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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Mark Hone

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A news item today mentioned that the Prince of Wales will be visiting the Red Cross HQ today and will be examining the POW records of two of his relatives: Michael Bowes-Lyon from the Great War and another cousin who was one of the 'Prominenti' held at Colditz in the Second. Has anyone made enquiries to the Red Cross to see if they hold extensive POW archives? Sorry if this question has been raised before.

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May be wrong here but seem to remember reading that the Red Cross will only help with enquiries relating to relatives and not to general queries.


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  • 2 months later...

Hi Mark & Bob.

Yes they do hold an extensive archive, but do be prepared to wait for a notification that your enquiry is being dealt with, and a lot longer to get the answer to the same.

I suspect that priority is in fact given to relatives, which is as it should be, perhaps I was fortunate when seeking help as at no time in the drawn out process was I asked if I was a relative.


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Guest dinkidi


There is a direct link from the Australian War Memorial Site to Red Cross Files.

I am unsure of their coverage, but have found very detailed accounts of how "missing" soldiers met their fate.


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The Australian files relate only to enquries dealt with by the Australian Red Cross and therefore are 99% Australian Forces. There are a very few from other forces (British, NZ, South African, Canadian) but only because they have a family link with Australia. The files are very detailed and there are some gruesome accounts of how men died. Some contain letter from mothers and wives, one that related to a man born in my own town included his mother's letter that she was 'relieved that he did not linger long in his agony and died with his chums around him.'


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There is a link for enquiries on the International Red Cross site.

Be prepared for a long wait. I sent an enquiry in February, it was acknowledged a month later. 8 weeks ago in reply to a request for an update, they said it would be two more weeks ......... still waiting.

Just hope it's worth the wait. Has anyone else had a positive response from this source? My enquiry revolves around a POW, what sort of info. do they have for release?

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Further to my last posting, taken from the British Red Cross site

"Records of prisoners of war

The British Red Cross does not hold records of individual prisoners of war or civilian internees.

These are held by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva. Part of the humanitarian work of the ICRC involves gathering information on individuals who are prisoners of war and, in recent years, on those who have been separated from their families by conflict or disaster. This information can then be used to put family members in touch and also, in the case of prisoners of war, to ensure that accurate attestation can be provided if necessary to give ex-prisoners of war documentary evidence of their imprisonment. Today, this humanitarian work continues as prisoners are taken and communities continue to be disrupted by conflict.

Searching for the records of an individual prisoner of war is a complex and skilled task, carried out by staff wihin the Archives Division and Research Service of the ICRC. A search can be made on receipt of a written request. Please be sure to provide as much detail as possible in your letter. It is essential that you include the name and nationality of the individual you are enquiring about. The following information, if known, is also extremely helpful to their search:

Date of Birth

Place of Birth

Name of Father

Date of Capture


Army Number

Researchers should bear in mind that these records were compiled for humanitarian reasons and the ICRC is still fully occupied with similar humanitarian work in the present day. Searches of an historical nature may therefore take a considerable time to complete.

To apply for a record of a prisoner of war, or for more information, please write to:

Archives Division and Research Service

International Committee of the Red Cross

19 Avenue de la Paix

Geneva CH-1202


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