World War II – finding families

As far as genealogy goes, I have a handful of extreme passions: I’m passionate about my own family research, I’m passionate about genealogical technology, I’m passionate about Italian genealogy, and I’m passionate about “reuniting” long-lost family photos and artifacts with relatives. For that final category, I’ve purchased hundreds of old photos over the years – from flea markets, eBay, antique stores, anywhere I can find them – and then I research the families. In over 200 cases I’ve managed to help reunite the originals with their descendants! It’s a great feeling.

In my own family, I’ve been fortunate to come from a long line of packrats. Packrats who have generally avoided natural disasters, and kept their family archives intact. Having these photo albums and scrapbooks to dig through was a major impetus in my initial interest in genealogical research, and my maternal grandfather, Frank A. Cerruti, left behind some of the most amazing artifacts. In Word War II, he would eventually rise through the ranks to become a Master Sergeant. Always ready with a camera, he documented his military service with great detail. I recently scanned one of grandpa’s World War II pictures and thought I would share it here.

Frank A. Cerruti, 2nd row farthest on the right

It’s a pretty great photo, but the best part of it all is – grandpa was forward-thinking and had each man write his name and home address on the back. (Ever the joker, the question mark for #8 marks where he is standing.)

I’ve never done research on any of these men, and don’t have enough free time at the moment to dig in too deep – but, by posting it here, I thought I’d take the first step. There are some amazing volunteer photo detectives on the internet, and perhaps someone will choose to pursue research. Please let me know if you do – and I’m happy to send a high-resolution scan of the photo to anyone who’d like one – just send me a message. Perhaps a military historian could shed some light on where this photo would have been taken, or other details they’re able to extract? I’ll post updates here as they come in.

Below, please find my attempt at transcription of the names and addresses. Again, I’ll start to search these out, but feel free to send corrections if you beat me to it:

William H. Axelby – 429 Fairmount Avenue, Jersey City, New Jersey

Roland J. McNamara – 1343 Jefferson Avenue, Brooklyn, New York

Carl J. Brauer – 901 Darlington Road, Syracuse, New York

David J. Ryan – 1800 Monroe Avenue, Bronx, New York

Otis A. McCoohle – Iroquois Road, Pleasantville, New York

John H. Barry – 59 Gautier Avenue, Jersey City, New Jersey

Monroe F. Fish – 720 Riverside Drive, New York, New York

Frank A. Cerruti – Paterson, New Jersey

William J. Foley – 10 West 182nd Street, Bronx, New York

Walter H. Gross – 5938 Osage Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Norman F. Rudderow – 41 W. Chestnut Avenue, Merchantville, New Jersey

Joseph H. Urban – Stanhope, New Jersey

Robert J. Anderson – 1306 Elm Avenue, West Collingswood, New Jersey

Charles A. Pertan – 202 Harreson Avenue, Westfield, New Jersey



I started with Norman Rudderow, given his less common name. According to his World War II enlistment record1, Norman joined the Army at Fort Dix on 7 April 1942, which helps to date this photograph, if nothing else.

Once I confirmed his dates, using the Social Security Death Index, I looked for an obituary as those often provide clues about who any living descendants may be. In addition to finding some of those details, the obituary2 I found also provided insight into his service career, as well:

  1. U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2005.
  2. The News Journal (Wilmington, Delaware) · 03 Sep 1994, Sat · Other Editions · Page 3

Facebook Comments

You may also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *