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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Notice of Death


castman
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It is always stated that the families of those killed in action would receive a telegram notifying the next of kin that the soldier has been killed in action. However, my great grandparents had the attached, rather decorative, 'certificate' that staes the circumstances by which their son died.

I assume this was in addition to the standard telegram, what I'd like to know is did every next of kin recieve something like this, or was it perhaps something you had to buy or apply for?

post-40494-1232982126.jpg

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Looks like a privately purchased item IMHO, with the wording of the letter included.

Officer's families received telegrams, OR's families received letters.

Looks a bit long for the official notification so probably a letter from one of the unit's Officers or perhaps the Chaplain. Your image is a bit too small to read - can you do an enlargement of the letter itself?

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Letters from officers to families must have been commonplace (based on the number that end up getting quoted in local newspaper obituaries). I suspect they would often arrive before the official notification letter.

There's pretty much a standard format - man was a great soldier and all-round good bloke who will be missed by everyone. And, regardless of the circumstances of the man's death, it was instantaneous and he won't have felt a thing.

John

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My Grandmother received the following:

post-22880-1232984440.jpg

(linearly shrunk by a factor of 8)

This seems to be a similar sort of document (but without the detail). Can anyone give any details as to how it arose - was it a souvenir that the widow bought when visiting Ypres?

David

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Looks like a privately purchased item IMHO, with the wording of the letter included.

Officer's families received telegrams, OR's families received letters.

Looks a bit long for the official notification so probably a letter from one of the unit's Officers or perhaps the Chaplain. Your image is a bit too small to read - can you do an enlargement of the letter itself?

I'm not sure if this is any better, the original isn't as sharp as it should be. My uncle has the original I need to scan it really, this was a photo taken of it.

post-40494-1232987633.jpg

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Letters from officers to families must have been commonplace

This is one of those long standing traditions, I've come accross references to it in the Napoleonic Wars. I think it was still a strain every time they wrote one.

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Letters from officers to families must have been commonplace (based on the number that end up getting quoted in local newspaper obituaries). I suspect they would often arrive before the official notification letter.

There's pretty much a standard format - man was a great soldier and all-round good bloke who will be missed by everyone. And, regardless of the circumstances of the man's death, it was instantaneous and he won't have felt a thing.

John

Well, I guess phrases like: bloody idiot, couldn't understand orders...should have kept his head down and blown to smitherines are not exactly tactful summaries of a young soldiers war effort, although in some cases, probably accurate :-)

I wonder how many such 'templates' the average CO had? and I wonder what todays next of kin receive. I suppose the CO has to be more accurate today as the greiving widow will read the exact details in the Sun the next day!

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Castman,

a very good letter and apparently very personalised.

As some of the foregoing posts say, it must have quite a task for the Officers to write these letters and I am sure that most would have had a standard wording or "template" to start from.

In this case, it is obvious that the Officer knew the soldier and had a high opinion of him.

The description of the death is also made very easy on the family.

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My Grandmother received the following:

post-22880-1232984440.jpg

(linearly shrunk by a factor of 8)

This seems to be a similar sort of document (but without the detail). Can anyone give any details as to how it arose - was it a souvenir that the widow bought when visiting Ypres?

David

i believe these certificates were from the ypres league, formed in 1920 open to all who served in the war, but more specifically to those who served in the salinet. 2 typres of certificate, one for those who served, and one for the next of kin of the fallen i have examples of both, just the wording is diffeent. president and vice presidents were Plummer, Haig and allenby! It is this orginisation that was responsible for the demarcation stones in the salient, and also its moto was 'lest we forget'

matt

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Castman, I would suggest that your ‘certificate’ is a privately produced memorial card/scroll.

