Jump to content
Great War Forum

Remembered Today:

Joe Potter

Unnamed German graves

Recommended Posts

Joe Potter

Hi All,

In 1918 four soldiers that had died in the influenza pandemic while being held at Blandford POW Camp, were buried in nearby All Saints Churchyard, Tarrant Monkton, as unknowns, the obvious question is why, surely their names and POW numbers must be recorded somewhere, but where?

Is it possible to find a register of prisoners at Blandford in 1918?

Thanks

Joe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
chrisharley9

Dear Joe

Have you considered the possibility that their graves were moved to Cannock Chase German Cemetery?

Chris

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Joe Potter

Hi Chris,

I have asked the German War Graves Commission (VDK) about this same question, the answer was "not as far as their records show", the CWGC are slower in their response to the same , my point would be, why leave the grave markers in place if they had been exhumed.

The main reason for this research is to try getting the graves named, but this may be a little hard after 92 years, hence this posting, this is out of my normal field of interest in the same subject for "WW2", so I'll need all the help I can get.

Regards

Joe

Dear Joe

Have you considered the possibility that their graves were moved to Cannock Chase German Cemetery?

Chris

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
chrisharley9

Joe

now I understand; you have 4 unknown graves that you would like to put a name to. On this one I would suggest that an approach to the church to see if they still have the burial register for 1918 which might have the names in it. I cannot understand why 4 POWs would have been buried as unknowns

Chris

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Joe Potter

Chris,

I have the parish clerk on the case, he has asked the church wardens about any names, there are none, I'll wait and see what the CWGC have to say, the plot thickens.

Regards

Joe

now I understand; you have 4 unknown graves that you would like to put a name to. On this one I would suggest that an approach to the church to see if they still have the burial register for 1918 which might have the names in it. I cannot understand why 4 POWs would have been buried as unknowns

Chris

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
NigelS

I would have thought that to allow burial, regardless of the fact that the men were POWs, Death Certificates would have been required (for compliance with the law, if nothing else), so possibly a search through the GRO Indices for the Blandford (or wider Dorset) locality for what are obviously German or foreign looking names (unfortunately it's not always so obvious) at around the right time might give some possibilities. It's also quite possible that the DCs may have been issued as 'unknowns', 'Male', or similar because they were genuinely unknown for some reason.

Brookwood Military Cemetery has a group of seven named German wargraves dated October '18 to January '19; I don't know the circumstances of these men's deaths (quite likely also POWs from Flu, bearing in mind the dates) but they are all recorded (with some slight variations in spellings from those given on the headstones) in the GRO Death Indexes for the relevant quarter, registered in nearby Guildford.

NigelS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
T8HANTS

Have you considered checking the local press of the period? When German POW's were buried earlier in the war in our local cemetery, they were afforded full military honours and a few lines describing the event in the paper. Their graves have just been rediscovered, and I do hope there are no plans to move them.

G

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
NigelS

Have you considered checking the local press of the period? When German POW's were buried earlier in the war in our local cemetery, they were afforded full military honours and a few lines describing the event in the paper.

A very good point, although the Flu epidemic might, of necessity, have meant less coverage than at other times. Some indication of the respect given to the German dead can possibly be seen in the fact that, although together, the seven burials at Brookwood that I mentioned in my last post are included in a row of otherwise British servicemen, the only distinction being the different headstone types. I wasn't expecting to find any coverage in the Times on the German POWs, but the Flu outbreak at Blandford Camp warranted mention in Parliament with 252 cases (198 sent to hospital) reported there in the week ending 26th October'18 and a total of 59 deaths given since 21st September when the outbreak started there (by november 2nd this had risen to 78)

Returning to the 'four' a quick search for deaths registered at Blandford between October and December '18 using freeBMD came up with these possibilities:

GRO Deaths Oct - Dec 1918

Dresker, Leonard; age 23; Blandford; Vol 5a; page 521

Max, Heinitz; age 29; Blandford; Vol5a; page 522 *

Schofield, Norman; age 26; Blandford; Vol 5a; page498

Studden, Edward; age 39; Blandford; Vol 5a; page 503

* possibly Heinitz, Max ?

Needless to say, there is no guarantee that these men were German, let alone POWs; the Christian names ( with the obvious exception of Heinitz Max or Max Heinitz ) do look English, but it's possible that the spellings may have been Anglicised; the ages do look right for servicemen though. I should say that it's a complete coincidence that I've been able to find just the four names; others may be able to spot more! It's also possible that the freeBMD transcriptions of the GRO Index is incomplete or that the POWs deaths were registered elsewhere.

