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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Soldiers will


Susie H
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Hello

I have recently obtained the army will of my great uncle who was killed in France during WW1.

The will is on a page numbered 13 which I assume comes from his soldiers service book or something similar. The will is data during a time when he was serving in France. Can anyone advise me how this will got back to the 'authorities'.. It could not have been carried with him as his body was never recovered so it must have been torn from his service book and passed on to someone prior to him loosing his life.

Thanks

Sue

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If dated when he was serving in France he may well have signed a copy then and lodged through his chain of command. I'm unsure exactly where a man's will would be held, possibly by his battalion, but a man's papers often held a copy of his will.

Rgds

Tim D

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Are you sure his body was never found as distinct from he has no known grave. I have heard people from TNA and the Scottish Records talking about soldiers' wills. A number of wills were found on bodies.

R.

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It certainly seems to have been normal practice for soldiers going on trench raids to leave behind anything which might enable them to be identified if killed or captured.

It is also possible that they were sent to the AG's office at the Base, at Rouen, where various personnel files were kept, and to whom casualties were reported.

Ron

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Thank you to those who have replied.

I'm rather confused though - Rolt968 has questioned my understanding re graves and memorials. I thought that if a body was not found then there would be no grave but that the soldier would be listed on a memorial, but that if there was a body there would be a grave. Am I wrong in believing this?

Sue

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Thank you to those who have replied.

I'm rather confused though - Rolt968 has questioned my understanding re graves and memorials. I thought that if a body was not found then there would be no grave but that the soldier would be listed on a memorial, but that if there was a body there would be a grave. Am I wrong in believing this?

Sue

Many of the men listed on memorials are there not because the bodies were never recovered and buried but because the graves were destroyed in later fighting.

Craig

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One of the men we researched was killed in action and his pay book containing his will returned to the UK by the Germans, presumably through the Red Cross. He has no known grave - circumstantial evidence at least that the body was searched and buried but that the location was not recorded. For the men whose records survived I was surprised at how many died intestate.

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Thank you to those who have replied.

I'm rather confused though - Rolt968 has questioned my understanding re graves and memorials. I thought that if a body was not found then there would be no grave but that the soldier would be listed on a memorial, but that if there was a body there would be a grave. Am I wrong in believing this?

Sue

Susie,

as you say if a body was not found then the soldier would be remembered on a memorial; and if a body was found, and identified, and buried in a main cemetery behind the lines then he would have a grave properly marked by a war grave headstone. These are the two most common situations.

However, between these there are other possibilities -

The body was found but not identified, - would be buried in a cemetery and headstone would say unknown soldier, and the man would be remembered on a memorial.

The body was found and identified, but buried in a forward location that was later destroyed / lost. Man would be now only remembered on a memorial. This is an example of where his will could have been recovered, but today he has no known grave and is only be remembered on a memorial.

Evan

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  • 3 weeks later...

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