An American Hero

William Paul Hume

23 July 1909 - 2 Aug 1944

In August 1944, Mrs. Thelma T. Lane received a Western Union Telegram. The contents of the telegram were devastating to her and her family. The telegram stated, “ The Secretary of War desires me to express his deep regret that your brother private first class William P. Hume was killed in action on two August in France. Letter follows.”

For several months, Thelma tried to get more information about her brother. Because the war was still raging, they were unable to tell her the location of his burial. As time moved on, the farm and family used up most of her time. Finding her brother’s grave was put aside, but as the children grew and the farm work became a thing of the past, she got older and thoughts of finding her older brother continue. She knew he was buried “somewhere in France”, she tells her daughter, and they decide to try to find the location.

Thelma’s daughter, Edith Fuller, with the help of her friend, Debbie Sumner, fill out a form to request copies of his military papers. This was mailed to the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri. The response came that because of a fire on July 12, 1973 the records may have been destroyed. They did, however, send the address for three other facilities were unit history was kept.

The next letter went to the National Archives at College Park, Maryland. They did not have individual personnel and medical files among their records, but did send an address to obtain casualty files in Alexandria, Virginia. They sent a copy of the cover of a Register of World War II Dead Interred in American Military Cemeteries on Foreign Soil. This was complied by the American Battle Monuments Commission. Also enclosed was a page with, Hume, William P., D-15-4 and Brittany beside his name. No explanation was given as to how to translate this information.

Thelma’s daughter did a search for American Battle Monuments Commission on the internet. They had a website available with cemetery listings and services to the public. One of the services was that you may request photographs of your loved one’s headstone, if they are located at a World War I or II overseas cemetery. A request form could be printed at the site. The form requested plot, row, grave and name of the cemetery. The letters and numbers from the register page finally had meaning. The form was completed and mailed.

On November 6, 1999, an envelope was received. It contained two 16x20 color photographs of Brittany American Cemetery and Memorial in St. James, France. Inset in the photograph was a 4x6 black and white photograph of the headstone of Thelma Lane’s brother. On the stone it states :

“William P. Hume, PFC 112 INF 28 DIV, Oklahoma Aug 2, 1944”

Brittany American Cemetery marks the point where the American forces made their famous breakthrough from the hedgerow country of Normandy into the plains of Brittany during their offensive around Avranches. The cemetery covers twenty eight acres near the eastern edge of Brittany. At this cemetery rest 4,410 American Dead, most of whom gave their lives in the Normandy and Brittany campaigns in 1944. It is one of fourteen permanent American World War II military cemetery memorials erected by the American Battle Monuments Commission on foreign soil. The site was liberated on 2 August 1944 by the 8th Infantry Division; a temporary military cemetery was established on it three days later. Subsequently, the site was selected to be one of the fourteen permanent American World War II military cemeteries on foreign soil.

After fifty five years, Thelma Lane finally had the answer to her question, “Where is my brother buried?”

Check These Links:

American Battle Monuments Commission

New! Listing of 172,218 World War II Dead

The listing includes William P. Hume. Search for Hume

surname only, then go to William P.

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