NigelS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Joe Potter

Gentlemen,

Thank you all for input and invaluable suggestions, I shall follow up on all of them, but first and formost I must have dates of death and/or burial for a starting point, this grave can be seen on Google, type in "Tarrant Monkton (All Saints).

I suspect this is going to be a long and winding road for this subject.

Thanks again

Regards

Joe

N.B. Just a very small point, As an ex-RE the rank of Sapper would be more appropriate!

OOPS, must sew my tape on.

Edited by Joe Potter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
CGM

Chris,

I have the parish clerk on the case, he has asked the church wardens about any names, there are none, I'll wait and see what the CWGC have to say, the plot thickens.

Regards

Joe

Hello Joe,

I wonder if the church wardens have actually looked at the parish burial register, as you still don't know the date of burial. The date must be in the register.

Regards

CGM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
NigelS

Joe thank for the tip on finding the photograph this Link goes to it directly. I would think that the wooden crosses indicate that these graves have never been officially recognised as wargraves, as otherwise 'official' headstones (as one of the ones at Brookwood, shown below) are more likely to have been placed.

post-5512-090214500 1291731347.jpg

I'm not sure who would have originally placed the ones at Brookwood (VDK?) but they're almost certainly maintained by the CWGC now. The CWGC record for Tarrant Monkton makes no mention, which is usually the case if there are, of there being foreign wargraves there in its care.

Can I ask, as there is no obvious indication on the grave markers, how is it known that these men died of flu in '18 - local knowledge?

NigelS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Joe Potter

Hi CGM,

My friend Jim won one of those, sadly posthumously, the burial register is held in the Dorset archives, closed until Friday!

Cheers

Joe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Joe Potter

Hi NigelS,

In answer to your question, yes local knowledge, on line from one of my contacts, confirmed by the ex-church warden, still no reply from the CWGC on this, they like to give a definitive answer to such questions, so its wait and see, but as I have found in the past, they are fallible.

Regards

Joe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
NigelS

Thanks Joe, waiting further developments with interest. (Incidentally I couldn't see any trace of 'unknown' or similar in the freeBMD GRO transcripts for Blandford in the last quarter of '18)

NigelS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Joe Potter

Nigel,

Out of interest I checked Fritz Bringmann on the VDK website, he is not listed at Brookwood, but another Fritz Bringmann, 22.10.1918 is shown as buried in Belgium, one more to check out!

Joe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
CGM

Hello Joe,

Ah, patience until Friday then. :(

Regards

CGM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Joe Potter

Hi CGM,

I'll need a lot of that before this one is sorted, but it will be! he said LOL.

Cheers

Joe

Hello Joe,

Ah, patience until Friday then. :(

Regards

CGM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
NigelS

Nigel,

Out of interest I checked Fritz Bringmann on the VDK website, he is not listed at Brookwood, but another Fritz Bringmann, 22.10.1918 is shown as buried in Belgium, one more to check out!

Joe

That's Interesting Joe, I've had another look at the GRO records and that particular match was the most tenuous of the seven. The nearest record I could find was: GRO Deaths Oct - Dec 1918: Brinkmann, Freidrich; age 26; Guildford; Vol 2a Page 242. Does the VDK record Freidrich Brinkmann at Brookwood with a date of 30th October '18? (I don't, unfortunately, know enough German to be able to navigate round the VDK site)

The other graves and corresponding GRO records were much better matches:

Albert Fusslein [5.11.1918]

GRO Deaths Oct - Dec 1918: Fuesslein Albert F 29 Guildford 2a 237

Hermann Stange [25.11.1918]

GRO Deaths Oct - Dec 1918: Stange Hermann 28 Guildford 2a 253

Ernst Brehmer [3.12.1918]

GRO Deaths Oct - Dec 1918: Brehner Ernest A 25 Guildford 2a 260

Karl Schmidt [7.11.1918]

GRO Deaths Oct - Dec 1918: Schmidt Karl 25 Guildford 2a 247

Wilhelm Muhlschen [7.11.1918]

GRO DeathsOct - Dec 1918: Mulschen H 26 Guildford 2a 247

Max Starke [10.1.1919]

GRO Deaths Jan - Mar 1919: Starke M 25 Guildford 2a 162

I've also realised that rather spookily I'd photographed that particular headstone on 30.10.10, the anniversary of the date engraved!

