52 Ancestors: Finding My Dad in WWII

Posted by: Eileen A. Souza

William C. Furlani at Camp Croft Infantry Replacement Training Center abt. April 1944

William C. Furlani at Camp Croft Infantry Replacement Training Center abt. April 1944

My dad, William Condy Furlani, served in the US Army during World War II. After his death in 1989, I did not discover any military records among his belongings. I first found his enlistment record on Ancestry. He enlisted on 20 December 1943. This record provided me his service number, which I needed to send for his service records.

Several years ago, I requested a copy of his service records and received the reply that Army records from that period were destroyed in a 1973 fire, and sending me an additional form requesting that I tell them all I knew. Since I had already told them all I knew in the original application, I let that slide. They did send me a replacement for his Purple Heart. I decided to try to piece together as much as I could from other sources.

I have three photos and a postcard to account for my dad’s service. Two of the photos are just a picture of him in his uniform against a neutral background, nothing written on them so not much use as clues at this time. The third photo is the one seen above. Written in white on the photo are the words ”Photo by E. A. Beeks, Spartanburg, S. C.” Above the words is written “#542.” The sign hanging in the back row has “D” on the left, “Message Center” across the top and “Semper Vigilans” across the bottom, finally the number 26 on the right.

A search for the photographer helped identify this camp as the Camp Croft Infantry Replacement Training Center, which was officially activated on 10 January 1941. It was part of the Fourth Service Command, with housing for some 20,000 trainees and support personnel. It served the War Department for the next four years-plus as one of the Army’s principal IRTCs and as a prisoner of war (POW) camp. The men who came to Spartanburg and Camp Croft were, for the most part, from New York, Pennsylvania, and New England. My dad was from Mount Carmel, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania.

Later I managed to find him on several rosters that have been made available by these units online. From these lists, I discovered that he was in the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 255th Infantry Regiment, 63rd Infantry Division. Each of these units has a website with the history of their organization, which enabled me to get a sense of what their engagements were like. I would like to know more about the campaign(s) in which my father may have participated.

Based on a newspaper article I found in the Mount Carmel Item on Newspapersdotcom, I now know that when he finished basic training, he ended up in Belgium, where he was wounded (stepped on a landmine and luckily did not lose his leg). The postcard I mentioned earlier was to my mother to let her know that he was recovering from his wounds.

I finally found his Application for World War II Compensation. He filed it on 17 January 1950. We were living at 87 Center Avenue, Essington, Delaware Co., Pennsylvania at the time. This document provided some excellent information. Of primary interest, it listed that he began his first of two periods of domestic service 10 January 1944 (he enlisted 20 December 1943), which lasted until 10 August 1944 (most likely Basic and Infantry training). He was in foreign service from 11 August 1944 to 1 December 1945 (some of this period was in a hospital in England). He then returned home 2 December 1945 and was honorably discharged 7 December 1945.


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One Response to 52 Ancestors: Finding My Dad in WWII

  1. Teresa says:

    wow – great sleuthing! so cool the different kinds of records and information you were able to find 🙂

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