned. Thanks for great information and a touching story.



    Excellent and informative

    excellent and very informative

    Excellent and very sobering.

    Excellent in-depth knowledge and great presentation!

    EXCELLENT presentation! Very moving. Very informative. I will be watching the webinar again to catch what I missed the first time as it was a WEALTH of information. Thank you Rick for your devotion to this subject and thank you for your service. I watched this at first from a genealogical aspect and as a librarian but you touched my heart as I am a veteran. Bless you for sharing your knowledge with others. And thank you to Legacy Family Tree Webinars for making this webinar available for free to all.

    Excellent presentation!!!

    Excellent presentation. I have visited the cemetery at Verdun, the American cemetery in France, and an American cemetry in England which y friends father is listed on the wall. He was lost in a submarine struck by an explosive. Touching to understand how our military – either KIA – or other is taken care of.

    Excellent presentation. Lots of information to process. A subject I knew little about

    Excellent Webinar. One of the best I have attended. Thank you Rick and Geoff!



    Excellent, informative and very moving!

    Extraordinary, I’d say! Fantastic syllabus, also.

    Extremely interesting and informative. Thank you for your service Rick.

    Extremely well done!!, so much detail I will view again.

    Eye opening!

    Fabulous !!!!!

  2. Legacy Family Tree
    4 years ago

    Fantastic and inspirational presentation; so much so, I’m off to find the temp burial site of my Uncle who was killed in WWII.

    Good info and ideas to do more research.

    Good info. I did have a bit of a hard time following it with the syllabus but that was probably just me. As I am a Legacy mbr I will at some point go back and listen to it again. Thank you for the info.

    Great Very moving

    great deal of information thanks

    Great information. I will need to watch again to make sure I have great notes for future use. Thank you,

    Great job, Rick. Very moving.

    Great presentation!

    Great review of these record sets. Thank you.


    heavy information

    I had no clue until this webinar. Thank you

    I learned about additional online resources and other resources for doing WWI and WWII research. I have seen headstone applications but did not know actual files were being digitized. Thank you. Very helpful.

    I learned so much from Colonel Sayre that I never knew. It was enlightening.

    I learned some new, important information from the webinar. The repatriation of bodies was most interesting.

    I really appreciate the opportunity to participate via webinar and learn more about genealogy research. Thank you.

    In depth description of sources and events

    Interesting to learn about American parallels to how Canadian soldiers were buried in World War I and II.

    Intriguing new subject

    It was awesome! Didn’t know how little I knew, I learned so much. And there are so many things for me to learn by following through with the links and resources shared. Thank you!

    It was informative and useful but I struggled to get notes down as the screen sometimes changed too quickly and the handout was not in the order he spoke about things. It’s a good resource to refer to and needs more studying.

    I’ve really enjoyed this. Thank you! I’ve watched an hour of it. If I wasn’t tired and had to wake up early I would watch all of it.

    More miltery info, Vietnam time period would be great

  3. Legacy Family Tree
    4 years ago


    My first webinar with BCG. Learned so much and cannot wait for the next one!

    One doesn’t realize the extent to which our military records are kept. I was totally amazed at all of the detail this webinar showed its viewers.


    Probably the best webinar I have seen at Legacy. Overwhelmed with information. Informative, moving, makes me proud to see America at its best. He is a great presenter, and his syllabus as well is informative. Thanks. Will have to rewatch this presentation sometime again in the next couple of days. Thanks.

    Richard Sayre certainly put a lot of effort into his webinar. He really did a great job with his slides, and also with his comments and knowledge. Thank you!

    Rick did a fabulous job.

    Rick gave an excellent presentation! Great subject!

    So much great information. Happy there is an extensive handout and that I can watch this over (and over) again.

    Speaker could not be more qualified for this talk. Fascinating! Thank you.

    Super impressive presentation! I have been compiling the military service records within our family history and collecting photos in uniform of each service member whenever possible. It is so important to remember their service and sacrifice! I greatly appreciate this webinar!

    Super! for all of us, BCG or not.


    Terrific speaker! Really interesting!

    thank you

    Thank you for the introduction to new records sets—records that surely will be helpful. An excellent presentation by Rick Sayre.

    The information shared in this webinar is so important to so many. This is the first instance I have had to be informed of all the sources available. Wonderful presentation. Thank you for your service and a special thank you to all who lost their lives in service to our country.

    The presenter had excellent information to share.

    The saddest webinar I’ve ever listened to, but so moving. I have two deceased soldiers in my family cemetery that I will now want to do more research on. One was shot down in WWII and the other died in WWI. I thank Rick Sayre for putting together this webinar which was so personal to him. Great job.

    This is one of the best presentations I have ever seen. The timing, the day before the inauguration, is amazingly appropriate. I will watch again, when I can absorb details. Thank You.

    This presentation could be a PBS series. Outstanding! Thank you, Rick, for your service, and your attention to detailing a path to memorialize all those who gave their lives in service to our country.

