WWII Draft Cards
While scanning pictures and other items found in a family album, I came across some documents that I wasn’t sure of what they were. At the top, they said “Notice of Classification”, and it was obvious they were military of some sort, but I was absolutely clueless about what they could be.
So, I did what I do best … I Googled it. (Funny how that has become a verb.) What I eventually found, after almost an hour of searching, was that they were forms for the Selective Service, aka The Draft. The cards, colloquially known as “Draft Cards”, are officially Selective Service Cards – D.S.S. Form 57.
My Paternal Grandfather saved six of his cards. On them, he was listed as being classified III-A (3-A), II-B (2-B), and I-A (1-A), from 1941 through 1945. Even though I now knew what the cards were, I still didn’t have any understanding of what the classifications meant. So, back to Google I went.
I was disappointed in the amount of searching I had to do to find anything that really explained what the classifications meant. On the government’s website, Selective Service System, they list seven classifications. However, only two of them helped me at all.
I found several sites where people were trying to sell the cards. I found genealogy sites with pictures of the cards. But it seemed nobody had anything listed that explained the classifications.
Finally, I found a book on Google – US Marine Rifleman 1939-45: Pacific Theater, by Gordon L. Rottman – which showed previews of some of the pages within the book. Jackpot! It had exactly what I needed. Pages 7-9 explained the Selective Service, and how it worked during that time. Page 9 had a chart showing the classifications.
I don’t have permission from the author, but I’d like to post the chart here to help out anyone else who needs this difficult to find answer. I don’t believe this particular bit of information is copyrighted, though, as I’m sure it’s in some government archive somewhere (just not online).
Selective Service Classifications
1-A : Available for military service.
1-A-O : Conscientious objector, available for non-combatant service.
1-B : Available for limited military service.
1-B-C : Conscientious objector, available for non-combatant limited service.
1-C : Land or naval forces coast guard.
1-H : 28 years of age prior to July 1, 1941, and not inducted by that date.
2-A : Necessary man in his civilian category.
2-B : Necessary man in national defense.
3-A : Man with dependents.
4-A : Man who has completed service.
4-B : Official deferred by law.
4-D : Minister of divinity student.
4-E : Conscientious objector fit for service, available for work of national importance.
4-E-ES : Conscientious objector fit for limited service.
4-H : Conscientious objector over 28 years of age prior to July 1, 1941.
4-F : Morally, mentally or physically unfit.
What I found most interesting is that my Grandfather started out as Class III-A, a month after their daughter was born. Makes sense … he had a wife a kid, definitely dependents.
Then he went to Class II-B in 1944. I’m not entirely sure what caused that change in classification. He still had dependents. What made him a “necessary man in national defense”? I think he was a machinist. I have no idea what he machined, though.
What truly baffles me, is that on 5 April 1945, he was abruptly changed to a Class 1-A. This happened 3 months before it was supposed to happen! And he still had dependents, and I’m assuming was still working as a machinist. To make matters even more puzzling, he was a month away from having a second child!
Finally, in June of 1945, it looks as though he appealed the classification. It was voted on. He lost by a vote of 3 to 0. He remained Class 1-A. With a wife and two children. What happened in early 1945 to prompt this sudden change?
Looks like I have some more research to do.