Please help me find where this WW2 soldier is buried
September 23, 2007 2:33 PM   Subscribe

Please help me find the grave of Private Thomas F. Maguire of Arlington, Massachusetts, who was killed in WW2.

I'm asking this for my wife's grandfather, who knew Maguire, and wants to know where he's buried for a memorial. I've done as many searches of as many databases as I can think of online, and here's what I've found based on the info my wife's grandfather had:

Private Thomas F. Maguire, U.S. Army, 34th Division, 135th Infantry, "F" platoon, serial number 31359856. Born 1925 (date unknown), enlisted February 6, 1943 in Boston, killed in action January 17, 1944 in Italy.

A search of the VA's gravesite locator comes up empty, as does a search of the American Battle Monuments Commission's WW2 database. A search of the latter for members of Maguire's battalion shows that all the members who were killed around the same time he was were buried in the Sicily-Rome Cemetery, so it's possible he was, too. But then why isn't he in the database?

Any leads would be appreciated.
posted by cerebus19 to Grab Bag (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have you checked for an obituary in the local paper? It might tell where he was buried.
posted by katemonster at 2:45 PM on September 23, 2007

Response by poster: Unfortunately, the Boston Globe's online archive doesn't include the years from 1924-1979, so that's no help. I'm in Virginia, so need something Internet-accessible.
posted by cerebus19 at 2:49 PM on September 23, 2007

Best answer: Perhaps a librarian at the Robbins Library in Arlington, MA, can help. They may have local newspapers from the time period.
posted by arco at 2:57 PM on September 23, 2007

The Library of Congress has the Boston Globe on microfilm for the relevant dates, if you could get into DC. But I agree that calling a reference librarian, or requesting a lookup from a genealogist in the area, would be a good idea -- you've got a very limited window of time, so it's not a particularly onerous lookup.
posted by katemonster at 3:02 PM on September 23, 2007

It's possible that he's not in a military cemetery. From the ABMC site:

How can I locate the interment site of a decedent interred at an overseas American military cemetery?

This web site contains databases of the names of those interred or memorialized at the overseas American military cemeteries and memorials. The databases can be searched through the “Search ABMC Databases” links in the navigation bar to the left. Inquiries also can be sent to

Why were the remains of some war dead repatriated to the U.S. for permanent interment and the remains of other war dead interred overseas?

Following World War I and II, the interment of the remains of war dead was carried out by the American Graves Registration Service, Quartermaster General of the War Department. At that time, the next of kin authorized to make the decision regarding their loved one’s interment was given the option of having the remains returned to the U.S. for permanent interment at a national or private cemetery, or permanently interred at the overseas American military cemetery in the region where the death occurred.

If I were searching hard, I'd get a list of cemeteries in and around Arlington, MA, and start calling them one by one. You'd probably have them all covered in a single day.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:31 PM on September 23, 2007

I don't have any specific information or advice, but if you run into a dead end with the Globe's obituaries (a very good start), my grandfather was President of the Arlington Retired Men's Club (an organization with a lot of veteran members) and worked for a time for the Arlington Advocate (a local newspaper). He passed away a couple of years ago, but I can try and get in touch with his contacts at those organizations if need be. My email is in my profile.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:00 PM on September 23, 2007

The National WWII Memorial Registry
seems to have a lead on a Thomas F. Maguire from Middlesex County, MA enlisted in the U.S. Army.

PVT Thomas F. Maguire
ID: 31359856
Branch of Service: U.S. Army
Hometown: Middlesex County, MA
Status: KIA
posted by dereisbaer at 4:22 PM on September 23, 2007

You can also try the Nationwide Gracesite Locator at the US Department of Veterans Affairs
posted by dereisbaer at 4:29 PM on September 23, 2007

I find him listed in the War Department Files. The reference is to the Here is the link.

It does not answer your question.
posted by JayRwv at 4:48 PM on September 23, 2007

Sorry.. On preview I see that dereisbaer provided the same inormation. I did not see it.
posted by JayRwv at 4:49 PM on September 23, 2007

Response by poster: Not that it's likely to matter, but I just realized I reversed the month and day of Maguire's enlistment: Instead of February 6, it was June 2.

Thanks for the responses so far! My father-in-law is going to make some calls tomorrow, and I'll let Rock Steady know if his connections can be of any help. Keep the leads coming, please, if you've got anything new. Otherwise, I'll post when I've got an update.
posted by cerebus19 at 6:02 PM on September 23, 2007

Two suggestions, via GF who works as a historian at a state historical society:

1) Try this link to Veteran Records Access Procedures and look for "Death/Burial Records for Those Killed Overseas."

2) Try the Massachusetts Historical Society. They most likely won't have the information sought, but they should be able to refer you to another organization that can.

Just be sure that you explain your request, i.e. that you are trying to locate the grave of your WWII relative, and would like to know if the MHS can direct you to the appropriate organization for help.

I hope this helps.
posted by Atreides at 6:52 PM on September 23, 2007

There's a possibility that there is no grave. Sometimes men on the receiving end of bombing attacks or artillery barrages were destroyed so thoroughly that there was nothing left except their dog tags. The Germans used a lot of artillery in Italy.

I know that's horrible to contemplate, but war is a horrible thing.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 6:55 PM on September 23, 2007

Just to add that the date of death, Jan. 17, 1944 was the beginning of the Cassino Battle. The 135th was particularly active in the Benevento zone in the latter part of 1943 and succesfully conquered Monte Calvario, near Cassino, during Feb. 1944. There is a wealth of historical documentation to be found online, mainly in Italian, for example here and on Wikipedia.
Most likely the grave you're looking for (if there is a grave) is in Nettuno, as it's one of the two US permanent memorials in Italy and has 7700 graves, mostly of those who died in the Sicily and Anzio battle, but there is also a lot of smaller war cemeteries in that area (and in all of Italy, for that matter). Here is a table of all war cemeteries in Italy .
posted by _dario at 8:13 PM on September 23, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for all the help. We found him, in Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in Arlington, Mass.
posted by cerebus19 at 9:26 AM on September 24, 2007

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