    This was a fabulous and informative webinar. Very interesting. Rick is so knowledgeable.

    This was a great webinar–so much information I’ll have to watch it again. I especially appreciate that it wasn’t limited to where to find records,but also included info on how the US government manages their death and burial practices–and changed them in response to events.

    This was amazing information. Aside from all the great research tips, I have to admit I felt better knowing what happened to my own family’s KIA from WWI. Thank you, Rick!

    This was awesome, so much I didn’t know. Grateful for all time and sharing of knowledge…

    This was just incredible and so moving a presentation!

    This was my first time attending a BCG Online Webinar and everything worked very well. Rick Sayre’s presentation was just fantastic! He is so knowledgeable in this subject matter. I had no idea there was so much information available. My uncle was killed in WWII and first buried in France and later brought back to the United State for burial with his family. With some of these sources listed I might be able to find more information. This was an excellent webinar and I hope to attend more. Well done!!

    This was one of the best Webinars I have listened to. Great information and attention to detail.

    This was so moving, thank you

    This was very interesting

    This webinar was a 10 on a 5-point scale! Not only is Rick Sayre is so incredibly knowledgeable, and he provided such an incredible amount of helpful material, but this was the most touching and moving genealogy talk I’ve ever attended. I was in tears at the end.

    Touching, informative

    Unbelievable!Informative and moving

    Unusual but very moving

    Valuable information for anyone with WWI or WWII ancestors!

    Very comprehensive story to explain many questions genealogists may have, Thank you

    Very deep and moving presentation.

    Very Detailed

  4. Legacy Family Tree
    4 years ago

    Very educational and interesting

    Very good

    Very good and extremely informative.

    Very good!

    VERY helpful! Sorry I had to leave early but really appreciated the terrific handout. I am hoping to find the burial records for my uncle who died of spinal meningitis in France, a few weeks after the war ended. He was in the Battle of the Argonne Forest and buried in Europe prior to his removal about 4 years later to the U.S. Thanks!

    very in depth

    Very informative and very moving.

    Very informative and very poignant presentation.

    Very informative, and Rick’s personal experience and expertise added to the interest.

    Very informative. Thanks very much! Looking forward to spending more time with the handout.

    Very interesting

    Very interesting and well presented. I did expect a little more specifics on the processes for handling remains (step-by-step) and maybe some information on how those processes changed (or stayed the same) from WW1 to WW2, especially given the larger logistical scope of WW2 (were more or less soldiers repatriated in WW2 than WW1?). Overall, a very informative session.

    Very interesting coverage of a topic I know little about. I took extensive notes.

    Very interesting information and great presenter.

    Very interesting!

    Very interesting, though I was hoping for a little more information regarding records from World War II.

    Very interesting. I am a complete novice and found I had trouble keeping up with all the details but it was fascinating. I’m sure as I get more familiar with the procedures I’ll understand more. Thank you

    Very interesting. Presenter was very knowledgeable. Will be watching more of his presentations.

    Very interesting. Thank you

    very knowledgeable – thanks

    Very knowledgeable presenter. Interesting.

    Very moving presentation by a master communicator who has experienced it firsthand and able to convey the emotions! Thank You For Your Service Col. Rick Sayre!

    Very moving! My father and brother served. God bless all who have served and serve today. Also, thanks so mush, Rick, for your service and for this inspiring presentation.

    Very moving.

    Very thorough and educational. The latter part describing his personal experience with repatriation/identifications pulled it altogether with the reminder of closure for families. Well done. Thank you.

    Very thorough and in depth. the presenter sure did know his subject. Bravo!

    Very thorough and informative information – much appreciated!

    Very thorough and informative!

    Very thorough and the examples chosen were well done. Rick has a very impressive knowledge of this topic. I will recommend this to my military son-in-law and grandson.

    Very, very informative. Even if I don’t use it in research, many things I’m glad to now be aware of. Thank you. Rick always does a great job. His personal experience really helps.

    W0w! lots of new explorations

    Well done

    Well presented and a lot of very good information.

    well presented and detailed explanation of military burials.

    Wonderful so very interesting! He was great!

    Wow what does one say …that was exceptional. Even though it was American based there was so much that was applicable to research here in NZ. I was intrigued with the similarity of the treatment of the Pioneer Units of African American soldiers in WW1 with our Pioneer Maori Battalion units in the same war. Have often wondered about identification in the field and the process of relocating bodies to official war cemeteries, and now am amazed at the thoroughness of the process. Thank you for the webinar.

    Wow! So much to learn. Very interesting and informative. Great presentation. Thanks!

    Wow! This was way more than I expected! Rick Sayer did a fabulous job explaining the material. I am definitely going to need to review this webinar; there was so much material presented. Great handout!

    Wow. Both moving and very informative. Thanks, BCG, Family Tree Webinars, and Rick.

    WOW. Excellent presentation. Very good information and well organized. And thank you for your service. From one Vet to another!

    You provided an enormous amount of valuable information and excellent resources for future reference and guidance. Thanks Rick!


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