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Remembered Today:

Capture


Skipman
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The reasons for capture being many and varied,were there any after war repercussions for officers and men,either professionally,or in civvy street?

What were the guidelines?obviously not everyone fought to the death.

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In theory you could be courtmartialed if it were considered that you had not put up a reasonable resistance (not necessarily fighting to the death) but this would have been very rare if it happened at all (the days of shooting admirals to encourage the others being long since past). In the US service there is the case of Major Harry M Brown CO of the 96th Sqn. On receipt of a delivery of six brand new Breguet 14 B-2 bombers on July 10th 1918 he took the squadron out to bomb Conflans and got lost in cloud. In a break in the overcast a large city was spotted which the Major's observer/navigator identified as German but was over ridden by the Major who insisted that it was French, as a result all six aircraft landed in formation on a German airstrip near Coblenz. The Germans later dropped a message over the American lines, addressed to General Pershing it thanked him for the nice new aircraft and asked what they should do with the major! They didn't have the phrase then but Pershing went ballistic and threatened to have the Major courtmartialed after the war. I don't know if the threat was carried out but Major Brown was the subject of much derision in the US press (and schadenfreude being what it is some amusement in the British) this can't have done a lot for his career prospects on release.

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Yes,i can see that wouldn't have gone down well.I imagine there may have been a few officers concerned at what might have been said on coming home.Where to draw the line between, saving your men,and caving in.Difficult decision to make.

In the case of Major Brown,Major disaster!

Regards Skipman.

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I'll extend the question, PW in WW1 then general in WW2, I can think of a couple but there must be more, no doubt someone can fill in some details.

Horrocks - PW 1914(?), GOC 30 Corps 1943-5

De Gaulle

Tukhachevski, reputedly in the same PW camp as De Gaulle, didn't quite make WW2 having been purged and executed circa 1939, but he was I think a Colonel-General, considered by some to be one of if not the most important military thinker s of the 20th century.

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The theory was that each officer (probably not the ORs) was interviewed after release as to the circumstances of his capture, with a view to taking action if he was thought to have given up too easily. There does not seem to be a large number of courts-martial arising from these interviews, and I doubt whether the fact of capture had any lasting effect on future military prospects, and still less to civilian careers.

Tukhachevsy was a Marshal, and was suspected by Stalin of being a German agent. No-one else's suspicions would really have counted! The truth is probably that Stalin saw him as a possible rival.

And centurion, I think we shot just the one admiral!

Ron

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I believe there was a Court of Inquiry into the circumstances that led to elements of the RND crossing into neutral Holland after Antwerp and being interned there for the duration of the war.

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Tukhachevsy was a Marshal, and was suspected by Stalin of being a German agent. No-one else's suspicions would really have counted! The truth is probably that Stalin saw him as a possible rival.

And centurion, I think we shot just the one admiral!

Stalin made it an offence to be taken prisoner - whatever the rank. Large numbers of returning Soviet soldiers were sent to the Gulags, this included one group of men who had broken out of their prison camp, stolen a He III bomber and flown it back to behind the Soviet lines they still went to the labour camps

I was mis quoting Voltaire re the admiral he said that the British shoot an admiral now and then to encourage the others - referring to the fate of Admiral Byng (in fact the French applied the same sort of rule the a general shooting the man who surrendered Pondicherry to the British) Don't take asides too literally

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Here is a link to a copy of Captain Strange's explanation as to his capture in May 1918. His claim of having shot several Germans at the time is confirmed in letters sent to his family by fellow officers prior to his statement being made.

Unsurprisingly the Board found no fault with his conduct.

http://swanseabattalion.net/index.php?opti...mp;limitstart=3

Bernard

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The War Diary of a bn of the Wiltshire Regiment contains a copy of the post combat report sent to Britain by the commanding officer from Germany after his capture (and that of most of his bn) at 1st Ypres when the Wiltshires (bady positioned as 7th Division frequently was) during the battle and were taken in the flank and wrapped up - the Germans moving into Polygon Wood from which they were not easily removed. If I remember corectly it was written in the expectation of a court of equiry, I never followed it up to see what happened to him. But clearly there was expectation of consequences after such "failure". Incidentally that day three (from memory) sergeants of the battalion had been commisioned in the field that day. One survived the actiony and learned of his commission from the QM. Her marched the bn out as officer commanding. I know of no similar event.

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Several earlier threads on the forum make reference to the "Exonerated Officers List" and one of "my" men, Capt. H G Whitaker of the South Lancashire Regiment, has this referenced on his MIC.

However, I am not sure what the opposite of the Exonerated Officer List was !!

post-1356-1219758308.jpg

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Several earlier threads on the forum make reference to the "Exonerated Officers List" and one of "my" men, Capt. H G Whitaker of the South Lancashire Regiment, has this referenced on his MIC.

However, I am not sure what the opposite of the Exonerated Officer List was !!

Is there a PRO code for the Exonerated Officers List?

Yours &c.,

Tim

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Tim

From memory, I think that last time it was discussed, those who know about these things said that there was more than one list and that it/they had not survived.

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Tim

From memory, I think that last time it was discussed, those who know about these things said that there was more than one list and that it/they had not survived.

Thanks Stephen.

That being the case, how would one track down if a captured officer were exonerated? Would it be in his PRO papers?

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It is likely that at least a notification of "exoneration" would appear in the officer's personal record.

There are some indexes of the post-war interviews in WO161, files 95 to 101.

Ron

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Thanks Stephen.

That being the case, how would one track down if a captured officer were exonerated? Would it be in his PRO papers?

Perhaps you could approach this from the other direction, if not exonerated, he would have been subject to some sort of action? This would be recorded I am sure.

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It seems that the circumstances of all captured officers were reviewed by a board on their return (many boards existed for this purpose) in many (probably most) cases the officer did not have to attend in person and it was pretty much a rubber stamp exercise. Having passed the board 'exonerated' or 'exonerated list' would be added to his MIC. In such circumstances the list would be of little value other than to confirm that the officer had been captured at some time or other as almost all captured officers were exonerated - it was no big deal - indeed it sounds very much like one colossal waste of time and effort As has been suggested if one knows an officer had been captured it would be worth examining his MIC and seeing if he had exonerated on it and doing some more research if it wasn't (but even then it could be just sloppy filling in of his card). I suspect you would have to look for a long time before striking pay dirt. I've seen on other sites a suggestion that if any penalty was exacted it might be restricted to loss of medals. I suppose that this might cause embarrassment in later life (perhaps at Home Guard parades!)

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post-20901-1219825847.jpg



Skipman

It is probably not possible to give a general answer to your original question, as theatres and nationalities could use different procedures, but certainly in South African units in East Africa a Court of Inquiry was necessary for all ranks.

Harry


post-20901-1219825916.jpg
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Given the huge disparity between the forces involved and the irregular nature of much of the fighting the numbers of British and SA taken prisoner would be much less ( and the circumstances likely to be more unusual) that a BoE for all may have been both easier and more revealing. Given that there had been some disaffection in SA at the begining of the war the authorities may also have been seeking out those with dubious loyalties.

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