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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Telegram


J Banning
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Can anyone confirm the wording that would have been written on a telegram informing a relative that a soldier was missing in action? Would the phrase ‘missing in action’ have actually been used or was there an alternative phrase employed? I think it is just 'missing in action' but would like confirmation.

Many thanks

Jeremy

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No, it wouldnt have said "in action". My understanding is that the phrase "missing in action" is WW2 vintage. Depending on your reasons for asking, bear in mind that I believe it was only officers families who would have received a telegram - letters for "other ranks".

John

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The Holmfirth Express often used the words: “Reported missing after action”. But the only verbatim quote they give is from a New Zealand army telegram.

It refers to John Moreland, a Private (12/1721), Auckland Battalion, New Zealand Brigade, New Zealand and Australian Division. The twenty-seven year old son of Thomas and Eleanor Moreland of Holt, Holmfirth, he was killed in action on Sunday August 8th 1915.

In August 1915 his father received a telegram from the New Zealand Army Records Officer saying: “Much regret to inform you your son Driver John Moreland is reported missing after action in Gallipoli on the 8th inst”. It was to be October before they received the news that he had been killed on that date; the family were hoping he had been taken as a prisoner of war until they received this message: “Very much regret to inform you that your son, Private John Moreland, New Zealand Field Artillery, previously reported missing, is now reported by Court of Inquiry believed dead”.

Tony.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Similar time scale on a relative of my cousin. All correspondence by letter.

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Letters could be an extreamly fast way of communicating, with more than one delivery a day.

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I suspect that a letter to Australia would have taken 6 to 8 weeks though. I suspect the mil authorities must have used

cable e.g. my step father was wounded on 12 May 1916 and his father informed by letter dated 31 May in Melbourne.

David

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