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Uniforms of Dead Soldiers repaired and reused.


jemm
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Hi I wonder if anyone could tell me,

I have recently come across the story of a soldier reported missing in Oct 1917. A year later his mother read a story in the Daily Sketch which told the story of a woman repairing the uniform of a dead soldier. Sewn into the uniform were several Catholic medals, his mother recognized the service number and after obtaining an address wrote to the lady who mended the uniform. The lady mender ( for want of a better word ) related how she was one of 200 who repaired the uniforms of dead soldiers.The place this was carried out must have been in London due to the menders address and so I wondered if anyone knew where this would have been done and does this mean that the dead soldiers were stripped off their uniforms?

Thanks :)

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Difficult to see how he could be missing but his uniform recovered in a state capable of repair.

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There were women attached to many Barracks, a kind of club, who 'let out' the uniforms of the soldiers as they grew. Remember most were not fully grown when they enlisted.

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Possibly men who died in hospital of illness?

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Hi I wonder if anyone could tell me,

I have recently come across the story of a soldier reported missing in Oct 1917.

Where? I heard there was a Lancaster bomber on the moon.

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Possibly men who died in hospital of illness?

That seems one explanation Johnboy. I photographed the story accidentally whilst looking for something else and have frustratingly missed the bottom of the story which I can see they speak about the circumstances surrounding his death so will have to have a look on Thursday : ) His mother seemed to think he had been given the medals whilst at Curragh Camp and sewn them into his uniform for good luck.

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The uniforms were repaired in a war time established sub-section of the Royal Army Clothing Depot (RACD) at Pimlico, in London.

You can read about the depot here: http://davidshistoryblog.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/development-of-army-clothing-factory.html

During WW1 various outstations became necessary to cope with the unprecedented expansion of the Army, the most famous of which was at Olympia, also in London.

Tailors 'cutters' trained and qualified at the RACD, as did the regimental tailors that each battalion was established for.

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Out of interest, does say where the service number was found?

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Where? I heard there was a Lancaster bomber on the moon

The story was reported in the Oct 26th 1918 edition of my local newspaper.

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Out of interest, does say where the service number was found?

This is the story Johnboy

The October 26th issue of the Bacup Times told the story of the mother of Private 40321 Myles Wallace Tattersall 16th Cheshire Regiment. Mrs Tattersall his mother lived with his quarryman father also called Myles at 126 Newline Bacup. Having been notified that her son was missing she had tried to find to no avail some information about his whereabouts then whilst reading the Daily Sketch she came across the following story:-

A Dead Soldier: - A motherly woman, who is repairing clothes taken from dead soldiers, writes to tell me that in one uniform she found three small Catholic medals and one cloth one. One was sewn inside the left sleeve, one inside the lining over the heart and the other two each side of the pockets. The man’s number was 4032 or 40321 regiment not known. She would like to return the medals to mother who put them there.

Private Tattersall had been reported missing on October 22nd 1917, after contacting the Daily Sketch and contacting the woman mender, Myles’s mother received the following letter:-

18/09/1918

Canonbury Road

Highbury London W.

Dear Mrs Tattersall

Please excuse the pencil as I am writing in bed. I was taken bad suddenly on Thursday as I should have written before. I went to the branch of the War Office in my dinner-hour, and the secretary said I had cleared up what the Red Cross people had been trying everywhere to find out, namely tidings of your son. They thought he may be a prisoner of war, but I told them we only repaired clothes taken from the dead soldiers. I cannot tell you the particular place were his jacket came from, only that it came to us with hundreds off others of the field. The secretary advised that you should write to the enclosed address in another month’s time as they don’t settle anything under the twelve months. I should like you to write and tell me how old your son was and if you have any others as they are all so interested in it, and I might tell you that you had the sympathy and tears of 200 women here, mothers and wives of soldiers. I am so thankful I kept the medals, but I always thought I should not hear about them. If there is anything I can do for you here I would willingly do it if you will write again, and please accept my sympathy as I know what you must be feeling.

Yours Respectfully

Emily Mason.

As promised Emily forwarded the medals to Myles’s mother who she had not been the one to sew the medals in place but felt that he had probably been given then whilst in training at Curragh Camp, Ireland and that he had himself stitched them into his tunic for good luck. Within days she received communication from the Military Authorities confirming his death which they said took place on the 22nd October 1917.

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The uniforms were repaired in a war time established sub-section of the Royal Army Clothing Depot (RACD) at Pimlico, in London.

You can read about the depot here: http://davidshistoryblog.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/development-of-army-clothing-factory.html

During WW1 various outstations became necessary to cope with the unprecedented expansion of the Army, the most famous of which was at Olympia, also in London.

Tailors 'cutters' trained and qualified at the RACD, as did the regimental tailors that each battalion was established for.

