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Another teachable moment is at hand.

This concerns the Enlisted Record and Report of Separation (53-55 Discharge). 
(Attached is the documentation to go along with this narrative).

Someone who I still don't know tried to say that Defer was in Normandy.  They sent me his 53-55 but left off his dates of arrival and going back to the states.  They didn't realize that they left the date of arrival in the ETO (Europe).  Here is the link to both Defer and Maksin's 53-55.  They both came together 16 May 1944.  You can see where the person left that part blank but not entirely.  I enlarged it so you can see Defer's date of arrival.  Both Maksin and Defer came in the same convoy if not the same ship most likely.  When someone leaves off part of a 53-55 Discharge document you know they are trying to hide something. 

Received an email yesterday from someone who said he had a copy of Raymond Deferís 53-55 Discharge.  They wanted to know why I said Defer wasnít in Normandy since on the discharge paper it said he was at Normandy and that he had a Bronze Star Arrowhead. I asked him/her to send ahead the 53-55 as that would always make it easier to explain this issue to them. I did ask if they had read the documentation about Defer before emailing me. No response.

Then I thought why not create a narrative about the 53-55 and what it really means (when possible).

The 53-55 is a great start when doing research on a WWII Veteran (but it is only a start). I went looking through the 53-55ís that I have and came across the perfect example to explain to this person.

This 53-55 is from Francis A. Maksin who was in Co H 507th Prcht Inf 82nd Abn Div then the 17th Abn Div. Pvt Maskin first joined Serv Co 507th Prcht Inf 82nd Abn Div May 29, 1944. He arrived in England on May 16, 1944 and was put into the 19th Replacement Depot. Then from the 19th Replacement Depot to the 507th Prcht Inf (pages 1 & 2). These men were replacements for the next Campaign. In this case for the 507th Prcht Inf the Ardennes for the rest of the Normandy Paratroop Regiments Holland).

On July 2, 1944 he was transferred to Co A 507th Prcht Inf (pages 3 & 4). Once the 507th Prcht Inf got back to England they needed replacements. On July 19, 1944 Pvt Maskin was transferred to Co H of the 507th Prcht Inf (pages 5, 6, 7 & 8).

That is where he stayed through the Ardennes where he received his CIB (pages 9 & 10). Pfc Maksin jumped into Germany for Operation Varsity (pages 11 & 12). He was wounded on the jump (pages 13 & 14) and was in the Hospital until the beginning of May 1945 (page 15).

Now that we have that out of the way here is the 53-55 Discharge information (page 16). Pfc Maksinís 53-55 was fairly boring and correct. You will notice when he arrived in Europe. Those people were not going into Normandy. They first had to be assigned to a unit then become integrated with that Company in this case for Pfc Maksin. That didnít start until the men from Co H got back from Normandy.

The 53-55 discharge was created when the men got back from overseas. The typists had a preset list when filling out the 53.-55 when speaking with the men. In this case for the 507th Prcht Inf they had a list that would say Normandy, Ardennes, Rhineland and Central Europe.

Remember of the show Band of Brothers where a replacement was wearing the Distinguished Unit Badge and Cobb yelled at the replacement for wearing it? If you were in a Unit that had received that award anyone in the unit could wear it including the replacements.

When the typist was filling out the list of Bronze Service Starts and he say Maksin was entitled to wear the award he just put down that he was in all four campaigns for the 507th Prcht Inf including Normandy. If you look it shows that Maksin was in England in time to go to Normandy. What the typist didnít know was that if this was a straight leg unit (29th Inf Div, 4th Inf Div etc.) that replacement would have been in the Normandy Campaign.

For Paratroopers that as we all know wasnít true. Paratroopers were there for 5-6 weeks and they didnít receive replacements until back in England. MR. Maksin himself knew he wasnít in Normandy and never claimed to have been there.

The other interesting part about his 53-55 is the one highlighted in green. It says Pfc Maksin had been in the 504th Prcht Inf. That was the unit he came home with. He didnít have enough points to go home with the 507th Prcht Inf but in November he did and went home with the 504th. This happened quite a bit at this time period. Many of the 4 jumpers from the 505th Prcht Inf came home with the 507th Prcht Inf.

Some made sure to point out to the typists that they were in the 505th Prcht Inf for most of their time in service and had that on their 53-55 but not all. Some didnít pay attention at all, they just wanted out of the service. Some didnít notice that for years.

I have seen 53-55s with a man who came into a unit 3 days before the end of the war in Europe and on their 53-55 it said there were in all the campaigns of their unit even though he was only there for a few days.

The 53-55 Discharge is a great starting point (and sometimes perfect) but for the most part there is going to be wrong information or left off awards and decorations. Sometimes we had men who tried to change their 53-55 (and later the DD-214) to give themselves a higher standing. Adelchi A. Pilutti that I just put up on my site is the perfect example. You can see he changed the dates for going overseas.

The 53-55 discharge is a starting point and nothing more most of the time.

Brian Siddall
March 12, 2017


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