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Remembered Today:

Any provision made for feelings , if brother killed ?


Skipman

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The 8th Black Watch from 12/5/1917-29/5/1917 were training St Pol after a very difficult period in the line. During this time , the brother of one of the 8th Black Watch was wounded ( 1/8th Argyll&Sutherland Highlanders ) 16/5/1917 Roeux, then DOW 17/5/1917.

On the 30th the 8th Black Watch went into the line nr Roeux, where his brother had been wounded.

How and when would the brother of the deceased have been informed, and would there have been any provision made for him; to attend a service , or have some time off.

Or was it business as usual, no time for sentiment, and presumably comrades helped you through.

Mike

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The 8th Black Watch from 12/5/1917-29/5/1917 were training St Pol after a very difficult period in the line. During this time , the brother of one of the 8th Black Watch was wounded ( 1/8th Argyll&Sutherland Highlanders ) 16/5/1917 Roeux, then DOW 17/5/1917.

On the 30th the 8th Black Watch went into the line nr Roeux, where his brother had been wounded.

How and when would the brother of the deceased have been informed, and would there have been any provision made for him; to attend a service , or have some time off.

Or was it business as usual, no time for sentiment, and presumably comrades helped you through.

Mike

Knowing the attitude of generals such as Haig I would assume he would be told to get on with it.

Also it could have been seen as detrimental to moral, and he may not have been told or his letters censured.

I remember reading something along the lines, the common soldier due to his rough upbringing was without sensitive feelings, unlike his more sensitive officer who had a more gentile upbringing. So I would think the same attitude would go for a family death.

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Thanks for the reply Bill. I was beginning to think it was something I said.

I didn't ( as usual ) word it too well.

The opposite may have been , let them know and they may fight to avenge a death.

I hope others add there thoughts. I would be really keen to hear other ideas. I'm trying to build a picture of what it was like for my own relatives in ww1.

On my wife's side of the family, 6 men served in ww1, one of whom was killed. As far as i know 3 were injured, maybe more. There doesn't appear to be any letters, or many family stories. They must have learned of their brothers death at some time, in some way

Cheers Mike.

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Mike,

Does this Obituary answer your question?

" Haddington Territorial Killed.

Mr Charles Souness,billposter,Haddington,has received word that one of his sons,Private John Souness,Maxim gun detachment,8th Royal Scots,had died from wounds.Mr Souness,previous to receiving word of his son's death,received a letter from his eldest son,Corporal George Souness,stating that he was the first to pick up his brother when he fell."

I have no idea if my Uncle George was able to attend his Brother's Funeral but I think it unlikely as I doubt he would have been allowed to leave the front line.

George

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My great uncle, Grover Carter was a doctor who was attached to the BEF . His brother, Parvin Carter (also a doctor) was stationed at the American Hospital in Juilly. When Grover died from shrapnel wounds (Oct. 16, 1918 near Le Cateau), Parvin was notified and allowed to go and collect Grover's personal things. Grover's diary was among them and many years later, it was past down to me.

Ann

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Hi Mike,

Interesting question and I would like to add some of my thoughts.

If on the front line and an infantryman "in action", I doubt that there would have been any chance to stop and attend to your dead or seriously wounded kin. Perhaps if the body is still there after the period of "active fighting", I would imagine that, should there be no immediate threat from the enemy, and it is relatively low risk, that you would be allowed to make a quick burial and an on-the-spot ceremony (a few words said) but most likely without a Chaplain who would be ministering to those immediate to him, where-ever he is located. Whilst "in action", I have read where some officers would draw their revolver and threaten to shoot those who would not keep attacking, for what-ever reason. I would think that they would be told to "worry about those alive as you can't help him now". We see many images of burial services being conducted with the Chaplain in attendance but they would generally have occured back from the fighting area or perhaps they are burials from a hospital or first aid post or similar.

I feel that, when separated, others would learn of their kin's demise via "word of mouth". With communications, most of the time, being in complete dissarray, I doubt that they would be able to move that type of information around. Very often, HQ did not know who was where and so, sorry, Officers maybe sometimes, but not for the Privates etc. I have read in a number of books where the soldiers relied on word of mouth amongst themselves to find out about the fate of family and friends, or received a letter from home saying that .. had been killed.

In closing, consider the enormous power at our finger-tips with these computers and the internet, and then compare it to the paperwork processes that they had to use back during the War. No comparison.... it's like a different world.

Hope this helps but they are thoughts only.

Regards, Peter

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My Grandfather died when mum was only little and my nan was his second wife, so they didn't know each other during the war. The story we got about his time in WWI was very muddled, including that he'd been to Gallipoli, not France... Anyway, one story always got to me that my Pop's best mate had been blown up next to him, and his younger brother had been killed in front of him and he carried his body on his shoulders back to the line to be buried. I don't know what's true and what's not when it comes to family folklore and the Great War, but I'd like to think he was able to do this for his family, and Arthur has a grave at Cite Bonjean.

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Thanks Tom, Ann, and Suzie.

Peter, that all makes sense, i don't suppose there was one way, they would have found out in a variety of ways depending on , where they were, what their officer was like etc.

Many thanks Mike.

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A relative of mine was among the contributors to Lyn Macdonald's books, and in "1914" it's told that it was "many weeks" before he heard of his brother's death on the Aisne, reading of it on a piece of newspaper that had been wrapped around someone else's parcel from home.