NigelS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Joe Potter

Nigel,

Just had a swift reply from the VDK, the headstone is wrong, it should read, as you say, Brinkmann, not Bringmann, his other details are;

Fritz Friedrich Heinrich BRINKMANN.

Ersatz-Reservist.

12/55 Reserve Infantry Regiment

30.10.1918.

When using the VDK website, try the Google toolbar Translate button, click on Gräbersuche on the left-hand side, enter the name you are looking for, it will then ask you a few personal details, nothing vital, then it will give you the info. good luck.

One other thing, how do I get the GRO records?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
CGM

Hello Joe,

The GRO website is HERE

Each death certificate will cost you £9.25 (plus the option to pay more for fast postage.)

Providing the GRO index references helps and are for the volume and page number - see the post by NigelS.

Regards

CGM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
NigelS

...Just had a swift reply from the VDK, the headstone is wrong...

Joe thanks for that, and the tips re the VDK site; were the VDK already aware of this error? If not it's a bit spookier than that of the date coincidence, as I could easily have posted a photo of one the other six... swiftly returning to common sense, it was the first photo I took, and it is the first of the German headstones in the row!

To get a copy certificate for a Death from the GRO, although it can be done without them (IRC there's an additional charge for that service), as CGM has already said, ideally the details from the GRO Death Indices are needed. For deaths in England & Wales these are available at Ancestry & Findmypast.com (subscription or P-A-Y-G), however, a large proportion of the GW years have been transcribed by freeBMD and these can be easily searched (IMO a more powerful and useful search feature than on both Ancestry & Findmypast) on its website Here (I believe that Ancestry uses freeBMD's data for its earliest records). NB if you ever need to look for UK citizens who died abroad (including WW1 & 2 servicemen) these indices, to my knowledge, are only available on Findmypast.

NigelS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
CROONAERT
Returning to the 'four' a quick search for deaths registered at Blandford between October and December '18 using freeBMD came up with these possibilities:

GRO Deaths Oct - Dec 1918

Dresker, Leonard; age 23; Blandford; Vol 5a; page 521

Max, Heinitz; age 29; Blandford; Vol5a; page 522 *

Schofield, Norman; age 26; Blandford; Vol 5a; page498

Studden, Edward; age 39; Blandford; Vol 5a; page 503

* possibly Heinitz, Max ?

There are 2 WW1 German graves still at Blandford Cemetery (there are also 7 from WW2, 6 of which are aircrew from the same day in June 1941), one of whom is Heinitz. The remainder were moved to Cannock Chase in 1966 (exhumation reports, etc of which are available to view at TNA)...

HEINITZ, Max, Sdt, German Army. 4th November 1918. Grave 78.

JAGER, Karl, Sdt, German Army. 21st May 1918. Grave 77.

Dave

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ianw

.... I could easily have posted a photo of one the other six... swiftly returning to common sense, it was the first photo I took, and it is the first of the German headstones in the row!

Yes, but these things seem to have a habit of coming out into the open!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
NigelS

JAGER, Karl, Sdt, German Army. 21st May 1918. Grave 77.

Jager appears as 'Jaeger, Karl' in the GRO Index, registered in adjacent Wimborne district (aged 22, Vol.5a Pg. 271).

Looking at the photo of Tarrant Monkton again (which gives that are three burials, despite the fact there are four older crosses clearly visible) can't help wondering if the 'unknown' given on the newer cross might have come about simply because the names on the older crosses had worn off (I doubt that these are the original markers either) and nobody bothered to research the burial records; it's quite possible that the burials might have been moved to Cannock Chase, but, with space usually short in churchyards for new burials, it seems unlikely that the ground wouldn't have been re-used, and also why would the memorials still be there? it will be interesting to see if the burial records do shed further light on this mystery when Joe doe gets the opportunity to look at them.

Yes, but these things seem to have a habit of coming out into the open!

Don't we just know it :lol:

NigelS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
CROONAERT
why would the memorials still be there?

One theory....

I'd never even heard of Tarrant Monkton until coming across this thread, so had to look up even where it was! Practically everything I found about the place mentioned these graves as if they were a major attraction, hence my theory... tourism! (or, in a less harsh sense, they're simply a visitor attraction).

The 1966 exhumation files at TNA for Blandford (and area) may answer the query once and for all, though I have a feeling that these may have been missed.

Dave

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...