Monday, August 22, 2011

Military Monday - WWI Burial Case File for Julius King Councill

After posting some information on the death of my great-uncle Julius Councill in WWI, I received a comment from Heather of Leaves for Trees on WWI Burial Case Files. These are a set of records held by NARA that contain documentation  about a soldier's death and burial records. They also contain records listing next of kin and correspondence between the soldier's next of kin and the government regarding their final burial.

I followed Heather's instructions and wrote to the following address to request a copy of the Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General (Record Group 92) for Julius Councill:

Archives II Reference Section (Military)
Textual Archives Services Division ( NWCT2R[M])
National Archives at College Park
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740-6001

I included all of the information that I had on Julius and filled out Standard Form 180.

Name:            Julius King Councill (sometimes spelled Council)
Service Info.:  PVT Company B 111TH Infantry 28TH DIV WWI
Death Date:    12 Aug 1918 in Fismette, France
Cemetery:       Arlington National Cemetery
Birth Date:      Sept. 1899, but had Sept. 15, 1895 on his WWI Registration Card
Birthplace:      Queen Anne's County, MD (WWI Registration Card said Baltimore, MD.)
Next of kin:     His registration card listed his mother, Arianna Councill who lived in Baltimore, MD. (Arianna Councill died in December 1929.) He served as a Corporal in the Pennsylvania National Guard for 1 year. The card was dated June 5, 1917 and was filled out in New Castle, Delaware.

I received a reply in a few days stating that they had a burial case file for Julius and that I could order the 32 pages as paper copies or on CD for $24. I selected CD on the order form and a couple of weeks later, I received paper copies of the records. Ah well, other than that, I was pleased with how quickly I was able to obtain the records!

The records contained the following information:
  • Several forms filled out by Julius' mother Arianna requesting that his remains be moved from France to a final resting place in Arlington Cemetery. These were interesting in that they had her address in Baltimore, MD, her signature and on one form six of Julius' siblings and their addresses were listed.
  • Telegrams from the government confirming the burial and responses from Arianna.
  • A surprise to me was that the burial in Arlington Cemetery took place in June, 1921, so this was 3 years after the death of Julius. From the records included, he had been buried in Battlefield Cemetery #18 with no marker in Fismette, France on August 14, 1918 and then reburied in the American Cemetery #617 in Fismes, Marne, France in Oct. 1918.
  • There was a list of items recovered with his remains, including a gold ring with 1916 on it, identification tags, and a collar ornament with Co. B, 111th on it.
  • Confirmation that Julius had never been married and had no children.
  • Notice that a funeral service for Julius was held in Arlington on June 9, 1921 at 2:30 p.m. and that he was buried with military honors.
  • A list of the names of the soldiers that were being transported from Hoboken, N.J. at the same time as Julius and their escort.
  • Transport papers showing that Julius was shipped back to the US on the U.S.A.T. WHEATON leaving from Antwerp, Belgium and arriving in Hoboken, N.J.
  • The cause of death was from an artillery shell and it said that the death was instantaneous and there were no last words. The date of death on one form was August 8, 1918, but all other forms said August 12, 1918.
These records provided some new and interesting information on the WWI hero in our family and I'd like to thank Heather very much for taking the time to tell me about them!


  1. I'm so happy you were able to get the records! It sounds like the file had some great documentation. So glad I could help!

  2. We really didn't have any history passed down about Julius, so I was so glad to find this source of information. Thanks again Heather!

  3. Great article. Thanks for the info, this is a really helpful post. BTW, if anyone needs to fill out a Standard Form 180, I found a blank form in this site PDFfiller. This site also has some tutorials how to fill it out and a few related forms that you might find useful.

    1. Thanks Paul! I hadn't seen the PDFfiller site before, but it looks useful.

  4. I came across your site while searching for information about my great-granduncle's WWI service. He was KIA in France on August 7, 1918. I was searching #617 American Cemetery Fismes, France because he too was buried there. His remains were later interred at Arlington National Cemetery in 1921. It seems our relatives died 5 days apart and were buried in the same cemetery. Ezra L. Langston, born 9/26/1893, KIA 8/7/1918 (3rd Div, 38th Inf, Co. D)

    1. Zach, thanks for letting me know about your relative. Very sad that they both died so young. Kathryn

  5. Hi, Kathryn,

    Found your post very interesting and potentially very helpful. The story behind this reply is too long and convoluted to explain, but I'll try anyway. Many years ago the grave of a soldier killed in France the day before the WWI armistice was signed captured my imagination. There was a military headstone, but next to it was a white iron cross with a WWI helmet mounted on top. I was going through a difficult divorce, living in a new town at the time, and didn't have any friends I felt I could confide in. So when I needed to talk to someone, I would go to Walter's grave. We talked - or at least I talked - for hours on end. Since then I've moved to a different state and been remarried for twenty-one years. But I still feel a connection to that soldier I've never met. Most of my adult life has been spent as a journalist and I've written about his life several times along the way. In fact, that interest has turned me into an aspiring WWI historian. Later this month I'll actually be teaching three classes on the war through our school district's adult outreach program. But I need to stop rambling and ask the question that inspired me to write to you in the first place. When you submitted your request, did you need to provide documentation that you were a relative? Obviously, I'm not. Or does the fact that all the people involved are now dead make a difference? I've been able to find out a great deal of information about Walter's life, have even talked to one of his relatives, but I still have lingering questions. When I give programs people always ask "Why WWI?" So I start each presentation with a brief bit about my link to a young man who died serving his country. Thanks for listening!


    1. Hi Laurie,

      What a fascinating story about your connection to Walter! I did not have to provide any documentation that I was a relative. There is a note on government form SF180 that says records for soldiers who were deceased more than 62 years ago have been transferred to NARA and are considered archival records. Archival records are open to the public. I don't think you would have any problems requesting those records. I would love to hear more on Walter's story and if you have success with the records! --Kathryn

  6. Hi Kathryn!

    Thank you for your message. The thought that Walter's military records might be available (most people called him "Wave") would answer so many questions that remain in the back of my mind. As a country we know so little about this period in our history and that needs to change . . . especially before the centenary Nov. 11, 1918. I'm currently writing a historical novel very loosely inspired by Wave's experiences in the Meuse-Argonne offensive. But I won't bore you with that. I would, however, like to continue the conversation via email if possible. I'd love to learn more about Julius and tell you more about Wave.