Only the British and the Americans attempted to keep track of the number of their missing, and the official counts are still changing as the remains of fallen soldiers are regularly found in the areas of France and Belgium that were the battle grounds of the Western Front. Every now and then an American soldier is found, particularly in the Meuse Argonne.

How many more Americans remains are still undiscovered?

Robert Laplander

Robert Laplander, historian, author and battlefield guide, has analyzed the available data and has set the number at 1,236.  His report follows (‘L/BAS’ means Lost or Buried at Sea):

Aisne-Marne Cemetery = Unknown burials – 249 Tablets of the Missing – 1060 Brookwood Cemetery = Unknown burials – 41 Tablets of the Missing – 564 (All on the Tablets are L/BAS.) Flanders Fields Cemetery = Unknown burials – 21 Tablets of the Missing – 43 Meuse-Argonne Cemetery = Unknown burials – 486 Tablets of the Missing – 954 Oise-Aisne Cemetery = Unknown burials – 601 Tablets of the Missing – 241 Somme Cemetery = Unknown burials – 138 Tablets of the Missing – 333 (Note that one Unknown grave at Somme contains seven sets of remains.) St. Mihiel Cemetery = Unknown burials – 137 Tablets of the Missing – 284 Suresnes Cemetery = Unknown burials – 6 Tablets of the Missing – 974 (The number of missing are all L/BAS and includes 14 names believed to be L/BAS but for which further research is required.) Total (Total Missing in Action from the war, no matter the reason) = 4,453 Unknown burials = 1,679 Subtracting the Unknown burials from the MIA’s leaves 2,774 unrecovered dead. Subtracting the L/BAS total of 1,538 from the unrecovered total leaves 1,236 unrecovered dead that remain somewhere out on the battlefields.

For more information you can visit Laplander’s web page ‘Doughboy MIA’.

James (“Jim”) Patton BS BA MPA is a retired state official living in Shawnee, Kansas and a frequent contributor to several WW1 e-publications, including "Roads to the Great War," "St. Mihiel Tripwire," "Over the Top" and "Medicine in the First World War." He has spent many hours walking the WW1 battlefields, and is also an authority on British regiments and a collector of their badges. An Army Engineer during the Vietnam War, he does work for the US World War 1 Centennial Commission and has memberships in the WW1 Historical Association, the Western Front Association, the Indian Military Historical Society and the Salonika Campaign Society.