Items of this nature were commissioned from printers (often as part of the services of the funeral director) by the family of the deceased for distribution to family members/friends in order to memorialize the dead (and in cases of death at home to announce a forthcoming funeral) The personal details at the bottom are in a style typical of such cards,

I have a fairly large collection of such ephemera, both military and civilian, some including photographs, but yours is the first I have seen where a letter of condolence from the man’s officer has been included. It’s a very nice item indeed and a fitting memorial to your relative.

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Hello!

I am new at the forum and want to show you the notice of death of a German soldier. It was usually that the family got back the postcards or letters they sent to their affinities with a little and not sentimentally notice: "Heldentod - zurück". That means: "Heroic death - back". In 1916 the death of a soldier was a normally business and they often did not took care about the feelings of the family. You see the handwritten notice at the bottom of the rihgt side of the postcard. One week later the family of this artillery soldier got a letter from the bataillon leader with details to his death.

Best regards from Germany

MBrasil

post-43253-1233010774.jpg

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Castman, I would suggest that your ‘certificate’ is a privately produced memorial card/scroll.

Items of this nature were commissioned from printers (often as part of the services of the funeral director) by the family of the deceased for distribution to family members/friends in order to memorialize the dead (and in cases of death at home to announce a forthcoming funeral) The personal details at the bottom are in a style typical of such cards,

I have a fairly large collection of such ephemera, both military and civilian, some including photographs, but yours is the first I have seen where a letter of condolence from the man’s officer has been included. It’s a very nice item indeed and a fitting memorial to your relative.

That's an interesting take on the origination of the certificate although the family were always told that it is was sent by the army. Of course, over the years it could well be a case of 'Chinese whispers'.

It just occurred to me that I should address this question to the KSLI regimental museum for their opinion

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This is a scan (in 2 parts as I had trouble meeting the image posting requirements) of the notice my grandmother received for her husband's death. I hope it is legible. He was James Livesey 3rd Pals KLR and died on the eve of the Somme battle.

Jaskie

post-43263-1233030410.jpg

Here is the bottom of the form.

Jaskie

post-43263-1233030753.jpg

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Jaskie:

What a horrid uncaring notification that is, talk about rubber stamping and fill in the blanks!

I guess people were tougher then and not pre-conditioned by the likes of todays nambie-pambie, politically correct nanny state.

Could you imagine someone receiving that today? The tabloid press would have a witch-hunt, demanding the resignation of some senior Government officials. Gordon 'drop-jaw' Brown would appear on GMTV saying the right (pre-programmed) words, but wondering what he's talking about (again!).

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I have seen that form before, it is what my grandmother received, some time after a letter from a doctor in the German hospital where my grandfather had died. She had been informed some time before by the Army, that he was missing.

Castman, men were dying every day. Some days, hundreds were lost. Who was supposed to sit down, compose and write individual letters to the bereaved?

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I have seen that form before, it is what my grandmother received, some time after a letter from a doctor in the German hospital where my grandfather had died. She had been informed some time before by the Army, that he was missing.

Castman, men were dying every day. Some days, hundreds were lost. Who was supposed to sit down, compose and write individual letters to the bereaved?

Sure, I understand the numbers involved, and like I said, we seem to be conditioned by the nanny-state we live in today to think that is somewhat uncaring.

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Yes, Castman, I have always thought the form looked rather stark and impersonal, and I know my grandma wasn't impressed. I think it could have been improved upon, even in the conditions of the time.

Jaskie

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Jaskie:

What a horrid uncaring notification that is, talk about rubber stamping and fill in the blanks!

I guess people were tougher then and not pre-conditioned by the likes of todays nambie-pambie, politically correct nanny state.

Could you imagine someone receiving that today? The tabloid press would have a witch-hunt, demanding the resignation of some senior Government officials. Gordon 'drop-jaw' Brown would appear on GMTV saying the right (pre-programmed) words, but wondering what he's talking about (again!).

My great grandparents recieved the same notice when their son was killed. It's just so ... I don't know how to put it, but yeas, imagine how the families felt receiving a fill in the blanks note about their precious son, husband, father... mindboggling.

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