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Guest Panros

What kind of identification means were available, beside ID-Tags ?

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Guest Panros

Hi!

This is my first topic on this forum, and I hope I've chosen the right section...

I've recently found several articles about the various ID-tags used during the war, and I'm particularly interested in the identification system used in Imperial Germany (but probably any example from the other countries might help, too).

The question is: what kind of identity papers were issued to soldiers, beside the ID-Tag? I've seen pay books and military passes, but no one of them had an ID photo on it.

I was wondering what rules were being followed, at home, to avoid the 'steal' of identities on battlefields.

What if, for example, a captured soldier declared a false identity to enemy troops, or used it when returning back home, by using papers and IDs of a dead fellow?

It might sound strange, but I believe such cases were possible. Similar cases were those of soldiers suffering from amnesia, for example, found without any identification paper. How did their countries deal with them ? Was there any means to verify the identity of someone, when no one else seemed to be able to identify him?

Thanks!

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CROONAERT
I've seen pay books and military passes, but no one of them had an ID photo on it.

Photo ID was experimented with in French 'Livrets de matricule' towards the end of WW1 but didn't become standard until a while later. The earliest dated Belgian identity documentation that contained a photo that i've yet seen was dated 1919 and I'm pretty sure that photo-ID wasn't standard in the British army until the late 1950's at the earliest. It was a 1920's implementation on German documentation (1926 seems familiar for some reason) and , likewise (I believe) for the US.

As far as I know, the only nation that had any type of photo ID that was carried personally by the soldier during hostilities 1914-18 was France and, as mentioned, that appears to have been only a small-scale experimental issue - and very late in the day (though I have seen numerous Italian identity lockets from the 1915-18 period that have contained a photo of the owner along with the identification slip...but I doubt that this was an official occurance)

What if, for example, a captured soldier declared a false identity to enemy troops, or used it when returning back home, by using papers and IDs of a dead fellow?

It might sound strange, but I believe such cases were possible.

It certainly was possible... and did occasionally happen (and I personally knew one such case from WW1 who 'swapped identity' back in 1917...living for the next 75 years as someone else - he even visited his 'own' grave in the Ypres Salient once!!!)

Dave

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centurion

What if, for example, a captured soldier declared a false identity to enemy troops, or used it when returning back home, by using papers and IDs of a dead fellow?

In the days when divorce was not easy (and expensive) it has been said that some took the opportunity to vanish in this way, similarly debts could be avoided or even impending criminal charges. By their very nature such switches are difficult to identify - though they were a staple plot device for a number of detective story writers between the wars.

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Terry_Reeves

Panros

This book will be of interest to you. It is the true story of a French soldier in just the circumstances you describe. Highly recommended.

THE LIVING UNKNOWN SOLDIER: A Story of Grief and the Great War

By Jean-Yves Le Naour

William Heinemann, £15.99; 288pp

TR

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CROONAERT

...The earliest dated Belgian identity documentation that contained a photo that i've yet seen was dated 1919 ...

Scrap that!

Belgian army 'Livrets de Mobilisation' (but not their 'Livrets Militaire') contained 'mug-shot' style photographs from at least the 1890's.

Dave

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Khaki

I would have thought that the chance of being found out were very high especially at roll call, not impossible, but uncommon, in my opinion, suspicions might even arise about the cause of death of the deceased soldier.

khaki

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