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A relative of mine was among the contributors to Lyn Macdonald's books, and in "1914" it's told that it was "many weeks" before he heard of his brother's death on the Aisne, reading of it on a piece of newspaper that had been wrapped around someone else's parcel from home.

What a horrible way to find out.

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If brothers were serving in the same unit, they would obviously know immediately of any event and that would normally be how the family at home would learn, a letter from the survivor. Otherwise, a serving soldier would depend on receiving the news in a letter from home, however long that took. Sometimes a townie returning from leave would bring the sad news before a letter. Obviously, as far as the army was concerned, one casualty was no different to any other and so it would be business as usual. Men died in their hundreds and sometimes in their thousands every day. It was not possible to allow this to affect the actions or duties of the brothers, fathers, sons and best mates who were left behind.

I note a reference to the attitude of Haig and other generals. It is recorded by several observers, including his son, that Haig was extremely disturbed at the suffering of the wounded and the deaths of his men. A commander needs to steel himself to a particular horror never shared by the men who fight. He has to live with the knowledge that whatever he decides, he is directly responsible for men dying and being maimed. To do that and still carry on doing his duty to a successful conclusion requires a bravery of a different type to that demanded of the men in the trenches but still deserving respect.

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If the brothers were in different units its unlikely that the army would even be aware of the relationship in most cases as the soldier would probably have listed either his wife (if he had one) or parents as next of kin. They would be responsible for informing other members of the family often by mail if they were spread out. I understand that there was some bad blood between my maternal grandmother's family and the wife of one of my great uncles as they felt that she had been tardy in informing them of his death (in Salonika). Two of his brothers were already serving in France and must have heard via their parents. The notification route would probably have been - Official notification from Greece to London, official letter from London to wife (in Derbyshire), letter from wife to his parents in Ireland, letter to the two brothers in France. It must have taken some time.

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If the brothers were in different units its unlikely that the army would even be aware of the relationship in most cases as the soldier would probably have listed either his wife (if he had one) or parents as next of kin.

The names of two brothers appears on our local memorial. Both were killed within a month of each other in 1915. After the first boys' death, his parents wrote to inform his brother who, sadly, was killed before the letter arrived. It was returned to the parents, arriving shortly after the news of the second son's death. There's mention of it in the local parish archives, as the vicar of the local church at the time kept notes about the service held shortly after the second event.

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Otherwise, a serving soldier would depend on receiving the news in a letter from home, however long that took.

In the case I mentioned, the parents were in India, so it was probably quite a while before they knew, and their letter to their surviving son would have taken even longer.

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In his book Up to Mametz, the author Lt Wyn Griffiths relates how in the thick of battle, with all communications cut, he, as Company commander relied on runners. He wrote a quick one line question to battalion HQ and sent his brother, Pte Watcyn Griffiths as runner. Watcyn was killed discharging that duty, and his brother only found out later that evening. Watcyn's body was never found, and the event played heavily on his brother's mind for the rest of his life.

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Knowing the attitude of generals such as Haig I would assume he would be told to get on with it.

A

lso it could have been seen as detrimental to moral, and he may not have been told or his letters censured.

I remember reading something along the lines, the common soldier due to his rough upbringing was without sensitive feelings, unlike his more sensitive officer who had a more gentile upbringing. So I would think the same attitude would go for a family death.

Good to see the Class War alive and prospering.

In There's a Devil in the Drum (I'm working from memory as I don't own a copy and it's a few years since I read it), I believe the author refers to the death of his brother in a counter attack on the Aisne (?). No leave, no time to grieve - get on with it. I'm not convinced the officer class would have been treated much different. I wonder, would an officer promoted from the ranks be treated differently to one who went through Sandhurst?

I think, as ever, we are trying to examine the past from the perspective of today, which is always dangerous.

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Knowing the attitude of generals such as Haig I would assume he would be told to get on with it.

A

lso it could have been seen as detrimental to moral, and he may not have been told or his letters censured.

This attitude was not restricted to Haig, it was common in the UK to exult people to keep a stiff upper lip during WW2 as well as WWI.

Have you any evidence that it was considered bad for moral to tell people of casualties in this way?

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This is a snatch of a song my grandfather used to sing: "Stand to your glasses ready and hurrah for the next man to die!"

The armed forces in WWI were not touchy feely organisations!

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I remember reading something along the lines, the common soldier due to his rough upbringing was without sensitive feelings, unlike his more sensitive officer who had a more gentile upbringing. So I would think the same attitude would go for a family death.

That's plainly wrong, since we see plenty of cases where men were given compassionate leave to return home for serious illness or death in their family. Loss of a relative on active service would not be so straightforward, though, as the circumstances differed so much.

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I remember reading something along the lines, the common soldier due to his rough upbringing was without sensitive feelings, unlike his more sensitive officer who had a more gentile upbringing. So I would think the same attitude would go for a family death.

That sounds awfully like the sort of thing Lord Curzon ['I am George Nathanial Curzon, I am a most superior person' The masque of Balliol] would have said. It was Curzon who on being shown a bath unit behind the lines remarked "I never knew that the working classes could have such white skins". The only time in his life he got on a bus he ordered the conductor to take him to 10 Downing St. He wasn't typical (and having been viceroy of India may have spoilt him somewhat) as I think the attitude quoted was not.

BTW most officers and men would have had a gentile up bringing, oy vey :rolleyes:

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