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Remembered Today:

Form B104-106 Return of Effects


dfaulder

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I am checking through the service records of soldiers in a particular row in a particular cemetery and am tempted to draw some (tentative) conclusions from what I find.

1) Soldier reported KIA 26 April 1918

2) Form "Effects Form 118A" dated 14 November 1918 (Internal Memo: This form says "... please note that any articles of personal property in your possession or subsequently received by you ... should be despatched to ...")

3) Form B104-106 dated 1 April 1919 (To NoK: This form says "... I am directed to forward the undermentioned articles ...)

I would guess that:

Item 2 is essentially irrelevant, but that

Item 3 implies that the body has now been found - and that there has not been an excessive delay in forwarding the effects.

In the case of this particular soldier, I think I am right because I also find in the service record:

4) Form B104-121 dated 5 April 1919 (To NoK: this form says "... I beg to inform you that an official report has now been received that the late soldier is buried at ...")

Questions:

Q1. For service records that do not contain the B104-121, can I assume from the date of a Form B104-106 (forwarding of effects), an approximate date of finding a body - particularly if it is some considerable time after death?

Q2. What was the nature of the "official report" referred to on the B104-121? The form came from York Infantry Records Office. Would it have been specific to the soldier, or would it have been a more general return of "soldiers buried" (i.e. possibly similar to or a copy of the burial return that CWGC may have). Are the records of the York Infantry Records Office available somewhere (I can't find them on a TNA search - but that is possibly a reflection on the combination of the user-friendliness of their search engine and my ability to use it)?

TIA

David

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David

I have been carrying out a similar exercise trying to ascertain when burials were made in certain cemetery rows. I have learnt that many of the things you touch on are indicators of when the body was found but not always proof.

Let me define a few terms. When a soldier moves into the front line he leaves in the rear area some personal items that either he is not allowed or does not require in the front line. These can be as much his effects as something that he carries with him over the top. A man whose body is never found can have effects and a man whose body is found later can have 2 sets of effects. The fact that there are effects does not infer that a body has been found.

We must be careful about the statement of date of KIA. If the Army Form (AF) B213 issued after the battle says that a man was KIA then a Dog Tag has been returned to his battalion. If no Dog Tag then he is reported as MIA which may have the extra Believed KIA. At some point in the future the man will be presumed KIA on or after the date that he was declared missing but this does not mean that his body has been found. This presumption can follow a Court of Enquiry or of course the finding of his body.

The Presumption of his death is what triggers the effects form 118A. This is the important date as it effectively says that the man is presumed dead. The date of the effects going to the NOK is of lesser use unless there is any way of being certain that the effects were on his person when he died.

There is another indicator which is the internal form asking if the man has allotted any of his pay to a dependant. This indicates that he is about to be struck off the strength and any future payments due to dependants will be paid by the pensions branch. This again requires Presumption but not the body.

The letter to the NOK telling them where the man is buried must also be treated with caution. I have seen files where the internal note says “we have no record that we have informed you of the burial…If the NOK have not been informed would you please do so”. The worst delay I have seen is where such a note went out 2 years after the body was found and buried.

Particularly in close spaced rows of trench burials I look at nearby men’s records. Every now and then you find the nugget where the Authority for declaring death is the GOC XX Div Burial return dated ….. Otherwise you weigh as much information as you can find and then decide that the balance of probability is….

Peter

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>><<

We must be careful about the statement of date of KIA. If the Army Form (AF) B213 issued after the battle says that a man was KIA then a Dog Tag has been returned to his battalion. If no Dog Tag then he is reported as MIA which may have the extra Believed KIA. At some point in the future the man will be presumed KIA on or after the date that he was declared missing but this does not mean that his body has been found. This presumption can follow a Court of Enquiry or of course the finding of his body.

>><<

Peter

Peter,

Thanks for your reply; it probably gives rise to a number of questions.

The first relates to the quoted paragraph. I understand that most officers did not carry official ID tags (and were meant to avoid carrying any identifying material into battle?).

I assume that Army Form (AF) B213 is some form of notification of death (I have not seen one, only a reference to one on a tattered document headed "FIELD SERVICE, Report of Death of an Officer to be forwarded to the War Office with the least possible delay after receipt of notification of death on Army Form B. 213 or Army Form A. 36 or from other official documentary sources."). What do you believe is the process where an officer is reported as KIA (not MIA) in that day's War Diary, BUT his body is not recovered? Are you implying that there would have been a Court of Enquiry that day? Alternatively may they have taken a witness statement as evidence of death (in the instance I am thinking of a L/Cpl is reported (in a letter to the widow) to have said the officer concerned was "hit by a bullet and killed immediately" - I am always suspicious of that last word)? Or might it have been by observation of the body lying motionless out of reach in NML?

TIA

David

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David

Sorry for the delay, I missed your reply.

I have not seen a B 213 but assume that it is a report from a battalion listing its casualties. I do not know what information, other than a dog tag, would be required in order to say that a man was KIA or MIA. The Court took place some time after the event.

I would expect the initial reaction of a battalion to be cautious, a missing man rejoining after a spell hiding in a shell hole in no man’s land is good news whereas a man rejoining after being KIA would cause a great deal of paperwork.

Peter

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