Thanks, I will take a look :)

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Thanks, I will take a look :)

The actual collection of uniforms from the dead was not practised until 1916 (after the Somme battles) and was part of a massive salvage effort that was established to try and deal with waste. A very large salvage directorate was set up and linked with the supply chain. Many of the troops necessary to carry out the dirty work were supplied by the Labour Corps. As well as uniforms, web equipment, ammunition and arms were also collected for refurbishment, re-issue and re-use.

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Only deepens the confusion as for the uniform to have been salvaged by the army the body had to have been recovered fairly soon after death or to have DOW. In either case one would have thought that there was ample opportunity for identification

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Thanks Frogsmile

I am itching to get a look at the newspaper again now to see the bit at the end that i cut off, so I can see what if anything it says about the circumstances.

Removing the uniforms is not something I have read about before so thank you :)

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Only deepens the confusion as for the uniform to have been salvaged by the army the body had to have been recovered fairly soon after death or to have DOW. In either case one would have thought that there was ample opportunity for identification

Clearly it was not possible to recover all bodies and this was done only where feasible and possible. Nevertheless, it became part of the post-battle administrative activities. Many of the uniforms recovered came from those who died of wounds.

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Only deepens the confusion as for the uniform to have been salvaged by the army the body had to have been recovered fairly soon after death or to have DOW. In either case one would have thought that there was ample opportunity for identification

I imagine the matter of identification would depend on whether he was wearing a id tag. Also going of what Emily says in her reply to his mother they dealt with hundreds of uniforms from wherever those uniforms originated in those numbers it could simply be he just became another unknown.

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Boots wre apparently routinely re used, but I am not sure when that started.

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Clearly it was not possible to recover all bodies and this was done only where feasible and possible. Nevertheless, it became part of the post-battle administrative activities. Many of the uniforms recovered came from those who died of wounds.

So its quite possible he could have suffered some severe wound to his upper body which could have meant the loss of his id tag.

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I imagine the matter of identification would depend on whether he was wearing a id tag. Also going of what Emily says in her reply to his mother they dealt with hundreds of uniforms from wherever those uniforms originated in those numbers it could simply be he just became another unknown.

Emily's evidence though moving, is so far back in the evidence chain as to be not evidence at all as your summary amply indicates. She had no knowledge of where the uniform came from or how it arrived with her

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If the body was found the first things to be removed should have been id tag and paybook. Then personal items. Whether uniforms were removed may have depended on where the body was found. If it was in an allied trench for instance, it might well have been done. If in the open maybe not.

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I would have thought uniforms from dead soldiers would have been added to the salvage of rags & cloth, which was big part of the reclamation. Unlikely that they'd be recycled as issue clothing. Even uniforms that are undamaged by violent death would not be suitable for re-issue, as normal soldiering would quickly cause degradation and thinning of the cloth.

Another source of named/numbered uniforms would of course have been during routine issue of fresh uniforms. Soldiers were quite often given fresh uniforms when they went through bath units on the way out of the line. This could be a relevant explanation for the OP's case - as the soldier may not have seen his old uniform again, let alone have time to remove the personal badges.

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I tend to agree that when uniforms were stripped from wounded or those who died of wounds they were returned as salvage, as far as the dead on the battlefield, I think it would depend on how long the bodies had remained uncollected, in some cases the uniforms would be the only thing holding the remains together. I have read that where uniforms were contaminated (mustard gas?), they were piled and burnt.

khaki

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The trouble with threads like this is that they are full of speculation and no facts. Soon they become facts. I doubt bloodied torn and worn uniforms from the dead were recycled. Equipment yes.

Did the Germans not make soap from their dead. I read it somewhere!? :)

TT

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If the body was found the first things to be removed should have been id tag and paybook. Then personal items. Whether uniforms were removed may have depended on where the body was found. If it was in an allied trench for instance, it might well have been done. If in the open maybe not.

If the body was in the open or in a trench is irrelevant. What matters was there time to safely remove the uniform without the danger of becoming a corpse oneself. It would be much quicker to remove a pay-book (or a dog tag) than a uniform. so that the death would be confirmed

The trouble with threads like this is that they are full of speculation and no facts. Soon they become facts. I doubt bloodied torn and worn uniforms from the dead were recycled. Equipment yes.

Did the Germans not make soap from their dead. I read it somewhere!? :)

TT

No piece of Allied propaganda

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I tend to agree that when uniforms were stripped from wounded or those who died of wounds they were returned as salvage, as far as the dead on the battlefield, I think it would depend on how long the bodies had remained uncollected, in some cases the uniforms would be the only thing holding the remains together. I have read that where uniforms were contaminated (mustard gas?), they were piled and burnt.

khaki

Yes I believe that was indeed the procedure. Clearly in terms of back-loading for repair, we are talking about uniforms that are relatively intact. The whole purpose of salvage was to return to service items that were sufficiently intact to be re-used. Each Division had a salvage company to facilitate this. There is no suggestion that bloodied and holed uniforms were sent back for repair. The bulk came from field laundries where uniforms were exchanged and men who died of wounds, or gas asphyxiation, disease, et al. Also most men had two uniforms and, manifestly, only died in one of them.

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